“because they have misled my people, saying, ‘Peace,’ when there is no peace, and because, when the people build a wall, these prophets smear it with whitewash . . ” Ezekiel 13:10
“They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,”’ they say, when there is no peace.” Jeremiah 6:14; 8:11
These two verses come from two different Old Testament prophets, but they both are addressed to those who purport to speak on God’s behalf. They are warnings against declaring peace when there is, in fact, no peace. Such false peace is not the kind we may think of — a worldly political peace. The sort of peace in view is a peace between an indiividual and God. The warning (and if you read the rest of the passages, it is a stern one) is against pronouncing that a person is reconciled to God and may rest securely without fear when, in fact, that is untrue. It is a warning against giving others a false assurance of forgiveness.
Ezekiel describes this as applying whitewash to a flimsy wall that is about to fall down and calling it sound and sturdy. The idea is that you do only a surface, cosmetic repair. It is made for the eyes of men, but lacks any real substance. Jeremiah pictures it as applying a bandaid to a cannon ball wound. The treatment is surface only. It does not actually treat the root of the problem and bring true healing.
In my view, this is addressing what is referred to in modern circles as “easy believism”. It describes a counterfeit gospel. On the surface, it looks and sounds like the real thing. But it stops well short of bringing true redemption and salvation. It promises reconciliation with God without true repentance– through the kind of belief that stands all by itself. It implies that faith can take place simply between your ears without ever actually spreading to your heart, your hands and your feet. It separates what can not be separated — receiving Jesus as Savior and receiving Jesus as Lord.
Paul’s advice is this: “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.” (2 Corinthians 13:5). He is saying make sure NOW that your faith and repentance are genuine so that you will know that you are ready for the day of judgment. This seems similar to Jesus’ admonition that we should strive to enter by the narrow gate. Don’t trust in whitewash and bandaids. Make certain that your wall is really repaired so that it it will stand in the day of judgment and make certain that the grievous wounds of sin have been genuinely healed by the redeeming power of the gospel.