Question: "The Fruit of the Holy Spirit - What is peace?"
Answer: In Romans 12:18, Paul exhorts, "If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men." What a perfect example of our role in the fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23. We are to submit our wills to God's leading and our actions to God's Word, but the actual results are up to Him. Only God can create peace through the work of the Holy Spirit. Especially the peace mentioned in Galatians 5—the peace of a harmonious relationship with God.
We are born at war. At birth, our sinful nature has already declared war on God and His truth. Our heart's desire is to be separated from Him, and if we persist in this desire until death, He will give us what we want.
But God’s methods of warfare are not what we expected. Instead of a battle, He sent us the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). Jesus’ goal in coming to earth was more than simply to cease hostilities; He came to bring about a full and abiding relationship of restoration and love. The cost of this peace was His life (Isaiah 53:5).
But, just as we cannot force another to be at peace with us, even Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross did not ensure that we would accept His terms of peace. Romans 3:10b-11 explains, "There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God." None of us can accept Jesus' offer of peace through our own will and power. Our natural selves do not want it. Only God can lead us to want peace with Him; the Holy Spirit leads us to want Jesus and His message. Once the Spirit draws us, we believe in Jesus, and the peace comes. “Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).
However, the fruit of the Spirit includes a peace that goes beyond that of salvation. It is a sweet relationship. We are called to His presence (Ephesians 2:11-18) and called to be confident in that presence (Hebrews 4:16) because we are His friends (John 15:15). As Isaiah 26:3 says, "The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You."
God’s peace transcends earthly matters, as Philippians 4:4-7 illustrates. Believers are to be "anxious for nothing," for God promises to "guard your hearts and minds." It is a peace “which transcends all understanding”; that is, to the worldly mind, such peace is incomprehensible. Its source is the Holy Spirit of God, whom the world neither sees nor knows (John 14:17).
The Spirit-filled Christian has a peace that is abundant, available in every situation, and unlike anything that the world has to offer (John 14:27). The alternative to being filled with the Spirit and His peace is to be filled with alarm, filled with doubt, filled with foreboding, or filled with dread. How much better to let the Spirit have control and perform His work of growing fruit to the glory of God!