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No Joy
© 03.15.2015 By D. Eric Williams

This article appeared in the March 19 edition of the Cottonwood Chronicle

Honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you (1 Peter 3:15).

There are many Christians who have never been asked for a reason for the hope that is within them. This is so because they do not exude hope. In fact, people look at them and do not think ?Ah, there's a person full of hope and joy. I wonder what it is that makes them that way?? Instead, when they see the sort of Christian I'm referring to they say, ?Wow, if that's what Christianity does to you, then I don't anything to do with it. They look like the most unhappy person in the world!?

Some would say the unhappy person isn't a born again Christian at all. If they were a Believer, they wouldn?t be depressed. That may be true in some cases, but the fact is, there are many Christians who suffer from spiritual depression. They ascent to the truth of the Gospel, they receive it with heart felt conviction and, to the best of their ability, they seek the Holy Spirit's help in reshaping their will to the will of the Messiah, producing fruit in keeping with the new birth. Nonetheless, there is something in their life that prevents them from experiencing the joy of the Lord. Much like the Christian we examined a few weeks ago, who finds his movement from glory to glory has stalled, the spiritually depressed Christian cannot seem to rejoice [in the Lord] with inexpressible and glorious joy (1 Peter 1:8, Philippians 4:4). There are a variety of reasons for this malady. In today's article we will look at two forms of, a failure to see as God sees.

In the first place a Christian looks at his sins and cannot believe God will forgive him for his depravity. This sometimes crops up among Believers who have been saved out of gross sinfulness, but it can afflict almost anyone. In a sense, these Christians do see sin as God sees it. They understand the heinous nature of sin. They recognize that they deserve to be punished severely for their rebellion and wickedness toward God. In fact they think this so strongly, they cannot believe God has really forgiven them. They find themselves constantly returning to the Lord begging for forgiveness for their past. They see any failing in the present as proof they are beyond forgiveness. As a result they labor under a cloud of condemnation. Rather than exude hope and joy they show a face of despair and depression to the world. These Christians need to see what God sees. He looks upon them and sees Christ. He sees the reality of pardon and cleansing purchased by the blood of Jesus. He sees a new creation. He sees a son or daughter of the king, washed whiter than snow. In short, God sees their sin as gone. They need to see the same thing.

A second form this condition manifests itself is the mirror opposite of the first. It is still a failure to see sin as God sees it, but rather than be overwhelmed by their sin, these folks have never been made miserable because of a conviction of sin. They acknowledge they have done wrong but - especially compared to certain others - they really aren?t that bad. What they fail to realize is that sin is sin. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it (James 2:10). Thus, you must first be crushed beneath the weight of your sin before you are able to experience joy. If you do not have a conviction of sin, you cannot understand you are unworthy of all but condemnation. And if you do not understand your sinfulness, you will never experience joy in release from that sin.

We will revisit this topic next week.

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