Even Demons Believe, Chapter Sixteen

Table of Contents

16. The Joy

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Where is the joy?” is an objection often voiced about the message of the cross. I am always surprised at the question because the forgiveness of sins and the ability to pursue righteousness by God’s grace should cause joy to spring from our hearts. Sadly, it is not enough in today’s worldly church.

As we have seen, this joy is not like the world and it is ever before us until it reaches its fullness in heaven. In other words, the joy that comes from the Holy Spirit increases as we allow the cross to crucify our sinful nature. The worldly naturally desire a joy like the world, a joy that is fleshly, unspiritual, and quickly gained. The kind of joy God orders us is the kind He gave His Son; therefore we are called to “fix our eyes on Jesus.” If we gaze upon Jesus we will notice the joy is “set before” us only as we have “endured the cross.” Any other kind of joy comes from Satan and is the desire of evil men who may or may not claim to be saved by God.

  • Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)

Worldly people desire feelings of joy, but God gives us the “shame” of the cross so He can bless us by turning us from our sins (Acts 3:26). We feel shame over our sins, but Find hope in Christ, life by death to self, and a taste of glory while we are hard pressed in this world. We know there is no condemnation but should not be so foolish as to believe there is no conviction.

The wondrous joy of Jesus is so completely unlike the world that the worldly in and out of the church often marvel at a true disciples joy in Jesus. They simply cannot understand why we would have joy.

  • We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. (2 Corinthians 4:8-10)

The worldly also desire a rest and peace from the struggle against sin, but God calls us in faithful obedience to suffer with His Son. Those unwilling to carry their daily cross will be found unworthy of salvation and blotted out of the book of life. Only after we have scorned the cross, that means to pour contempt on any whining about how rough, difficult, or narrow the cross makes life, will God allow us to sit down with Jesus in heaven. This is not salvation by works, whereby we earn our salvation, rather, we allow Jesus to not only “author” or start our faith, but to “perfect[er]” it as well. Many are satisfied that God authors their faith, but very often fall away when God seeks to perfect it. They are wicked, lazy servants who care nothing about righteousness, but in selfishness desire only to be filled with a joy so they can take more pleasure in their sins.

Does all of this mean that God leaves us joyless as we follow the Holy Spirit? In the words of Paul the Apostle, “by no means.” The Holy Spirit filled Jesus, the man of sorrows, with joy, but He still endured much suffering and the cross lay ahead of Him. In short, He had a long road to walk before the resurrected life was granted.

  • At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit … (Luke 10:21)

As Romans 12 instructs, our minds must be transformed to understand all of this. For no worldly person can possibly understand the joy in the message of the cross. Such people remain unwilling to accept that the message of the cross is joy supreme in this world. Why? Because they love their sin more than the righteousness of God.

We might praise God, but not in the same way the deceived do, who fill their hearts with a fleshly kind of emotion. True Christians rejoice with a fear that causes them to tremble.

  • Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling. (Psalm 2:11)

In experiencing passing joys and sorrows in the Lord we have hope that one day we will be filled with everlasting joy in the presence of God. Surrender to the work and will of God and let Him work the emotions each hour that He desires. With each old self emotion we are called to fall to the ground and die so that the Holy Spirit might work what we should feel at any given moment. Doing so will ensure that you persevere to the end as you carry your daily cross in faith through Jesus. What should you expect to feel after your baptism? “Pure joy” of course.

  • Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)

The Holy Spirit will seek to teach and work in you a pure joy in God that rejoices in facing many trials and testings. This is the way of the crucified life, and baptism provides the first step in the journey to pure joy.

Think of it this way; does a thief love a policeman and his message? Of course not, because it keeps him from doing what he loves to do, namely steal. In the same way many, though claiming to be Christians, react angrily at the true gospel call because it reveals they steal from Jesus. They steal His forgiveness while rejecting His righteousness. They want the forgiveness of Jesus poured into their lives, but will not allow the righteousness to be poured in as well because they would have to hate their own lives. Like a thief, they want the judge to forgive them so that they can continue to steal.

Paul tells us to “keep the Festival” of God. A festival means the celebration of righteousness. For those who love the righteousness of God it is the celebration or joy they participate in all year long. With this godly attitude every command becomes a new joy in Jesus. Every way of God becomes a joyful path to walk, and every promise of God, though it has the cross present, is celebrated. Joining such a church is going to a festival of righteousness. Every true Christian is marked by their eagerness to obey the Bible, walk in the ways of God, and above all, to love others.

  • Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:8)

Let us end with the question we started with, “Where is the joy?” It is not like the world, but only found as we pick up our cross and follow Jesus. It is found by not seeking joy as if it were our right or something to be held onto, but by only seeking the will and face of God. Joy in sorrow, hope in affliction, and the promise of eternal life as we die daily with Christ.

  • … sorrowful, yet always rejoicing … (2 Corinthians 6:10)

Th joy of Jesus is found by never letting go of the sorrow the cross produces. When this sorrow is rejected we end up with a joy like the world, hellish and demonic.

Truths To Ponder, Beliefs To Examine

  1. What opinion do you have about the way of salvation?

  1. What opinion do you have about the way of salvation?

  1. What opinion do you have about the way of salvation?

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