The Joy Of The Lord
“Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” —Nehemiah 8:10
In Nehemiah 8, the children of Israel, those who had returned from the Babylonian captivity, were being reacquainted with the law of Moses. None of them had been raised under the leadership of God’s Word, and as such, they were very sad to hear of the numerous ways in which they had failed to follow God’s instructions. Their first response was the right one: They wept. Whenever we become aware of a failing, we too should mourn. But God’s people do not have to mourn over sin as though their failures cannot be forgiven and their wrong actions corrected. In God’s redemption plan there is a means by which we can obtain forgiveness and freedom from both the power and penalty of sins committed. The children of Israel were sorry for their failure to adhere to the Word of God. God accepted their repentance and assured them of that fact. In fact, the timing of their spiritual restoration coincided with the required feast of tabernacles. God instructed them to both celebrate and share their good fortune with others, especially those who had no provision by which they could celebrate.
Many Christians today are not walking in the provision of the Cross of Christ. They fail to understand justification, progressive sanctification, forgiveness, and restoration, or the process of deliverance. All of these terms are truths that the modern believer must understand and apply in order to consistently experience the joy of the Lord. In Psalm 51, David cries out to the Lord to return to him “the joy of thy salvation.” Note that David did not say that he desired the joy of “my” salvation. David wanted the joy that was brought to his soul by the embracing of the salvation that God provided him. There is a vast difference between the two thoughts. The “joy of thy salvation” is achieved by the believer when he experiences the benefits of that which God has provided in Christ. If we are failing to walk in the benefits afforded us by Calvary, we are sure to lose the joy of the Lord. Let’s look quickly at some of the benefits that Christ won for all by going to the Cross.
Let us look at the term justification. Justification is a declaration of God—a legal verdict. A person is justified by this legal declaration of God. That declaration states that the justified one has freely received a status of innocence—a verdict of not guilty—in regard to any and all wrongdoing. God makes this declaration for all who will place their faith in Jesus. This declaration gives us a right standing with God. It is an established position granted in exchange for the believer’s faith in Christ. Since we do not earn justification by works, we cannot lose justification because of a wrong action. Justification will only be withdrawn if a person fails to continue to believe exclusively in Christ for salvation. The joy of the Lord is my strength!
Progressive sanctification speaks of the continued growth of the believer. When we understand how God’s plan works, we continuously keep our faith in Christ. We should learn from the content of God’s Word that Jesus didn’t just pay the penalty for our sin on Calvary, He also destroyed the power of sin’s dominion over us on the cross. Our union with Him at conversion brings this benefit into effect. And as long as we continue to trust in Christ and what He did, the Holy Spirit will continue to supply us with grace. This grace will provide to us the supernatural power needed to overcome the weight and sin that does so easily beset us. The promise of God is that “sin shall know longer have dominion over me.” The joy of the Lord is my strength!
We have already spoken regarding God’s willingness to forgive the sin that we forsake and confess to Him. But many Christians don’t realize that there is a vast difference between forgiveness and deliverance. Forgiveness frees us from the guilt of sin. Deliverance frees us from the power of sin. After being forgiven, believers can still possibly find themselves in a battle with the desire to sin. The Holy Spirit, who lives on the inside of every born-again believer, has the power of God that is needed to overcome every wrong desire or evil pull from the enemy. He is there to strengthen our hearts and deliver us from the efforts of wrong desires within and ferocious attacks from without. As the believer learns to depend upon this aspect of God’s grace, the Spirit quickens our mortal bodies and brings us the deliverance and victory we so desire! The joy of the Lord is my strength!
In conclusion, once the believer understands where to place his faith on a regular and consistent basis, then all of the benefits of God’s salvation plan begin to manifest themselves in his life. Through faith in who Christ is and what Christ has done, the believer finds himself existing in the joy of the Lord!