by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 4 Study # 11 June 23, 2013 Dayton, Texas (Download Audio)
(275)Thesis:Peace is a condition of the soul that dampens its fears and, thus, reduces the inner conflicts within the believer.
Introduction:In our studies of the fruit of the Spirit, we have looked at the declarations that this fruit is, first, "fruit", and that, as "fruit", its most crucial element is the Love of God. With that in place, we saw in our last study that "joy" is the automatic result of four elements that impact the presence/absence of "joy". Those four elements are: Love; Faith; Circumstances; Focus.
This evening we come to "peace". Our question is this: what did Paul intend to accomplish by characterizing the "fruit of the Spirit" in terms of "peace"?
I. Our First Consideration: The Impact of The First Three Elements of the Fruit.
A. In Romans 14:17 Paul characterizes the Kingdom of God in terms of "righteousness, peace, and joy".
1. In this characterization, Paul is presenting a logical progression that makes the Kingdom a highly desirable setting.
a. Righteousness is the foundation of Kingdom behavior towards others.
b. Righteous behavior produces "peace" (Hebrews 12:11).
c. Peace, consequently, yields the Joy of Life as the ultimate quality of Kingdom experience.
2. It seems clear that Paul, in this text, is characterizing the Kingdom in terms of its quality of Life and the method for getting there.
B. In our current text, Paul puts "love" in the place of "righteousness" and switches the order of "peace and joy".
1. From a consideration of Galatians 5:14 compared with 5:23, it is obvious that the root of righteousness is the right kind of "love" (thus, we have a fairly parallel set of concepts between Romans 14:17 and Galatians5:22).
2. This question then arises: what is the "progression" in Paul's thinking that causes him to switch the order of joy/peace to peace/joy?
C. Apparently, Paul is more focused in this first segment of the "fruit" issue with how the Spirit affects us by His indwelling presence (as opposed to how we affect others).
1. This means that the "love" element is more about whether we perceive ourselves as the objects of God's love for us than whether we are "loving" toward others.
a. Our perception of the things that are valuable to God starts with our perception of ourselves as valuable to Him.
1) According to 1 John 4:19, we love God astheoutcome of this perception.
2) There can be no embracing of the "fruit" as "love" in the sense of an established order of priorities without this because it will be our love for God that accepts His order.
b. Thus, "love" as the "fruit" of the Spirit begins at home (within ourselves).
2. This also means that the "joy" element is most fundamentally about whether we are "living" (experiencing the joy).
a. Because "joy" is a "produced" emotional reaction rooted in that things that are valuable, "joy" is in the list next to "love" simply because "being loved by God" introduces us to His Life where "joy" is the core.
b. It is of paramount importance to God that we experience His joy.
3. That brings us to the issue of "peace".
a. What is significant about peace?
b. Why is it third in the list?
II. Our Second Consideration: The Nature and Significance of Peace.
A. Peace is considered from two different directions.
1. In view of "conflict" issues, peace is often considered in terms of "the absence of conflict".
2. In view of "benefit" issues, peace is often considered in terms of "the presence of harmony in the midst of the complexities of living".
B. The significance of "peace" is variable in view of our makeup and circumstances.
1. When our bodies are in view, "peace" is the absence of "physical aggressions" and the presence of healthy inputs.
2. When our souls are in view, "peace" is the absence of "enemies" and the presence of loving supporters.
3. When our spirits are in view, "peace" is the absence of "humiliation" and the presence of acceptance/approval.
C. The significance of "peace" in light of Paul's focus upon what we experience from the Spirit's indwelling presence within us is not upon our horizontal relationships (those factors that address external issues of health, support, or affirmation), but upon the vertical relationship we have with the Father.
III. Our Third Consideration: The Order of Paul's Words.
A. Romans 14:17 is a logical, linear order of what makes the Kingdom a desirable place to be.
B. But Galatians 5:22 is a circular spiral order of what makes the Spirit a desirable Person to possess.
1. The "first" dividend of relating to God in a healthy way is "peace" (Romans 5:1).
2. This means that the first criticalissue for how we experience the Life of God is the issue of the cessation of conflict between us and God.
3. The most crucial aspect of this issue is the inviolability of God's lack of aggression toward us.
a. The issue of "peace" is the presence of "righteousness" and "justification" settles that issue forever.
b. With "justification" forever, God is never to be seen as an Aggressor again.
c. This means that the number one problem of "joy" as a variable response to circumstances is addressed: whatever the circumstance, God is not far from us...ever.
4. Thus, there is a spiral of "love leading to joy leading to peace leading back to love (God's love for us that is only really threatened when bad things happen to us and our tendency is to think that God "hates" us or, at least, has abandoned us)".