A Christian should experience happiness. The fruits that come from disobedience to the Law of God should be foreign to those who keep God’s Commandments. This does not mean there will not be times of trial and tribulation for Christians. Jesus said: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). The Apostle Paul stated: “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12). What is emphasized is this: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Gal. 6:7–9).
Paul wrote the Ephesians saying he prayed, “That he [God] would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God” (Eph. 3:16–19). What a magnificent request! What a splendid goal in this physical life, for even a limited degree of these blessings would far surpass the happiness of a sinner. But achieving a degree of this blessedness depends solely on how closely we live up to what God requires. Here is the key: “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:1–3). There is no room for self-centeredness in this key. Self-centered people who are frustrated are most unhappy.
All doubts about our calling and about what is the Truth has no place in this scenario. The goal within the Church should be the unity of the Body and our individual spiritual development into the mature man. For the present, we must continue to strive, “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ” (Eph. 4:13–15). Joy and happiness in the Christian life can be the only outcome of this endeavor.
Christian liberty frees us from the enslavement of sin. But while the carnal nature is rendered inert, one must be constantly on guard that it does not revive. “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof” (Rom. 6:11–12).
Paul instructed the Ephesians on proper Christian conduct:
Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them . . . . And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit. (Eph. 5:1–7, 18)
Christian living includes properly instructing our children. For example, the Apostle John wrote to the dear lady: “I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father” (2 John 4). She had faithfully done her duty before God. Because Paul presumed the Ephesian parents would be diligent in this responsibility, he instructed the children: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise)” (Eph. 6:1–2). In effect, Paul was fortifying what those parents had been teaching, but he instructed the parents: “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph 6:4). Raising a child is a serious responsibility, and a parent who brings children into the world must recognize this charge. The Bible instructs: “Train up [catechize] a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov 22:6).
Satan is ever ready to thwart God’s purpose. Paramount in God’s purpose is to bring His called out ones into the Kingdom of God. Paul described the attempt by Satan to prevent this. We may have heard and read these passages many times, but they should be carefully considered. Let us not be negligent in realizing the seriousness of this.
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints. (Eph. 6:11–18)
We must be on guard not to develop a wrong spirit. A wrong spirit often stems from arrogance and self-assurance, based on the desire to be important. Paul warned: “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Phil. 2:3–4). Rather, Christians should strive to follow the example of Christ. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:5–8). A Church full of competition and strife presents a terrible example to the world. James tells us: “But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work” (Jas. 3:14–16). And Paul emphasizes: “Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:14–15).
Christians often fall short of the perfect standard set by Christ. Overcoming requires a lifetime of dedication. Even the Apostle Paul faced this problem when he wrote that it was his desire to attain to the righteousness of Christ.
This is why he wrote:
Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. (Phil. 3:12–15)
There is much evil in the world today. “And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness” (1 John 5:19). Much vexation can result from seeing and hearing the world news from day to day. We cannot change these things. Our time could be spent more profitably by keeping our minds directed on the spiritual things of God.
Be careful [anxious] for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (Phil. 4:6–8)
To live for what the world has to offer is shortsighted and will be short-lived. “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col. 3:1–2). Peace of mind comes from confidence in God and His promises. When closing his epistle to the Philippians, Paul wrote this: “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil 4:11–13).
Aside from the many admonitions to keep the Law of God, Paul, in his epistles, also encourages the brethren. Some of the texts listed above show this positive reassurance. Christian living means not only living by the Commandments of God, but experiencing the practical benefits of what God’s law brings to the obedient. These benefits are revealed in both the Old and New Testaments.
The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward. (Ps. 19:7–11)
And in the New Testament we read: “But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed” (Jas 1:25). Neither Paul nor the other Apostles taught that the Law is done away.