Seldom do I find my heart without trouble of any sort. Each day holds the potential for anguish – the greatest of these being my never ending battle against sin. Day after day we labor to throw off what my pastor has called a “sin hangover.” Though we have been freed from the bondage of sin through the sacrifice of Christ – we are yet at war, presently, with our body. Perhaps there is no greater sorrow for the genuine Christian than in their failings to be holy as He is holy. Yet it is in this sadness that we may find the necessary gumption to repent, knowing that obedience to the scriptures is of primary significance. For the true Christian there can be no other supreme treasure in our hearts than Christ.
“Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.” – Jeremiah Burroughs, the Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment
If we love Him, we will obey His commandments (John 14:23). It is only in repentance that we shall find the peace of His abiding and have the fullness of joy in Him (John 15:10-11). If you wish true Christian happiness and joy – turn to the Lord your God in repentance and confess Christ. Yet in this, Christians often feel no joy. Why is this so, considering that He has promised us joy? Is God unfaithful? May it never be said! Is it always tied to unrepentant sin if we are without joy? No. Yet it seems that the truth of the scriptures has not quite grabbed hold of us so as to turn our complete affections toward our Redeemer. Sin taints everything – especially our perception of the goodness of God in the midst of the trials of this life. Perhaps we have ill-defined what true joy is, as it is oft not without sorrow.
We may know the scriptures which speak of Christ having overcome the world – yet does that comfort our afflicted heart in the midst of fiery trials which are burning away the dross? Do we grapple with what the text is truly saying to the church? Far too often, I fear we find the band-aid verse and slap it on rather than assessing where the true source of Christian contentment is found and the significance of the clichéd, go-to verses. We find reason to listen to voices which carry no significance rather than immersing ourselves in the richness of the scripture’s eternal truth. This, of course, lends itself little to those who would find every reason not to trust the integrity and authority of the scriptures.
The source and wellspring of joy for the Christian, therefore, is found in the sweet, living waters of our precious Savior, through communion with the living and active Word. We take delight and hope in the power of His resurrection, for by it we come to know our wretched state, yet by it we come to see the unique beauty of the cross. For it is through the cross that forgiveness is found and through the resurrection of Christ our hope; we look then, with eager anticipation of the fullness of redemption from this “sin hangover” garnered through the victorious One.
“I must confess that I never realize Christ’s preciousness so much as when I feel myself still to be, apart from Him, an undeserving, hell-deserving sinner.” – Charles Spurgeon
Yet it seems to be somewhere in the midst of triumph and failure, that is, victory over sin – yet presently still waging war with it, that we find contentment and joy in the Christian life this side of eternity. While we are presently freed from the bondage of sin we find the dichotomy of the Christian life: yet being a hell-deserving sinner saved by grace. For the man who says he is without sin, the one who denies something as sinful when it clearly is, the hypocrite who lays down unlawful burdens, the legalist who denounces freedom in Christ, or the Antinomian who makes the blood of the cross cheapened by unbridled licentiousness, there shall be no peace.
But for the one found faithful, a wellspring for the weary soul is offered by Paul:
Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.
But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.
1 Cor. 15:51-58; NASB
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