Peace that Surpasses Understanding

Philippians 4:6-96 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

 

I.  The Peace of Trusting in God.  – I remember when my boys first started to drive a car. It is not a calm experience. On one trip to Ohio, David was adamant that he could drive on the interstate. So we picked a deserted stretch of road in Georgia and he got behind he wheel. I had been driving and I was supposed to sleep while he drove. Nothing could have been more unlikely! I was anxious and nervous the entire time, jumping at every bump in the road, and watching every lane change. Why?  It was a matter of trust and confidence. I did not trust his driving ability. There was no peace.

A.   Col 3:15 – 5 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.  Once the sinner has made “peace with God” (Rom 5:1), through obedience to the gospel, he called to peace. God expects His people to live lives of tranquility and calm amid the storms of life.

1.  Isaiah wrote of this peace: “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You” (Isa 26:3). Paul prayed for the Romans that “the God of hope [would] fill [them] with all joy and peace in believing” (Rom 15:13). Shortly before His death Jesus promised, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27). Do you believe that this peace is possible today? If we do not have it what is the reason?

2.  The absence of peace is evidence of a lack of trust and confidence. (why I had no peace in the back seat of the car.) But in this case it is a lack of confidence and trust in the God of heaven. There is no reason for us to not trust God. This is a favorite teaching point of Jesus.

 

II.  Anxiety, the absence of peace:  Do you worry? Worry is one of the most natural things in the world. Yet it is also one of the most unnecessary, useless, and harmful things. Jesus teaches that it is anxiety is one thing that destroys the peace that we seek. He also affirms that it is sinful. t it

A.  Read Matt. 6:25-33:  Jesus was always concerned with the spiritual dangers that confronted his disciples. He spoke candidly to them about

  • false & superficial religion of the Pharisees (6:1-18),
  • the threat of materialism (6:19-23)
  • But just as insidious and dangerous is the threat of anxiety.  What Jesus tell us about worry? Why is it depicted as a spiritual problem?

1.  What is worry? – Merimnao is used nineteen times in the New Testament and in the KJV it is translated with four words or phrases: take thought (11 times), care (5), be careful (2) and have care.

a. Although there is a proper concern for the physical things – (if one does not provide for his own he is worse than an unbeliever) this is an excessive concern that depicts a lack of faith in God.

B.  Anxiety is wrong because of the Master we serve.  Notice that verse 25 begins with ,”for this reason” (NASU). This phrase points back to vs. 24 where Jesus declares that the Christians has only one master – God.  To be anxious is to exhibit a lack of trust in Him and unfaithfulness to His words.

1.   In the Greek, the command do not be anxious includes the idea of stopping what is already being done. In other words, we are to stop worrying and never start it again.

  • For your life” makes the command all-inclusive. ‎Psuch¢ ‎(life) encompasses all of a person’s being — physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Jesus is referring to life in its fullest possible sense. Absolutely nothing in any aspect of our lives, internal or external, justifies our being anxious when we have the Master we do.
  • The English term worry comes from an old German word meaning to strangle, or choke. That is exactly what worry does; it chokes out the faith we need to place in God.

2.  Worry is the opposite of contentment.  Later in Phil 4 Paul describes his own perspective. Phil 4:11-12, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need ()  Why should Christians not worry and be content?

a.  God owns everything –  David proclaimed, “The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it” (Ps 24:1). He also said, “Thine, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth” (1 Chron 29:11).

  • If everything belongs to God why should I worry if it is taken from me?  One day when he was away from home someone came running up to John Wesley saying, “Your house has burned down! Your house has burned down!” To which Wesley replied, “No it hasn’t, because I don’t own a house. The one I have been living in belongs to the Lord, and if it has burned down, that is one less responsibility for me to worry about.”

b.  God controls everything –  Again David gives us the right perspective: 1 Chron 29:12 – Thou dost rule over all, and in Thy hand is power and might; and it lies in Thy hand to make great, and to strengthen everyone” . Daniel declared, “Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him. And it is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men, and knowledge to men of understanding”  (Dan 2:20-21). Do you believe that God is in control?

c.   God provides everything –   James 1:17 – Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. Phil 4:19“God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus”   These facts form the basis for our unwavering trust in God on a daily basis. They also provide the soil from which peace grows.

 

III. Jesus’ argument Against Anxiety:

 

A.  Argument from the greater to the lesser:  v 25.  – Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?   The gist of the argument is this: if God gave us life to begin with, does it not stand to reason that he will also provide us with the things to sustain our lives?  The point is that if he gave us the greater, he will certainly provide the lesser.

B.  Argument from the lesser to the greater:  V. 26; 28-30 –Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?   God feeds the birds, and they do not go to work every day and worry about their survival!  Will not our Father (in many respects this is the key of chap. 6) thus also feed us?  Will he feed the birds and let his children starve to death?

1.  vv 28-30 —  concerning clothing.  Clothing is a basic necessity of life.  Again, God will provide it!  Lilies are beautiful flowers; “clothed” in bright, pretty colors, but are basically “grass.” God even provides the grass in the field with clothing. Are we not more important in God’s eyes than grass?  Note that Jesus here specifically relates the entire matter to our faith.  Do we have faith in this promise from God and Christ?

C. Argument from Practicality –  v. 27 — What good does it do?   “Stature” here refers not to physical size, but to length of life (cf. Ps 39:5).  Can you make yourself live longer if you worry about it? Worry does nothing.  It does not pay the bills, it does not feed your mouth, and it does not make you live longer.   

D.  Argument from our sanctification:  v 32 –  For after all these things the Gentiles seek. “The Gentiles” here refers to the unbelieving, the faithless.  To worry about and spend all of your time — or even most of it — seeking for these worldly things is to exhibit the very same attitude which the godless and unbelieving manifest.  It thus shows that we are no different from them when we act that way.  We are then another faithless person. (Matthew 5:47 – 47  And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?)

E.  Argument from the God’s Omnicscience:  v 32 – “For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.”   Note again that God is referred to as our Father here.  He sees everything and cares for us. IF God knows then that presupposes that He will take care of it.

F.  Argument from God’s Priority:  v 33 – But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.  The presupposition is that God will keep His promises, and that some things are more important than others.

1.  To seek the kingdom first is to put the corporate spiritual concerns of God above the political or social concerns of this world.  Evangelizing the lost and supporting the work of the church.

2. To seek God’s righteousness first s to pursue the character of God in our personal lives and obey Him. It is the same as hungering and thirsting after righteousness (5:6).  Are you desiring, more than anything else, to live in the way that pleases God?

3.  He has promised that if we will seek him first, He will see to it that we do not have to waste time working for merely earthly concerns. Psalms 37:2525 I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendants begging bread.  This does not ignore proper stewardship and responsibility.

  G.  Argument from the nature of time:  v 34 – Therefore do not worry  bout tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.  The RSV says… “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.

1.  “The morrow will be anxious for itself” does not mean “let God worry about it” (for God never really worries), nor does it mean that tomorrow will take care of itself. It means there is no sense in being concerned about tomorrow until tomorrow gets here. We spend 99.9% of all our worries on things that have not yet happened, and which in fact may not ever happen!

2.  Then he adds, “tomorrow will have enough of its own problems.”  That is, do not ruin today with tomorrow’s problems.  Live each day one day at a time, and always by faith in the promise of God.  

 

IV.  Peace, the Absence of Anxiety: Go back to Phil 4:7 – The Christian who prays about everything and is anxious for nothing has a peace that surpasses understanding. What does this mean?

  • John Macarthur defines it this wayIt transcends human intellectual powers, human analysis, human insights, and human understanding. It is superior to human scheming, human devices, and human solutions, since its source is the God whose judgments are unsearchable and whose ways are unfathomable (Rom 11:33). It is experienced in a transcendent calm that lifts the believer above the most debilitating trial. …The real challenge of the Christian life is not to eliminate every unpleasant circumstance; it is to trust in the good purpose of our infinite, holy, sovereign, powerful God in every difficulty. Those who honor Him by trusting Him will experience the blessings of His perfect peace.

 

  • When realized in believers’ lives, God’s peace will guard them from anxiety, doubt, and worry. ‎Phroureœ ‎(will guard) is a military term used of soldiers on guard duty. The picture would have been familiar to the Philippians, since the Romans stationed troops in Philippi to protect their interests in that part of the world. Just as soldiers guard and protect a city, so God’s peace guards and protects believers who confidently trust in Him.

 Once again, true peace is not available through any human source, but only in Christ Jesus