“To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”
~Romans 8:6 (NRSV).
We can only please God via the faith-life (Hebrews 11:6).
One thing I think some people have trouble with, in the Bible, is its black ‘n’ white nature regarding spiritual life and death. They’ll think, “Should we really be so clinical—categorising all of life into good or evil and no in-between?”
Paul answers this to the positive in this part of Romans. He’s not alone though. John in his first letter takes it upon himself to propound polar opposites—the dichotomies of the spiritual life.
Indeed, looking further, it’s rife through the Bible.
Black ‘n’ White seems Right
It’s a pretty untenable arrangement; we’re either for God or—in our spiritual ambivalence—we’re against him. There’s no middle ground. We must choose to accept this if we’re to move on toward the Spirit of life, which is peace.
There’s no getting around this truth. It’s one of those non-negotiables of God. For instance, worship God or worship things other than God. Whichever, we will worship something/many things.
The Spirit and Peace
It appears that what Paul is saying, regarding the Spirit and peace, is this:
If we are saved, and are hence justified—by our faith in God, then the Spirit lives in us and prompts our minds to keep congruent with the things and will of the Spirit. Life and peace are natural results when we achieve this.
But, what ‘peace’ is this Spiritual peace?
The ‘Peace’ of God
This is many things to many people. But surely we can attempt to describe it.
If God is in us—his Spirit residing and directing—we will essentially experience a semblance of peace that is quite difficult to comprehend, let alone explain. I say this unashamedly. If I could explain this Spiritual peace it wouldn’t probably feel as if it was from God.
Practically, however, beyond the feeling, which most hard-lining biblical zealots find obnoxious and abhorrent—an off-centred focus on emotion-evoked Spirituality alone—there is an explanation that should satisfy most.
The peace of God is about congruence.
It’s about conforming the mind to the Spirit and to truth (John 4:24). It’s natural, then, that peace would be the outcome because dissonance—which Paul describes as ‘hostility to God’ (Romans 8:7)—has been dealt with and disposed of.
When we are one with God’s Spirit—as God is One (Deuteronomy 6:4)—we’re at peace; God’s peace.
Peace is fundamentally about obedience.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.