What is Joy?

21 When my heart was embittered And I was pierced within, 22 Then I was senseless and ignorant; I was like an animal before You. 23 Nevertheless I am continually with You; You have taken hold of my right hand. 24 With Your counsel You will lead me, And afterward take me in glory. 25 Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. 26 My flesh and my heart fail, But God is the rock of my heart and my portion forever. Psalms 73:21-26 (LSB) 

Undoubtedly, there is much confusion about that little three-letter word “joy.” Is it simply a deeper form of happiness? Is it the opposite of sadness or depression? The secular perception of joy is “lasting happiness.” However, the Bible interprets joy very differently….

In fact, God commands His people to be full of joy. (Psalms 37:4; Philippians 4:4) If joy were an emotion based upon circumstances then that command would seem rather harsh and unrealistic. However, coming from a Reformed Theological perspective, we do know that God commands many things for His people to do that they could never do within their own capabilities. Beginning with salvation itself, we see that our believing unto salvation came through God’s supernatural regenerative work in our Hearts. (Ephesians 2:8-9) Being spirit-filled (Ephesians 5:18), walking in the spirit (Galatians 5:16, 25), praying unceasingly (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and loving our enemies (Matthew 5:43-45) are only a few commands for believers obedience to actions which they could never do within their own abilities.

The Spirit-led believer is obedient to God because he or she walks through each day with their heart focused on God fully intent upon His glory. The Holy Spirit leads the Spirit-led believer into acts of righteousness. (Psalm 23:3) This believer knows he or she cannot obey God for His glory in his or her own abilities. Instead, they implore God for His wisdom, which he imparts freely. (James 1:5) Their obedience is fully empowered by God’s grace.

Joy is both an outcome of our relationship with the Lord and our source of strength for our obedience of Him. (John 15) The Joy of the Lord is our strength. (Nehemiah 8:9) God desires for His people to be strong in Him so He graciously gives us joy as we cooperate with Him in our sanctification. (Philippians 2:12-13) The joy of the Lord is the source of our fulfillment. As we experience fulfillment in the Lord this way, we work out our salvation in ever-increasing levels of refinement. Christ-likeness deepens for those who have determined in their heart to walk the Walk by Faith and live for God’s glory alone. View article →


Reposted from September 2019