Peace within the parameters. Paul says the peace of God should “rule” (βραβεύω - brabĕuō, brab-yoo´-o) or arbitrate, govern, prevail in our hearts. This is the only occurrence of this word in the Bible. The peace of God plays a very practical part in life. Paul exhorts his readers to let the peace of God rule in our hearts. The grammar of this verb (Present / Active / Imperative) means always, make it your aim, to see it as essential to let the peace of God rule your heart. The peace of God should be like a referee in our hearts. If our peace is violated in some way we should see it as a referee throwing a penalty flag. The person who acts, even though they have an uneasiness or disruption of the peace of God in their heart, is a person who is stepping out of bounds. That person will not have the peace of God.
What are the parameters or boundaries within which we find God’s peace? God’s peace is found when we live within the parameters of His word. We see this in the great Psalm 119 which is a description of the blessings and value found in God’s word. In this Psalm it states, “Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble” (Psalm 119:165; cf. also Prov. 3:1-2). When you live within the parameters of God’s word, even if trouble befalls you, you know you are right with Him. All that really matters in life is that we be right with God. Everything else is secondary to a right standing with God. When we live right in obedience to God and His word it leads to peace (cf. Isaiah 32:17). There is a rock solid problem defying peace for those who make being right with God the top priority in their lives.
Peace and the will of God. God’s peace is a tangible way to discern God’s will. We should act and move and make decisions based on God’s peace. If we act and there is an unsettledness in our hearts we should stop and seek God’s peace asking Him to help you discern where you have missed His will. If we are inside God’s will, there will be a peace that guides us. It is never wise to disregard an uneasy lack of peace when making decisions. The wise route in life is to pray through until you have God’s peace in a situation.
If you think you have God’s “peace” and you are knowingly disregarding or disobeying God’s word, this is sin. This is not God’s peace. “Peace” experienced outside of the parameters of God’s word is sin and a false peace. Remember, the peace of Christ is not a peace as the world gives peace, it is peace that comes through faith in Him and living within the parameters of God’s word. In fact, such a false peace may be a symptom of a greater danger.
False peace may be due to a desensitizing or deadening of the conscience because of sin. When we disregard God’s word, rebel against it or disobey it, the consequence is that we become calloused and less sensitive to the Spirit’s voice. You may think you have God’s peace, but if you are acting or living in sin, it is a false peace. In our day, homosexuals, lesbians, prostitutes, extortioners, greedy, and others live in sin wand feel no conviction for their sin. This is a symptom of a deeper spiritual problem.
Absence of God’s judgment is not God’s peace. God is longsuffering and patient not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9). He may use “goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering” with the sinful as a means to lead them to repentance (Rom. 2:4). Those who perceive this to be “peace” are relying on a false peace. True peace of God is only experienced by those living within the parameters of God’s word. Any sense of “peace” in those living in sin is deception by the enemy and a false reading of God’s dealings with them. The consequence of relying on a false notion of peace is that eventually a person will reap what they sow (Gal. 6:7-9). God is not long mocked or defied by those who would excuse themselves from abiding in His word.
There is pleasure in sin, but that pleasure is temporary (Heb.11:25). Eventually the consequence of sinful living will come to bear. Sin always results in some kind of death (Rom. 6:23a). True peace dies in the presence of sin. If left unattended there are eternal consequences. Better to receive the free gift of salvation in Christ (Rom. 6:23b).
Paul wrote Timothy that spiritual callousness would exist in the latter days (e.g. 1 Tim. 4:1-2). People will have a “form of godliness” that may be cloaked in a false peace, but it will prove powerless in the end (2 Tim. 3:5). Those who persist in living a sinful lifestyle in disregard and rebellion against God and His word may have been given over by God to their sin (cf. Rom. 1:24-32). That is a dangerous place to be. The Bible speaks of those who get to a point where ”they could not believe” (John 12:39). Such a destination is reached in part by way of a false sense of peace that excuses sinful living. It would be better to walk in God’s sin exposing light, fellowship with Him and receive deep cleansing from your sin from the blood of Jesus (1 John 1:7, 9).
Faith always involves risk. Risk can make us feel uneasy or not at rest or peaceful. But if we are acting according to God’s will in faith, no matter the circumstances, the peace of God, “that surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” That is God’s promise.
In Colossians 3:14 Paul has just instructed us about love which is “the bond of perfection.” When we are bound to God by His love, when we are held in His arms of love, we are at peace.
In relationship with Him, God provides His peace to help us through life now. Charles Ryrie, in his book So Great Salvation, tells a story of a Father and child that illustrates the practical nature of peace with God.
The 3-year old felt secure in his father's arms as Dad stood in the middle of the pool. But Dad, for fun, began walking slowly toward the deep end, gently chanting, "Deeper and deeper and deeper," as the water rose higher and higher on the child. The lad's face registered increasing degrees of panic, as he held all the more tightly to his father, who, of course, easily touched the bottom. Had the little boy been able to analyze his situation, he'd have realized there was no reason for increased anxiety. The water's depth in ANY part of the pool was over his head. Even in the shallowest part, had he not been held up, he'd have drowned. His safety anywhere in that pool depended on Dad. At various points in our lives, all of us feel we're getting "out of our depth" -- problems abound, a job is lost, someone dies. Our temptation is to panic, for we feel we've lost control. Yet, as with the child in the pool, the truth is we've never been in control over the most valuable things of life. We've always been held up by the grace of God, our Father, and that does not change. God is never out of his depth, and therefore we're safe when we're "going deeper" than we've ever been.
Paul concludes his call to let peace rule with the words, “to which also you were called in one body.” Such love and peace unite fellow believers. We are bound by the perfect binding substance of God’s agape love. And we live in harmony together as we let the peace of God rule and guide us. For that we are to “be” (γίνομαι - ginŏmai, ghin´-om-ahee ) cause to be, become “thankful” (εὐχάριστος - ĕucharistŏs, yoo-khar´-is-to) or grateful. The form of “to be” (Present / Middle – Passive Deponent / Imperative) means we ought to always cause ourselves to actively be thankful. Paul knew the tendency of people to not be thankful. We should never forget or take for granted the peace of God that so clearly guides our hearts in life. It is a vital and cherished way God communicates to us. It is an aspect of the loving fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives (cf. Gal. 5:22). Let the peace of God rule and guide you!