John Piper wrote a book titled, Fight for Joy. I remember reading a few passages and at that point it did not really have an effect on me. And now I am sitting here and reflecting on my life and this is what I am learning, that one of the reasons why I am growing weary in my walk as a Christian is because of the lack of joy.
When you turn your Bible to the book of Psalms, King David and other psalmists wrote extensively psalms that capture this war of joy and love taking place in their personal lives. Here is my testimony.
The Joy of Salvation
Once you are saved there is a certain kind of joy that bubbles and brims in the soul. This joy is spontaneous because of the indwelling Holy Spirit in those who are set right or at peace with God. The joy of salvation is permanent and secured in the righteousness, essence and the finished work of Christ on the cross. It is a kind of joy that is president over all other earthly joys. It is particularly for those who are in a personal and loving relationship with God in Christ alone. We were made to find and feast on the ultimate joy in Christ through an intimate relationship and fellowship with God. Thus, we fail to glorify God because we do not find our joy in Him and so anything that we find joy in outside of Christ becomes our idol.
Additionally, it seems that as we mature in the faith we fall in love with so many doctrines. This kind of ‘falling in love’ with various doctrines, is a mere and momentary excitement that lasts for a moment. And it boils down over time. Once that bubble of infatuation with doctrines is popped and when push comes to shove, and when we are left to head on with our lives we find something immensely missing –the joy that we once had. On this side of the fall, unfortunately there is war that takes place within and without. And downfalls into sin tend to blur our joy, and sin seems to misplace our ultimate joy in Christ. The joy of salvation is sufficient and secured in Christ Jesus and we just have to fight for it through God’s saving grace. Therefore, even when our ultimate joy seems to be misplaced it can never be replaced by sin.
The Joy of Sanctification
God has redeemed us and He is still in His redemptive business of redeeming the elect and restoring our ultimate joy in the lives of the saints. This ultimate joy is being restored through the recurring work of the Holy Spirit. This work is called sanctification. Sanctification is the process through which God through the Holy Spirit transforms us into the likeness of His Son, Jesus Christ. The more we are dipped into this work and are growing in Christlike character is the more we experience our ultimate joy. We are being made holy so that we only treasure God and God alone in Christ alone. So we are being set apart so that we can no longer find any other joy that is seemingly greater apart from God.
The imparted righteousness of Christ which is carried by the Holy Spirit has bundles of joy. Our growth as a result of the imparted righteousness should be consistent with the blessedness of our being. It should effectively alter how think and feel, our thoughts and emotions. Those bundles of joy are sprinkled upon all our desires and delights thus setting us apart to feast on the everlasting pleasures and spend our immeasurable affections on an infinite God. The joy of sanctification sustains us in leading and living the Christian life. So the work of sanctification replaces our sinful joys that are lower and fleeting with an ultimate, infinite and higher joy in Christ.
The Joy of Obedience
God‘s commands are pathways that lead to freedom so that we can freely enjoy Him. The only thing we have to do is obey and follow what He has called us to do. If I were to summarize all the commandments in one word I would say—love! Yes, love. When you love someone you pursue them, and God loved us so much that He pursued us. Obedience is a response to the wooing of God’s pursuing and loving joy. The role of obedience that God has given us becomes a privilege through which we can find or pursue our everlasting pleasures and joys in God.
However, we are actively involved in the work of sanctification and as regenerated individuals we able to personally obey and find our ultimate joy in Christ. Our active response to the call of salvation and work of sanctification gushes forth from the streams of joy and that is the word of God through obedience. One amazing fact in the Bible is that the essence of obedience is experience and God wants us to meaningfully and fruitfully experience Him daily through faithful obedience. It is through obedience that we can practically experience and enjoy and embrace our ultimate joy in Christ.
So I urge you to think on these things. To fight is to feast on the eternal and immutable joy, Jesus Christ. The fight for joy it is for a lifetime, it means that you have to die to self daily and let Christ live and rule over your desires so that you can diligently delight in Him. Be encouraged to fight for your joy because there was a price paid for it so that Christ, your joy should be your prize!