LIVING IN THE JOY OF CHRIST, #726
These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full (JOH 15:11).
What is a more blessed subject than to read of the joy of the Lord Jesus Christ remaining in you that your joy might be full? Among "these things" that Jesus had spoken, we not only need to consider the first 10 verses of this chapter, but also what He had spoken in JOH 14:27: "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." He is speaking of two types of peace. The peace He leaves us is that peace we have from the Father through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. "My peace" is the peace of mind, the perfect tranquility He had on the cross when He said, "Father forgive them they dont know what they are doing." He had no contention against those who had nailed Him to the cross. The world knows nothing of such a peace. Under no circumstances should we allow our hearts to be troubled. Under no circumstances should frustration take hold of us.
Where do you find the joy of the Lord Jesus Christ if you have a heart filled with frustration and worry about the things of this life? If the things of this world can distract you, then you do not understand the peace He leaves with you or the joy of the Lord Jesus Christ. Among these things about bearing fruit and obedience, He also spoke about love, sending the Comforter, and His peace, which lead to His joy. Do you have joy with a heart that is not filled with love? If your heart is filled with anxiety and your affections are set on the things of this world, you neither have the peace of Christ nor the joy.
JOH 15:7-10 says, "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Fathers commandments, and abide in his love."
He describes continuing in His love as keeping His Fathers commandments. He brings us into a parallel with the relationship He has with His Father. We obtain His joy and peace by walking in His Spirit of unconditional, humble obedience. We abide in His love and peace and we enter into His joy. You cannot enter into His joy without entering into His peace. You cannot enter into His peace without having entered into His love. We see His love revealed in that He kept His Fathers commandments and abode in His love.
What are the fruits of the Spirit? "Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith," as we see in GAL 5:22. Having spoken of His peace, which is the fruit of love (loving God with our heart, soul and mind, and our neighbor as ourselves), He now goes on to speak of the joy there is to be found in "our labor of love." The Lord wants to see love in our hearts. The Lord is jealous of these commands, and He watches carefully the attitude of our heart toward these commandments of love.
In 1TH 1:2-4 we read, "We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father [see the connection between this labor of love and the call of the gospel]; Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God." God our Father is looking on that labor of love, and that is where He is so delighted. He is looking for a response, a return on His labor of love. He is pointing out the connection between our labor of love and knowing our election of God. Do we want to know whether we are one of Gods elect? Then we must examine our hearts for that labor of love. Do we understand what it means to enter into and abide in the love, peace and joy of Christ? If we do, then we will know our election of God.
What is our election of God? In 2TH 2:13 we read, "God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth." Do we realize how important believing the truth is? When we hear people taking Gods name in vain, using the word hell as a byword, do we really think they believe the truth of the solemnity of the wrath of God? No, they have no conception of what they are talking about.
The prophet Isaiah fell on his face to be in the presence of the Lord, and said, "Woe is me! for I am a man of unclean lips." He understood what an awesome thing it is to come into the presence of God. What would it mean to come under His wrath and to think that a person would say that he believes the truth and can lightly speak of Gods threats of hell, to think that a person could lightly esteem the salvation of God?
We are called, we are chosen unto sanctification of the spirit and belief of the truth. The Lord is eternally pleased with the love our Saviour has commanded us to show unto His name, "that ye love one another, as I have loved you," as it says in JOH 15:12.
It is important that we see the connection between our labor of love and entering into the joy of our Lord. In HEB 6:10-12 we read, "For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises." We see here the emphasis on the two tables of the law. We demonstrate our love for God by showing and ministering love to the saints. See the connection between this and salvation. We do not merit anything, but if these connecting links are missing, do not claim salvation, because this is our evidence of it. If we are biting and devouring one another and claiming salvation, Satan is warming his hands in the fires of hell for you. There is no such thing as having enmity and hatred and bitterness against our fellowman and claiming salvation.
To become partakers of the joy of our Lord, we must also walk in His Spirit. Will we enter His joy and not be doing the will of His Father? This would be a contradiction. Do we want to know what it is to live in a rejoicing spirit with the fullness of Christs joy in our heart? We will find it in our labor of love. We will find it in serving the Lord. We cannot partake of His joy while walking outside of the Spirit of Christ.
His peace has nothing to do with our present circumstances. We could have everything a heart could wish. As it says in PSA 73, Asaph was jealous of the proud and he could see all that they had, but none of that has anything to do with this kind of peace. This peace is the peace that Christ has. We will never know the fullness of joy until Christs joy enters us, and we will never know the joy of Christ outside of walking in His footsteps serving His Father and Him.
JOH 15:12 says, "This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you." Is it easy to love one another? Wait until one of your brothers offends you. Can we respond with love or do we need a little grace to do that? Are we able to love one who has offended us as Christ has loved us? Can we ask the Lord, "Forgive him, he did not know what he was doing"? We can have this love only if Christs love dwells in us. This is not a natural love.
Even as we enter into our Saviours peace (JOH 14:27), so He privileges us to enter into His joy, "that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full." Many people think depression is godliness, and nothing is further from the truth. Godliness is joy and peace in the Holy Spirit. It is joy, peace and love in Christ. Depression and anxiety and frustration are nothing but the fruits of unbelief.
We find our Saviour expressing His greatest joy in pleasing His Father, in doing His will and glorifying His name with His labor of love. We enter into His joy by doing those things that please Him. JOH 4:34 says, "Jesus saith unto them, My meat [greatest joy] is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work."
The joy of our Lord also extends unto His reward for such unconditional humble obedience, which was ever before Him as He stepped forward to finish His Fathers work. This is all He lived for. HEB 12:2 says, "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." We may also enter that joy of the Promised Land. Can you and I, for the joy of being able to serve in perfection, through eternity, can we endure the cross? We need to follow Him in the way of the cross. We need to take up our cross and follow Him and do it cheerfully. Are you and I going to go in the way of the cross, murmuring and grumbling about every little thing the Lord brings upon us and enter into His joy? It was by the way of the cross that He entered His final joy.
You and I will suffer shame for His name. I visited a friend a while back and was introduced to a man I had never met, but I heard that he was a man who served the Lord. In my introduction I said to him, "I have heard some bad things about you." He said, "Oh, what is that?" I said, "I understand that you bear a reproach." "What reproach is that?" he replied. I said, "I understand that you bear the reproach of Christ. I understand that you walk through this life bearing His reproach." He said that he had never had anyone approach it that way before.
We joy in tribulation. We joy in the things that are against the flesh as long as it is for His glory. To share His throne with Him should cause our hearts to be filled with joy. This should help us to be able to despise the shame, that we should be able to bear the cross we have to bear. We must take up our cross and crucify everything of our flesh if we are going to enter into the joy of our Lord. We need that peace of Christ in our heart as we do so.
This double joy of obedience and communion is what David spoke of in a prophetic way in PSA 16:8-10. "I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption." In the most trying circumstances sometimes we have the greatest joy.
This joy of which David prophesied with regard to our Saviour was also his joy as we see in PSA 16:11. "Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore." David understood what it was to enter into that joy. Every person has a talent, and the Lord is looking at us to see if we are using our talent for His service and for His glory or are we burying our talent in the dirt? If we want to enter into the joy of the Lord, we must put our talent to work in His service.
MAT 25:20-21 says, "And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord." Are we going to bury everything we have in the things of this life and expect to have the joy of our Lord? It is contrary to the teachings of Scripture.
"These things," which our text tells us Jesus has spoken unto us, refers to maintaining communion with Christ, and the conditions upon which they may be realized. We do not maintain this communion by serving Him one day a week and the world six days a week. We need to serve Him from our heart always.
When we stray from His service into serving sin, communion is broken, and His joy is lost as we can hear from David after he sinned. PSA 51:12 says, "Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit." Salvation includes much more than just going to heaven. Salvation is to be delivered from the power and the tyranny of sin. Salvation is to be restored into the service of our Lord, and David had fallen from this. He had become barren. His fruit was dried up. He was no longer abiding in Christ. His joy would be restored by re-entering His service, by repenting of sin and turning back to the Lord. We will not have the joy of salvation while serving self and sin.
David was not praying for salvation as though it had come into question, but the joy of walking in His service had been lost, just as we see of Peter in LUK 22:62, "And Peter went out, and wept bitterly." Peter was not now walking in that joy because He had denied his Lord. His heart was now filled with grief and sorrow.
It is so important to realize that we need Christ in our everyday life just as much as we do for eternity. Much teaching says that salvation is something that happens after we die. That is not right. We need salvation every day. We need that perfect peace of Christ in our hearts under all circumstances.
The Father wants to be glorified by our sanctification in this life as well as by our salvation for eternity. JOH 15:8 says, "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples." When the Father is glorified, our hearts will be filled with joy, peace and love. Those are the fruits of obedience. The fruit is the evidence of a good or a bad tree. Notice MAT 7:18-20, "A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." Are we good trees? Have we been planted in the garden of the Lord? Then we cannot bring forth evil fruit.
In order to enter into the joy of our Lord we must follow in His footsteps. The grounds for this fullness of joy cannot be found in any merit in anything in ourselves, but can only be found in the Person of Christ and His finished work.
PHI 4:4 says, "Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice." The root of our joy is in the Benefactor who has given us the robe of righteousness and gives us our crown. The measure of this joy is determined by our daily walk in the footsteps of Christ, and our fellowship and communion with Him as we see in 1JO 1:3b-4, "Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full." Our fellowship with the Father and His Son gets turned off like a light switch when we start to serve sin, when our heart departs from our heavenly Bridegroom, when our heart becomes set on anything but Him.
The following verses reveal how this fellowship can become so easily broken. 1JO 1:5-7 says, "This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."
The joy of Christ spoken of in our text is not measured by our happiness or success in present circumstances as with the world. The joy of Christ is quite independent of these as we see in ACT 16:23-25. "And when they had laid many stripes upon [Paul and Silas], they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them." They had the joy and peace of Christ because what they had suffered was according to the will of God. The peace and joy of Christ are not found in tangible things.
Entering into the joy of our Lord often is best realized when circumstances are the worst. Where you see prosperity in this world, it is often accompanied by spiritual famine. You seldom see a man prospering greatly in the world and spiritually as well. ISA 54:10 says, "For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee." The things of this life will all be removed. When circumstances are the most trying, the peace of God is the most precious. During the worst circumstances we are able to give it all into His hands.
The pathway that leads into this perfect peace and joy of our Lord is found as we keep our Saviours commandments. This is so against human nature. The love of Christ unto His dear children was harmless, innocent, inoffensive, self-sacrificial. Loving one another as He loved us is the fulfilling of the law. ROM 13:9-10 says, "For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law."
The law is not abolished. These verses name the last six commandments. Christ came to fulfill the law in a legal sense, and you and I must fulfill the law in the form of gospel obedience. Right after our Lord Jesus commanded, "that ye love one another, as I have loved you," He went on to qualify the extent of that love. JOH 15:13 says, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
Our love for God or our neighbor is best measured by the extent of sacrifice we are willing to make to express that love. Abraham loved God so much that he was willing to sacrifice his son. God will bring circumstances to test whether we will pay the price to obey. Christ lay down His life for His friends while they were still at enmity with Him in their heart. ROM 5:6-8 says, "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Can we heap coals of love on our brothers head when he is doing evil to us, that we may melt his rebellion and bring him to repentance?
This is why our Saviour tells us in MAT 5:43-45. "Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust."
If that Spirit of Christ is not dwelling in us, we are not the children of our Father. If we only show love to those who show love we differ nothing from the world. MAT 5:46-48 says, "For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."
As we show these deeds of kindness to our neighbor we need to also guard our heart with regard to the first table of the law, with what motive we do our acts of mercy. The big emphasis in the Gospels is the second table of the law, but we are also cautioned against breaking the first table of the law. MAT 6:1 says, "Take heed that ye do not your alms [or deeds of kindness] before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven." Until we are fulfilling the second table of the law, the first table of the law is not even taken into consideration. When we keep the second table of the law, then the Lord examines our heart as to what our motive is.
Christs love for us is revealed in the sacrifice He was willing to make on our behalf. 1JO 3:15-16 says, "Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren."
See how the apostle of love uses Christs sacrifice for us to illustrate what it is to enter into the joy of our Lord Jesus Christ or the assurance of our salvation in serving our brothers needs. 1JO 3:17-19 says, "But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him." This is where the test is. We honor God with our heart, soul and mind by showing compassion for our brother. This is how we know the assurance of our salvation, by our attitude toward Gods law of love, and the reflection we have in our life toward our neighbor.
When the joy of our Lord in serving His Father dwells in us, we will find the fullness of our joy blessedly described in PSA 112:1, "Praise ye the LORD. Blessed is the man that feareth the LORD, that delighteth greatly in his commandments." Amen.
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