The first lie Jared Wilson discusses in his book, The Gospel According to Satan, has two parts to it. As we discussed in our previous post God does not just want us to be happy. God’s priority is his glory. Everything he does is to make his glory known. His main concern for us is to become holy so we can reflect on this glory. But does that mean he doesn’t care about our happiness?
Wilson explains that happiness and holiness go together.
God is not opposed to our happiness; he only wishes that we find our ultimate happiness in him.Page 19, The Gospel According to Satan, Jared C. Wilson
As followers of Jesus, our priority is not a giddy feeling, but rather a close fellowship with God. This leads to deep, abiding happiness that doesn’t depend on circumstances.
Happiness vs. Joy
Although the Bible uses the words happiness and joy interchangeably, it is important to define these terms according to our modern understanding, so we don’t get them mixed up.
Happiness is the pleasurable emotion brought about by things or experiences. It is an emotional response to a situation. Happiness or sadness are normal emotional responses to the circumstances we face. The Bible, however, does not promise this fleeting emotion. Rather we are warned of spiritual crucifixion (Luke 9:23) and admonished to “rejoice in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:16).
We experience joy when we find contentment in our justification through Jesus Christ. This lasting, deep joy comes with a conviction that, regardless of our external circumstances, we are secure in the sovereign God who loves us.
Joy is the music that plays when our hearts are tuned to the frequency of God’s glory and our connection to it.Page 21, The Gospel According to Satan, Jared C. Wilson
Wilson further explains that joy goes much deeper than happiness. Our happiness is dependent on our circumstances, but our joy is dependant on our Saviour.
Materialism vs Christianity
Satan uses our innate hunger for instant fulfilment, beauty, and enlightenment to tempt us with stuff or achievements that might make us happy for a moment. But in Christ, we realize that our biggest problem is our sin and falling short of God’s glory. Therefore, our greatest need is in fact salvation and redemption so we can reflect God’s glory. No amount of material stuff will ever satisfy that longing.
When we satisfy our materialistic nature, we will only experience fleeting happiness which can easily be snatched from us or quickly lose its value.
Joy, however, comes from knowing Christ and grasping his grace and redemption lavished on undeserving sinners like ourselves. This joy does not fade, because it satisfies the eternal void of our souls.
Does God care about my desires?
In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.John 16:23-24
This is one of those passages that are often misunderstood and quoted out of context.
God is not our genie or cosmic vending machine.
Jared Wilson emphasizes that our hopes and dreams are not the point.
The point is Jesus Christ.
If we ask anything in Jesus’ name it means we want his name to be magnified. Sometimes that means that a “no” from the Father will magnify the name of Jesus more than a “yes”, so that is what he will command.
When we pray this way, we are exclaiming: “Whatever you want, Lord, we want! Whatever most brings you glory, Jesus, that’s what we want.” (p. 27)
To pray this way means we must fully surrender to Jesus and his purpose with our lives. (You can study the topic of surrender more on the blog by following this link.)
Jesus Christ wants us to have eternal joy with him instead of fleeting happiness of the flesh.
God doesn’t just want you to be happy; he wants you to be holy as he is holy and to find true, lasting joy in him.Page 28, The Gospel According to Satan, Jared C. Wilson
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Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to any of the books studied by Nettie’s Book Club. I am not profiting from the sale of these books. I will carefully select books that have had a significant impact on my faith. My goal is simply to share the wisdom in these books with others so we can assess and apply the wisdom of these authors to grow in understanding of our faith together.