Faith Causes Obedience, Then Intimacy, Then Joy

September 23, 2013

Friends,
True joy (not the counterfeit kind) comes only from the Spirit. It is produced in us only by walking in the Spirit. (Gal. 5:22) When we walk in the Spirit, we will not be walking according to the sinful nature. (v. 16) This means we will not be acting, speaking, or thinking sinfully. (v. 19,20) However, if we are, we must understand that we are not inheritors of the Kingdom of God. (v. 21)

Gal. 5:24 tells us, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.” We have done this through our faith and repentance, and thus, by being united with Christ in His death and resurrection, we have died to sin and risen to a new life. (Rom. 6:1-11 // 2 Cor. 5:17) However, a continuous choice is required in order to remain in this position (–something Jesus reminds us of in John 15:4-10). Therefore we must be continuously choosing to make use of the power of the Spirit who has come to live within us so that we indeed do not fall. The Gospel is definitely Good News, for it reminds us that our job is to rest in Christ’s love, which is attainable as we submit ourselves to Him, listen to Him, love Him, and obey Him. If we do, it is the Lord Himself, by way of the Spirit in us, who lives His life and will from us (Gal. 2:20), His temples. (1 Cor. 6:19) And that is rest. (Mt. 11:28-30 // Heb. 4:1-11)

So, we see that it is by living a life submitted to the Spirit that we attain joy. Said another way, our faith in Christ Jesus is the cause of our obedience, our obedience fosters a peace and intimacy between us and God, and the thriving relationship is what then produces joy.

Let’s look at what Jesus says in John 15:11. He says, “I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” But what is the “this” that He has just told us? We see it in verse 10: “If you obey My commands, you will remain in My love.” So we cannot remain in the Lord’s love, nor in His joy, if we do not obey His commands? That’s right. That is what Jesus is saying. And is it our responsibility to choose to remain in His love? Of course. This is why He commands us in verse 9 to do so!

How do we remain in Christ’s love –that love which includes His joy? We love others as Christ loves. (John 15:12,13,17) And how do we love the Lord? We do it and show it by doing what He commands. (v. 14) Then we will be His true friends (same verse) and His true disciples, proving so by our production of fruit. (v. 8 ) This fruit will be “the fruit of the Spirit [which] is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Gal. 5:22,23), as well as all else holy, good, courageous, and honorable that comes from His divine power (2 Peter 1:3,4), including our joint labor with Him toward the salvation of souls. (Acts 1:8)

So, the Gospel is not a call to seek joy, though that is definitely a result of finding the Truth and walking in it. Instead, we are to proclaim to the world the same proclamation found repeatedly in God’s Word, and which Paul articulates in Rom. 1:5: That all people come “to the obedience that comes from faith.” This obedience is what will keep people in Christ’s love –that only fountain of true joy.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

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