“Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” (Neh. 8:10)
The Bible teaches that there are psychological and physiological feelings that imitate spiritual attributes.
For example, there is worldly sorrow and there is godly sorrow.
“For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” (2Cor. 7:10)
Godly sorrow is being sorry that we have done wrong and offended a Holy God. Worldly sorrow is being sorry that our schemes did not succeed or that we got caught.
One leads to forgiveness and life while the other leads to death.
There is a worldly type of peace that anyone can have when things seem to be working out and everything is going well in their lives.
Then there is the type of peace that only comes when we know that we have a right relationship with God and He is divinely in control no matter what the circumstance.
One is fleeting and only lasts until trouble comes while the other is produced by God’s Spirit and flows in us like an unstoppable river.
“O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea:” (Isaiah 48:18)
There is a worldly love for things and others that endures only until whomever or whatever we supposedly “love” becomes a disappointment. Then there is the love that comes from God, birthed in us by the Holy Spirit, which never fails.
“Charity (Christ-like love) suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth…” (1Cor. 13:4-8)
For every godly attribute or fruit of the Spirit there is a cheap worldly imitation.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” (Gal. 5:22-23)
“(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth…)” (Eph. 5:9)
So it is with the joy of the Lord. Happiness is just a temporary imitation of the unending joy that is the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
When we accept Christ as our Savior, we are forgiven and cleansed from all sin. Our sins had separated us from God, but now God has made us to be the righteousness of God in Christ and we have entered into His presence.
Not only does God forgive us and make us righteous, but He sends the Holy Spirit to live inside of us and empower us to become the children of God.
“But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” (Rom. 8:9)
When the Holy Spirit comes, not only does He bring His power to change us and enable us to do the will of God, but He also manifests His fruit so that others might behold Christ in us, the hope of glory. (Col. 1:27)
The Holy Spirit has said that He would never leave us nor forsake us. (Heb. 13:15) He is always within us.
The Holy Spirit never changes. He has not diminished. His power and fruit is still the same and ever present. His peace and joy is always inside.
That same joy we experienced when we were born again and first stepped into His presence has never left. It still flows in us like a river.
However we do not experience it because we lose access to it.
How do we lose access to the joy, peace, and faith that is the fruit of the Holy Spirit? How do we regain access so that this fruit is manifested in our lives on a daily basis?
The first step is to not settle for the imitation, but to crave the genuine article.
“Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” (Psalm 37:4)