There is a world of difference between peace with God and the peace of God.
When a person accepts Christ as Lord and personal Savior, he establishes peace with God. As a result of salvation, God’s anger toward sin is appeased through Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice and peace with God is established (Romans 5:1). As a regenerated, reconciled child of God, I revel in knowing this peace can never be removed.
However, the peace of God is something much different. It is conditional to life choices, may be withheld and controlled, and represents a state of mind and condition of heart.
1. God is the source of peace – “God is not the author of confusion but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33). God is organized, excels at specificity and is involved in the nitty-gritty details of life. As sovereign, omniscient God, He is not frenzied, reactive or bewildered. Nothing catches Him off-guard. Rather, He precisely and intentionally orchestrates every event — even maneuvering man’s persistent immoral behavior and sinful exercise of free will — to fulfill His ultimate purpose and plan.
2. Jesus is the Prince of Peace – As such (Isaiah 9:6), He imparts His peace to His followers. “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you” (John 14:27). This does not imply the absence of heartache or adversity; rather, it is a calm contentedness regardless of the circumstances. It is a trusting foreknowledge that God holds every aspect of reality in His hands, has it all under control, and everything will be okay.
3. Peace is correlated to application of God’s Word – “Great peace have those who love Your law” (Psalm 119:165). Those who love and delight in God’s Word generally apply its guidance and instruction to their lives and lifestyles. Deeper obedience and submission to God’s moral standard leads to greater peace. Although seemingly counter-intuitive to independent thinking and the pursuit of freedom, peace parallels the adherence to God’s instruction. More obedience, more peace; less obedience, less peace.
4. Peace can be controlled – “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts” (Colossians 3:15). Although instructed to allow God’s peace to govern or control our hearts, each person maintains the ability to permit or restrict it. We can allow adversity’s frenzy, the world’s chaos or a self-imposed need for control to wreak havoc in our hearts and minds. Or we can lift our eyes from those stormy waves and affix them on the Storm-Walker.
5. Peace is pervasive – “When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7). When granted full access, God’s peace permeates every relationship, circumstance and aspect of life. By pleasing God, we unleash the unmatched power of His peace. In its incomprehensible manner, it softens hardened hearts, loosens unyielding mindsets, settles unresolved conflict and casts down strongholds. It negotiates and navigates what is impossible through force.
6. Peace is not weakness – “The God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly” (Romans 16:20). Though God is the source of peace and all peacefulness, He is still holy and righteous — an equitable distributor of rewards and consequences. As such, He grants favor to those who follow, submit and obey while dispensing severe judgment on all who oppose, rebel against or ignore Him. Yet even in judgment, His goal is to establish peace.
7. Peace is an incomprehensible safeguard – “The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). We have grown comfortable describing certain attributes or effects of peace, but finite minds cannot fully understand or define such infinite and soothing calm. Through Christ’s salvation and righteousness, this peace provides a protective shield for those hearts and minds that submit to God’s instruction and allow His peace full access.
8. God’s peace may be removed – “I have taken away My peace from this people” (Jeremiah 16:5). In addition to it being restricted by anxious, fearful and doubting minds, God also withholds and removes His peace as a form of judgment and means to recall people from their waywardness. In granting their desire to be removed from His influence, He subsequently removes His peace. The ensuing turmoil prompts a repentant heart and safe return to His side.
Do you have peace with God? Is the peace of God reigning over you today?