What does the Holy Spirit have to do with righteousness, peace, and joy? The context for this verse is Paul’s discussion regarding how we should use our freedom from legalism. Do we indulge our freedom by doing something we are free to do but which might cause a Christian brother or sister to violate their own sense of right and wrong? Or do we lay down our freedom to protect a brother or sister from violating his or her own conscience? Watch Video here

As interesting as this question is, it is not what I want to focus on today. Today I want to focus on Paul’s explanation of righteousness, peace and joy as being works of the Holy Spirit. There are two ways to interpret the phrase “righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” 1. “… but of righteousness (Godly behavior and obedience) which when achieved, brings peace with God, which then brings the subjective experience of joy through the Holy Spirit’s activity in our emotions. The point in this interpretation is that our righteous behavior qualifies us for God’s peace and joy, through the Holy Spirit’s work. 2. “…but of righteousness (knowing you are rightly related to God as a matter of identity and relationship), peace (the state of rest and wellbeing with God) and joy (the emotional result of the first two). The point in this interpretation is that all three of these are brought about by the Holy Spirit working within you. The first is true part of the time, when you are on your best behavior. The second is true all the time because it is the Holy Spirit accomplishing all three. The question is how does He do it? What does the phrase “in the Holy Spirit” mean? What does it mean to “be in the Holy Spirit?” It all comes down to what the word “in” means. Seriously! Here are the three definitions that best describe an activity or experience happening “in” the Holy Spirit. If we put all these definitions together, we get this definition of the phrase “in the Holy Spirit”: “a state or condition of close personal association or union or joining with the Holy Spirit by which another state or condition, event, or activity, is made possible.” In our verse the Holy Spirit is accomplishing three things. 1. Righteousness – He provides the evidence of our right relationship with the Father. “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” Rom. 8:16 This affirms our identity at the deepest level possible, which enables the next state of being… 2. Peace – He makes experiential to our mind and emotions our peace with God. The word “peace” used here comes from the root verb “to join” or “to set at one again”. Strong’s commentary is as follows: “according to a conception distinctly peculiar to Christianity, the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is”. The Holy Spirit “joins” us to God in our minds and our emotions in a way that results in this kind of peace and rest. “… God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Rom 5:5 3. Joy – He touches our mind and emotions with Joy. Once you know your identity as a child of God and have been touched with His peace (joined to him at the deepest level by His unconditional love) how could you not be joyous. The word means joy, cheerfulness, and gladness. It is an emotional experience, not just a theological idea. It is a work of the Holy Spirit within your mind and your emotions. How do we experience these three great characteristics of the Kingdom of God? a. Dwell on these truths. Remind yourself of them every day. Read these passages to yourself every day. b. Tell your brothers and sisters these truths. c. Pray for yourself to experience more of all three. d. Pray for your brothers and sister to experience more of all three. e. Wait on the Holy Spirit with rejoicing and expectation f. Spend time alone with God daily and invite the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to make these real to you… hunger and thirst for more of Him!

Print pagePDF pageEmail page