The Fruit of the Spirit is Peace

Gal. 5. 22-23

‘Peace on earth, goodwill to all men’. That was the message of the angels to the shepherds at Bethlehem. But the coming of Jesus did not bring peace on earth and wars have raged throughout history since then. And ‘goodwill to all men’? What of the industrial strife, disputes, family discords, church divisions? Yet the message of the angels must be true, but what was that message? The NIV translates ‘Peace on earth among men on whom His favour rests’, which is similar to the Moffatt, the Revised Berkeley, the New Living Translation, the Jerusalem and the New English Bible. But who are these on whom His favour rests? The Revised Version gives us the answer in its translation, ‘among men in whom He is well pleased’. That translation is followed by the RSV, Weymouth and the Twentieth Century New Testament version. Who are these, then, in whom God is pleased, and who have peace? There was a Man who once walked on earth to whom the heavens opened and God declared from heaven, ‘This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased’. The Babe born at Bethlehem became the Man in whom God was well pleased. Peace will be experienced by people who become like Christ and in whom God is well pleased. But how do they become like Christ? They must first receive His life. He died that we might have life, eternal life. That life is received when Christ is received as Saviour. God then begins a work in a person’s life, changing that person step by step to be like His Son. It is that person in whom God is pleased, as He sees some likeness to His Son in him. And that person has peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ, a peace made at Calvary and shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Spirit. Isaiah proclaimed, ‘there is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked’ but Christ established peace, ‘made peace by the blood of His cross’ where He endured ‘the chastisement of our peace’, and faith in Christ brings a person into the possession of that peace. A day will dawn when the Lord will return to this earth to reign as the Prince of Peace, ‘and of the increase of his government there shall be no end’.

We cannot have the peace of God until we have made peace with God, through Him who is our peace, Eph. 2. 14. But being reconciled we have that peace, ‘which passeth all understanding’, Phil. 4. 7. Peace is love’s confidence. It is not merely freedom from trouble, but everything that makes for our highest good – a tranquil serenity of heart. Nothing in this world can give such. Nothing in the world can take it away. It is the gift of the Lord Jesus, John 14. 27, and it is the Holy Spirit who puts deep abiding peace in the heart. It is one facet of the fruit of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit puts God’s love in our hearts, God’s joy in our souls and God’s peace in our minds. His unhindered inworking must come out in a life in which the known love of God makes us loving – loving towards the Lord and in the Lord, towards others joyful with a calm and beneficent happiness which communicates itself to others, in its blessed certainty of Christ possessed in His glorious fullness; and peaceful with a restfulness which cannot but diffuse itself around as the Spirit shows our spirit that we have peace with God, and that indeed the peace of God can keep our hearts and thoughts in Christ Jesus. As we look back over these first three characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit we must note that these are characteristics of the Lord – My love, John 15. 10; My joy, John 15. 11; My peace, John 14. 27, which He imparts by His Spirit to His saints. Each is capable of enjoyment to a superlative degree in a Spirit-filled life, ‘the love of Christ’ passes knowledge’, Eph. 3. 19; the joy of Christ passes telling (joy unspeakable), 1 Pet. 1. 8; and the peace of God ‘passes understanding’, Phil. 4. 7.

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