Peace: The Fruit of Trust
Much of the world’s history relates to wars. Even today in several parts of the world are factions of war—wars involving weapons, rumors of wars, massive defense system buildups, and disturbing threats of global wars. Our Lord warned us that in the last days there would be no peace, but rather wars and rumors of wars (Matthew 24). This is a sign that He is coming soon to catch up His church, judge the nations, and establish His glorious kingdom of peace and justice.
That there is no peace is confirmed by the reports of physicians, who attribute as much as 75 percent of all diseases to inner turmoil, hatred, fear, anxiety, or tension. We do not live in a peaceful world; yet it is possible for the Spirit-filled believer to experience peace, because his trust is not in this world—it is in Jesus. In John 14:27 Jesus assured His disciples, “‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.’”
In this lesson we will examine the source of our peace, which is produced in us by the Holy Spirit. You will discover that it is possible to know peace and serenity in the most violent storms of life. The love of God brings perfect peace to those who put their trust in Him. You can experience this peace which is another of the nine dimensions of spiritual fruit.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace” (Galatians 5:22). When we speak of peace as the fruit of the Spirit, we are not talking about the momentary relief of quietude beside a mountain lake or some other restful place. Nor are we talking about the peace that is sought in a psychologist or in drugs. We are talking about peace that develops within you as a result of the Holy Spirit’s abiding in you. The peace of the Holy Spirit is developed from inside you, and it does not depend on what is going on around you.
The peace of the Holy Spirit refers to a state or condition of tranquility (great calmness) or quietness; it speaks of unity and harmony; security and trust. God is our refuge, shielding us from all the attacks of the evil one, and we can find perfect peace and rest in Him. This is the message of Psalm 91. All of these conditions are possible through the Holy Spirit. Peace as the fruit of the Spirit is abundant. It flows freely from the inexhaustible source of the Holy Spirit when you surrender your entire being to Him.
Stanley Horton (1976, 178) writes,
Real peace comes only from the Holy Spirit. It includes a quiet spirit, but it is more than that. It is the consciousness that we are in a right relationship with God, a sense of spiritual well-being. It includes the assurance that we can trust God to supply all our need (Philippians 4:19). Along with love and joy it becomes the help of the Spirit for the development of the rest of the fruit.
The kingdom of God is one of peace, but it is not established with force and power—it is accepted by faith and love. In Gethsemane when Peter used a sword to defend Jesus, the Lord rebuked him, saying, “‘Put your sword back in its place, . . . for all who draw the sword will die by the sword’” (Matthew 26:52).
Once when someone asked Jesus when He would establish His kingdom, He replied that “‘the kingdom of God is within you’” (Luke 17:21). This thought is further developed by the apostle Paul in Romans 14:17—“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
According to Stanley Horton (1976), Paul was saying here that the things which show we are under the rule of God or the kingdom of God—the things which show God is really King of our lives—are not what we eat or drink. They are righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (194).
In its future and full aspect, the kingdom of God will be His rule over the earth after all His enemies have been defeated. Because there will be no more evil influence in the world, it will be a kingdom of peace. (See Daniel 2:44; 7:14; 1 Corinthians 15:24–25; Zechariah 9:10).
Paul wrote the fifth chapter of Galatians because the Galatian Christians were in conflict with each other concerning certain teachings. Rather than producing the fruit of the Spirit, they were exhibiting works of the flesh: hatred, discord, jealousy, rage, selfishness, disagreements, and the like. Undoubtedly the Galatians lacked the fruit of love and peace, which brings unity, harmony, tranquility, and a quiet spirit.
The main activities of the Holy Spirit in developing spiritual fruit are interwoven with peace. Consider these references:
Grace and peace. “Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come” (Revelation 1:4). Grace is the goodwill of God towards us. It is offered as God’s favor. It also enables us to do God’s will as, by faith, we commit to obedience of that will. Peace is the evidence and assurance of God’s grace extended to us. Through the working of grace in our lives, those issues which have separated us from God are resolved. In our new relationship with Him, brought about by a change of our nature, we experience His divine peace. Grace leads us to peace.
Love and peace. “Be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Corinthians 13:11). The God of love is, as a result of love, a God of peace. He is the author of peace, and He loves agreement or peacefulness. He commands that we love Him and be reconciled to Him, and also that we love one another and be at peace with one another. It was evident in Galatians 5 that the Galatians lacked love for one another, because there was no peace among them. God will be with those who live in love and peace—He will dwell with them in this earthly life, and they shall dwell with Him forever.
Holiness and peace. “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23). This relationship between holiness and peace is made again in Hebrews 12:14: “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.”
God is the author of peace and He loves peace-able-ness. It is through peace and unity that the believer can best obtain holiness and be preserved for the coming of the Lord. One Bible commentator adds that we, too, should pray that God will perfect His work in us and preserve us blameless, free from sin until we are presented faultless before His throne. It is striking that the Hebrew word shalom, which means “peace,” also refers to wholeness or completeness. As we live in peace, the God of peace works in us, bringing us to completeness which will be fully realized in glory. Holiness is thus the result of our ongoing relationship with God.
Righteousness and peace. “Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness” (James 3:18). In the parable of Matthew 13:1–8 four kinds of soil are mentioned, but only one was ideal for producing fruit. The seed was the very best. It had heaven’s trademark as a guarantee, but the soil was bad. Our gospel is the gospel of peace. Those who profess it should have peace in their hearts; their words and deeds should promote peace.,
Righteousness, joy and peace. “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). We referred to this verse earlier in the lesson. Holiness, joy, and peace are all marks of the Spirit-filled believer—those who are part of the kingdom of God. One author suggests that these are the nature of true Christianity: as to God, our great concern is righteousness—to appear before Him justified by Christ’s death and sanctified by the Spirit. As to our fellow-believers, it is peace—to live in peace and love with all people. As to ourselves, it is joy in the Holy Spirit. This is the joy produced by the Spirit in the hearts of believers, so that we delight ourselves in the Lord. It is in these things that we serve Christ. When the foundation is laid in righteousness, we may expect peace and joy to follow.
Trust and peace. “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you” (Isaiah 26:3). Just as a baby sleeps peacefully in the arms of its mother, with perfect trust, so we can know the peace that comes from trusting God. This peace of God is given to the one who keeps his mind fixed on God, who puts himself under God’s guidance. This verse indicates that it is to our advantage to keep our mind centered on God in complete trust, because the result of doing so is constant peace that will keep us secure in Him at all times.
Life and peace. “The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6). The person who refuses to submit to God’s law has nothing to look forward to but death. It is no wonder there is no peace in his heart. But the one who has submitted to the control of the Spirit can be at rest; he can know abiding peace because the Prince of Peace is in control of his life.
Peace With God
Peace with God comes at our conversion. The unrepentant sinner is at enmity with God, since sin is a violation of God’s will as expressed in His law. When a sinner surrenders to Jesus Christ by faith and accepts Him as Lord and Savior, the separation from God is ended and peace is made. Romans 5:1–2 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.” This is further discussed in 2 Corinthians 5:18–20, where the apostle Paul explains reconciliation.
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.
Not only are we called upon to make peace with God through Jesus Christ but also to be peacemakers, reconciling others to God, so that they, too, may have peace with God.
Jesus died to bring us this peace: “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). He thus brought peace between humans and God. This is the message of Ephesians 2:13–17:
Now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.
Peace of God
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace” (Colossians 3:15). This is the inner peace that Jesus has given to us through the Holy Spirit (John 14:26–27). Inner peace replaces anger, guilt, and worry. Without peace with God there can be no peace of God.
The peace of God can be an indication of the course of action we should take in a given situation: Paul writes, “The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
There are times when we are confused as to the direction we should take. But there comes a moment of perfect calm and clarity. This is evidence of the peace of the Holy Spirit giving assurance that we are making the right decisions. This marvelous peace is our safeguard. As we focus our thoughts on Him, the God of peace, we will know the peace of God. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee” (Isaiah 26:3, KJV).
Peace With Men
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18). The peace that the Holy Spirit gives is first of all directed upward, toward God; then inward, toward ourselves; and finally outward, toward our fellowman. We need to “seek peace and pursue it” (1 Peter 3:11). Two verbs, seek and pursue, are used in this verse, one reinforcing the other. This indicates that we have a part in following closely after peace.
Peace with others may require understanding or willingness to change on your part where there are personal differences. Often, the situation or circumstances may not lead to peaceful relations when someone always insists on having his own way. Mature Christians learn to respect and accept the differences of other people, especially others in the body of Christ. Ephesians 4:3–4 emphasizes this: “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit.”
A bond is a knot, a tie, a chain, a fusing together. We cannot do what we want, without regard for the other members of the body of Christ. Paul teaches, “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4). “Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others” (1 Corinthians 10:24). The Christian who says what he wills, goes where he wills, behaves as he wills, without considering his high calling and the members of Christ’s body, will never find peace, because he is disturbing the unity of Christ’s body. “Now the body is not made up of one part but of many” (1 Corinthians 12:14). Sometimes peace requires him to say no to himself in the interest of others.
Peace with men also requires that you sometimes be a peacemaker. In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, He said, “‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God’” (Matthew 5:9). How often do you hear that a member of the body of Christ is a peacemaker? As Christians we will not always be in harmony with each other. But when conflicts do arise in the body of Christ, it is the role of the peacemaker to find a reasonable solution and bring people together again in peace and fellowship.
Old Testament Examples
Abraham was a peace-loving man. Genesis 13 tells about the quarreling that took place between the herdsmen of Abraham and the herdsmen of Lot, because there was not enough land for all of their flocks and herds and tents. To avoid the quarreling, Abraham put aside his rights as stepfather and uncle and told Lot to choose the property he wanted. As it turned out, Abraham benefited from Lot’s choice, and Lot suffered many things as a result of the choice he made. Those who are willing to give up their own rights in order to be peacemakers are following the principle illustrated by Abraham, and this results in blessing.
Isaac is another example of one who sought after peace. Chapter 26 of Genesis tells that after Abraham, his father, died, Isaac reopened the wells of water that Abraham had dug, which his enemies had closed up by filling with dirt. His servants opened a new well, and his enemies objected that the water was theirs. The servants opened a second well, and the enemies objected again. So Isaac simply moved on and dug a third well. This time his enemies did not object, but they left him alone. Very soon after that, God appeared to Isaac and renewed His promises to him. Isaac learned that having peace is more important than getting one’s own way.
Daniel the prophet was thrown into the lion’s den, yet he could sleep peacefully all night, without fear, because he trusted God. Psalm 91:15 gives this assurance when we are in trouble: “I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.” If we will claim this promise, we can have the peace that Daniel had even in times of intense suffering or difficulty.
The tribes of Israel were blessed with peace (Numbers 6:24–26). Yet there were times while they were conquering the Promised Land that strife and dissension were stirred up among them. Whenever Israel had internal peace, she made progress. However, when there was dissension, the Israelites destroyed themselves. The principle taught here is that strife and dissension hinder progress.
New Testament Examples
In prophetic writing, Jesus is referred to as the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) and as the Lamb of God (John 1:29), among other titles. Indeed, Jesus is the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world (Revelation 13:8). The first message preached after Jesus was born was one of peace (Luke 2:14). When Jesus sent out the first preachers, He directed them to preach peace (Luke 10:5). Jesus himself is our peace, and He preached peace (Ephesians 2:14, 17). Jesus on the cross was our mediator between God and humans, making peace (1 Timothy 2:5). Peace was the royal legacy of Jesus to His own (John 14:27). His disciples received the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost because they were all joined together in peace, unity, submission to the sovereign control of the Spirit (Acts 1:14).
The early church illustrates that growth is often one of the blessed results of peace. It is true that sometimes the church multiplies in periods of affliction, but peaceful times give it opportunity to regain strength and reach out. The early church made good use of its quiet, peaceful time: “Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord” (Acts 9:31). Peace unites and reinforces—it creates a powerful bond among believers that is unbreakable as long as peace rules. Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” But these strands must be bound together into one cord. The peace of the Spirit does this, providing spiritual strength. Isaiah 30:15 tells us, “‘In quietness and trust is your strength.’”
The seven churches in Asia received a message from Jesus which started with His blessing of grace and peace on all the faithful in these churches (Revelation 1:4). Grace and peace are basic for the church, as we have mentioned earlier: grace is the goodwill of the Father towards us, and His good work in us; peace is the evidence or assurance that this grace has been bestowed. There is no true peace without God’s grace, and where grace is, peace follows.
Peace Like a River
Twice in the book of Isaiah is the simile peace like a river:
If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river (Isaiah 48:18).
“I will extend peace to her like a river” (Isaiah 66:12).
In both of these passages the Lord compares His peace to a river that can bless His people and their land. There are several lessons that we can glean from this comparison:
- A river speaks of extension, spreading out. It is God’s purpose that His peace be found everywhere.
- A river speaks of power. Huge power plants are used to harness the tremendous energy of rivers for many purposes. There is great power in the peace of God.
- A river speaks of fullness. A river has an abundant water supply. When God compares His peace to a river, He implies abundance, plentifulness.
- A river speaks of life. Cities spring up next to rivers, for a river means food, water, farming, irrigation, and navigation. There is also life within the river.
- A river speaks of advance. Its waters are always moving forward, past all obstacles in its course.
Jesus said that the Holy Spirit within a believer would be like streams of living water which “will flow from within him” (John 7:38–39). The Spirit develops in us the fruit of peace, bringing fullness, life, power, strength, and victory.
Do you have this fruit of the Spirit, peace? These verses of Scripture tell how you may have it:
- Accept Christ into your life. “For he himself is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14).
- Know God and be under His control. “Submit to God and be at peace with him” (Job 22:21).
- Trust God with all your heart. “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you” (Isaiah 26:3).
- Love the Word of God. “Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble” (Psalm 119:165).
- Live in righteousness. “The fruit of righteousness will be peace” (Isaiah 32:17).
In this unit of study we have considered the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, and peace. These aspects of the fruit of the Spirit are upward-related, toward God. In the next unit of study we will look at the fruit of patience, kindness, and goodness, which is outward-related, toward our fellowmen. May the Lord bless and increase your understanding as you study.