Sunday Evening Bible Study
June 30, 1996
Paul is writing to a group of churches which have been infected with a doctrine of legalism.
But after having taught them why it's important not to be living under the Law, trying to please God on their own, they are now faced with another situation, the danger that happens when you take the Law away from people:
Galatians 5:13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
And so Paul has begun teaching on the issue of how to handle the the flesh, with the main key being:
Ga 5:16 [This] I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
We've looked at the "works of the flesh", identifying when that sinful nature of ours it at work by looking at the things it produces in our lives.
Now we are looking at the singular "fruit of the Spirit".
It's a single fruit that has nine different characteristics.
The more we grow in the Lord, the more we learn to "walk in the Spirit" (vs.16), the more these qualities will appear.
:22 the fruit of the Spirit is ...
eirene (we get the feminine name, Irene)
A. Defining peace
1. Peace can be external
As between two opposing parties - either between nations, or between individuals.
Peace with God
Ro 5:1 ¶ Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: (AV)
Instead of being in a state of war with God, we have now gone to the peace table and negotiated a truce with God through the cross of Jesus.
2. Peace can be internal
As a tranquil state of heart and mind.
The peace of Jesus
Joh 14:27 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. (AV)
not as the world giveth
There are other kinds of peace that you can get in the world.
Peace from a bottle or a pill.
Peace from meditation.
What peace isn't - a heart that is:
troubled - tarasso - to agitate, trouble (a thing, by the movement of its parts to and fro); to cause one inward commotion, take away his calmness of mind, disturb his equanimity
afraid - deiliao - to be timid, fearful; like a palpitating heart
B. Peace comes when we follow certain principles.
Ro 14:19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. (AV)
follow after - dioko - to make to run or flee; to run swiftly in order to catch a person or thing, to run after; to press on: figuratively of one who in a race runs swiftly to reach the goal; to seek after eagerly, earnestly endeavour to acquire
There are going to be things that we can do that make for peace with each other as well as within ourselves.
What are those principles?
1. Keep your mind in the right place.
Ro 8:6 For to be carnally minded [is] death; but to be spiritually minded [is] life and peace. (AV)
If your mind has been on fleshly (carnal) things, you're not going to be experiencing God's peace in your life.
Philippians 4:8-9 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
Isa 26:3 Thou wilt keep [him] in perfect peace, [whose] mind [is] stayed [on thee]: because he trusteth in thee. (AV)
Someone once said:
The mind is a garden that could be cultivated to produce the harvest that we desire.
The mind is a workshop where the important decisions of life and eternity are made.
The mind is an armory where we forge the weapons for our victory or our destruction.
The mind is a battlefield where all the decisive battles of life are won or lost.
The famous cuckoo bird never builds its own nest. It flies around until it sees another nest with eggs in it and no mother bird around. The cuckoo quickly lands, lays its eggs there, and flies away.
The thrush, whose nest has been invaded, comes back. Not being very good at arithmetic, she gets to work hatching the eggs. What happens? Four little thrushes hatch, but one large cuckoo hatches. The cuckoo is two or three times the size of the thrushes.
When Mrs. Thrush brings to the nest one large, juicy worm, she finds four petite thrush mouths, one cavernous cuckoo mouth. Guess who gets the worm? A full-sized thrush ends up feeding a baby cuckoo that is three times as big as it is.
Over time, the bigger cuckoo gets bigger and bigger, and the smaller thrushes get smaller and smaller. When I was a kid, you could always find a baby cuckoo's nest. You walked along a hedgerow until you found dead little thrushes, which the cuckoo throws out one at a time.
Paul teaches in Romans 8:5-8 that spiritually speaking, you've got two natures in one nest. The nature that you go on feeding will grow, and the nature that you go on starving will diminish.
- Stuart Briscoe
2. Pray instead of worry.
About worrying ...
Stress affects everyone. It is the body's way of coping with emotional and physical change and a very necessary part of our survival response. But in today's society stress has gone overboard. Doctors and researchers say it is more responsible than anything else for almost every life threatening disease. And that makes it a major killer, Public Enemy Number One.
Mentally, stress can cause anxiety and depression. Physically, it leads to heart disease, cancer, arthritis, life threatening gastro intestinal problems, ulcers, and drug and alcohol abuse. Stress can lead to domestic violence -- even homicide or suicide. It has become such a serious problem that experts say that coping with stress is THE number one health priority of the 1990's.
Look at these statistics:
* 25 million Americans have high blood pressure
* 1 million more develop high blood pressure each year
* 8 million people have stomach ulcers
* 12 million are estimated to be alcoholics
* 230 million prescriptions are filled for tranquilizers annually
-- How to be Stress Free, by Lynn Allison, p. 2
A recent poll of parents of children ages 12 to 17 revealed that 43% worry about their son or daughter getting shot at school. Drug and alcohol abuse are more common worries as nearly 60% of parents think about these possibilities. Even more (64%) fear their teenagers might get AIDS, but the most frequent worry of all (67%) is that their teen may not be able to get a good job in the future.
-- Time Magazine, April 13, 1992, Vol. 139:15, p. 19.
Lee Strobel offers a unique perspective on life in the 90s:
If you really are a person of the 90s, you feel like life is whizzing past you at 90 miles an hour. You work 90 hours a week, and you've still got 90 items on your to-do list. You're on a 90-calorie-a-day diet because you look 90 pounds overweight in your swimming suit.
You've got 90 different bills to pay, and you're already $90 overdrawn. The minimum payment on our VISA this month is $90, and that's just the interest. You're still paying $90 a month on your student loan, and you don't know where you're going to get $90,000 to send your kids to school
You've got 90 channels of cable television, and there is still nothing worth watching. You drive your kids to 90 different activities and events a month. Your toddler just asked "Why?" for the 90th time today. And you think everything would be fine, if you were just making 90 grand a year.
-- Wayne Rouse, Astoria, Illinois, Leadership Magazine, Vol. 15:3, Summer 1994, p. 49.
It that's not enough ...
Many go to work on Monday and can't wait until Friday.
In fact, since mondays are so depressing for so many people, that day may be hazardous to your health.
A long-term follow-up study of nearly 4000 men found that 38 had died of sudden heart attacks on Monday while only 15 died on Friday. For men with no history of heart disease, Monday was particularly dangerous.
Among that group, an average of 8.2 heart attack deaths occurred on each of the other six days of the week, while nearly 3 times occurred on Monday.
A man went to a psychiatrist because he was having some odd dreams. He explained, "One night I dream that I'm a wigwam. The next night I dream that I'm a teepee. What do you think my problem is, doc?"
The psychiatrist quickly diagnosed the man's problem. "You're too tents (tense)!"
-- William Novak & Moshe Waldoks, The Big Book of New American Humor, p. 335. (adapted)
The Bible says:
Philippians 4:6-7 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
God's peace "passeth understanding", you just can't figure out how it works or what it is, you just enjoy it!
Pray about everything.
Pray specifically (supplication)
Pray with thanksgiving - give it to God and thank Him for taking it!
-- Ruth Bell Graham, Prodigals and Those Who Love Them, p. 44.:
A weary Christian lay awake one night trying to hold the world together by his worrying, Then he heard the Lord gently say to him, "Now you go to sleep, Jim; I'll sit up.
If you have any long-standing problems, try kneeling.
Lisa Owens was facing knee surgery. She was a bit nervous about it, so she asked her boss, the veterinarian at the clinic where she worked if he had any advice for her. He was very comforting and without any hesitation he told her, "Turn your worries into prayers, get plenty of rest and don't lick your incision."
-- Reader's Digest
C. Peace as a practical tool
Peace is not only a gift of the Lord, and a byproduct of keeping our mind in the right place and prayer, but it is actually a very practical tool in the Christian life as well.
1. Peace guides our behavior
1Co 14:33 For God is not [the author] of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. (AV)
Paul is teaching the Corinthians about how they are to behave in church.
He talks about how prophecies and tongues are to be handled.
He talks about how women are to behave themselves in the service.
The overall guiding principle is: Confusion or peace?
Is the practice causing confusion in the church, or is it bringing a sense of peace?
When people are rolling on the floor, screaming, or barking like dogs - is this causing confusion, or peace?
2. Peace shows us God's will.
Col 3:15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. (AV)
rule in your hearts
brabeuo - to be an umpire; to decide, determine; to direct, control, rule
It works like this - when you are seeking to learn and discern God's will for your life, one of the things you may learn to grow in is whether or not you "have a peace" about the situation.
If you feel "troubled" or "afraid" in your heart, it's possible that this might not be God's will.
On the other hand, it may be that you need to do some growing in the Lord too.
We need to be kind of careful when using our own hearts as a guage, since our hearts can be amazingly deceitful, especially if we've not been walking close to the Lord.