With the knowledge that the whole world lies in darkness (1 John 5:19) and is headed for destruction, what would cause a Christian to live a joyful life?
Most Christians know the pat answers – we are to glorify God in the darkness; we are to seek the salvation of the lost while there is time; we are to live for heaven not earth. All very true, but these things are often attempted with little real joy. And this is usually because we are still joined at the hip with the world for our happiness fix.
The Apostle Paul victoriously proclaims, “Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast (glory, exalt, rejoice) except in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me and I to the world” (Gal 6:14). This speaks not of bearing some burden (though trials will come for sure), but it speaks of a severance from allowing the world and its circumstances dictate our well-being – to determine our happiness.
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace... (Gal 5:22).
At His right hand are pleasures for evermore… (Ps 16:11).
Peter says that knowing Christ is joy unspeakable and full of glory (1 Pet 1:8). Granted, for the present, these realities are somewhat diminished by the remaining corruption of our flesh; but they are, nevertheless, known realities to those indwelt by His Spirit. The degree to which we experience that joy is much determined by how “dead” we are to the world.
All that is in the world – the lust of the flesh (physical pleasures), the lust of the eyes (covetousness, quest for ‘stuff’), and the pride of life (self promotion) is of the world and not of the Father (1 John 2:16 ).
If these things characterize the motives of our lives then John says the love of the Father is not in us. How easy it is for us to allow our hearts to rationalize ‘acceptable’ limits for such motives, and sanctify any success as “the blessing of God”.
“Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinth 10:31).
This is the unalterable paradigm for the Christian life… and for fulness of joy. The Christian is so created in Christ that whatever most glorifies God brings the most joy in this world. In a love relationship with Jesus and communion with God through the Spirit and the Word, we are to be launched into the world as fountains of love and truth, knowing that whatever the world’s response is, God is being glorified and we experience joy. Ironically, we are then free to truly enjoy the temporal blessings of this world as God chooses to bestow them. Next week I will look at some of the practical aspects of our temporal joy.
About Ed Ross
Ed Ross has been pastor of Springwood Chapel in York, PA for the past 16 years. He and his wife, Lynna, have been married 34 years, and have three grown children (a son and two daughters) who are all actively involved in the church and/or missions work.
Having attended Millersville University (PA: 1969-1972), Maranatha Baptist Bible College (WI: 1977-1980 ), he received a bachelor of theology from International Bible Institute & Seminary (FLA). He was first ordained into the ministry in 1980, at which time he and his wife began an Independent Baptist church, remaining there for eight years.
Ed has been bi-vocational at times, working in supervisory and management positions in the quality and manufacturing engineering fields.
He is actively involved in missions work, having spent significant time teaching among the amaZioni peoples of southern Africa. Ed has written numerous tracts and pamphlets, and currently publishes Tuesday’s Touch, a weekly e-devotional. He has also served as a city police chaplain for a number of years, and enjoys writing music/poetry, hiking, and traveling with his wife.