Peace - Putting it into Practice
Col 3:15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
2 Cor 13:11 Finally, brothers, good-by. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.
Phil 4:7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Phil 4:9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Rom 8:15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."
Matt 11:28 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
These passages are very comforting and offer peace, but how do we apply these truths to our lives and put them into practice? The answer is to believe. We must realize that belief is the key. If you believe in Jesus you should also believe Jesus. In other words, you will not only believe that Jesus exists, you will believe what he says in His Word. Belief actually means to have faith or entrust. To believe that a man named Jesus existed, but not really know or care about what He taught is not a belief that will result in a saving faith. We are not saved by simply believing that He was real but by believing in Him. As the Bible says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” (Acts 16:31) When we believe in Jesus we believe not only that He lived but also in what He said. We should trust that all He promised, including peace, joy, and rest, is available to us.
As simple as it sounds, people often miss this point. They claim to believe in Christ and are therefore saved. They trust that when they die they will be in heaven, yet they do not believe that Jesus can give them peace while here on earth. They do not believe that He has the answer to their emotional and behavioral problems. What does this tell us about their faith? If we trust that He will indeed take us to heaven with Him when we die, should we not also trust that He can give us peace while here on earth? Seriously consider this question. If you claim to believe in Jesus, do you also really and truly believe Him? When He says he offers rest, peace, hope, and joy; does He mean it? Or do you believe the philosophy of man that says even Christians are sometimes not capable of experiencing what God promised - even if the Bible says otherwise?
One of the hardest truths for people to accept is the fact that they are responsible for their own actions and behavior. While it may sound comforting to hear a doctor tell us that we cannot help our behavior, this is not true. If it were true, then the Bible would be a lie. The Bible tells us how to have peace. It speaks of anxiety and tells us that peace and a joyful heart are something we can achieve if we do what God tells us. We can choose how we feel, act, and behave and the Bible tells us which choices we should make. When we make the wrong choices we are held accountable for those decisions. When you agree with the psychologist or doctors who tell you that you cannot help how you feel, you are in essence putting your faith and trust in them rather than in Christ. Both cannot be true, for the teachings of psychology and the teachings found in Scripture are in opposition to each other.
We understand that this may sound foreign to many people because we realize just how deeply rooted some of these ideas are. Most of us were introduced to the ideology of psychology starting a very early age. In elementary and even preschool there are school counselors and teachers who begin analyzing each student’s behavior. These professionals lead the student and parents to believe that they have the solutions for behavioral problems. As we enter adulthood we continue to be surrounded by psychological philosophies. There are support groups for every type of behavioral problem you can imagine. The media bombards us with the so called terminology of physiological disorders, as if it were science. Many churches have their own “Christian” psychologists and their teachings flood even Christian literature, radio, and television programs. A lot of people have been taught and trained their entire life that behavior is something that requires therapy or medication, even by those who are supposed to be teaching and preaching God’s Word. We understand the confusion and why a person may be convinced that they have no hope outside of psychology.
Most people have been trained in this non-scriptural philosophy from their childhood. Instead of being instructed through God’s Word to correct their behavior they were given “therapy”. Parents experiment with whatever disciplinary method the latest psychologist recommends and somewhere through all these methods and ideologies we quit trusting in the one thing that has always been proven effective; the Bible. This leaves us with a generation that has never been taught the Biblical solutions to these problems. This means that these people have spent their entire life never learning how to correctly deal with disappointment, rejection, anger, loss, jealousy, and many other behavioral issues. Living our whole lives attempting and failing to find peace can lead to severe depression and anxiety. Convinced there is no hope, not even in God’s Word, many rely on medication and the philosophy of the world. These, however, will never bring healing and a person is doomed to continue to be dependent upon such things for life, for none of these offers true and lasting peace.
Even our court systems rely and trust in psychology. Criminals can escape conviction if they are deemed “insane." Have you ever heard “Who, in they’re right mind would murder someone in cold blood?” This reveals that they believe “to murder” means “to be sick” not sinful, as the Bible teaches. In most cases both the prosecution and defense team have psychologists that come to opposite conclusions. It seems that for every ‘professional’ that says a person is insane, you can find another saying they are sane. This proves that psychology is subjective, not objective. Whatever disorder you are diagnosed with is based upon the opinions of the professional you are seeing. There are no real medical tests to determine insanity, depression, anxiety, bi-polar, and other so-called “mental illnesses.” They are basing their diagnosis off of their opinion of your symptoms seldom seeing and witnessing the behavior first hand.
Please try to forget all that you have been taught and trained and take some time to research the methods you are utilizing today. Psychology is constantly changing and even disagrees with itself within its own community. Many therapists will totally disagree with each other’s methods and practices. Look at society today. Since psychology has been accepted and embraced as scientific, which it is not (See our paper Psychology Science Fact or Fiction for more details), has our society improved or gotten worse? Look at the rise of crime, drugs, divorce, elicit sexual and immoral behavior, teen pregnancies, etc. These facts should reveal to us the failure, not success, of psychology. The methods and medications that psychologists recommend to solve these problems are constantly changing. Their failure to help the first generation causes the next generation to be in worse shape rather than better and we still turn to them to fix it. There is a better way!
While the Bible has the solution to our problems they may not be quickly overcome if people still cling to their past teachings. When a person starts to truly trust in God’s Word changes will begin to occur, but remember it takes time. The Bible is not like the “therapy” of psychology and it will not be accomplished in one-hour sessions or 40 days of study. It will take a permanent commitment to trust and obey God’s Word. As we read and study the Bible and learn what it is God desires for us to do, we will begin to learn how to handle and deal with these issues. Let us look a few passages that teach us how to have peace.
Phil 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Phil 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
Paul not only says to rejoice in the Lord always, he says it again, to emphasize the importance of his statement. We are told to rejoice. People wonder how a person can rejoice when everything in their life is going wrong. Again, this passage has the answer. We are told to rejoice "in the Lord. The Lord is near." Our focus should always be on God, not on our problems. While we must face our problems they are not to be the center of our attention. We must rejoice in the Lord always, remembering that He is near. If God be for us, who can be against us? (Rom. 8:31) When we stop focusing on what is going wrong and remember that God is near and will comfort us, give us strength, and always be there to help us make it through, we can and should rejoice!
Please note also that the passage also says, “Let your gentleness be evident to all.” This word gentleness means mild, gentle, your tolerance, clemency. Our attitudes are again addressed in this text. The same word for gentleness in this passage is also used in James 3:17 translated as considerate in the NIV. The following passage teaches us the difference between the wisdom of man and the wisdom from God. We should not be selfish or jealous for that will lead to disorder. We must exercise the wisdom from above, which is peaceable and peaceful.
James 3:13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. 17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate (gentle), submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.
This again is a decision we make. To let your gentleness be known means to show mercy and not to seek revenge. It means to show compassion not contempt. It means to focus on God’s wisdom not our own. As long as you focus on the hurts that have been done to you, the things that you are envious of, or the selfish ambitions and desires of your heart you will not find peace and are instead, according to the Bible, exercising the wisdom “of the devil.” God’s wisdom instructs you to focus on Him and allow His characteristics to over-ride your own selfish hurts, envies, and desires. To let your gentleness be evident to all means to focus on God rather than self.
We must choose to rejoice and we must choose to be gentle remembering that the Lord is near. The comfort of knowing He is near is enough to cause us to rejoice and show mercy. The passage then goes on:
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Now we are told, “not be anxious about anything.” Anxiety is not mentioned as a disorder or something that cannot be controlled. Instead Paul simply tells us to not be anxious. That infers a choice on our behalf as to whether or not we are anxious. So how do we refrain from being anxious?
The verse gives us the answer, “in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” We have to pray to God and petition God for help. We should pray in all things. God wants to hear from us. We also should ask for His help in all matters of our life, and that includes anxiety. But to simply ask for help not to be anxious is not enough. We must try to consider what is causing us to be anxious. No matter what the medical community tells you, anxiety is not something that occurs for no apparent reason at all. The anxiety is coming from something, usually some sort of fear. But remember one of the passages at the beginning of our study; we were not given a spirit of fear (Rom 8:15). Fear does not come from God, peace does. So if we are anxious we need to pray for more than just help from being anxious. We should seek God’s Wisdom through His Word in order to overcome anxiety.
1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
God is the answer to anxiety; we must cast it upon Him. If we truly cast all of our anxiety upon God we have nothing more to be anxious about. This goes back to what we said earlier. To verbally say you give it to God and yet still feel anxious is not really giving it to Him. God cares for you! The more we read and study His Word the more we will understand that. If we neglect the study of God’s Word, however, we will never fully grasp how deep and how wide His love for us is. Finding peace through prayer is not an alternative to reading God’s Word, it is something we do to supplement that relationship. God speaks to us through His Word and we converse with Him through prayer. To do one without the other leaves us with a one sided relationship, and relationships take two.
This verse not only tells us to pray, but it tells us with what attitude we should pray in. It says to pray, “with thanksgiving.” This is extremely important. Why is that? Even when everything is going wrong in our lives, we have things to be thankful for. Remember, the Lord is near. That alone is enough to give us a thankful heart. Think about what happens when you are thankful.
First we begin to be mindful of what we have, not what we have not. We should begin focusing on the good things in our life rather than the bad. We will find in the upcoming passages of this text that the things we think on will affect our attitude. If we are thankful we are thinking on God’s blessings and will not be focused on our own disappointments. This is one of the most important lessons in finding peace; think on the things of God rather than on self. Be thankful.
This spirit of gratitude not only allows us to focus on what we have, it also helps us to quit focusing on what we want. Our fellowship begins to center more on God and His truths then on what we personally desire for our lives. A thankful heart sets our minds where it should be, on the glory, power, honor, and praise that God deserves. That, in turn, helps to alleviate our anxiety as we realize that God is in control and is there for us no matter what may come our way.
So, we are told to rejoice in the Lord, be gentle, not to be anxious, and to pray and petition with thanksgiving remembering the Lord is near. If we do this we are promised that the peace that passes all understanding will guard our hearts and minds.
7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
This not only tells us we can experience the peace of God that is incomprehensible to mankind, but it says that peace will guard our hearts and minds. As we have mentioned in several other articles, science has the brain mixed up with the mind. Our mind is not the tissue inside of your head; your mind is what causes your brain to function. The mind is part of our spiritual being for the Scriptures tell us that even God has a mind and we know that God is not flesh, but Spirit. We choose who we allow to control our minds. We can choose to let it be controlled by sin or by the Spirit.
Rom 8:6 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace;
The Spirit of God can control your mind if you allow Him to and if you do, it will result in a life of peace. The Spirit, however, does not supernaturally cause us to feel peace no matter what we do in our every day life. Rather, the Spirit guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. If you want your mind and heart guarded by the peace of God you must do what the Word of God says to do. So what must we do? Paul tells us in this very passage.
Phil 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.
Paul lists things that we are to think about. We should look at each one of these closely and examine them in light of what we focus our thoughts on. If we think on things that do not fall into these guidelines then our mind is not guarded by peace and we are susceptible to becoming depressed or anxious.
First, we must think on whatever is true. Truth is extremely important. Christ is even referred to as being Truth (John 14:6). The Bible is filled with passages that address truth, honesty and God’s disdain for lies and deceit. We can hardly ignore the overwhelming evidence that demands speaking and thinking on the truth. The truth matters and if your life is focused on things not true, you will not have peace.
While it is evident that we should not be involved in openly deceitful practices, sometimes we do not realize that our thoughts are indeed untrue. For instance, if you become worried and anxious when you think about what might happen in the future you are not thinking on truth. Whenever you think about what might happen you have left reality and truth and are focusing on conjecture and fantasy, neither of which are true. This information can have a major impact on whether or not you have peace. If you spend most of your day worrying over things that are not even truthful then you are disobeying God’s Word and are not protected by peace.
So what is the answer? Think on truth. The next time you start worrying and fretting over what might or might not happen in the future, ask yourself, has this really happened yet? To imagine what we think might be the truth is not thinking on what is true. If in reality things do go wrong, we know the truth is that God is with us and will never forsake us. The truth is that God, if we truly believe Him, will help us through whatever might come our way. Sure, it is wise to prepare for certain events that might happen, that is not sinful, but to worry about them as if they already have, is. Think on truth.
Next we are told to think on whatever is noble. The word for noble is semnos, which according to the Zodhiates Word Study Dictionary “represents not only earthly dignity (kosmios), but that which is derived from a higher citizenship, a heavenly one, which is the possession of all believers.” This reinforces what we have been saying, it is important to think on heavenly things, thoughts centered toward God and his majesty.
Col 3:1-5 3:1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. NIV
Your thoughts should be centered on God, not self. Even when your thoughts are on your problems, they should be looked upon in the perspective of how God will help you through them. To continually worry, fret, and panic over an issue is not thinking on whatever is noble. But to think, ponder, and try to solve problems through the guidance of the Word of God with the realization that God is in control and will see you through, is noble.
We are also to think on whatever is right. This word means “just” as in justice and righteousness. While the world teaches there is no right or wrong, the Bible teaches otherwise and our thoughts are to be on things that are just. This again, cannot be accomplished without careful, thoughtful, and continual study of God’s Word. His Word teaches us right from wrong. A recent convert told me they were amazed to realize that homosexuality was taught as a sin in the Bible. They used to be for homosexual rights and for a woman’s right to an abortion. Now that they are into God’s Word they are seeing more clearly what is right and what is wrong.
We may not always be aware that our actions are causing us to be depressed because we may not realize that what we are doing is wrong. While we may realize homosexuality is a sin, we may not realize something else in our life is. Maybe you are depressed because you are following a false teaching that does not lead to peace. You will never know what is right until you read and study God’s Word. Peace cannot come from following error; it comes from following God’s righteousness.
Next we think on whatever is pure. As we study God’s Word and learn what is right we also learn what is pure. How much of your day is spent watching, reading and/or listening to programs or songs that deal with divorce, sex, murder, hatred, violence, and various other sinful behaviors. If we fill our thoughts and minds with things not pure, our attitudes will suffer. I know that I can get upset just listening to the news for extended periods of time. Focusing more time on the injustices of this world rather than on the purity found in the Lord will lead to bad thoughts and behavior. We know that when our thoughts are not chaste then we are not following God’s wisdom.
James 3:17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
Then we are told to think on whatever is lovely. We are to be thinking about things that are acceptable and pleasing to the Lord. From the list we have already been through we can see that thoughts that are dishonest, selfish, false, and impure are not lovely things. They are not acceptable to the Lord. We should think on things that are. While it may be true that you were injured by another is it lovely to have that the focus of your thoughts? It may be right to seek justice but is it lovely (pleasing and acceptable) to let that be the main focus of your life? Wanting justice and seeking vengeance are two different things. Should not you think more often on the things of the Lord?
Remember, the Lord is near, even when you are hurt. He can help you overcome your pain but you have to let Him by thinking on things that are lovely, things that are acceptable and pleasing to Him. There may be times that we have to just let unlovely thoughts go. As we read and study God’s Word we begin to know and realize what is and is not acceptable to Him. As we begin focusing on those lovely things, our hearts and minds are guarded by peace.
Next is to think on whatever is admirable. Think on things that are of a good report, praiseworthy, and admirable. Again, how do we determine what things apply under this instruction? We must read and study God’s Word. His Word is praiseworthy and admirable. Let His teachings be the emphasis of your thought life.
As if to summarize for emphasis Paul then says, “If anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.” We must think on things that are excellent and praiseworthy. The Word teaches us that God is the only one who deserves such praise and attention.
Ps 145:3 Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.
In order to think on God, who alone is most worthy of praise, we must know about Him. We can only do that through the study of God’s Word. Remember, our thoughts must be on things that are true. Thinking of a god that will not send anyone to hell, even those who refuse to believe on Him is not thinking on the things of God for they are untrue. The same goes with thinking of a god who will only save those who are worthy enough to be saved. A god who provides salvation through man’s works is not the God we must consider. A person could be depressed if he were to think that God predestined some people to hell or that he will only see heaven if he is good enough to get there. Those thoughts do not lead to peace because they are not true. We must think on things that are true and praiseworthy.
To sit and think up your own characteristics of God is not the proper way to apply these passages to your life. The only way we can know about God is through the reading and study of God’s Word. We must read it and believe it. Only the truths taught in Scripture are excellent and praiseworthy enough to bring peace.
9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
While the Spirit offers us peace, it takes action on our part. We must do what we have been instructed. Peace is not offered to those who live in rebellion and refuse, or never find time, to read and study God’s Word. The Word has the answer and we must not simply read it but do what it says. Without that, we can never find peace.
What have we learned, received, heard, or seen in Paul? We must consider this for those are the things we must put into practice. We can learn these things by reading the message that he left us. We can hear and receive these things when they are taught and studied. We see the picture of Paul’s walk with the Lord as we read his story in the book of Acts and his letters to the apostles. These are the lessons we must not only read and understand but also practice. We must do what he says.
As Paul writes this book he is in “chains for Christ.” Paul is in prison and yet his thoughts are on not on the injustice of his imprisonment, but rather on the good that has come from it.
Phil 1:12 Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.
Paul is not focusing on himself. He is teaching others to rejoice, not by mere words alone, but by example! He is rejoicing under very dire circumstances. His selfless, joyful attitude should serve as an example to us all.
Continuing on in Philippians 4 Paul goes on to say:
Phil 4:10 I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
Paul found a reason to rejoice. That reason was not simply that he was provided things he needed or wanted, for he had learned to be content no matter what. He knew he could always trust in God. His thoughts were on the fact that others were concerned about Him and had an opportunity to serve the Lord in showing that concern. Paul’s joy and peace came from the fact that he knew, whether or not they had offered their assistance, Paul would have found strength in Christ to suffer whatever trials had come his way. Paul’s focus was only on Christ and his power and willingness to always meet our needs.
Phil 4:19 And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
Paul did not need to worry, fret or be anxious. By rejoicing and focusing on Christ he had a peace that passed any human understanding. He knew this peace was from God and gave Him alone the glory and honor and praise. As he stated when he began to close his letter:
Phil 4:20 To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen
We learned all of that from a few short passages of Scripture. These are by no means the only verses that tell us how to have peace. The Bible is full of passages that offer comfort, rest, peace, and joy. Remember that to the believer God’s Word is alive. It is living and active and it judges your hearts and attitudes.
Heb 4:12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
This is not some ancient text that was relevant only for its day. It continues to live and change lives, but one must believe in it in order for it to do so. As we read and study God’s Word we will find what behaviors, thoughts, and attitudes we need to change. God’s living Word will reveal these truths to us. The peace is ours to have if we do what it tells us to do. Look at the promise of Jesus.
Matt 11:28 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
If you are weary and burdened, Jesus offers rest. But first we must take His yoke and learn from Him.
29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me
His rest will not come if we do not turn to Him. It will not come from simply believing He exists. It will not come if we come to Him and yet refuse to learn from Him. It will only come if we come to Him and learn from Him. We must listen to what the Word teaches and we can only do that if we actually read and study it continually. There is no substitute for a life changing relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ from which we desire to learn more about Him.
1 John 2:4 The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.
2 John 6 And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.
As Paul began his letter to the Philippians he greeted them with the grace and peace from God. Paul used this greeting in most every letter he wrote. Paul knew peace was something every believer could and should experience. We pray that you will turn to God’s Word and open your hearts to allow it to teach you so that you too may have the peace that passes all understanding.Phil 1:2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ