What We Enjoy
“Arise, O Lord! Confront him, subdue him! Deliver my soul from the wicked by your sword… from men of the world whose portion is in this life. You fill their womb with treasure; they are satisfied with children… As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.”
This world is deeply broken. Fallen. Wicked. There is no water that quenches our thirst, no love that is truly selfless, no achievements that last forever. The more the believer peers beneath the surfaces of this life, the more the Holy Spirit gives us eyes to see, the more we resonate with why Paul wrote: “For here we have no lasting city, but we seek a city that is to come.” (Heb 13:14)
And this is the right response. How could we find true enjoyment in this fallen, wicked world? Is it not a sign of deep wickedness to be satisfied here? Is it not a sign of deep sin and denial? Of being far from God and His righteousness?
The very fact that we can enjoy the fallen things of this world shows how unrighteous and foolish our heart is. The godly heart looks to heaven and Christ’s return because only there is righteousness fully lived and shared. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matt 5:6) Should I not hunger and thirst for righteousness here? Should I not be burdened with hatred of sin here? Should I not hate the evil done against Christ? Should I not hate how man puts off all pursuit of God and righteousness? And then, having come this far, should I then go and enjoy what they enjoy? Should I be so evil as to be satisfied with this life?
Believer, it is good and right to recognize this. It is sobering, indeed. But, like the word “sobering” itself indicates, we must return to reality, even if that reality is trying, painful, complicated, and undesirable. This is often the cost of holiness we are not willing to pay. To mourn (Matt 5:4), to hunger, to be vexed. We choose to be “drunk” and by this we show that we are not willing to stand wherever holiness is, regardless of the cost.
“... he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard).” (2 Pet 2:7-8)
We must be willing to suffer the pain of truly hating sin and loving righteousness. This does not mean that we are to pursue sorrow and misery, but that we are to be led by righteousness, and be willing to be hungry and weep precisely because Righteousness hungers and weeps—for truth in the inward being, purity of heart, love for God and man, and a true worship of God. Do we love Righteousness? Then we will be with her wherever she is, whatever the cost.
Not loving this life is not some obsession with sorrow. It is not self-inflicted sorrow. It is a true love for holiness, being willing to go wherever Righteousness goes. One who loves Righteousness (Proverbs 8) is willing to bear her reproach, hate what she hates, and hunger with her for God’s glory, truth, godly love, and the Kingdom to come. We hunger with her now and wait to be filled with her fullness at Christ’s return.
The test upon all souls today is precisely this: being hungry or being full—hungry for righteousness or satisfied with this life. It is about “mourning” or “laughing”; do we mourn for true righteousness in this world and for God’s glory, or do we have enjoyment and peace amidst a world that hates God, is indifferent to His glory, and rebels against His Word? This test reveals the truth of our hearts. It shows our alignment with the truth or with lies, what has our hearts, and what we truly love: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh… But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.” (Luke 6:20-21, 24-25) All of our hunger and mourning, richness and laughter show what we truly love. It is the judgement upon ourselves.
The saint loves God. It is because of this that we bear weeping in a godless world, waiting for God’s return and only coming to a fullness of joy when that is fulfilled. We rejoice here in the knowledge of Christ, the work of His sanctification in our hearts, and His redemption of mankind. Our joy is in righteousness, truth, godliness, and the glory of God, and His will and Word being upheld. Yet it is only when His Kingdom fully comes do we have fullness of joy.
And so it is that if we truly love holiness, the glory of God, truth, and real righteousness, then we will have no choice but to dwell in weeping, hunger, vexation, and waiting in this life. This also means that when we choose to put off weeping and hunger by finding consolation in things of the world, when we choose instead to be “drunk” with this world, then we put off righteousness with it. Instead, we should so love the Truth, that we go every place that she goes.
When we can laugh, be satisfied, say we are rich and have all we need, and not be bothered by being amidst a world that hates God, His commandments, and His very Son, we reveal a heart that doesn’t truly, or fully, love God and His ways. “For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” (Rev 3:17)
There is a great difference between being filled with Christ and the wonderful things of God, and being filled with this world. To be filled with Christ is our daily bread! (2 Pet 1:3) To be filled with this world is the sin we are warned of precisely because we are satisfied with and delight in sin.
Therefore we must so mourn over sin and evil if we are to truly rejoice over true goodness. (Rom 12:9, Prov 8:13) That is the point. Right joy and right sorrow are two sides of the same coin. God calls us to see the evil of sin, to see the terrible state of mankind, and very often we refuse to go precisely where He is leading us. We love our comfort more than the truth. This reveals a wicked heart. “In that day the Lord God of hosts called for weeping and mourning, for baldness and wearing sackcloth; and behold, joy and gladness…” (Isaiah 22:12-13) The Lord looked for a deep soberness in Israel at His rebuke, but they refused to mourn, refused to suffer weeping over the truth, and very often we refuse to bear the weight of the truth as well.
Only in heaven is God’s will truly done, therefore, in this life, we must endure being vexed at all that is outside of God’s will. Never without bounds, hope, or peace. But full peace is not here. Rather, we look to heaven for our only true peace, for there alone is God’s will done. There alone is holiness. There alone is the right worship and the glorification of God. There alone is selfish ambition and conceit done away with. There alone is all sin removed.
The worldly person takes enjoyment in worldliness: self serving, vain honor, sinful pleasures (2 Tim 3:4), and “riches”. They live for these things. They love pride and luxury and ease and excitement, and seek these above all else. They are not deterred by the sin within such things. They even applaud those who “overcome” such frustration and mourning with “positivity”. They live by whatever seems “lawful” or right in their own eyes—but what is truly right or of God does not enter into their thoughts at all.
So what is the Christian to do in this life? How does the Christian live in the world without becoming worldly?
The Christian is to be delighted in God and to look for what is of Christ in this world. That is why so many of God’s people love nature. It is one thing we can enjoy that is made by God so we see His beauty and praise Him in it. We can also enjoy many simple things, our bread and tea, giving thanks to God for them. But our love must be for Christ and His Kingdom above all else. We are free, just as long as our freedom is about finding our true joy in Christ, and is about putting Christ first and serving Him. “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.” (1 Pet 2:16) “He died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” (2 Cor 5:15) These we must make our highest concern and pursuit. It is not that we must enjoy nothing here, but that we should see why it is such great sin when we enjoy what fallen man enjoys within these things.
Man loves and pursues what he does for evil reasons. He is made glad because of pride, selfish ambition, false idealisms, false securities, vain imaginations, lusts, etc. He gets joy and fulfillment from these things. We have to learn that a person can work very hard for sin, can have great “joy” because of sin, and great peace because of sin. We’re easily fooled by the “externals” of this effort, joy, peace. But we must look within at the motivations, affections, thinking, etc. It's what is within all of these efforts that is the sin. All of them are contrary to God and full of vanity because of the sin within, not because of the “exterior” thing itself. Two people can climb a mountain, but one does so out of obedience to God and to preach the Gospel to the lost, the other does it for pride. Two people enjoy resting on Sunday, one does so in worship of God and another in selfishness while denying God. Two people look at the beauty of the sunset but one looks at it in faith, believing in the God who created the universe (Heb 11:3), and the other looks at it in selfish pride, trying to take the beauty to be enjoyed while denying the very God who created all things. And so, in all of these things we must turn away from the evil heart of sin within us all. If we love this same pride, covetousness, selfish ambition, love of ease, etc, that is the love of the world that we are joined with. In all these things we are commanded by God to live unto Christ, making our life no longer centered around serving ourselves but serving Him, no longer delighting in sin but delighting in righteousness (Rom 6:15-23).
Look at how easily mankind enjoys a world without God, the pursuit of selfishness, achievement, a false moral superiority, greed, pride, lusts, ignorance of God’s ways, and all indulgence. This is what man delights in—what gives him satisfaction and peace. And that is why he is so happy to have this life and run fast after it, because he delights in sin. Look at how much praise we receive and revel in for building or re-gaining an impressive physical body. Look at the pride we take up over the fact that we are not like “those people”—be it for a happier marriage, a less impulsive disposition, political leanings, creative expression, or any other thing. Look at how easily we laugh at comments or jokes that are lewd, shameful, violent, or disparaging. Look at how twisted, dark, proud, and lustful all our entertainment has become. Look at our constant pursuit of social climbing. Man loves sin, and this is what we are forbidden from and rebuked for enjoying. The pursuit of this sin within anything.
Therefore the true Christian must look up, away from this world and its sinful enjoyments. We look for a kingdom where sin is destroyed and God is truly honored. Not just a paradise where pain is undone but where righteousness reigns, and God is honored as He should be. This should be our greatest joy, it is to this that we are seeking to conform our hearts, the thing we pray for the Holy Spirit to help us desire more and more (Rom 12:2). We pray that the Lord would remove the love and patterns of the world from us and make us people who truly want the Kingdom to come, where all people delight in true righteousness, where no man tries to be master of any other, but God is the master of us all; where all our enjoyment is no longer in sin but in righteousness, joy, and peace (Rom 2:6-8); where we do not lead ourselves, but surrender our lives and hearts to the Lord entirely; where confusion and strife is no longer sown, but each individual lives for Christ; where justice is not denied, but rather the oppressed and needy are restored and praising God; where the Lordship of Christ is all in all, and His people well up with praise. So let us look at ourselves honestly and test the love and desires of our hearts, and then let us seek Christ diligently and cleave to Him to work in us a delight in righteousness, a re-ordering of our desires, and a wisdom for living in this world until He returns.
July 30, 2021