Here’s a book review I did on the Pursuit of Holiness about joy for the internship 🙂
Pursuit of Holiness
Chapter 17 Book Talk – The Joy of Holiness
Verses on Joy
“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” – Romans 14:7
“I will praise you, LORD. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me. Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid.
The LORD, the LORD himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.” With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” Isaiah 12:1-4
Drudgery vs. Joy
1) Often, living a holy lifestyle is associated with restrictions and rules that bring you down and don’t allow you to have any “fun”. But, God intended obedience to His will to result in a lifestyle of joy.
Obedience Linked to Joy
1) In John 10:15-11 Jesus links love and joy to obedience of the Lord’s commands:
- “If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
2) Only those who are actively living a lifestyle of holiness and obedience can experience the joy that comes from God.
How Does Holiness Produce Joy?
1) Fellowship with God
- “You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand” – Psalm 16:11
- God shares His joy with those who walk in fellowship with Him. You become close to God by obeying his commands, and when we sin and stray for them – we lose His presence and His joy to replace it with temporal joy of the world.
- Example: David and Bathsheba. He walked away from God then not only prayed for repentance, but for restoration.
- “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me” – Psalm 51:12
– What that means to me: I think we are overwhelmed with such a joy in salvation because that’s when we’re most submitted to God. Submission leads to obedience, and by handing over complete control to Him in that moment and emptying ourselves out, He comes to fills us up with the joy of His presence.
– If you want God to restore you to the joy of your salvation, examine your walk of holiness and get back into submission/obedience. “A life of disobedience cannot be a life of joy” (Bridges 150)
– Obedience requires a lot of submitting. By submitting to Him we must trust that everything we put in His hands will benefit us and contribute to our eternal joy.
– Example: John 3:22- John is talking to his disciples after they asked what he thought of everyone going to Jesus to get baptized instead of him. His response was “You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’ The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.”
– John knew he was only holding onto these things temporarily and that they belonged to the One that created them. He was delighted to see the alignment come to pass- it completed his joy. He knew that for obedience and joy, Christ must be exalted above ourselves.
- Our experience of God’s love is linked to our obedience to Him
– His love isn’t dependent on our obedience, but our experience of it is
– God’s love precedes and follows our obedience
– By preceding our obedience it “creates in us an eager desire to keep Christ’s precepts”
– By following our obedience it “rewards us for keeping them”
- There should be joy in your life just from knowing that you are obeying God and no longer resisting Him
– After a long struggle between Spirit and sin, we have been set free by His grace and have conquered the sin that previously mastered us
– Example: my personal depression/joy that came from knowing I’ve been set free from it
– “There’s a holy laugh that consumes you when you’ve been set free from the grip of darkness. There’s a joy that overtakes you when you realize you are no longer a slave to sin.”
– You could call it the joy of victory, but really it’s the joy of obedience.
2) A Holy life produces the anticipated reward
- Victory follows obedience always.
– You’re in a fixed fight, to get the prize all you have to do is finish the race but even sometimes that can be difficult.
- “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3
– Last Thursday I was having a really rough day and I was sitting in the sanctuary before church and God led me to this verse. It really spoke to me in that moment. God reminded me that you guys/Mvmnt students are my “great cloud of witnesses” and to just throw off all the junk that’s been hindering me from running. I love the way it says sin “so easily entangles”, it’s so true! I realized that I’d been letting stupid little things get in the way of my holiness and joy. I’ve wanted a faith boost and reading that He was the creator, and perfecter is so amazing! If we want the perseverance and holiness that Christ carried, we need to fix our eyes on Him and see how He lived. FOR THE JOY SET BEFORE HIM He endured the shame and pain of the cross. He knew there was a prize coming. He took joy in saving billions of souls. He took joy in doing the will of the Father. He took joy in suffering. He knew what he was fighting for and rejoiced in what was to come even though His current situation was painful. We need to consider that and have the same joy in seeing students’ lives changed that Christ had being nailed to the cross for us. He endured it all so that we would not lose heart. Take heart in knowing that Jesus dealt with suffering, and even then He was fighting for your joy.
- Just like Jesus wouldn’t let hardship throw off the anticipation of joy for getting His reward, don’t let circumstances deprive you of your anticipation.
- Paul and Barnabas faced persecution and still were filled with joy in Acts 13:48-52
– The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. But the Jewish leaders incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. So they shook the dust off their feet as a warning to them and went to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joyand with the Holy Spirit.
– To the servants who multiplied their talents: “Well done good and faithful servant… enter thou into the joy of the Lord.” – Matthew 25:21,23
– God has given us the “talent” of having the option to walk in holiness. When we are fruitful and obedient with that talent, we can anticipate walking into the joy of the Lord.
– Before even reading the next paragraph, I was going to talk about the joy of the Lord being your strength. Author beat me to it.
- Joy not only results from a holy life, but produces a holy life
– The exiles returned to Jerusalem after being in captivity for 70 years under the Babylonians. They got back to their promise land to see it all torn apart. When Nehemiah was speaking to them, they had just finished rebuilding the walls of the city but that wasn’t enough. Their lives were completely in shambles. Their beloved city was ruined, they were slaves, they’d forgotten their spiritual heritage but above all, they had forgotten God. Finally, Ezra stepped up to the plate and everyone “came together” as one to hear him read out of the book of the law. He read literally all day long clearly and giving meaning to what was written so that people could understand. They had to go back to the law and the people wept because they knew they couldn’t do it on their own. They knew they’d been disobedient and that they had to get back to His law. That’s when Nehemiah steps in in Nehemiah 8:10 and says “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength”.
– Their circumstances were already rough to begin with. I honestly almost cried a little thinking about what it’d be like to be in their position and literally having to start everything over again from square one. And on top of it all, they just got a huge slap in the face from their own disobedience. But Nehemiah knew that even though obeying God was going to be incredibly difficult, especially after so many years of disobeying, but that the joy God was going to feel seeing them return back to Him was going to make everything worth it
– Obedience is difficult, but let the fact that it brings God joy give you strength to persevere
– If you begin to rely on your own joy to give you strength, there’s a pretty good chance you are always going to fail. Although God intends a holy life style to be joyful, it is often accompanied with sorrow and suffering and if you’re dependent on your own joy in those situations, you will make no progress. But if you are dependent on the joy of the LORD for strength, whenever you are in obedience you will always be able to persevere.
- “The Christian living in disobedience also lives devoid of joy and hope. But when he begins to understand that Christ has delivered him from the reign of sin, when he begins to see that he is united to Him who has all power and authority, and that it is possible to walk in obedience, he begins to have hope. And as he hopes in Christ, he begins to have joy. In the strength of the joy he begins to overcome the sins that so easily entangle him. He then finds that the joy of a holy walk is infinitely more satisfying than the fleeting pleasures of sin” (Bridges 151).
- There is infinite joy awaiting us, but you cannot get to the reward with going through the process
– Obedience à hope à joy à strength à satisfaction, but it all starts with obedience
– Obedience entails forsaking sin, not only because it is detrimental to us but because it grieves the heart of God
– Joy of the Lord works backwards as well. Whatever brings Him joy strengthens us, but whatever grieves His heart – all though it may provide temporal joy – is ultimately what ruins us.
- Back to the beginning of the book, we need to count ourselves as dead to sin because Christ has already delivered us from its dominion
– We can now actually say no to sin and choose obedience and joy but it is up to us to accept the responsibility to discipline ourselves in that way
- He’s given us all we need for our pursuit of holiness
– Freedom, the Holy Spirit, revelation of His will, His word, and He is always working in us
– He’s given us pastors and leaders to encourage us
– He answers our prayers when we ask for strength against temptation
– It’s really just a matter of our choice
– “Will we accept our responsibility and discipline ourselves to live in habitual obedience to the will of God? Will we persevere in the face of frequent failure, resolving to never give up? Will we decide that personal holiness is worth the price of saying no to our body’s demands to indulge in its appetites?”
– If we really want holiness we can’t just sit around anymore waiting for God to make the first move. He’s already made it!!! It’s time for us to take a step of faith and trust God to do His part which He’s already promised to do.
– He’s commanded us to be holy and given us the means to do so, the privilege is now ours along with the responsibility and if we make the decision to do so- we can truly experience the fullness of joy which Christ promised to those who walk in obedience with Him
- “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ.” – Philippians 1:3-6, Paul and Timothy to followers of Christ in Philippi