Do you struggle to find peace in your life?
Do you struggle to be in tune with the work of the Holy Spirit in your life?
Those two questions go hand in hand.
As Paul contrasts the life controlled by the flesh and the life controlled by the Holy Spirit he shares an insight that allows us to understand why we struggle to find peace. Those who allow their fleshly desires to dominate control of their behavior will exhibit sinful behavior and will never find peace. Those who allow the Holy Spirit to control their behavior will produce things in line with the Spirit, including a peace only the Spirit can provide. Paul calls these things the “acts of the flesh” (Gal 5:19) and the “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal 5:22).
The third fruit that Paul lists is “peace.” This word in Greek is used 91 times in the New Testament and it can mean harmony or well being. As is often noted, the word peace in Hebrew and Greek are less about an absence of war and disruption as they are about an inner state of being. When the Holy Spirit dwells in you, the Spirit produces within the believer an inner harmony that will not be rattled by the things of the world. What is more, this inner harmony works as an inoculation against the acts of the flesh because the acts of the flesh are produced by and perpetuate inner conflict.
That means the peace the Holy Spirit brings is not based upon circumstance and feeling. It is more in line with our being that God is constantly working to transform by the Spirit. This transformation by the Spirit gives Christians a peace and consistency that is not shaken by external variables.
Oddly enough, often our churches are not characterized by peace and I cannot help but think that also means that the members who gather are struggling to be in tune with this aspect of the Holy Spirit’s work in their life. This may also have something to do with a denial or the Spirit’s working in the life of the Christian. If we don’t believe the Spirit is at work in our lives then how would we expect to have produced in our lives those things the Spirit alone produces? I say that with one disclaimer and that is this…I don’t think the Spirit is fully limited in what the Spirit can do based upon our beliefs about what the Spirit is or isn’t doing.
We must get more in tune with the Spirit. When we do so we will find an inner peace like we have never had before because we are no longer resisting or ignoring the work of the Holy Spirit, rather we are working alongside or in accordance with what the Spirit is doing in our being. We will find that the acts of the flesh are no longer so appealing and that working in partnership with the Spirit is much more fulfilling. We will finally find the peace our soul so longingly desires.