Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee.” —Isaiah 26:3
The picture of peace is not only the calm lake with a beautiful sunset painted with soft tones, but it is also the raging storm, painted in harsh tones, with a tiny songbird tucked safely in the shelter of an outcropping rock. While the storm howls about it, all is peace and safety on the inside.
The songwriter wrote:
When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll,
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, It is well, with my soul.
Peace is one of the great fruits of the Spirit, one of the great attributes of the sanctified life—a peace this world cannot give and cannot take away.
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee.”
Whatever the storm on the outside, God’s sanctifying grace can make our hearts to be at peace.
This is a Keeping Peace
Our world is awash with instability. This stems from the unsanctified heart accurately described in James 1:
“a double minded man is unstable in all his ways.”
It is the description of many professing Christians today. So many start out to serve Jesus. They purpose to be all God wants them to be. But so few know of the double cure, and fewer still pursue that “holiness without which no man shall see the Lord.” They are not aware that there is a crisis experience whereby peace can replace carnality. They do not understand this Divine promise: “Thou wilt keep Him in perfect peace.”
Life is a long time, full of twists and turns, ups and downs. If there is not a peace on the inside, the currents of life will naturally wash away the spiritual life, no matter our determination or good intentions.
Young people who start out “all in” are soon “up for sale.” Convictions once dear are soon let go. Other people start to dictate what’s right and what’s wrong.
Like a bad case of vertigo, the entire spiritual world starts to spin out of control. The inner man becomes a victim of carnal pride, anger, jealousy, and lust. God has goals for your life that will make you fruitful and productive for His Kingdom. His ultimate goal is to give you an abundant entrance into Heaven. None of this is possible without His keeping peace.
The word peace in its very definition and scriptural meaning is “the rule of order in place of chaos.”
Chaos defines our world and chaos describes the life without God in full control. Truly, for each one of us, it will be Christ or chaos. It’s simply not safe to neglect all that God provides.
We must seek that keeping peace that comes with a life entirely devoted to Christ and a mind centered on Him. With the psalmist we can then testify,
“My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed” (Psa. 57:7)
This is a Perfecting Peace
The package deal of entire sanctification includes peace that comes on the inside and rids the man of carnality and sin—a complete love for Christ without the world sharing a part.
When the fruit of the Spirit is evident in your life, peace reigns in the soul. The word “peace” comes from “shalom,” the Hebrew word expressing the idea of wholeness, completeness, or tranquility in the soul that is unaffected by the outward circumstances or pressures. This is what the Bible describes as “perfect peace.”
We naturally recoil at calling anything that has to do with us as “perfect.” The Scriptures, however, are constantly calling us to a Christian perfection. This has little to do with perfection of the mind or body, but rather a perfection of completeness and wholeness in our love relationship with Jesus, unmixed with sin.
“I’m not perfect, just forgiven” is a popular quote that looks great printed on the bumper sticker of your car, but living out that philosophy is dangerous. No, we are not perfect in our heads. A reverse gear is always necessary in our lives.
Growth in grace remains the great potential and necessity for all, but we will only know the “peace that passeth understanding” when it is a perfect peace—complete, whole, entirely centered on Christ.
“I’m just forgiven” too often becomes an excuse to keep falling back into the old sinful life. There is a perfecting peace that God wants to give to every believer—a peace that will steady you in the hour of temptation and will give you complete and total victory over all sin.
This is a Heavenly Peace
When a man is sanctified, a bit of Heaven is tucked in his soul. His thoughts are on Christ—our Savior, our Redeemer, our Friend, and our Coming King. Heaven is, after all, not about gold streets and pearl gates, but about Jesus, the Prince of Peace.
It is fascinating that Isaiah prophesied the birth of the Messiah—words written at a time when Jesus Christ was yet in heaven, long before He would make His journey to a mother’s womb—with these outstanding words:
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given…
and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6).
If heaven could be described with one word, it is “peace.” No war, no misunderstandings, no cancer, no death, no taxes, and no tears.
In the most difficult moments of life, keeping thoughts on Christ and what He has promised will hold you—a heavenly peace. It’s a promise. It’s a fact.
And I think when I rise to that city of peace,
Where the Author of peace I shall see,
That one strain of the song which the ransomed will sing
In that heavenly kingdom will be:
Peace, peace, wonderful peace,
Coming down from the Father above!
Sweep over my spirit forever, I pray,
In fathomless billows of love! —W.D. Cornell
This keeping, perfecting, and heavenly peace is available to all. There is no need to struggle on, longing and wishing for the peace that He alone can give. Hebrews 4:9 declares,
There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
Jesus also said,
Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matt. 11:28).
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).
Mark 4:37-41 gives the account of a storm. Jesus and His disciples had had a very busy day. They were crossing the sea by boat when a storm hit with fury. While the storm raged, Jesus was asleep.
The disciples, many of them experienced seamen, were scared to death and awakened Jesus:
“Do you not care that we are about to drown?”
Jesus arose from his rest and simply spoke three words to the storm: “Peace, be still.” With those three words, the sea was calmed and the
turbulence was over. The disciples learned a valuable lesson about peace in that moment. It is not about the circumstances, but about the Christ who sails with you.
Traveling by airplane or boat, if turbulence or storm arises, it is good to watch the captain. If he is not alarmed, there is no need for us to be alarmed. Whatever storm you face right now, keep your eyes on Captain Jesus. He is not alarmed.
Three words still speak to the storms of our lives: “Peace, be still.”
If the storm of carnality yet exists in your soul, pray that Jesus Christ will speak “Peace, be still.” He longs to see the fruit of the Spirit at work in your life. He gave everything on Calvary’s cross to sanctify you with His own blood. His desire is that peace, perfect peace, might be yours, as you keep your mind stayed on Him.
James Plank is General Secretary of Interchurch Holiness Convention and has been the senior pastor of God’s Missionary Church, Beavertown, PA, for 25 years. He and his wife Marie have a son, Jamison, and daughter, Jennifer. The Planks reside in Beaver Springs, PA.