By Rob Parlante
Experiencing real joy as a Christian sometimes feels like trying to hold a squirming jelly fish. You might be able to hold it for a second or two, but it eventually slips out of your hand. Real continuous joy seems fleeting. What is the root cause of this phenomenon? Before I answer that question, let’s define the word joy. Webster’s defines the word Joy as: the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires. From this definition, joy is an emotion expressed from a reality of well being, success or good fortune. If one has a feeling of well being, or success etc, they feel joy. As a Christian how can we continuously experience real joy? The answer is real joy starts with resting in the incredible truth that as a Christian permanently indwelt with the Holy Spirit; you are a new creation in Christ living in the New Covenant of Grace. The New Covenant of Grace began when Christ was resurrected after His crucifixion on the cross. The cross is in our past as Christians today. Before Christ’s resurrection, there was the Old Covenant. The Old Covenant of Law was a set of standards God gave to the nation Israel. God had a specific reason for giving the law; it was to show Israel that they can’t keep the law and that they need a savior who would declare them righteous by faith, and not by ones performance trying to keep the law. Old Covenant law was impossible to keep then, and is impossible to keep now. Paul in Gal 3:24-25 states this conclusion.
Galatians 3:24-25 (NASB) Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
The law leads men to Christ. Once one places his faith in Christ’s death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of his sins, he is a new creation, indwelt with the Holy Spirit, and justified. The verse also states man is no longer under the law. Do you see that incredible truth? A Christian today is no longer under the Old Covenant of Law.
Here is the issue I find many Christians struggle with. They want to experience real vibrant joy as a Christian, but think that they need to keep the Old Covenant Law. This is like trying to hold a squirming jelly fish. You can’t hold it for very long. For example, if for a few days you kept the standard, this would give you a feeling of well being (joy). But, as soon as you failed keeping the specific law, you lose the feeling of well being, and your joy quickly disappears. Joy in the Old Covenant of law by God’s design is only temporary. Joy in the New Covenant of Grace by God’s design is permanent. But how? After resting in the incredible truth a Christian is no longer under the Old Covenant of Law and living under the New Covenant of Grace, Christ gives us the clue in John 15:1-10, with the specific answer in verse 11.
John uses the word Abide ten times in these verses. This is a key word to understanding this passage. To summarize, the word abide means:
Abide – Remain in a close intimate relationship with Jesus Christ by allowing Him to live His life through you.
When a believer abides (sometimes we don’t), we bear Christ’s fruit through us and express Christ’s love to the outside world around us. This all hinges on abiding. John says in verse 11, when one abides, we will experience the joy of Christ.
John 15:11 (NASB) “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.
When a believer abides, he never loses his grip on the squirming jelly fish and experiences the joy of Christ in his life. Why don’t you just try abiding in Christ and give up trying to keep the law. If you do, you will experience the joy of Christ in you and through you. This is the abundant life Christ desires for you.
If you would like to learn more about the truths described here, come join us at Grace Christian Church, currently meeting at the Freehold VFW, every Sunday at 9:30 am.
In Him, Rob Parlante – Elder / Grace Christian Church