Joy and Its Enemies
Joy has enemies. Ephesians 2:1–3 outlines what we’re up against:
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
Apart from Christ, we willingly followed the sinful pattern of this world, did the devil’s bidding, and lived to serve our lusts. And now, as redeemed sinners, we war against these joy killers.
The Fight for Joy
If our joy in the Lord is to increase, then the enemies of our joy must be constantly subdued.
First, consider how the world attacks our joy. The world would have us embrace vapid joys. That is, substitutes for Christ that will never satisfy. This idolatry is what David Wells laments when he describes the “world” as “the collective expression of every society’s refusal to bow before God, to receive his truth, to obey his commandments, or to believe his Christ. Further, the ‘world’ is what fallen humanity uses as a substitute for God and his truth.”
To protect our joy in Christ, we shun conformity to the world while being “transformed by the renewal of [our] mind” (Rom. 12:2). This work of the Spirit in our lives is promoted through our diligent use of God’s Word. As we saturate our minds with God’s truth, “the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.”
Second, consider how the devil attacks our joy by assaulting our faith. We see an alarming picture of this in Luke 22:31–32 where Jesus warns Peter of Satan’s desire: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.”