Attributes of the Spirit-filled Life: Peace
What does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit of God? According to the Apostle Paul it’s a life characterized by eight attributes that will be consistently displayed in the Christian life.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22–23, KJV 1900)
Love is the first and greatest evidence of a Spirit-filled life. Closely tied to it the virtue of joy. Hot on the heals of joy is peace. This attribute of the Spirit-filled life is an inner repose and quietness, that the believers experiences even in the face of adverse circumstances. It defies human understanding.
One of the best illustrations of this is found in the Old Testament story of Gideon.
Gideon is youngest son of Joash. He comes from an obscure family of an un-noteworthy clan of the Hebrew tribe of Manasseh. One day while he is threshing wheat the angel of the Lord suddenly appears to him.
"When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, 'The LORD is with you, mighty warrior'" (Judges 6:12) The angel commands Gideon to ". . . Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian's hand. Am I not sending you?" (Judges 6:14) He promises Gideon, ". . . I will be with you, and you will strike down the Midianites as if they were but one man" (Judges 6:16)
In spite of God's promise to be with him, Gideon is—to say the least—apprehensive. He's not a warrior, He's a farmer. He's not particularly brave and he's not even overly confident in God. In chapter six, verse thirteen, he dares to reproach God: "'But sir,' Gideon replied, 'if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, 'Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?' But now the LORD has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midain.”
Gideon does what believers throughout the ages have down when they feel they are in a tight spot. They ask God for a sign. This is exactly what Gideon does (Judges 6:17-23). Gideon goes and bakes some bread, kills and roasts a young goat and brings the items back as an offering to this claimant of divine character. He places them upon a rock as he is instructed and pours the broth from the roasted goat over the items. Then the angel of the LORD touches the meat and the cakes and fire shoots up out of the rock and consumes the offering. Gideon exclaims, "Ah, Sovereign LORD! I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face!" (Judges 6:22) He assumes he is about to die. He has seen God--and according to Scriptures, no one who sees the face of God can live. But the angle's voice rings out, "[Shawlome]-Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die."
Gideon's response is to build an altar as a memorial of his encounter with the living God and as an act of worship. He gives the altar a name: It is Jehovah-Shalom—The Lord our Peace.
In his experience with God, Gideon caught a glimpse of Jehovah's character. This is not a Lord who seeks to put the “fear of God” into the hearts of His people. Instead, He seeks to provide us peace with God that gives us confidence regardless of the outward circumstances we may find ourselves in.
I. GOD HAS PROMISED HIS PEOPLE A PRINCE OF PEACE
- God is vitally concerned that His people know peace
- “The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.” (Psalm 29:11, NIV84)
- too many professing Christians are struggling with anxiety, or disappointment or fear or apprehension
- they see troubles on every side and peace of mind and soul is not one of the blessings they consistently experience
- like Gideon, they find themselves saying, 'if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, 'Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?' But now the LORD has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midain'" (Judges 6:13)
A. GOD WANTS HIS PEOPLE TO KNOW AND EXPERIENCE PEACE
- “Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger through all generations?” (Psalm 85:5, NIV84)
- there was a time in King David's life when he found himself fleeing from Absalom during his son's rebellion and attempted coup
- David felt intense pressure and turmoil of soul
- but David fixed his thoughts on God and remembered the joy that came with trust in him
- comforted and at rest despite overwhelming danger, David concluded:
- “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8, NIV84)
- it is a multi-faceted word occurring over 200 times in the Old Testament
- about 25 times it is used either as a greeting or a farewell
- when it is used in such a way it implies a blessing upon that person's life
- ILLUS. It would be as if upon greeting a good friend we would say, "God bless you! I wish for you prosperity, health, wholeness and harmony in your life."
- two-thirds of the uses of this word express the fulfillment that comes to human lives when they experience God's presence
- for us as well as David, peace in difficult circumstances is a result of our relationship with God
- it has always been God who initiated peace on the behalf of His people
B. THE PRINCE OF PEACE WILL BRING QUIET REPOSE AND PROSPERITY TO HIS PEOPLE
- it was the OT prophets who announced God's promise to give His people a leader who would lead his people into peace
- “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6, NIV84)
- the people of Israel looked forward to the day when ... "of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end" (Isa. 6:7)
- for a nation of people who had frequently experienced war with their enemies, persecution by their neighbors and subjugation by foreign powers this was indeed a powerful hope
- Isaiah is clear that man's lack of peace comes from alienation from God and antagonism toward others due to a human nature twisted by sin
- Isaiah gives us a hint of the price of peace in his description of the suffering servant
- “But 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, NIV84)
II. THE PRINCE OF PEACE MAKES POSSIBLE PEACE WITH GOD
- let's jump ahead 500 years past Isaiah's prophecy to the night sky over the small Judean village of Bethlehem
- shepherds are gathered around a small fire
- some are fitfully trying to sleep on the rough and rocky soil
- others are milling about recounting the days activities, perhaps a few are even arguing over politics and religion
- a few may have even turned their attention to the night sky and quiet contemplation of Jehovah's mighty creation
- abruptly the still darkness is pierced by light and a symphony of praise as angels announce the birth of the Messiah
- “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”” (Luke 2:13–14, NIV84)
A. MAN'S GREATEST NEED IS PEACE WITH GOD
- ILLUS. In his book Born Again, Chuck Coleson writes of his conversion experience during the height of the Watergate Scandal. A friend had been witnessing to him. One evening that friend began to read from C.S. Lewis' book Mere Christianity. As Coleson listened he heard how pride keeps men from God. Coleson testifies that it was a agonizing experience. He writes: "I saw myself as I never had before. And the picture was ugly." He continued to search and read. Again and again he came back to C.S. Lewis central theme: "Jesus Christ is God." Upon his confession of Christ Coleson writes: "I felt old fears, tensions, and animosities draining away. I was coming alive to things I'd never seen before; as if God was filling the barren void I'd known for so many months, filling it to its brim with a whole new kind of awareness. There came something more: strength and serenity, a wonderful new assurance about life, a fresh perception of myself and the world around me."
- through Christ Jesus Chuck Coleson found what all men need . . .
- peace with God which comes through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ
B. YOU CAN HAVE PEACE WITH GOD BY ACCEPTING THE PRINCE OF PEACE: JESUS CHRIST
- “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; And the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.” (Isaiah 32:17, KJV 1900)
- what is this work of righteousness referred to by the Psalmist?
- the answer is found in the 5th chapter of Romans
- through the Prince of Peace we have a new position before God
- faith in Jesus Christ changes our relationship with God
- how does the Bible characterize our relationship with God before Jesus came into our hearts?
- listen to Paul . . .
- “the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.” (Romans 8:7, NIV84)
- the KJV uses the word enmity
- it means hatred with intense ill will and vindictiveness that threatens to kindle into hostility
- "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith. . ." (Rom. 5:1, KJV)
- because of Christ you and I can be in right with God
- our new position before God is one of friendship because He justifies us in Christ
- and when we are right with God, we will have peace with God
- “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” (Romans 5:1, NIV84)
- Jesus Christ is our great advocate before God
- we are the defendants
- God is prosecutor, judge and jury
- He has announced His universal verdict upon all men
- the whole world is guilty!
- He has not only announced the verdict, He has pronounced the sentence—all men will die and are rightly condemned to hell
- He has announced the verdict, He has pronounced the sentence, but praise God, He is willing to renounce both
- we have sinned, but we can be justified by faith in Christ
- man auctions himself cheep in the slave market of sin, but Jesus has come along and paid the price to buy us and set us free
- "through whom we have gained access by faith into his grace." (Rom. 5:2 , KJV)
- because we have peace with God we have access into His holy presence
- “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16, NIV84)
- it is a privilege that only a small percentage of mankind knows
III. THE PEOPLE OF THE PRINCE OF PEACE NEED TO BE PEACE MAKERS
- ILLUS. Two millennium ago in the night sky over a small Judean village called Bethlehem, the stillness of the evening was shattered by angels descending near the earth to spread the joyous news of the birth of a Savior. Their message brought announcement and a promise. The promise was one of quiet repose. "Glory to God in the highest and or earth peace, toward men of good will." Two thousand years later we seem to find few men of good will and a distinct lack of peace in the world. The pictures from around the world are stark. North Korea test-firing missiles in our general direction. A child droops lifelessly from a father’s arms in Gaza. The Congo continues to be a place where thousands of refugees have been raped, tortured or murdered simply because they belong to the wrong tribe or ethnic group. In Syria an entire village is slaughtered because they belonged to the wrong political group. In Muslim-dominated countries, a Muslim-led governments actively persecute and kill Christians.
A. WORLD PEACE BEGINS WITH A PERSONAL PEACE WITH GOD
- ". . . righteousness and peace kiss each other." (Psa. 85:10, KJV)
- what does he mean?
- I think what the Psalmist is trying to tell us is that a real inward peace of soul can only be had through personal righteousness that only comes from God
- only when we've experienced peace with God can we begin to live in peace with each other
- one of the finer points of Biblical truth regarding national or world tranquility is that peace must have people in it
- ILLUS. All men desire peace, but very few desire those things that make for peace.
- peace is not represented by a Christmas card that gives you fuzzy warm feelings
- peace is the active pursuit of people who have had an encounter with Jehovah-Shalom: The Lord our Peace
- Jesus told his disciples in the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9, NIV84)
- one: they refuse to retaliate and give evil for evil
- peacemakers will turn the other cheek
- " will pray for those would use them
- " will forgive when they are wronged
- " give the enemy a cup of cold water
- peace makers rarely accomplish great feats in life but instead do small tasks in the power of Jesus’ love
- two: they make every effort to introduce others to the Prince of Peace who can give time peace with God
Our God is Jehovah-Shalom: The Lord our Peace. He has sent the Prince of Peace—Jesus, who is the Christ—into our lives that we might have peace with God. God's son came to give peace to a world that seems torn and shattered by violence and hatred. He came to give spiritual peace to the souls of men. That peace is available to you tonight.
But God has also called us to be peace makers. That task is not always easy, but usually worth the price. What does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit? It means to know the peace of God.