And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
By this the apostle does not mean the blessedness which belongs to the Divine Nature, nor the rest that is laid up for us in heaven: but the deep inward repose of the spiritual life, Divine in its origin, religious in its nature, holy in its impulses, heavenly in its results,
I. "BEING JUSTIFIED BY FAITH WE HAVE PEACE WITH GOD" (Romans 5:1). Man is contemplated as a sinner, conscious of guilt, exposed to punishment, and who cannot be justified by law, which has nothing to do but to condemn him. Let this idea be distinctly realized, and it is seen at once that it has power to terribly agitate the soul. The apostle meets the case by a proclamation of mercy, not indeed the tender and benevolent Divine affection to which the guilty and miserable may appeal, but something embodied in a supernatural fact to be apprehended and confided in: "God hath set forth Christ to be a propitiation through faith in His blood" — that as man could not be justified by law through obedience, he might be through grace by faith. This we have received who have trusted in Christ. "There is now no condemnation," etc.; the terrors of conscience are stilled; we have "joy and peace through believing." "There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked," but there is peace when he forsakes his evil way and turns to the Lord. The prophet was agitated by the revelation of the glory of the Divine nature and the corruption of his own (Isaiah 6.), but he was tranquilized when a live coal from the altar of sacrifice was laid upon his mouth. No angelic voice or vision is to be expected now, but there may be such a certainty of the truth of the gospel, such a perception of its appropriateness, and such a realization of peace, that the penitent and believing man may be able neither to doubt the fact of his forgiveness, nor to resist the feeling of deep calm blessedness, which the persuasion of it brings.
II. "TO BE SPIRITUALLY MINDED IS LIFE AND PEACE" (Romans 8:6), a passage taken from Paul's discourse on the work of the Spirit in man as the former was taken from that on the work of Christ for man. By being spiritually minded the apostle means that the man who has obtained forgiveness through Christ, in virtue of the agency of the Spirit of God has his moral tastes so rectified, his moral affections so cleansed and elevated, that he loves all spiritual things and exercises. Man was made for God. His powers and affections were so constituted that they were to find their supreme enjoyment in Him. Sin has disturbed this original law and given to the flesh an unnatural ascendancy, and so is productive of misery and misrule. The consequence is that to the idea of antagonism between the sinner and God, there is the idea of antagonism to himself. Spiritual renovation restores the natural order of things, reason is enlightened, affections purified, passion restrained, the animal is brought into subjection to the man, and the man bound by love and loyalty to God.
III. "GREAT PEACE HAVE THEY WHO LOVE THY LAW." "The work of righteousness is peace." These and other passages lead us to the correspondence of the Christian's outward conduct with the instincts and principles of his inward life. That condition of heart described as "minding the things of the Spirit" is to find appropriate embodiment in the maintenance of a uniform and elevated morality. It is only by a course of practical obedience that peace of conscience can be preserved. Inconsistency cannot but disturb inward peace. Guilt is a thing full of fears. The secret of Paul's peace was — "herein do I exercise myself to have a conscience void of offence."
IV. "THOU WILT KEEP HIM IN PERFECT PEACE WHOSE MIND IS STAYED UPON THEE" (Isaiah 26:3). Filial trust in God is everything that belongs to the circumstances of life. There is "a thought for the morrow" which is proper and becoming, but there is also a care that hath torment, a fear that is sinful. A Christian man who realizes that all his "times are in God's hands," that "He fixes the bounds of his habitation," and "perfects that which concerns him," that his Heavenly Father knoweth what he has need of; that "all things work together for good;" he who thoroughly believes all this, and casts his care, and stays his soul on God, cannot but be saved from the perturbations and anxieties which torment the worldly mind. He is kept from murmuring at what God does, from petulance at what He does not. He can confide and wait, and believe and be thankful, suffer and be satisfied.
(T. Binney, LL. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.