THE JOY OF SALVATION.
Safety, Certainty and Enjoyment
You will find in the teaching of Scripture, that while you are saved by Christ's work and assured by God's Word, you are maintained in comfort and joy by the Holy Spirit who indwells every saved one's body.
Now you must bear in mind that every saved one has still "the flesh" within him, that is, the evil nature he was born with as a natural man, and which perhaps showed itself while still a helpless infant on his mother's lap. The Holy Spirit in the believer resists the flesh, and is grieved by every activity of it, in motive, word or deed. When he is walking "worthy of the Lord," the Holy Spirit will be producing in his soul His blessed fruits — "love, joy, peace ..." (see Galatians 5:22). When he is walking in a carnal, worldly way, the Spirit is grieved, and these fruits are wanting in greater or less measure.
Let me put it thus for you who do believe on God's Son:
Christ's Work and Your Salvation > stand or fall together.
Your Walk and Your Enjoyment > stand or fall together.
If Christ's work could break down (and, blessed be God it never will), your salvation will break down with it. When your walk breaks down (and be watchful, for it may), your enjoyment will break down with it.
Thus it is said of the early disciples (Acts 9:31), that they were "walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost." And again in Acts 13:52: "And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost." My spiritual joy will be in proportion to the spiritual character of my walk after I am saved.
Now do you see your mistake? You have been mixing up enjoyment and your safety — two widely different things. When, through self-indulgence, loss of temper, worldliness, etc., you grieved the Holy Spirit and lost your joy, you thought your safety was undermined. But again I repeat it—
Your safety hangs upon Christ's work FOR you.
Your assurance upon God's Word TO you.
Your enjoyment upon not grieving the Holy Spirit IN you.
When as a child of God, you do anything to grieve the Holy Spirit of God, your communion with the Father and the Son is for the time practically suspended; and it is only when you judge yourself and confess your sins, that the joy of communion is restore.
Your child has been guilty of some misdemeanour. He shows upon his countenance the evident mark that something is wrong with him. Half an hour before this he was enjoying a walk with you around the garden, admiring what you admired, enjoying what you enjoyed. In other words, he was in communion with you, his feelings and sympathies were in common with yours.
But now all this is changed, and as a naughty, disobedient child he stands in the corner, the very picture of misery.
Upon penitent confession of his wrong-doing you have assured him of forgiveness, but his pride and self will keep him sobbing there.
Where is now the joy of half an hour ago? All gone. Why? Because communion between you and him has been interrupted.
What has become of the relationship that existed between you and your son half an hour ago? Is that gone too? Is that severed or interrupted? Surely not. His relationship depends upon his birth; his communion depends upon his behaviour.
But presently he comes out of the corner with broken will and broken heart confessing the whole thing from first to last, so that you see he hates the disobedience and naughtiness as much as you do, and you take him in your arms and cover him with kisses. His joy is restored because communion is restored.
When David sinned so grievously in the matter of Uriah's wife, he did not say, "Restore unto me Thy salvation," but "Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation" (Psalm 51:12).
But to carry our illustration a little farther. Supposing while your child is in the corner there should be a cry of "House on fire!" throughout your dwelling, what would become of him then? Left in the corner to be consumed with the burning, falling house? Impossible! Very probably he would be the very first person you would carry out. Ah, yes, you know right well that the love of relationship is one thing, and the joy of communion quite another.
Now, when the believer sins, communion for the time is interrupted, and joy is lost until, with a broken heart, he comes to the Father and confesses his sins. Then, taking God at His Word, he knows he is forgiven, for His Word plainly declares that "if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).
Oh, then, dear believer, ever bear in mind these two things, that there is nothing so strong as the link of relationship; and nothing so tender as the link of communion.
All the combined power and counsel of earth and hell cannot sever the former, while an impure motive or an idle word will break the latter.
If you are troubled with a cloudy half-hour, get low before God, consider your ways. And when the thief that has robbed you of your joy has been detected, drag him at once to the light, confess your sin to God your Father, and judge yourself most unsparingly for the unwatchful careless state of soul that allowed the thief to enter unchallenged. But never, never, NEVER, confound your safety with your joy.
Do not imagine, however, that the judgment of God falls a whit more leniently on the believer's sin than on the unbeliever's. He has not two ways of dealing judicially with sin, and He could no more pass by the believer's sin without judging it, than He could pass by the sins of a rejecter of His precious Son. But there is this great difference between the two, namely, that the believer's sins were all known to God, and all laid upon His own provided Lamb when He hung upon the cross at Calvary, and that there and then, once and for ever, the great "criminal question" of his guilt was raised and settled — judgment falling upon the blessed Substitute in the believer's stead, "Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree" (1 Peter 2:24).
The Christ-rejecter must bear his own sins in his own person in the lake of fire for ever. But, when a believer fails, the "criminal question" of sin cannot be raised against him, the Judge Himself having settled that once for all on the cross; but the communion question is raised within him by the Holy Spirit as often as he grieves the Spirit.
Allow me, in conclusion, to give you another illustration. It is a beautiful moonlight night. The moon is full, and shining in more than ordinary silvery brightness. A man is gazing intently down a deep, still well, where he sees the moon reflected, and thus remarks to a friendly bystander, "How beautifully fair and round she is tonight! How quietly and majestically she rides along!" He has just finished speaking when suddenly his friend drops a small pebble into the well, and he now exclaims, "Why, the moon is all broken to pieces and the fragments are shaking together in the greatest disorder!"
"What gross absurdity!" is the astonished rejoinder of his companion. "Look up, man! The moon hasn't changed one jot or tittle. It is the condition of the well that reflects the moon that has changed."
Now, believer, apply the simple figure yourself. Your heart is the well. When there is no allowance of evil the blessed Spirit of God takes of the glories and preciousness of Christ, and reveals them to you for your comfort and joy. But the moment a wrong motive is cherished in the heart, or an idle word escapes the lips unjudged, the Holy Spirit begins to disturb the well, your happy experiences are smashed to pieces, and you are all restless and disturbed within, until in brokenness of spirit before God you confess your sin (the disturbing thing) and thus get restored once more to the calm, sweet joy of communion.
But when your heart is thus all unrest, need I ask, Has Christ's work changed? No, no. Then your salvation is not altered.
Has God's Word changed? Surely not.
Then the certainty of your salvation has received no shock.
Then, what has changed? Why, the action of the Holy Spirit in you has changed, and instead of taking of the glories of Christ, and filling your heart with the sense of His worthiness, He is grieved at having to turn aside from this delightful office to fill you with the sense of your sin and unworthiness. He takes from you your present comfort and joy until you judge and resist the evil thing that He judges and resists. When this is done, communion with God is again restored.
The Lord make us to be increasingly jealous over ourselves lest we grieve "the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption" (Ephesians 4:30).
Dear reader, however weak your faith may be, rest assured of this, that the blessed One who has won your confidence will never change. "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and FOR EVER" (Hebrews 13:8). The work He has accomplished will never change. "Whatsoever God doeth, it shall be FOR EVER: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it" (Ecclesiastes 3:14). The word He has spoken will never change. "The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth FOR EVER" (1 Peter 1:24,25). Thus the object of my trust, the foundation of my safety, and the ground of my certainly, are alike ETERNALLY UNALTERABLE.
"My love is oft-times low,
My joy still ebbs and flows,
But peace with Him remains the samel
No change Jehovah knows.
"I change, He changes not;
My Christ can never die;
His love, not mine, the resting-place;
His truth, not mine, the tie."
Once more, let me ask, "WHICH CLASS ARE YOU TRAVELING?" Turn your heart to God, I pray you, and answer that question to Him.
May the joyful assurance of possessing this "great salvation" be yours, dear reader, now, and "till He come."
"These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life..." 1 John 5:13