Real Joy and True Peace
“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (v. 17).
- Romans 14:13–23
Because the Bible says that Christians are to be joyful, and because joy is a positive, upbeat thing, many Christians nowadays have fallen into the trap of projecting a superficial kind of “happy-face” that is really rather offensive to serious human beings. It seems insincere. Biblical joy is not superficial but is grounded in a deep and profound reality. It is the joy and celebration of the Bridegroom and the bride. It arises from the happiness of the wedding. It is the celebration of the victory of Christ. Thus, in terms of the order in Galatians 5:22, joy grows from love. The more we love Christ the more we rejoice as His bride. This is a joy that can exist even in the midst of pain and sorrow.
Peace has several meanings in the Bible. In its first sense, peace means peace with God. It means we are no longer at war with God, and He is no longer at war with us. This kind of peace is the same thing as salvation and is the foundation of all our blessings. It is not what Paul is referring to here in Galatians 5:22, however, because peace is something that grows and develops in the lives of those who already have peace with God.
Peace as a fruit of the Spirit refers to living peacefully and harmoniously with others. The more agape love we come to know, and the more joy we experience, the more tension and conflict will leave our lives. We will be more at peace with ourselves, and more at peace with others.
In the fullest sense, peace means we enjoy fellowship with God, the same kind of peace-filled fellowship that the Father enjoys with the Son and the Spirit in eternity. Because we have a fellowship of peace with the three persons of God, we also have it with our brothers and sisters, and as much as possible with our unbelieving neighbors as well.
At the same time, there is a counterfeit peace we must beware of. The false prophets proclaimed, “Peace, peace,” when there was no peace. We can know, objectively, that we have peace when we are living righteously with God. It is not possible for us to be at peace with all men, because many men are at war with God. We strive for peace, but we must never compromise the truth to get it.
If you are a Christian, the Spirit has been poured into your heart, which means joy and peace have been poured into you. If you don’t feel much joy in Christ or peace with others right now, stop and seek these fruits by faith. The Spirit causes us to love Christ, our Husband, and to joy in Him and to have peace with His people.
Passages for Further Study
- Isaiah 26:3; 41:10
- John 14:23–31