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TEXT: Galatians 5:22

SUBJECT: Watson on Redemption Applied #8: Joy

Tonight, with the Lord's help, we'll continue our study of Thomas Watson on the Application of Redemption. "Redemption", you know, is another word for "salvation". The Bible teaches that salvation is a work of the Triune God. Before the world was, the Father planned to save us; at the cross, Jesus Christ bought our salvation with His own blood, and-at some time in our lives-the Holy Spirit gives salvation to us. That gift is what we call "the application of redemption".

It starts with effectual calling-God calls us by the Gospel. He then gives us the faith to answer the call. This faith, in turn, makes us acceptable to God, brings us into His family, makes us feel His love, produces holiness in our lives, and gives us peace with God and with ourselves. These are the parts of salvation we've studied so far.

Now we move on to another fruit of the Spirit's work in our lives, and that is joy.

"The fruit of the Spirit is joy".


Watson begins the chapter by describing his term. What is joy? He says,

"Spiritual joy is a sweet and delightful passion,

arising from the apprehension and feeling of

some good, by which the soul is supported

under present troubles, and fence against

future fear".

This is a good deal more than a definition. Watson tells us what joy is, what it's based on, and what it does for us now and in the future. Let's look at each part, in turn.

First of all, joy is a passion. That is to say, it is a strong feeling. For some Christians feeling is everything. They find their assurance in warm feelings, they make key decisions on how the feel about them, and so on. This is not right, of course. The Bible tells us to

"Gird up the loins of our minds".

Assurance, for example, has a rational basis-that there is a reason, an explainable reason for knowing you're saved. Important decisions should be thought through and not made by impulse or whim. Also, everyone knows that feelings are changeable, and are affected by non-spiritual things like when you last ate or what the weather is like or how much you slept last night. No, feelings are not everything!

But feelings matter to God. He made us with bodies that are capable of feeling things-good and bad. And joy is one of the things He wants us to feel. And not just vaguely, but intensely. Peter says we're to

"Rejoice with a joy unspeakable

and full of glory".

The one person in the Bible who was against feeling joy was David's first wife, Michal. And for her spiteful attitude and ugly words, God struck her barren for life.

Joy is a feeling.

Secondly, joy is a feeling based on something good. In other words, it's not a natural feeling or a passion stirred up by fast music or stimulated in some other way. No, joy comes from something real and solid and good.

What is it? Watson says,

"It arises from the Promise. As a bee sucks out

the sweetness of a flower, so joy sucks out

the sweetness of God's Promise".

If joy were nothing more than an animal spirit, then some people could not have it. And those who have it could lose it because of sickness or obesity or weariness or old age. Yet our Lord said,

"My joy no one takes from you".

If it depended on whipping you up with music and dancing and shouting and so on, it could never be maintained. Because these things become old and boring (like drugs). The praise songs that stirred people to a frenzy in 1973 are now putting the same people to sleep.

The believer finds his joy in the Promise of God.

Thirdly, joy supports the soul under present troubles. Joy does not depend on things going well for you. You can have it even if you're sick or lonely or grieving the loss of a loved one. What joy does is counter the sorrows of this life. It reminds you, for example, that the sorrows come from a God of love; that He's using them for you good; that He understands your plight; and that the problems won't last forever, that a day is coming when

"Every tear shall be wiped away".

Joy does not fill an empty stomach or pay bills without money or make your migraine go away. But it does temper the sorrows of life and allow you to cope with them better than you would without it.

Fourth, joy is a fence against future fear. Watson compares it to an inoculation against disease. The future holds bad things for you-sickness, confusion, heartaches, and death. Thinking about these things-without joy-will make crazy with fear. But with the joy God gives, you can look to the future-not with optimism (which is based on air)-but with hope (which is based on the unchanging promise of a God who cannot lie).

Joy, then is a happy feeling, based on the promise of God; it helps us in the present and keeps us in the future.


Where does joy come from? I've already said it is the Promise of God that gives joy. But how do we find the promise and know that it's ours for the taking?

It is the Holy Spirit who brings the Promise to mind and makes us know it's ours! Watson says,

"The Spirit of God drops the golden oil

of joy into the soul; He whispers to a

believer the remission of his sin, and

sheds God's love abroad in the

heart, whence flows infinite joy

and delight".

In Psalm 51, David knows that if God takes the Spirit away from him, that he cannot know the joy of his salvation. And, of course, he is right! The Holy Spirit is the Source and Giver of Joy.


When does the Holy Spirit give us joy? He is a Sovereign Spirit, of course, Who can give or take joy any time He wants to. But Watson says there are five time or seasons when the Spirit most often gives the gift of joy. They are:

"Sometimes at the Blessed Supper. The soul

comes weeping after Christ in the Sacrament,

and God sends it away weeping for joy".

Because we don't believe in the magical power of the Lord's Supper, it's easy to overlook it as a means of grace and a time of great joy. How can I look at the Lord's Body broken for me and His Blood shed for my forgiveness, and not tremble with joy? Many have felt more joy at the Supper than any where else.

"When God calls His people to suffering.

When Stephen was being stoned, He saw

Heaven open and the Sun of Righteousness

Shone on his face. God candies our worm-

Wood with sugar".

It is hard to suffer under any circumstances. But without joy, it is almost impossible. Thus, when we need it most, the Lord gives it to us. A man told me he never felt such joy in Christ as when he was suffering from cancer and chemo-therapy.

"After sore conflicts with Satan".

If your little boy came home with a black eye and a busted lip, beaten up by the school yard bully, what would you likely do for him? You'd apply first-aid, if he needed it. But then, you'd probably give him some cookies or other treat. Why? Because you pity him. And that's what the Lord often does when He sees us roughed up by the devil.

"After desertion".

Desertion is a key Puritan idea. The believed that God often left His people-not that He truly left them, but that He sometimes let them feel deserted. The best example is Job-who cried to God in agony, and got no answer.

The lonely feeling breaks pride and makes us live by faith rather than by sight. But after a time of desertion, the Lord often favors us with a double joy.

"Weeping may endure for a night,

but joy comes in the moring".

"At the hour of death, even for those who have

had no joy in their lifetime. God puts this

sugar in the bottom of their cup to make

their death sweet".

This is very good news. No one here has died yet. But when the hour comes, God will not leave us. My good friend died last year-and before the drugs took over his mind-he was happy in Christ. The Lord gave him joy in the end. And now, the joy he felt then is multiplied by infinity!

"Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord".


God's joy and the joy of the world have some things in common. They're both feelings of happiness, and so on. But they also differ in many important respects. The Puritan gives some:

"Spiritual joys work to make us better

while worldly joys often make us worse".

The Lord's joy will humble you and make you grateful and watchful. Other joys often puff you up and make you think they're yours by right or put you to sleep, you can't possibly lose them. If your happiness is making you proud or forgetful of God, it's not a spiritual joy.

"They are unwearied joys. Other joys,

when in excess, often cause loathing".

There's nothing wrong with a good meal and the happiness it makes you feel. But keep on eating and what happens? The joy turns to a bellyache! If super overdone, it can even make you hate that food from then on.

But the joys of Christ never make you sick; they never become boring; you never long for something else.

"They are abiding joy".

This speaks for itself. That happiness that this world offers (even the innocent kind) is passing away. But the joy of God is as eternal as He is!


One last thing: How to get joy (if you don't have it) or how to keep it (if you do). Here Watson has a good thing to say, but he leaves something out that I'll put in for him.

He says,

"Walk consistently and spiritually. God gives joy

after long and close walking with Him. (1) Set

time apart every day for God, (2) mourn for sin,

(3) keep your conscience clear, (4) be often upon

your knees."

He's right, of course. If joy comes from fellowship with God, then you won't have joy unless you also have fellowship with Him. Psalm 16:11 is a verse worth memorizing-and repeating,

"In Your presence is the fullness of joy;

at Your Right Hand are pleasures

forever more".

But let me add one word: If you want to have joy think often and deeply on the Lord Jesus Christ, who He is and what He is-to you.

That's joy, the birthright of every Christian. Dear believer, it's yours for the taking, why don't you take it? And dear unbeliever, it's for you too. But it's only in Christ. You can have it by having Him through faith alone. Right now. Why don't you take it?

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