Peace of Heart and Mind in the Midst of Apparent Hopelessness
By Arthur J Licursi
Here, in the verses below we have the Apostle Paul’s remedy for anxiety. Yet, for many it does not seem to work for peace in their “hearts and minds.” As we should know, if Scripture seems not to work as we see it, the problem is usually not with the Bible but rather with us and our approach to it. We will consider these verses in some detail and discuss why Paul’s words here do not seem to work for many Christians.
5 Let your moderation [patience] be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. 6 Be
careful [Grk. phroneo, anxious] for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:5-7 (KJV)
The word “careful” in v5 (above) can better be translated as ‘anxious.’ We as believers sometimes and perhaps oftentimes are anxious in the midst of what seem to be difficult situations, such as may involve relational, financial, or health issues that appear to be are beyond our control. In the light of today’s worldwide calamities, those believers who have till now been unshaken, are becoming shaken at what appears to be on the horizon. Commonly, at first, in the light of so many stresses, we might dwell on an issue until we find ourself powerless to fix the problem (real or imagined) and to shake our concern over it... we may feel helpless. We just can’t let go of it or forget it for very long. How can we deal with this?
Let’s now consider the above text of Paul’s remedy for us in Philippians 4:5-7.
- Verse 5 says we should be patient, knowing the Lord is ever “at hand.” Anxiety leads to impatience, which leads to foolish choices made in the moment. Paul elsewhere commends believers to not be self-indulgent but to maintain “temperance,” meaning ‘self-control, which he says is a “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22-23).
Paul tells us Christ “Spirit of life” indwells the believer’s spirit (Col 1:27, 1Cor 6:17). When we trust Him, His peaceable nature is close at hand when we trust in Him in our situations… as our new life-source and nature. So, what’s the problem?
We need to know that God is not our fix-it Lord but rather He is our ever-sustaining Lord in the midst of the chaos of this life on earth. He expects us to trust Him in the midst of every life situation. We ought to know that He does not bring trouble to us but rather, He and His love reigns over our lives … using ‘All Things for The Good.’ He uses the negative that we detest … “for the good.” He uses all things so that we might become ‘wholly’ “conformed to the image of His Son” (v28 below) – not only in our spirit, but also in ‘soul’s mindset’ and our attitude to then govern our daily activities on earth while we remain in these physical bodies.
28 And we know that ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR [the eternal] GOOD to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. Romans 8:29-30 (KJV)
His objective for us is that our self-soul would “be conformed to the image Christ,” but most often our objective is just to escape our problem. His objective should also be our objective. If His objective is not also our objective also then we likely are yet immature carnal Christians and not really serious believers. Thus, we would likely will continue to stew in our anxieties and disappointments in this life on earth until our eyes are opened to appreciate the ‘spiritual life’ as a believer. “… to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” Romans 8:6 (KJV)
5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh [externalities]; but they that are after the Spirit [mind] the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be Carnally [Fleshly] Minded Is Death; but to be Spiritually Minded Is Life and Peace. Romans 8:5-6 (KJV)
- All believers are sometimes haunted with recurring ‘anxious’ thoughts. Paul’s answer clearly instructs us to ‘pray with supplication – explaining our request.’ The Lord wants us to lay out our concern before Him… and leave it with Him, trusting His wisdom for us, for our eternal good.
- Paul adds the words “With thanksgiving” meaning our praying and supplicating is to be with thanksgiving. We can do this believing “the Lord is at hand” v5 and that He hears us.
- Paul says lay out your sincere prayer with thanksgiving, and expect peace of mind and heart, but this isn’t what we expected or hoped for. Paul says the result of our prayer is;
“… the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Most of us, until we grow to become somewhat mature in the faith, will not be satisfied with God’s answer (4,) to our prayer unless We Get What We Want. Most would want that their problem should be cured, or taken away or, at least that we will get clear direction that will fix the problem. The fact is that if we do not seek what God seeks for us then we likely will not come to peace in the light of the anxious or troubling matter at hand. This is because our prayer was fleshly (carnal), based upon self-centered interest such as that of the yet carnal immature believer.
Instead of being able to escaping our situation, the Lord offers us “peace” of ‘heart and mind’ … if we will pray to Him and Leave It There; trusting Him in the matter. We ought not to expect what we hoped for. We are to accept and be reconciled to the situation for now and perhaps even forever. We need to ‘let go’ of what we want in favor of the Lord’s will for us. We should know that He is fully aware of all our situations and is forever “at hand” indwelling our spirit, so we can entrust all things to Him so that we can then endure in all things by His might in us.
Christ endured all the things that He suffered by the body of His humiliation, and at the Cross for us. He in us is able to do the same. What He ask is our cooperation in trusting Him as He trusted the Father, in doing “the will of the Father.” The Lord is always working His will ‘for the good’ by His use of “ALL things” (Rom. 8:28, above), including the bad as well as the good. Consider how the Lord used the awful Cross for “the good” already in our lives, reconciling and saving us, and giving us His resurrected eternal “Spirit of life.”
So, what about those ‘nagging’ troublesome thoughts?
We’ve already laid out that it is clear that we likely have false expectations of God. God is not our ‘go for.’ Sadly, the ‘name it and claim it by faith’ TV faith preachers of Christendom have misled millions of believers into disappointment and despair.
God’s deliverance of us from our earthly problems does not apply to us during today’s age of “dispensation of the grace of God” as it did during Jesus of Nazareth’s time on earth. Jesus was at that time providing Israel a taste of “the Kingdom of [from] Heaven” that is yet to come to Israel on earth in the Millennial Kingdom. Of course, we now know Israel rejected the King and His Kingdom. So that kingdom is now in abeyance. But many Christians today still cling to what Jesus promised to Israel, but today these are undispensational false ideas. Their clinging to the works of Jesus of Nazareth is an indicator of their soulishness and lack of understanding the dispensational truth of God’s way and work in our lives today… working toward His objective of ‘conforming us to the image of His Son.’
Most often we don’t value what God values in our lives… according to His eternal plan for us as members of His body on earth; being destined to Co-Reign With Christ In Heaven Forever (cf. 2Tim. 2:12, 2Cor. 5:1b). We need to realize that He is now training us for eternity to be His trusted willing servants in “the heavenly places.” We need to value these heavenly blessings.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Eph. 1:3-4
Later in Ephesians Paul further instructs us in this matter explaining that we are in spiritual warfare with lying Satanic spirits who can harass our minds with untrusting rebellious thoughts that are contrary to God’s way and will for us. Paul calls these thoughts “firey darts” (Eph. 6:16). God has equipped us to live in peace and rest. Paul says we can ‘cast down’ these “firey darts,” the self-centered nagging thoughts that are Contrary to The Knowledge the We Ought to Have of The Lord’s Way and Will for Us in Today’s Age Of “The Grace of God.”
4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal [fleshly], but mighty through God to the pulling down of [Satanic] strong holds;) 5 CASTING DOWN IMAGINATIONS, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled. 2 Corinthians 10:6 (KJV)
16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked [ones]. Ephesians 6:16 (KJV)
Back to those ‘nagging thoughts.’ Once we arrive at the truth of the Inner Spiritual Life, we might engage in what I now recognize as ‘spiritual warfare,’ For me this is in the middle of the night when I awaken with my mind bombarded by nagging troublesome thoughts… until I deal with them. The nagging negative thoughts are of Satan’s ‘lying spirits.’ These thoughts are not my thoughts nor of the Lord… since they bring distress until they are recognized. I’ve learned to recognize these thoughts for what they are … and then I bring to mind the reassuring Words of Scriptural truth. The Lord said of His words “they are spirit and they are life.” Doing this, after a very short time the troublesome nagging anxious thoughts are banished for the night … as I fall back to sleep. Again, these thoughts are the “firey darts” of Satanic ‘lying spirits’ who try to bind us in hopeless distress and being disappointed in the Lord. But knowing the truth according to Paul, we “cast down” such ‘imaginations.’
6 … to be Spiritually Minded is Life and Peace. Romans 8:6 (KJV)
16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to Quench All the ‘Fiery Darts of the wicked [one].’ Ephesians 6:16 (KJV)
5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 2 Corinthians 10:5 (KJV)
I turn to the “Secret Place” to abide my soul’s mind to be in union with Christ and His Written Words. This place is not a thing or place outside of Christ, but a place ‘in union with Christ’ Himself.
The secret place of The Most High is our “sanctuary,” “hidden in God.” He is the place of “refuge,” in “the courts of the Lord” as my “strong tower” and the “safe place” for my hearts and mind. Our Sanctuary is where God is, in our spirit. He Himself is ‘the Secret Place’ of “The Most High.” He is that place that has been prepared for all who will TRUST Him.
1 He That Dwelleth In The Secret Place of The Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Psalm 91:1-2 (KJV)
24 When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet. Proverbs 3:24 (KJV)
2 It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep. Psalm 127:2 (KJV)