But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
C4.1 Peace with God
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ……………….. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement [=reconciliation].
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.
And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;
By nature the whole of the human race is at enmity with God. By reason of the sinful nature we have inherited rom Adam. We have gone our own way, we have walked after the flesh, following the desires of our carnal mind and going in the opposite direction to the ways of God. We are His enemies, we live opposing all that is called righteous, we hate God, if we do not express that with our lips then our hearts, by its actions and thoughts, betray that attitude. We are, as Paul puts it, alienated from God and His purposes.
However in His great love God sent His Son to die for us in order to bring peace between God and those who put their faith in Him. This great salvation removes all that caused the offence between mankind and God, and for those who are truly justified have peace with God. In Rom Ch. 5 this is equated with reconciliation, or being restored to favour, that is brought back into a right relationship with God. All this has been achieved by the work of Jesus at Calvary.
The passage from II Corinthians has an interesting phrase: be ye reconciled to God. How is this to be understood when Paul was writing to believers? One possible way to understand this is by considering our theme from Galatians. In order to be reconciled to God we have to drop our opposition to God and submit to His mercy. By walking in the Spirit we are reconciled to God’s ways and are thereby at peace. If, however, we begin to walk in the flesh we are once more in conflict with His ways and thus lose our conscious awareness of peace.
Just consider the prodigal son (Lk.15:11-24), he demanded his own way and then left home to indulge his flesh, wasting all his substance in the process. He was still the son of his father but backslidden, and at enmity with his father’s plans for him. In the language of Galatians he was walking in the flesh, for him it was a death to the way of life he knew in his father’s presence. But what a change when he repented and return to his father! We, too can so easily fall back into walking after the flesh, thereby losing our immediate peace and be at enmity with our Father’s plans for our lives (Rom. 8:6-7 & Gal.5:17). But if, like the prodigal, we come to our senses and repent our Father in heaven is waiting to receive us once more.
C4.2 The peace of God
As we have said before peace, the third quality of the fruit of the Spirit, is also mentioned alongside love and joy, in the final discourse of the Lord Jesus to His disciples.
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
Since Jesus always walked in the Spirit, obeying His Father’s will, He had peace, and that peace is the one we are to enjoy. He was never in conflict or at enmity with His Father’s will He was ever in that wonderful place of peace with His Father. To consider the peace that Jesus had let us look at one interesting incident in the synoptics.
And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!
And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?
Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth. But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him.
When preachers speak on this incident the focus is all too often on what the disciples were up to. There was a great tempest and, naturally speaking, the boat was in danger of sinking and loosing all on board. The disciples awoke the Lord and accused Him of not caring that they were about to perish. If we put all three accounts together we notice that Jesus first questioned the disciples about why they were fearful, He then calmed the storm and turned once more to the disciples asking why they were afraid and where their faith was.
As the writer to the Hebrews says ‘looking [+off] unto Jesus…. Heb.12:2. Our eyes should be on Jesus, and what Jesus was doing here is very often missed out, thus leaving a glaring gap in our understanding.
So what was Jesus doing in this storm that got everybody else so distraught? If we take a step back in the narrative we notice that Jesus went aboard the boat to pass over to the other side. We know later that He met the demoniac, whom he delivered of Legion. So the first thing to note is that Jesus was walking in obedience to His Father’s will (i.e. walking in the Spirit) in order to accomplish something. He said that He would pass over to the other side, He had no doubts, worries or fears, He knew that He had a mission to fulfil and that it would happen whatever the circumstances. He had perfect love and this casts out fear. The reference to faith, or lack of it is simple, faith worketh by love; thus by having perfect love Jesus was not fearful and His faith was the faith of God ( cf Mk.11:22 lit.)
When in the boat Jesus went to sleep, on a pillow! Can you imagine the scene? The ship sailed and He was in the hinder part asleep, when the storm came He remained asleep! What a picture of perfect peace! The outward storms were great and the boat ready to sink (remember that some of the disciples were hardened sailors, and so would know what was real danger on the waters.) but Jesus was at perfect peace, His mind was truly stayed on God Isa.26;3. No wonder He could sleep. He had a mission from God and He rested in that what His Father commanded, no force on Earth, or in Hell, would prevent its fulfilment.
By walking in the Spirit we too can know the certainty of our calling and of its accomplishment, and likewise we can know His peace. The inward soul resting in God and everything being at peace. No inner turmoils, no conflicts nor strivings to get extra faith. Just a heart at rest in God so that whatever the storms of life we can be at perfect peace.
The disciples questioned Jesus’ care for them. They were yet being taught by the Lord of His ways. So it comes as no surprise that many years later one of the twelve penned these words.
Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.
C4.3 He is our peace
For He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
The second half of the famous second chapter of Ephesians, is to some extent a mirror image of the first half of the chapter. The first half deals with the individual’s relationship with God, the second half deals with the relationship between the Jew and Gentile and their reconciliation. It would be outside the scope of this study to enlarge upon this but we do see some interesting parallels with our thoughts in Galatians.
The word peace as used in this passage is about reconciliation of Jews and Gentiles, but we need to take care as to what it is actually saying. The passage is very clear about this and we must not bring any preconceived ideas to it.
Famously Paul says that the middle wall of partition has been abolished between the two. Now many see this to as a reference to the Jewish temple where there were separate courts and walls preventing certain peoples passing to the next area of the temple. In the Temple the Gentiles were permitted up to a certain point, and there was a wall beyond which they were not allowed. Now Paul may have been thinking of that, but he wasn’t using it in a literal sense that Gentiles can now partake of the Jewish rituals! Indeed the passage itself says the opposite!
The wall Paul is talking of is this: …. the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; the wall dividing Jew and Gentile was the law of commandments contained in ordinances. The Mosaic law is what is in view here, it was this that separated the two peoples. Christ’s death abolished it and, as we have already seen in Galatians, the law was only temporary anyway, it was a school master to bring us to Christ.
The reconciliation then is, not as some might suggest, that the Gentile may now partake of the Mosaic law and commandments, this idea would contradict the whole teaching of the New Covenant. In this passage we must note carefully that Paul says that both Jew and Gentile have BOTH been reconciled to God by the cross, NOT that the Gentiles have been reconciled to the Jews! And as God has raised both Jews and Gentiles into the heavenly places in Christ then so it is that we have peace, and that the middle wall between Jews and Gentiles has been broken down; so that there is now no Jew or Gentile in Christ. All ethnic barriers are have removed, and in Christ we are all equal with no one superior or inferior to anyone else. There being ONE head and that is Jesus HIMSELF, and we all have direct access to that head without any go between at all.
We have seen that having being born anew we are to continue in the Spirit and remain in peace, and not to be alienated from God’s purposes for us by walking once more in the flesh. If we are in conflict, having lost our sense of direction and peace in God, then it is because we are walking contrary to the Spirit and are in the flesh. If so, then like the prodigal we need to repent and return. Finally since God has reconciled sinners to Himself in Christ, then as brothers and sisters we are at peace with each other, and we are exhorted to keep the unity and peace. This can only be as we walk in the Spirit. Rom.14:19; Eph.4:3,17,30;5:1-2,8-10. etc.