The Peace of God
Reformed Free Publishing Association
There is only one true peace, and that is the peace of God. This peace cannot be found in the world and this peace the world will never have. The peace of God is the peace that Christ leaves with us and gives unto us by his Spirit on the basis of his perfect and complete atonement. This is the peace in which we know that we are right with God by faith alone and not by or because of our works. This is the peace that passes all understanding (Phil. 4:7) and for us is very precious. It is the prayer of the saints in Psalm 122 that this peace will flourish in the church. Sweet, spiritual harmony and unity in the doctrinal truth and the new life of our Lord Jesus Christ is the peace that we desire to be enjoyed among the brethren.
Now, how shall we enjoy that peace in this life? Just as we know the forgiveness of our sins by our heavenly Father in the way of our forgiving the sins of those who sin against us, so also we enjoy peace with God in the way of being a blessed peacemaker (Matt. 5:9), by doing those things “which make for peace” (Rom. 14:19), and by letting the peace of God rule in our hearts.
The kind of spiritual rule or government that we must desire for the peace of God in our life is illustrated by an umpire. “Rule” in Colossians 3:15 refers to the work and position of an umpire or a referee. We know that an umpire in a baseball game, a judge in a track and field event, or a referee in a hockey game determines whether the contestants compete fairly, applies the rules of conduct and fair play, and resolves any disputes between athletes or teams in order to maintain proper conduct and orderliness during the game or event. The umpire, judge, or referee ensures and promotes orderliness as the teams compete for the ultimate prize of the contest.
Unlike the goal of many ball teams and athletes today, the goal of the believer is peace in his relationship with his neighbor, especially in the home and in the church. His goal in life ought to be the enjoyment of the peace of God. Sometimes that goal is sought through spiritual warfare against spiritual enemies. Often it is pursued through the things that make for peace among the brethren. Whatever the situation may be, the ultimate goal is true peace.
At the very same time, that peace of God must be honored as the umpire or referee in our pursuit of peace. The peace of God ought to be enthroned as the referee to regulate and govern our consciences, thoughts, motives, reasons, decisions, speech, and attitudes. The peace of God is needed to remind us constantly that we must remain within the boundaries of love, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, faithfulness, and self-control, which make for peace among the brethren. This is the peace that must be the umpire and must rule in our lives.
It is not the fruit of the Spirit that we allow the peace of man to be umpire, to which we are prone. In our sin, we do not want to turn the other cheek or to forgive seventy times seven. We are prone to let the referees of revenge, retaliation, pride, selfishness, and love of earthly glory govern our hearts, minds, souls, and strength. Instead of the peace of God as umpire, we are prone to let be referee the sinful idea of making the one who sins against us to pay dearly for his offense and to suffer great misery because of it. When we are offended, we are prone to fight back in a sinful zeal for our own interests and pride. It is not difficult for us to examine our own lives and conduct and to find examples of our failures to let the peace of God rule and instead to allow sin and unbelief to enforce their rules.
When the peace of God rules in him, the believer lives and behaves in submission to the peace of God. When true peace is umpire, the believer does not retaliate in kind, but he follows the example of Christ, who did not retaliate when he was unjustly afflicted by wicked men (1 Pet. 2:23). When the peace of God rules in his life, the believer lives in the truth that God did not make war with us when we sinned against him. In fact, when we were guilty of war with Christ, he died for us in order to redeem us from our warfare against him and to unite us to himself in the bonds of love and peace.
This truth determines that our conduct toward those who sin against us ought to follow the truth of what God has done to us in Christ. Since God made peace with us through the blood of Christ, so in response to those who sin against us, we must make peace and reconciliation at the foot of the cross with brother, sister, spouse, child, fellow member in the church, and whatever neighbor the Lord may be pleased to bring upon our pathway.
As umpire, the peace of God ought to govern our attitudes toward those who do us good and toward those who do evil against us. When we remember the peace of God and submit to the truth that God made peace with us, our attitude toward those who do evil against us will become characterized by humility, love, and calmness. This fruit of the Spirit of peace is the opposite of a flaring, firecracker temper and a contentious, bullying spirit.
As a result, the peace of God as umpire will affect the manner of our conduct toward others. It guides us away from the extremes that are poisonous and toward those things that make for peace in the church and in the home. It guards us from conduct that is overzealous, like a rambunctious bull in an antique shop, and from conduct that is spiritually lazy, like a slow, slimy slug on a sidewalk. The peace of God guides us down the paths of wisdom and prudence in our lives with one another. When we step outside the boundaries of godly conduct, the spiritual referee of God’s word functions as a mighty blast, like a shrill-sounding, heartpricking referee’s whistle! If necessary, we need the referee of peace to prick our hearts by the word and, if necessary, to chastise us with a firm rebuke.
The peace of God has as its ultimate goal the glory and honor of God. Peace may never be brokered at the expense of God’s glory, honor, name, and truth. The true peace of God that shines forth with the truths of his sovereign, irresistible grace honors the name of God. And when that peace rules in our hearts, we are directed unto the same goal of God’s glory and in the same way of faithfulness to the truth of our peace with God in Christ Jesus.
Now, where does the desire and obedience that the peace of God rules our relationships in life begin? This begins in the heart. The Spirit must work this remarkable and sweet fruit of peace in us. He must work not only the peace of the forgiveness of our sins, but also the peace of the forgiveness of those who sin against us. For the growth and maintenance of that peace with one another, there is the gift of prayer. Faithful submission to the preaching of the word of the gospel develops and maintains this peace. In the way of thoughts that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report, this peace is nurtured. Another chief way is living with one another in the way of confession of sin, forgiveness, and reconciliation in the blood of Jesus Christ. A life of contentment and humility serves the enjoyment of the gift of peace among brethren in the Lord.