I am so grateful to have CARE group members that will challenge my blanket statements. I recently made a statement at our couples group that you can tell which decision is the correct one because it will be the one that gives you peace. By peace, I meant God’s peace which flows from walking in the Spirit as opposed to our own fleshly desires, which while appealing on the surface, do not bring peace.
This statement led to a lively discussion on how you determine which path God intends for you to follow. Many in the group were concerned – and rightly so– about following a path based on feelings or experience. I love discussions like this because it leads me back to the Bible – what does God’s Word tell us about peace?
The word peace (in Greek: ειρηνη 48, ειρηνην 25, ειρηνης 19) occurs in the Bible 92 times in 86 verses and has a variety of meanings*:
- 1) a state of national tranquillity
- a) exemption from the rage and havoc of war
- 2) peace between individuals, i.e. harmony, concord
- 3) security, safety, prosperity, felicity, (because peace and harmony make and keep things safe and prosperous)
- 4) of the Messiah’s peace
- a) the way that leads to peace (salvation)
- 5) of Christianity, the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is
- 6) the blessed state of devout and upright men after death
*Blue Letter Bible. “Dictionary and Word Search for eirēnē (Strong’s 1515)“. Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2012. 19 Jul 2012. <http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G1515&t=KJV >
When we search the Bible, we very quickly learn that God is a God of peace (Rom 15:33, 16:22, Phi 4:9, Heb 13:20, 1 Th 5:23, 2 Co 13:11, (Lord of) 2 Th 3:16) and that God can grant peace (1 Ti 1:2, 2 Ti 1:2, Tit 1:4).
We know that peace is one of the fruits of the Spirit in Gal 5:22-3. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. But what is spiritual peace?
Spiritual peace is described in the 5th definition above – the tranquil state of a soul…content with its earthly lot, of whatever sort that is. In other words, it is the state of our soul regardless of our circumstance -good, bad, or ugly. Peace is something that comes to us when we are living in the Spirit according to Romans 8:5-7.
For those who live according to the flesh have their outlook shaped by the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their outlook shaped by the things of the Spirit. For the outlook of the flesh is death, but the outlook of the Spirit is life and peace, because the outlook of the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to the law of God, nor is it able to do so.
How do we get this spiritual peace? Philippians 4:6-7 (NET) tell us.
Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God. And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Pastor Keith Krell explains it this way:
“In 4:7, Paul promises, “If you choose to pray instead of worry, God will cover you.” He writes, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension,will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” The phrase “the peace of God” occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. When you pray instead of worry, God’s experiential peace will flood your being. The verb “guard” (phroureo) is a military term which refers to a sentry’s responsibility to protect a camp or castle as he marches around securing that which is valuable and strategic. The peace of God will watch over and warn us against any intruders. If the peace of God is not ruling or standing sentry over our inner man, then an unwanted intruder has already entered. When God’s peace floods our lives, it will protect our valuable hearts from wrong feelings and our strategic minds from wrong thoughts. The enemy is unable to get in when God’s peace protects us. As we rest our case and transfer our troubles to God, “Corporal Peace” is appointed the duty of marching as a silent sentry around our minds and emotions, calming us within.” (http://bible.org/seriespage/peace-peace-philippians-41-9)
Another author, Peter V. Deison, puts it this way:
“This verse commands us to ask for anything and guarantees an answer. First, we may get what we ask for, because He delights in giving us gifts, but no matter what the outcome, He definitely promises to give us His peace. This means that if we don’t get what we asked for, we’ve got something better—satisfaction. Our hearts will be satisfied with or without our initial request, regardless of what was troubling us to begin with.” (http://bible.org/illustration/philippians-46-7)
What a wonderful promise! When we are worried, anxious, or have concerns if we pray to God, He promises to give us His peace.
I close this piece with the words Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica in 2 Thessalonians 3:16:
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with you all.