Your License to Rejoice
The Gospel is not about endless self-improvement; instead, it is about the end of self, the ego, the I. It is freedom from sin’s tyranny that begins with “Not I, but Christ.” Not a single one of us can free ourselves from that depressing old self-identity; only Jesus can. He came to crucify that old “I” on the cross and to destroy the lie of the independent self-existence (ego) that the devil and world system uses to enslave us.
That is why it is essential that we never reduce or lose sight of the magnitude of what Christ our Redeemer accomplished on the cross. His sacrifice was not solely to forgive our sins and secure our access into heaven: He makes us brand new. If we were to believe that Jesus covers over our rottenness and allows the poison of the serpent to remain inside of us until we finally make it to heaven, we would be denying the fullness and grandeur of His death and resurrection.
Adam Clarke, a brilliant eighteenth-century Wesleyan theologian, put it this way: “If we are waiting for our physical death to free us once and for all from the power of sin, then we have just crowned death as our savior and not the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Jesus sets us free. What a great victory! We are no longer sinners, rotten to the core—in Christ, we are now saints, with Jesus to the core. Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world!
When Paul exhorted the believers of the first European church that he and Silas planted to “rejoice in the Lord always,” he repeated it: “Again I will say rejoice” (Philippians 4:4). The apostle to the non-Jewish world was writing from prison while awaiting execution, and he was modeling the secret for a victorious Christian life.
Jesus the master is now inside of us, and our rejoicing is a mandate. Rejoicing should be like breathing, especially through difficulties and trials, for His joy is our strength.
Jesus has set you free, so honor Him with your joyful response. You have been authorized and commissioned to rejoice. Joy is heaven’s serious business, after all. Perhaps you have been convinced to let your joy license expire? Well, have it back, my friend! You have full permission to rejoice in Him again and again and again.
The revelation of what He did for us at the cross launches us into the very joy that helped Him endure the Cross, and His joy is the secret weapon of every believer. By serving Him with joy and gladness of heart, the joy that is in Him shields us from the enemy’s fiery darts of sorrow and depression. This endless joy of the triumph of Christ within us not only strengthens us, but it also gives us courage, making us bold and brave.