Colossians 3:15

The Rule of God’s Peace

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts

 

A. The Peace of God

1. Peace WITH God.

a. Col. 1:20-22 – Christ made peace through His shed blood on the cross.
• Christ made peace possible for the whole world.
• He shed His blood and paid the price of all our sins.
• Anyone who now comes to Christ, trusting entirely and exclusively in His shed blood is changed from an enemy to a friend of God!
• We were enemies; and now reconciled. Enmity is over! Peace WITH God replaces enmity and hostility.

b. Rom. 5:1 – Being justified by faith we have peace WITH God. The war is over.

c. Peace WITH God speaks of our position.
• Every true believer has peace with God… whether he experiences it in his heart or not.
• There is no condemnation; the war is over; justification has been completed.
• We are no longer enemies of God but friends… sons.
• This is to be equated with salvation. We have made peace with God… once and for all at the moment of saving faith.

2. The Peace OF God.

a. But in Col. 3:15, Paul is not speaking about objective or positional peace… peace WITH God.

b. He is not talking about our position… but rather, the changeable CONDITION of our lives.

c. Peace with God has been made by the shed blood of Christ… however; we don’t always EXPERIENCE that peace in our hearts.

d. It is this experiential kind of peace of which Paul writes in Col. 3:15.

e. It is a command to let it rule in our hearts.

f. It is God’s peace, and when we ALLOW it to rule in our hearts, we experience it.

g. That means that peace does not ALWAYS rule… sometimes other issues in our lives overshadow this peace… eat away at it… and at times completely overwhelm and crush this peace.

3. Peace defined:

a. Strong’s: 1 – A state of national tranquility. (The absence of war.)

b. Strong’s: 2 – peace between individuals, i.e. harmony, tranquility. (The absence of hostility.)

c. Strong’s: 3 – of Christianity, the tranquil state of a soul. (The absence of worry, fear, guilt, etc.) before God.

4. The peace of God is God’s own peace that He GIVES to us!

a. The King James Version reads “the peace of God” here.

b. Other passages speak of it as God’s peace. (II Thessalonians 3:16 – “Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means.”)

c. Other manuscripts read, “the peace of Christ” in Col. 3:15.

d. The difference is miniscule in this sense: Jesus IS God… and the peace that is given is elsewhere defined for us as peace that comes to us FROM Christ.

e. Jesus said, “My peace I give unto you”… (The Lord Jesus gives the peace). (John 14:27)

f. Eph. 2:14 states that Christ IS our peace! Isaiah refers to Him as the Prince of Peace!

g. He dwells in us… and His peace is CONSTANTLY available by faith… if we trust Him… we can have peace like a river… peace in the midst of a storm!

h. Hence, it is best to understand this as the peace of Christ… bestowed from the Head to His Body… a divine peace from God Himself… our Savior!

B. Its Rule In Our Hearts

1. Rule Defined

a. Strong’s: to be an umpire. 2to decide, determine. 3to direct, control, rule.

b. Zodhiates: an umpire, director or arbiter in the public Greek games. In the New Testament to rule, govern.

c. Theological Dictionary of New Testament: the activity of the umpire whose office at the games is to direct, arbitrate and decide the contest. In the wider sense it then comes to mean “to rule,” or “control.”

2. A popular interpretation of this passage:

a. Wiersbe: How can a Christian know when he is doing God’s will? One answer is: the peace of Christ in the heart … When the believer loses his inner peace, he knows that he has in some way disobeyed God.

b. MacArthur: The peace of Christ guides believers in making decisions.

c. Richard Strauss: But there would be some occasions when they might not know what God wanted them to do. How were they to decide those matters? “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,” he says. When we are pursuing the path of His choosing, an inner tranquility and serenity will tell us so. A quiet confidence and contentment will come over us. We will feel good about the direction we are going. Our minds will be at ease. As Isaiah put it, there will be peace like a river.

d. In other words, the peace of God in our hearts acts as an umpire by guiding us into God’s will for our lives. If we have a peace about it, it must be God’s will.

e. It is an interesting concept… an umpire! Many sermons have been preached on this theme… and to Americans who love baseball, an umpire is a compelling illustration.

f. There is an element of truth in it… and other passages do lend credence to that thought… (Isaiah 48:17,18)
• We should never head down a pathway if our conscience is not at rest… that’s an indication something might be wrong!
• We should stop and investigate…
• Peace of mind, heart, and conscience is one of many guideposts God gives us in discerning His will.

g. As a side note, this element of truth is often taken to the extreme.
• Some make all their decisions based solely on whether they have a peace about it or not.
• When this is the sole rule, it becomes hopelessly subjective… without any objective boundaries.
• Discerning God’s will by our feelings is a dangerous proposition!
• Just because a person says, “I have a peace about it,” does not necessarily mean that it is God’s will.
• Peace of heart and mind can play a helpful SUPPORTING role in discerning God’s will (never violate your conscience)… but only a supporting role!

h. Though there is an element of truth to this interpretation, I don’t think that that is what Col. 3:15 means. (with all due respect to the good men who see it otherwise!)

2. The Context

a. There doesn’t seem to be anything in the context about an individual believer learning how to find God’s will for his life.

b. Paul has been speaking about quarrels and conflicts that arise among SAINTS in the local church. (vs. 13)

c. Paul teaches us HOW to deal with quarrels among the saints: dress for the occasion!

d. Paul gives us a list of virtues to “put on” in times of such conflicts: meekness; kindness; longsuffering; forbearance; forgiveness; and on top of it all, LOVE!

e. Now the apostle commands us to let PEACE rule in our hearts.

f. He speaks of a peace which settles strife and preserves unity in the Body of Christ.

g. Eph. 4:1-3 – another reason for this interpretation is what Paul says in a parallel passage.
• Here Paul states that we are to be lowly, meek, longsuffering, forbearing in love (sound familiar?)
• Then Paul mentions the need for us all to let peace rule among the saints. (Endeavoring to keep our unity in the bond of peace.)
• In both passages, the thought is keeping peace among the saints in the Body… not discovering God’s will for your life.

3. Peace is to rule in the sense that it serves as an umpire or arbitrator in quarrels that arise in the body… among the saints.

a. As an umpire, God’s peace says to quarrels, contentions, disagreements, secret grudges, worries, fears, anxiety, bitterness, resentment: strike three, you’re OUT!

b. The umpire calls the shots. That sort of behavior and those attitudes are completely unacceptable in the Body of Christ.

c. Quarrels are contaminated, impure, foreign substances… an infection in the Body… God has given us His PEACE to fight off foreign infections in the Body! It is the responsibility of us all!

d. Quarrels and bitterness CANNOT rule in hearts where God’s peace rules. They are mutually exclusive. It is one or the other.

e. The context indicates that Paul is telling the members of the congregation how to deal with quarrels that arise among them corporately.

f. PEACE is to rule! It is to rule in the hearts of each individual member, and it is to reign in the Body corporately.

g. If the saints are arguing over what color curtains to buy for the assembly room… let peace rule! It’s not worth ruining the fellowship over. It’s better to have NO curtains than to fight over them and allow curtains to destroy the unity and peace of the Body.

h. It is better to pursue peace than to pursue getting one’s own way.

4. The Command: Let peace keep on ruling.

a. Present, active, imperative.

b. It is a command. LET, allow peace to reign.
• In other words, peace WILL reign when the members of the Body are yielded to Christ the Head, the Prince of Peace.
• This is a command to SUBMIT to the reign of Christ who IS our peace… submit to the rule of Christ the Head… submit to God who governs and rules His Body in peace.

c. It is a command that is ongoing… continuous action.

d. It is the responsibility of each member of the Body to contribute to the peace and unity of the Body corporately.

e. Each of us should be of this mindset: peace WILL rule in this body… because I am willing to sacrifice self, self will, and whatever it takes to maintain the peace and unity in the Body!

f. Our responsibility is to ENDEAVOR to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

5. Of course peace should never be pursued at the expense of truth or holiness!

a. This is not seeking peace with the false teachers… but seeking peace among ourselves… interpersonal relationships…

b. We are to seek peace without regard to personal price.

c. But we are not to seek peace and unity if the price of peace is doctrine!

6. What a way to end conflicts among the saints! Let peace rule!

a. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. (Isa. 26:3)

b. Believers who experience the peace of God in their hearts are those whose minds are stayed on God! (Christ!)
• Stayed: A verb meaning to lay on, to uphold, to sustain
• Psalm 71:6 – By thee have I been holden up from the womb.
• Psalm 37:24 – Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.
• Judges 16:29 – And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up.
• It is translated leaned in Amos 5:19 – used of a man leaning on a wall.
• II Chron. 32:7-8 – it is translated rested here… resting one’s mind on the Word!
• The mind that LEANS or RESTS upon God will be held up by omnipotence… and one who rests on omnipotence experiences rest and peace in his mind and heart!
• The mind and heart that refuses to lean and rest on omnipotence is left to its own devices: worry; fear; anxiety; etc… anything but peace.

7. When each member of the Body is STAYED on Jehovah… when we are single-mindedly focused on things above… looking unto Jesus… we are filled with the fullness of God…

a. We are thus filled with the fullness of God… filled with that which Christ is filled with: peace (among other things!)

b. We will be filled or controlled by the Spirit… and the fruit of the Spirit will be manifested in the Body… love, joy, peace!

c. When quarrels arise, it would be nice to resolve them with a Solomon like words of wisdom that satisfies all sides… but that doesn’t always happen.

d. But they CAN be resolved by allowing peace to reign…

e. And we do that by allowing Christ our Head to reign in His Body… the prince of peace… He IS our peace…

f. When we are yielded to Him… our attitude will be “not my will but thine be done.” Esteeming others better than ourselves…

g. Suddenly, the color you wanted for the curtains becomes quite insignificant. Christ reigning in His Body becomes supremely significant!

h. Yield to Him… submit to Him… give Him the preeminence He deserves, and the quarrels evaporate into air bubbles… at least in your heart.

8. Believers who experience the peace of God in their hearts are those who TRUST in God… walking by faith… (Phil. 4:6-7)

a. In times of bitter quarrels and controversy, worry and anxiety reign in hearts.

b. In a marriage: we worry about the outcome of the argument; will the marriage survive? What will become of the kids? There is no peace… instead, just bitterness, fear, anger, worry, etc…

c. In the local church: we worry whether this quarrel will cause the church to split! We are full of anxiety… fearful that the other side will get their way… that things will change. Quarrels dispel the peace in a local church and replace it with rancor, bitterness, anger…

d. Between two believers: peace can easily be replaced with anger, wrath, bitterness, loss of friendship and fellowship.

e. The answer?
• Pray. Cast your burdens upon the Lord.
• Take your anxieties to the throne of grace and LEAVE them there! In other words, TRUST GOD.
• Pray, cast, lean, trust.
• The result? The peace of God will again RULE in your heart. And it will GUARD or protect your heart.
• Peace is good for the heart. Anxiety, bitterness, worry, fear, quarrels, etc… is not.

9. Peace is to rule IN THE HEART.

a. Ps. 55:21 – The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart.

b. Paul speaks of reality here.

c. Peace is not to be on the lips only. That is often hypocrisy… a façade. God demands REALITY.

d. Peace is to rule in our hearts… and GOD is observing the heart.

e. Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart. (I Sam. 16:7)

To the which also ye are called in one body;

A. Called to Peace

1. Peace is our CALLING!

2. We have been called to dwell in peace in the Body of Christ.

3. I Cor. 7:15 – “God hath called us to peace.”

4. We have been called to experience the peace of heaven as we live on earth today… because we are citizens of heaven… and have been raised up and seated there in Christ.

5. By faith, we can experience this peace—our position in Christ—in our present condition on earth.

6. Peace is what God wants and intends for us to experience daily.

7. Our new life is hidden away with God in Christ in heaven… hidden away from the storms of life. We can experience peace in our HEARTS… though there is turmoil around us…

8. It is HIS peace we experience… the kind of peace that reigns in Christ’s heart in heaven.

a. He sits in heaven in perfect peace… undisturbed by the turmoil and chaos of life on earth.

b. He is seated in the heavenlies FAR ABOVE it all.

c. That is the peace WE can experience… for we are IN HIM… and our new life is hidden away with Christ.

9. John 16:33 – “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

10.We are to ABIDE IN Christ… and experience His peace flowing through us… as from the Vine to the branches… bearing the divinely wrought fruit: wonderful peace…

11. Our calling is in Christ and in Him is peace.

B. In One Body

1. We are to let peace reign in our hearts BECAUSE we have been called into ONE Body.

a. 3:11 – All different folks… from different nations, different religious upbringing, different levels of education and culture, different social status, etc… but they are now all in Christ… in His Body.

b. From our heavenly position and spiritually, none of that matters one bit!

c. But in our earthly condition, when we are focused on things below, those differences can mean problems… issues!

d. The fact that God has called people from all different backgrounds, different cultures, and different life experiences into ONE Body is bound to make for some friction.

e. The issue that brought this to mind was not a difference over doctrine.
• If believers disagree over fundamental doctrines, the answer is not peace and unity… the answer is “come out from among them and be ye separate!”
• But that was not the issue mentioned here.

f. The particular problem mentioned in the context was quarreling! Interpersonal problems… quarrels… (vs. 13)

g. Who knows what they might have been quarreling about!

h. Hence, he commands us to let peace rule in our hearts BECAUSE we have been called into ONE BODY!
• Since we have been called into ONE body… because we all have to live in the same body.
• The early church knew nothing of the cheap and flimsy concept of commitment to the Body so prevalent today (If I don’t like the vibes in this church, I’ll just go to another one!)
• In the New Testament, if conflicts arose in a church, God expected believers to stick it out and RESOLVE those conflicts! Running away was not an option.
• Here is a good reason to resolve conflicts in the Body: we have all been CALLED into the same body.
• Doesn’t it make sense for us all to want PEACE in that body… since we are called to LIVE there?
• Nobody wants an infection or disease in their physical body. You have to LIVE in that body!
• We should not want quarrels or conflicts in the Body of Christ either… spiritual infections.
• BECAUSE God called us to LIVE in this Body, it is incumbent upon us to MAKE peace… to ENDEAVOR to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace!

2. If the body is going to FUNCTION as designed, peace is essential.

a. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. (I Cor. 14:33) The body is not to be characterized by turmoil or confusion… but peace…

b. Eph. 2:15-16 – peace was made between Jew and Gentile by reconciling both in ONE Body… and by bringing an end to the law which divided them…

c. Eph. 4:2-3 – with the same virtues mentioned in Col. 3, we are to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace… FOR there is ONE Body.

d. When there is peace and unity, the body can be about our Father’s business… doing the will of Christ our Head… in the name of Christ (vs. 17).

3. Issues among the saints are not resolved by fighting to the bitter end with one side the victor and the other side utterly defeated and humiliated.

a. Issues are resolved among the saints not through hostility but by being peacemakers… pursuing peace…

b. The answer is HIS peace… not OUR fighting that wins the day.

4. Putting on Christ is the answer.

a. Gal. 3:27 – the moment we believed we put on Christ by means of Spirit baptism. The Spirit placed us IN Christ.

b. Thus, positionally, we have already put on Christ.

c. We are in Him, and He is in us. This is the glorious mystery of this age!

d. Rom. 13:14 – here we are told to put on Christ.
• In context, it means to put on Christlike character!
• Cf. vs.12 – We are to “cast off” the works of darkness.
• Cf. vs. 12 – They were told to “put on” the armor of light… Jesus IS the Light… of the world!
• The ARMOR of light corresponds to the WORKS of darkness. (deeds and character are likened to clothing)
• The believer’s life is characterized by light as opposed to the darkness of this world.
• He is talking about good works which emanate from Christlike virtue…
• We put off the dirty… the dark… and put on the clean… the light.
• When we put on an armor of light (all of those virtues that shine forth for the glory of God)…
• We put on Christ by putting on His character and deeds.

e. Col. 3:12-14 – Paul uses the same kind of illustration in a different context.
• We put off the dirty clothes of the old man and put on the clean clothes suitable for a new creature in Christ.
• In a sense, putting on the clean clothes (Christlike virtues produced by the Holy Spirit) is like putting on Christ!
• Christ lives WITHIN us already.
• But we are to let His life shine through us… by putting on those Christlike qualities.

f. When we face a quarrel… we should be ROBED in the character of Christ… “put on Christ”…
• When we face a quarrel, we should face it as the Lord Jesus would…
• Peace would reign in His heart… and it should in ours too.
• His life would radiate with kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering, forbearance, forgiveness, and love. So should ours!
• When others see us, they should see Christ!
• Col. 3:10 – we have already put on the new man.
• But the new man is CONTINUALLY being renewed in the image of Christ! As we yield our members to Christ, HE fills us with the fullness of God… which radiates through us… manifesting the fruit of the Spirit… Christlike virtue… for the glory of God.
• That’s the way to deal with quarrels that arise among the saints!
» Get out of the way… reckon self to be dead…
» Keep self on the cross by faith…
» Let peace rule… let Christ rule (He IS our peace!)
» The closer we all get to Christ, the closer we will be to one another!
» Quarrels will diminish… as we mature and less of self and more of Christ is manifested in our midst.
» The way to resolve quarrels is not for self to get his own way…
» The way to resolve quarrels is for self to get OUT of the way… so that Christ might be seen… and HIS peace might rule in our midst… the Prince of peace!

5. II Thess. 3:16 – Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means.

And be ye thankful.

1. When peace rules in the heart, thanksgiving and praise is sure to flow from the lips.

2. Being THANKFUL is a reminder to us of the proper MOTIVE for our actions as mentioned previously in this book. (Col. 1:20)

a. Christ was willing to pay the ultimate price to acquire peace for us. He suffered the cruel and humiliating death of the cross.

b. We should be thankful TO GOD because HE made peace possible…

c. Therefore, (if we are truly thankful to God for the peace Christ purchased for us with His shed blood) we should show peace to others… even if it is costly… even if it involves sacrificing self.

d. The peace God made with us cost us His Son… Christ gave his LIFE to acquire this peace for us.

e. That makes us responsible to do whatever it takes to offer peace to others in the Body…

f. One who truly understands and appreciates the peace God purchased for us… the price He paid for peace… will be much more inclined to BE a peacemaker with others.
• Vs. 13 – we are to forgive one another AS Christ forgave you!
• We are to love one another AS Christ hath loved us! “as those who are beloved of God”! (Vs. 12)
• Our actions towards others are based upon what Christ has done for us.
• If we are truly grateful for what we have RECEIVED from Christ… freely… we will demonstrate that gratitude by forgiving others AS… loving others AS… and offering peace AS…
• AS: limitless! Not counting the cost!

3. It is possible for a quarrel to end… for there to be an absence of war in the congregation…

a. But agreeing not to fight does not necessarily resolve the quarrel God’s way.

b. It is possible for the quarrel to end… and to allow a grumbling spirit to continue.

4. Paul commands us to let peace rule in our hearts AND to have a genuinely thankful spirit! This is going the extra mile.

a. A heart full of thanksgiving and praise is to accompany the peace… not grumbling and murmuring.

b. Grumbling and murmuring, if allowed to fester in the heart, will eventually boil over into another quarrel!

c. It’s not enough to sign a peace treaty.

d. God demands a change of heart to accompany it… and God is ready, willing, and ABLE to change our hearts when we are ready to surrender self to Him.

e. Peace is to rule in the heart…

IF YOU ARE NOT SAVED… GOD OFFERS PEACE TO YOU!

1. The gospel is a message of peace… the gospel of peace!

2. Apart from Christ, we are all enemies of God… at war with God.

3. Col. 1:20 – reconciliation is provided through the shed blood of the cross.

4. But you must RECEIVE this peace with God by faith. (Rom. 5:1)

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