Lesson 4

The Fruit of the Spirit is Peace

(Romans 5, Ephesians 2, Matthew 11)
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Introduction: Galatians 5:22 tells us that another fruit of the Holy Spirit is peace. Is your life peaceful? Are you at peace with your spouse? At peace with your children? At peace with your boss? At peace with your health? How valuable is peace to you? What would you pay for it? What do you think it would take to bring peace into your life? Let's jump into our study of the Bible and discover what it teaches us about obtaining peace!

  1. Peace With God


    1. Read Romans 5:1-2. Are some people at war with God? Why would you rather not be at war with God? (I recall a couple of comedians, now dead, who would openly challenge God as part of their comedy routine. It made me shudder - what foolish and dangerous behavior.)


      1. These two clowns I'm thinking of were deliberately challenging God. Have all of us challenged God in some way? (Read Romans 5:9-11. Because of our sinful nature and our personal sins, we were enemies of the perfect and sinless God. By faith in Jesus' sacrifice on our behalf, we can have peace with God.)


    2. Read Ephesians 2:13-18. You might want to read the entire chapter to get the full meaning of this, but what do you think is meant by those (verse 17) who were far away and those who were near? (Those near were God's special people (the Jews who were seeking to obey) and those who were far away were the Gentiles who did not even know God).


      1. Does it matter whether we are near or far from God, are we still "enemies?" (Whether we are near or far from God based on our own works, we are still in a state of war against God. Keeping the commandments cannot make us good enough for a holy God. Only Jesus can bring peace.)


      2. What does it mean (verse 18) to now have "access to the Father by one Spirit?" (It means that Jesus has not only reconciled us to God, it means that the Holy Spirit opens a line of communication for us with God.)


    3. Do you remember misbehaving as a child and being told by your mother that when your father came home he would administer your punishment? How did it feel to wait in dread of the time your father came home?


      1. Can you imagine a world in which we are waiting for God to punish us for our sins? (This is one way in which we can be at peace - knowing that God is not coming to punish us.)


  2. Peace in Life


    1. When I was a little older, I had to worry about the Soviets launching nuclear missiles and blowing us all up. (If you are a reader in the former Soviet Union, you probably worried about American missiles.) If you can relate to this, how much of a worry was that for you?


      1. Would that worry be comparable to the kind of worry we would have if Jesus had not died for our sins? (Our world would be much worse if Jesus had not won the battle over sin, but some may be saying "My final fate is not something that creates a day-to-day worry.")


    2. Let's read Romans 5:3-5. Does suffering cause worry for you? If you tend to dismiss long-term problems, what about daily issues that cause you to suffer?


      1. Let's re-read Romans 5:2-5. What does this say is the cure for day to day problems? (We have hope in the "glory of God." Not only can we have the assurance that we will not be punished for our forgiven sins, but we have assurance that God will welcome us into His love and glory. This hope give us peace.)


  3. Peace and Pride


    1. Read Matthew 11:28. To whom is Jesus speaking? (If you review the entire chapter, Jesus is teaching and preaching to regular people in Galilee.)


      1. What kinds of burdens and weariness is Jesus speaking about? (These would be the burdens and work of the everyday person. The problems faced by the "average guy," such as the spouse, children, job or health.)


    2. Read Matthew 11:29-30. If I already feel weary and burdened, how is it going to help to have someone else place yet another burden on me - a yoke? (The burden already exists. The yoke is a way to move the burden with the help of someone else. Jesus is offering to share our burdens.)


      1. What does Matthew 11:30 suggest will be the result of sharing our burdens with Jesus? (Things will get a lot easier.)


      2. Let's explore how this happens. Is Jesus just offering to lift part of our load? Or, is there more to it? (Notice Matthew 11:29 tells us that part of sharing the load with Jesus is learning from Him.)


      3. Why does Jesus tell us that He is gentle and humble in heart? What has that to do with His ability to pull part of our load?


        1. How much of your burden in life comes from trying to impress others?


          1. How would your life be different if your only goal was to promote the Kingdom of God?


        2. How much of your burden in life comes from being tough with others?


          1. How would your life be different if you decided to be gentle with others?


      4. Jesus suggests that humility and gentleness bring peace to our life. Does that seem right to you?


        1. I once heard a pastor tell a story about how he kept his car windows up on a hot day just so it would look to other drivers like he had air conditioning. I had to admit that I had done that myself on at least a couple of occasions when I was driving a nice car with broken air conditioning. What kind of silly pride wants to impress people we do not even know? Are there examples like that in your life?


  4. Peace with Difficult People


    1. Read Romans 12:14-16. Should I quit my day job? I'm a professional fighter (lawyer) who teaches others (law students) to become professional fighters.


      1. Many number of years ago I noticed a Christian attorney who closed his e-mails with the word "blessings." I thought about that and decided that I would follow his example. Since I've started this, I've noticed that new opposing counsel seem more friendly. Does that make up for threatening to sue their client?


      2. Can you live in harmony and still enforce what is right? (All of my cases involve the defense of religious or political freedom. I do my best to "live in harmony" with the opposing attorney while we are using the process authorized by the state for resolving differences.)


    2. Read Romans 12:17-19. Do these instructions apply in a marriage? Do they apply in dealings with our children?


      1. How do you balance enforcing what is right and living in peace? Should you balance them? (As a teacher, I would have "peace" with students if I had low standards for their performance. But, low standards would harm their success in the future. We have to do both: try our best to live at peace while doing what is right.)


        1. Why does Romans 12:17 say "what is right in the eyes of everybody?" Is doing right a matter of taking a vote or having a consensus? (This is practical advice. If you think something is proper, and everyone else in your church disagrees, then that is a warning flag that something is wrong with your judgment.)


      2. I have heard Christians say that if you are obedient to God, you will have trouble with the world. Is that true? (These texts tell us the goal is harmony and peace. My general impression is that people at war with the world are also at war with fellow Christians.)


      3. Why not revenge? Don't the "bad guys" deserve to get punished? (God says that is not our job assignment. He will punish the evil.)


    3. Friend, the Bible gives us a path to peace. Will you determine by the power of the Holy Spirit to take it today?


  5. Next week: The Fruit of the Spirit is Patience.

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