Paul has reminded his readers that an awareness of peace enables them to function as Christian soldiers. Such peace has two sides – an objective state of peace with God and a subjective experience of the peace of God. Yesterday we looked at the objective aspect and today we will consider the subjective experience of divine peace.
How does a Christian obtain and maintain this sense of peace? Paul, as a rule, reminds his readers of the source of peace in the introduction of each of his letters. He wishes that they all would know grace and peace from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. He also reminds the Galatian believers that subjective peace is a product of the work of the Holy Spirit, it is an aspect of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22).
So it is clear that the Christian must obtain this inner peace from God. Indeed the verses referred to in the previous paragraph indicate that peace can be sought from each person of the Trinity in particular. From the Father we can know the peace of pardon, from the Son we can know the peace of his presence as we grow in experimental knowledge of him, and we can know these distinct blessings by the work of the Spirit. Of course, the blessings from each divine person are not limited to the above examples. There are countless ways in which we can receive peace from the Triune God.
Having said that God is the source of peace, does this mean that believers have no responsibility in maintaining this sense of peace? The Bible stresses that they have, and here are some ways of obtaining it.
Meditation on God is the best way of maintaining an enjoyment of peace. Isaiah declares about God, ‘You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you’ (Isa. 26:3). There is a promise of peace to those who meditate on God, on his glorious attributes and on his great deeds.
Prayer for one another by believers is an important means of maintaining this sense of divine peace in their souls. Paul prays for peace in a comprehensive way in 2 Thessalonians 3:16: ‘Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.’ Paul instructed the Philippians that they were ‘not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God’. The consequence would be that ‘the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus’ (Phil. 4:6-7).
Obedience to God’s commandments is another way of maintaining this awareness of peace: ‘Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea’ (Isa. 48:18). The obvious implication is that disobedience by a believer removes God’s peace from his soul.
It is straightforward to see how maintaining this possession of divine peace in their souls enables believers to overcome the devil. He usually attacks them through their minds by making sinful suggestions to them. It is obvious that when their minds are focussed on God, on prayer to him and obedience to his requirements, it is more difficult for the devil to defeat them. That is not to say that he will not try persistently. Yet it is possible for believers to withstand the devil’s onslaughts and not be overthrown by him.