Well two weeks ago we began a short time of teaching where we looked at the Joy of the Christian.
And inside of what we were looking at what we found in the idea of God bestowing His love upon His people in an unabashed way.
A way that shows no partiality towards man but where Christ looks at His people and the true affection of the Father is lavished upon them.
It’s splendor is overflowing in such a unique way that often times the heart of man can become overwhelmed.
They look at themselves and the situations in which they find themselves and they become speechless.
That God in His rich grace and mercy would pour out His love through Christ upon them that they fall to their knees weeping.
Weeping that such a righteous and Holy God would choose to bestow upon them such a blessed gift.
The very idea that there are a people called unto the Lord Jesus Christ should cause us to rejoice beloved.
For this did not have to be the way that it was.
We know that the Lord had the ability to leave us in our sins.
The Lord could have left us in our sins and He would have been perfectly righteous and just in doing so.
But behold, what great love is this that the Father would pour out His love upon us.
Beloved does that gladden your heart?
It’s okay to say no.
Because the reality is, sometimes our joy can be stolen.
Sometimes in this life our joy can be taken from us in ways that are truly horrific.
The great joys of the day can quickly turn to sorrows with the ringing of a telephone.
When your brother or your sister calls you to tell you that your parent has passed into eternity.
When your friend calls you to tell you that he caught his wife cheating on him and he’s not sure what to do.
When the doctor walks out of the operating room to inform you that your child didn’t make it through the operation.
In an instant, the joys of the day can be completely cast aside in the blink of an eye.
But why is this?
Why is it that so often we as Christians live out our lives being cast to and fro in every situation?
With every tick of the second hand on the clock, something could take place that steals our joy from us beloved.
Yet that’s not how it’s supposed to be.
The Joy of the Christian should not be removed based upon the day’s events.
The joy of the Christian is not found in what is going right for us at the moment.
The Joy of the follower of Christ is not bound to the temporal and fleeting moments of this life.
The problem is though, we don’t very often live this way!
The Joy of the Christian is not found in how well their spouse appeased them
More often than not we put all of our stock in what it takes to be satisfied into mere moments of time.
Moments of time bound to the hearts of others.
Think about this for a moment.
How easy is it for you as a husband to become displeased with your wife?
Wives, how often is it that your husband is the reason for the loss of your joy?
The human heart has this dependency feature about it that causes it to look unto others to find their satisfaction.
But here is my question, is it right?
Is it right that our joys would come from mere moments of fleeting time where someone else becomes the center of where we get our joy.
For the married people in the room, we are most guilty of this.
We find someone to marry and spend our lives with and the next thing you know we are looking at them in this way.
We’re living out our lives seeking after our joy from our wives.
Now don’t get me wrong here, I desperately love my wife and am overjoyed to be her husband.
But is it or would it be right for me to seek after my joy in her?
For many of us this very well may be a hard question to answer.
Reason number one is that our wives are sitting right next to us...
That was a joke and you were supposed to laugh.
I get it, I put you on the spot in such a way that you’re condemned either way you answer. :)
Not that our wives shouldn’t mean the world to us.
They really should.
They we’re designed by God to be elevated to this place of beauty that we would lay down our lives for them.
Yet nowhere does the Bible say to find our joy in her.
We may seek our comfort from her in many ways.
We may have many joyous times together.
But Scripture does not tell me to seek after a joy found in her.
In fact the reality is that no matter how hard she may try, I will never be truly satisfied if I am seeking my joy in her.
We could spend every waking moment of our lives together both trying to be what the other one needs in order for them to have joy.
Yet ultimately, try as we might, that joy will not be found.
I may be happy with her.
I may be able to enjoy her company.
But ultimately I cannot find my joy in her.
Do you know what the difference is?
To enjoy something, you take pleasure or delight in something.
It’s action orientated.
You can enjoy an evening meal with someone at their house.
You can enjoy reading books.
You can enjoy playing video games.
When you enjoy something you are actively being a part of that time.
Joy by itself on the other hand is an emotion.
It’s a state of great pleasure.
One is active and one is inactive.
But only one of them is emotion oriented.
The word in the Greek is the word Xara and it’s used 59 times in the New Testament, 178 in the whole Bible.
Out of those 59 times in the New Testament, did you know that 54 times this word is used in emotional terms?
Emotions for most of us seems to be a term that we would rather lay aside.
We would rather not talk about them.
We would much rather pretend they don’t exist and move about our day.
But the reality is that whether we tuck them deep down into that deep and dark place or we wear them on our sleeves, we have them.
Not only do we have them but our minds have the ability to be controlled by them.
We make rash decision because of them and often times end up going back and apologizing for things we said or did.
At least when we’re young that’s what we do.
When we’re older we can tuck them away a little bit.
We can tuck them away and keep them from rising to the surface very easily.
But what if I told you that our emotions are designed by God as something that is a very good part of who we are.
Take for example our text for the day.
Digging into 1 John we find this idea of having our joy made full.
However, the actual Greek rendering here is not that our joy would be made full.
The Greek word Plerow is often times mistranslated as being full.
However the idea in the word is not that you would be full but that you would be complete.
That your joy would be made complete.
In other words our main passage in focus today if translated straight from the Greek might best read something along these lines:
And these things we write to you that our joy may be complete.
Now you might be wondering why this is important.
Well here’s the idea given from this great letter.
Do you remember telling you a few weeks ago that this letter is written from the heart of a pastor?
Well this specific letter is so beautifully laid out that John wanted the people to his heart.
And his heart was that the raw emotion and anguish that is inside of each and every one of us as Christians might be turned to the one who gives us our completion.
That’s why we see the terms, my little children.
These are all terms of endearment used in such a way to draw the heart of the reader into focusing upon Christ.
It’s designed to cause that emotional side of the Christian to look unto the Lord and have their joy complete.
Not looking outside of the realm of who Jesus Christ is but looking straight unto the Lord Himself and beholding His beauty and what He has done for you.
John’s goal is to amplify the Gospel in such a way that irregardless of what may come your way in this life, your emotional joy will not be found in the moment.
Irregardless of what you may be experiencing in this season of your life, you have complete joy.
This however does not mean that you’ll be experiencing the enjoyment side of things.
And this is where the distinction between enjoying and joy really comes out.
The first question of the Westminster Catechism is; What is the chief end of man?
The answer is to glorify God and Enjoy Him forever.
The key emphasis is on the eternal.
That season of time where you will stand before the throne of the living God and you will be able to experience pure enjoyment over who God is.
But notice how the answer to that question is emphatic on enjoying Him for eternity.
The emphasis is on the eternal and not on the temporal.
Beloved there will be seasons in your life where you will not be enjoying God.
You will have joy in the sense of the emotional bondage of the human heart.
But used in a noun or action tense such as enjoying isn’t fully possible while we have this fleshly body.
This sin nature of ours will at many times prevent us from enjoying God.
It prevents us from enjoying the Lord Jesus Christ because it causes us to lose our joy.
That is the only thing a Christian loses when he sins beloved.
But that in and of itself can cause the strongest in the faith to become weak and weary.
We have a need to continuously watch after our joy.
To continue on a path each and every day where we not only are looking after our own joy and satisfaction of the Lord Jesus Christ’ redeeming work on our behalf.
But to also look after one another.
We have a great need to lift one another up and always point them to the enormity of who Christ is.
Now many of you might be thinking to yourself, how do we do that?
How is it that we can look unto Christ and have our joy be complete?
The first area that we should look after is to remind ourselves that while we may have been in misery and discontentment for countless years, that is not where we are designed by God to remain.
We are not designed to be melancholy over our Lord.
We are designed to sit in our pit of sorrows.
Though at times in our life we very well may find ourselves like Israel was during the Babylonian Captivity.
Sitting beside the rivers of Babylon, weeping and remembering Zion.
Hanging our harps upon the trees because it is to much for us to sing before the Lord.
But the call is not for us to stay in that desolate place.
The call is for us to rise up, wipe the dust from ourselves and with every new day, sing a new song before the Lord.
Beloved do you realize that is a great metaphor for our sin nature?
Babylon is our sin and often times we can be held captive to it.
Not wanting to cry out to the Lord and rejoice in belonging to Christ.
Yet that is precisely what we are called to do.
We are called to have spiritual joy.
And when we have the joy we have the ability to do anything.
We can face any struggle that comes our way.
My mind instantly goes back to a young woman in 200 AD named Perpetua.
She was a woman who had recently been converted to Christianity.
Her father who was not a Christian had pleaded with her to recant her belief and yet Perpetua refused.
She refused time and time again declaring that there was but one way for a person to be made right and that it was through Jesus Christ.
Now while this might not seem like much to us in America in 2017.
For her this was signing her own death certificate.
Not only would she be put to death but she would also be leaving behind her newborn child as well.
Leaving behind many of the friends and the family that she once enjoyed spending her time with.
As it was, her father came to her pleading with her to recant.
Begging for her to deny Christ.
But her convictions were to strong and as was the custom, Perpetua was publicly baptized which ultimately led to her being taken captive.
Shortly after her father came to her to recant Perpetua was baptized and taken captive into prison.
Yet even in prison she wasn’t alone.
Her mother and brother were both with her as well as a few friends.
She soon gave birth to her child and through some bribery, she was able to be moved closer to her mother and brother for the safety of her child.
Her child remained in prison with her until the day of her execution when her father came for the last time to take the child from her.
In the mid morning, she and her companions were walked out before the Emperor in the middle of the colosseum.
In the middle of this arena her and everyone with her was scourged before a line of gladiators.
Their captives then let loose a wild boar, a bear and a leopard onto the men and a wild cow onto the women.
After a short period of time the animals were restrained and all the martyrs gathered back together and gave each other a kiss of peace before the gladiators unleashed their sword upon them.
Each of those martyrs went home to be with the Lord that day.
But the best part of that story is that she and her companions all had one thing in common as they went to their death.
Mainly because the entire journal is not about her but nonetheless it does mention her.
Her name was Felicitas and she was a slave woman w
Their joy was not found in the fleeting moment of time that they were in.
It was not their situation that they rejoiced in but they were complete in their joy.
That joy which was only found in Christ.
So the question for us then becomes, whats so different about her and her companions and us?
Why is it that we can read story after story of martyr who went to their death proclaiming the glory of Christ.
Singing hymns and praising Christ in the midst of this moment in their life?
I would venture to beloved it’s this.
More often than not, we are seeking for our joy to be made complete in something outside o Christ.
We are seeking for our joy to be found in this momentary marriage.
We are seeking for our joy to be found in the mere pleasure of the moment.
Beloved we are not called to seek for what can only be found in Christ in the things of this world.
And when we do that deep joy that our hearts long for is always going to be lacking.
Our spiritual cup if you will, will never be full.
Because the things that you so desire cannot be found in your spouse.
They cannot be found in mere objects like vehicles or houses.
They cannot be found in the bottom of the bottle.
Beloved they are only found at the foot of the cross.
But how do we seek after joy in the right way?
If I could just for a moment give you the Sunday School Children’s answer it would be this: Jesus.
And what I mean by that is that if you took the entirety of the Bible and somehow found a way to sum it up into one word.
It’s sum would be Jesus.
From the very beginning of the Word we find account after account that is always pointing us to Christ.
From to , there is not one iota of the Word of God written that doesn’t somehow bring us back to Christ.
Just look at the context for this one verse here.
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life- the life was made manifest to us- that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; an indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.”
John is laying out this clearly revealed plan of God and reminding the people of God that they have been set free from the burdens that they were once under.
This promise of one day, there would come one who would be able to fulfill the law in all of it’s demands.
And not only would He be able to fulfill the law in all that was required of man, but He would also do so on your behalf.
So that when you fail to keep the Law, you will have an advocate with the Father.
No longer do you need to lay down your head at night and wonder if you are good enough.
For the perfect and righteous one has instead applied what He has done on your behalf.
No longer do we need to walk around veiling ourselves from those who are around us like the pharisees did.
Because we have in us the very one who would put to shame any who would bring a charge against you.
Beloved do you see this?
Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect?
It is God who justifies.
Who is to condemn?
Christ Jesus is the one who died for us.
It is Christ Jesus who was raised from the dead.
It is Christ Jesus who is at the right hand of God interceding for us.
Better still, who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
There shall never come any form of tribulation or distress or persecution or famine that will separate us from the Love of God that is in Christ Jesus.
For countless of thousands of years man has lived with this overwhelming reality of their fallen nature riding on their hearts.
They know that they are desperate and without hope.
They know that irregardless of how well they may perform today, they still had to make it through tomorrow.
And that by merely keeping the whole law but failing in one point, they were accountable for all of it.
Beloved do you know the dread this puts on the heart of man?
Do you know that this in itself is enough to steal away your joy?
Yet beloved we don’t live under that yoke anymore.
We no longer live under the burden of the need to perform.
We have that great high priest who stands before God on our behalf.
We have that one who is the advocate for us.
He is the propitiation for our sins.
For our sins and for all those who would ever trust in Him.
Beloved think about this for a minute.
The old hymn comes to mind; Jesus sought me when a stranger wandering from the fold of God, He to save my soul from danger, bought me with His precious blood.
This should make our joy complete!
But it only works if we see ourselves in light of this truth.
If you cannot look upon yourself and the blood of Christ upon your life, than you really have no complete Joy.
Yet if you can look upon yourself and see that you are His and that He has bought you with an everlasting Love, than surely your joy shall be complete.
Surely you can live out your days no longer wondering as a stranger but knowing that by His grace you have true and pure joy.
Not only do you have this joy that is complete because of who you are in Christ.
But you can also never be removed from who you are in Christ.
Beloved do you believe that?
Do you truly believe that?
You as a regenerated person made new through Christ could live your life sinning in countless many ways.
And yet at the end of the day, you are still His.
Now that doesn’t mean that we strive after living our lives in this way.
But it does mean that your position in Christ is not dependent upon you!
You are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.
You shall forever be with Him where he is.
You shall forever behold His glory.
The golden chain of redemption gives us this promise.
In the Lord tells us that all things work together for the good of those who love God.
Those who are called according to His purpose.
For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that he might be the first born among many brothers.
And those whom He predestined, he also called, and those whom He called, He also justifies, and those whom He justifies, they will be glorified.
Did you catch that last part there?
Not only did God know you before He formed you.
Not only did God predetermine that He would conform you to the image of His Son.
Not only did guarantee your justification.
But He also guaranteed that you will be glorified beloved.
Those whom He foreknew, He predestined, those whom He predestined, He justified, and those whom He justified, they will be glorified.
The emphasis here is showing that those who are His will be brought forth unto the day of completion.
They wont struggle along for 15-20 years making a mess of this Christian life in such a way that one day the Lord looks upon them and says no more.
They won’t sin their way into un-forgiveness.
They won’t rebel against Him in such a way that He then leaves them in their muck.
But instead He promises that He who began a good work will bring it to completion.
That’s a futuristic promise written in such a way that it’s already happened.
Beloved this should give you great joy because it lifts the burden off of your back.
You no longer need to have a mind geared to performance.
You no longer need to wake up everyday wondering how it is that you might please God just enough to squeak by.
But instead, you know that you are forever His.
But in order to truly see this, several things have to happen.
As I mentioned earlier, this joy that we’re speaking of is an emotional joy.
And many things have the ability to rob that joy from us.
When we allow sin to take over in our lives, that joy begins to fade away.
That victory begins to disappear.
We begin to become so focused on the sin of the day that we lose sight of the beauty at the end.
We become overwhelmed by our sorrow and never focus on Christ.
To quote Spurgeon here for a moment, “Sorrow for sin is a sweet sorrow.”
That sorrow that we have allows us to for a moment stop looking unto ourselves and begin looking unto Christ.
We repent not
True repentance is as food to the soul.
Because that repentance should remind us that we have such a great high priest.
It should remind us that in Christ our sin has already been dealt with.
Sadly what actually ends up happening is that when we sin we become so focused on ourselves that we refuse to look to Christ.
We bottle up these sins of the day until we just cannot take it anymore and we allow it to chip away at our joy.
Sometimes we may go weeks or even months without truly repenting.
And in doing so we fail to nourish the soul.
Weeping before the throne of God is truly the safest place that we have to stand.
And yet instead of going there daily, we wait.
We wait and through our waiting that joy and that triumph found in Christ Jesus is slowly but surely taken away.
It may be little by little but it is without a doubt that when we do this, our joy is not complete.
Beloved, fellowship with Christ is found in our repentance.
Fellowship with Christ is the ultimate goal and when we fail to offer true repentance, we fail to have that fellowship.
There is something to be said about a believer being able to go before the Lord Jesus Christ and repent.
And knowing full well that they are grabbed with arms open as far as the east is from the west.
And it is through this that our joy is made full to use the language of the King James.
It is Christ that completes our joy beloved.
Nothing else will satisfy what the Christians heart desires.
But this requires something from you beloved.
It requires that you not be slack concerning sin.
It requires that you go before the Lord when you sin.
It requires you to with an open heart fall prostrate before the throne of Christ knowing that you need Him.
Knowing that He is what brings your heart the true joy it desires.
It requires you to dive into His Word with an unashamed love for Him.
Seeking after what this beautiful Word has for you today.
Not wondering where it is that you fit into this Word but wondering what it shall teach you about Christ Jesus today.
Yet this only works for those who know Christ.
For those who are living this life apart from being known by Christ, the joy that you have now shall never truly be complete.
You may seek after for many years finding pleasures in a multitude of many things but you shall never know Joy the way the Christian does.
So for you I ask this question, does Christ know you?
Not do you know about Christ and know about Biblical truths.
But does Christ know you?
A good way of measuring this is to ask you where you’re finding your joy at?
Beloved if everything you have was taken from you today, would you still have joy?
If God was to allow your life to mimic Job’s life, would you still have joy?
If your answer is no, one of two things is possible.
Number one is that you’re not seeing Christ for who He really is.
Number two is that you don’t truly know Christ and He doesn’t know you.
The first one is an issue with right thinking.
The second is an issue with your heart.
Beloved if the Lord Jesus Christ doesn’t know you, repent this very hour and plead with Him for His mercy.
Plead with Him every hour until He makes your heart sing with confidence that you are His.
And then draw near to Him in ways not ever dreamed of.
Would you pray with me?