Pretend Salvation: If we do not have the indwelling Holy Spirit, we will not experience biblical joy (Galatians 5:22). Did you know that we can attend a church where God’s Word is taught and share in community with other believers, but if we do not know the Lord, we cannot experience Biblical joy?
2 Corinthians 13:5 says, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you–unless indeed you fail the test?”
Satan and demons: 1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert, Peter cautioned. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
Inadequate understanding of God’s sovereignty: Romans 8:28 says, “All things to work together for good to those who love [Him], to those who are called according to His purpose.” For believers to worry over their circumstances and to fear what the future may hold is equivalent to doubting God’s sovereignty, as well as His power and love.
Lack of Prayer: Philippians 4:6, “In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Believers who fail to pray inevitably lose sight of God’s sovereignty, His love, and care for us.
I am focusing on circumstances: John 4:11-12 says, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how-to live-in prosperity; in any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.” And John 14:27 says, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” Despite all the blessings we have in the Lord, we can become dissatisfied with our circumstances. We are unhappy with situations, health, appearance, lost opportunities, or the countless other things we do not have but think we deserve.
Ingratitude: God’s Word teaches us: (our) “prayers and supplications to God be made with thanksgiving” (Philippians 4:6). 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Rebellious sinners are in danger of judgment because of their ingratitude (Romans 1:18-21).
We are living by uncontrolled feelings, living by our emotions instead of by the Spirit: One of the reasons for spiritual depression is that we allow the “self” to do the talking instead of Spirit talking to the “self.” Is it possible that much of our unhappiness in life is because we listen to ourselves rather than the Spirit? Galatians 5:16-18 says, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”
Unwillingness to accept forgiveness: On the surface, that attitude can appear to reflect humility, but it is not humility. It is an insult to God’s righteous character and the teaching of His Word. Our Lord made it plain that “If [believers] forgive others for their transgressions, [their] heavenly Father will also forgive [them]. But if [they] do not forgive others, then [their] Father will not forgive [their] transgressions” (Matthew 6:14-15). 1 John 1:9 says, “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Scripture teaches the amazing and humbling truth that faithful and obedient believers receive joy from God and give joy to God. It is beyond comprehension that our infinite, holy, and almighty God should rejoice in His children, but His Word teaches that He does.
God rejoices when unbelievers repent and turn from their sin to Him. Jesus said, “I tell you that . . . there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7-10). “By faith, Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God” (Hebrews 11:5).
God rejoices in the prayers and worship of His children and their righteous behavior. Proverbs 15:8 says, “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is His delight.” Proverbs 11:20, “The perverse in heart are an abomination to the Lord, but the blameless in their walk are His delight.” 1 Chronicles 29:17, “Since I know, O my God, that You try the heart and delight in uprightness.”
All of this leads to the obvious conclusion that the community of God’s people should be a community of joy. The non-Christian’s happiness must come from the outside; the Christian’s joy comes from within. Despite the inevitable sorrows, disappointments, and pain of life, believers can be joyful. Biblical joy is not based on circumstances because it is the gift of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22).
With Joy in the Lord,