The third listed characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit is peace. Peace (shalom) is defined as a condition of freedom from disturbance, whether external or internal.
It is not freedom of disturbance — meaning everything is without conflict or disturbance — but rather free from being overcome or distraught from the disturbance because of being confident in God’s promises given and His faithfulness to us.
Peace, then, is a state of mind in which the person may be in difficult circumstances, but is content, confident with hope, and in a state of being “at rest.”
Being at peace means being “at rest” — experiencing God’s rest. When we are in God’s presence, allowing Him to be with us and work in us, He provides rest (Exodus 3:10).
When we realize that we cannot earn or merit God’s favor on our own because of sin, we end the turmoil and strife in our inner spirit; we are no longer conflicted with warring against God or trying to work to gain His acceptance (Hebrews 4:9-10). When we have God’s peace, we have God’s rest!
The psalmist who wrote Psalm 116 praises the Lord God for His mercy and rest. Overcome by distress and sorrow, he cries out to the Lord to save him, proclaiming that his soul can now return to God’s rest for the Lord has been good (Psalm 116:4-7).
Though this is not to be a word study on “rest,” one cannot experience rest (God’s Sabbath for the soul) without knowing and experiencing the peace with God and the peace of God through establishing a relationship with Him and maintaining fellowship with Him.
The Spirit will also bring to remembrance all that Jesus taught (John 16:13-14) — that He has all authority in and over all things so no matter what happens in or to our lives He is in control, performing everything for our good (Romans 8:28).
And we are eternally secure in Him (Romans 8:35-39) so we can never be separated from Him or His unconditional love for us, sealed by Jesus and secured through the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14).
God’s Word (Jesus) is faithful, and He will perform all that He has promised to carry us through to the day of our redemption (Philippians 1:6).
No matter our circumstances, we can “think on these things” (Philippians 4:8), which leads us to still waters, where He restores our souls (Psalm 23:2-3), providing comfort and rest, which gives us peace in the midst of the storm (John 14:27; Philippians 4:7; Isaiah 26:3).
Peace of and with God
The peace of and with God is an inner calm that removes the anxiety and worry of guilt and a soul in turmoil.
Throughout the Bible, God clearly describes mankind without Christ as lost, under God’s wrath and judgment, full of wickedness, unable to please or appease God, and destined for eternal judgment.
How does a person experience such peace? God says that He will keep (secure, guard, protect, maintain, fortify) a person in perfect peace whose mind is stayed (focused, single-purposed, steadfast, firmly established) on Him because the person trusts (believes, has the confidence of hope) Him (Isaiah 26:3).
When a person recognizes his sinful, lost condition and seeks God’s forgiveness and redemption through sincere repentance, it ends the rebellion against God.
God brings the once dead sinful spirit to life through the entering of the Holy Spirit and immediately changes that person into a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). The peace of God now rests on that person’s life (Psalm 119:165; Isaiah 32:17).
The spiritual trait of peace in the fruit of the Spirit is a result of being justified by faith. “Therefore, being justified (made right, declared innocent) through faith [in what Christ has accomplished for us on the cross] we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).
The peace of God gives our souls rest by knowing we are no longer condemned (Romans 8:1-4) but are now seen by God the Father through the righteousness of Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:21), which is experienced through the doctrine of justification, meaning the act of making someone right with God.
Peace with Others
Experiencing the peace of and with God allows the believer to experience peace with others. Believers are to live peaceful lives with other believers (2 Corinthians 13:11; Romans 14:19) while doing everything possible to live at peace with non-believers (Hebrews 12:14; Romans 12:18).
With the bond that believers have in Christ Jesus, we are to demonstrate His love to each other (John 13:34-35; 1 John 3:11, 4:11; Galatians 5:13) so that we might bring others to Christ (Matthew 5:44; Hebrews 12:14).
Though Jesus teaches that we should love our enemies (Matthew 5:44; Romans 12:14; Proverbs 25:21-22; Luke 6:35), the commands throughout Scripture to love, favor, prefer and do for those who are of the faith — far outweighs the number of references to love our neighbor as ourselves, to treat others as we would want to be treated, and to demonstrate love by action or deed to those who are outside the Body of Christ.
If we love one another, we will serve and prefer one another as instructed by Jesus, Paul, Peter, James, John, and others (John 13:34-35; Romans 12:10; 1 John 4:7, 20; Galatians 5:13; 1 Peter 1:22; James 4:11; Ephesians 5:21; Hebrews 10:24, 13:1; 1 Peter 2:17; and many others…).
Experiencing God’s peace, loving and serving others within the family of God, and outwardly demonstrating God’s love for others so that we can live peaceably with all people (Romans 12:18), we as believers experience and demonstrate God’s peace through the growing fruit of the Spirit in our lives.
Peace with Ourselves
When I was growing up, I remember being told that true joy comes to us when we have our priorities correct: Jesus, Others, then You (JOY acronym).
That same order is true for experiencing the peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). We are able to maintain peace with ourselves by being happy with who we are and by refusing to live in guilt or condemnation.
God forgives us and gives us the righteousness of Jesus when we come to saving faith in Him. Why, then, would a believer choose to not trust in God’s faithfulness and promises of forgiveness by holding on to guilt, feeling condemned, and feeling inadequate in God’s sight?
There is no point in accepting God’s forgiveness if a person is incapable of accepting it fully — there is no true “trust” or exercised “faith” in what God has done for that person if continuing to linger on who he or she used to be when spiritually dead in sin to being made alive by the Spirit and becoming a new creation in Christ.
We also maintain or are at peace with ourselves when we embrace how God made us so we can fulfill our unique and given purpose that God has for us.
But and this is an important “but,” once saved and we receive the Holy Spirit to indwell us, seal us unto the Day of Redemption, and who makes our spirits alive in Christ, we are changed (2 Corinthians 5:17).
At that moment, we become a child of God, a joint heir with Jesus, and the Holy Spirit begins His work to make us more into the image of Jesus. At that moment, we are seen by God the Father as righteous, in Jesus.
God has invested in those He has called. God the Spirit lives within us and through the seed, He plants in us, we grow His fruit to become more like Jesus.
God does not make mistakes. We cannot be all we are to be or become apart from God. Our efforts apart from Him are worthless. Why would we expect to do better than what God has made? We cannot! We can be content and at peace with who we are in Christ Jesus.
When we realize God made us be what and who we are, we have self-worth. We can then truly love others as ourselves (Matthew 22:39) and rest in God’s love. There is no greater peace within us than the peace God gives us through the fruit of the Spirit.
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Randy DeVaul serves as a community/crisis response chaplain with a national Christian response team and as a deacon, missions coordinator, and small groups leader in his home church in Central Florida. Published regularly since February 2000, Randy is a regular contributor to international, regional, and local trade, lifestyle, and news publications and author of three workplace safety books. You can follow him here and here.
The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.
These verses serve as a source of renewal for the mind and restoration for the heart by reinforcing the notion that, while human weakness is inevitable, God's strength is always available to uplift, guide, and empower us.
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