Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.…
I. WHAT IS IT TO REJOICE? Delight is the soul's acquiescence, or resting itself, in what it apprehends to be good. There is a two-fold delight.
1. Bodily or sensitive called pleasure, which proceeds from some impression made by a suitable object upon the senses. Of which note —
(1) This in itself is not sinful, because both the sense and the object and the suitableness of them were all made by God.
(2) Hence it is permitted by God (Ecclesiastes 3:22; Ecclesiastes 5:19).
(3) But corrupt man is too apt to sin in these sensitive pleasures, either —
(a) in the unlawful object (Psalm 62:4),
(b) or in the manner by excessiveness (Jude 1:12).
2. Rational or spiritual joy, seated in the soul itself.
II. WHAT IS IT TO REJOICE IN THE LORD?
1. God was pleased at first to order the soul of man so that it bad a natural tendency and suitableness to the nature of God.
2. But the soul being disordered by sin is apt to rejoice in nothing but externals.
3. It is therefore God's will that we labour after our primitive perfections and joys, so as to delight ourselves —
(1) In Him as God and our God (Psalm 28:7; Deuteronomy 12:12, 18).
(2) In His —
(a) works (Psalm 104:31);
(b) Word (Psalm 1:2; Psalm 119:103);
(c) properties; goodness (Luke 18:19); mercy; justice; power (Psalm 63:5-7); wisdom; truth; omnipresence.
III. HOW DOTH IT APPEAR THAT WE OUGHT AND MAY THUS REJOICE?
1. From Scripture.
(1) God commands it (Psalm 32:11; Philippians 4:4).
(2) Christ prays for it (John 17:13).
(3) This is one great end of His promises (Romans 15:4).
(4) It is one great end of the ministry (Isaiah 52:7; Romans 10:15; 2 Corinthians 1:24).
(5) It is the end of Christ's sending the Spirit (John 16:7). The Spirit comforts us by —
(a) Renewing us.
(b) Convincing us it is our duty (John 16:9).
(c) Witnessing our adoption (Galatians 4:6).
(d) Blessing His ordinances to us.
(e) Bringing and directing us to Christ for it (John 14:26).
(f) Weaning us from fleshly delights.
(g) Powerfully working comfort in us (Galatians 5:22).
2. From reason. We should rejoice because —
(1) God hath given us that power.
(2) There is nothing in this world that we can have any solid joy in, because not suitable to the soul.
(3) There is none but God we can rationally rejoice in.
3. But doth not God sometimes command us to mourn? (Ecclesiastes 3:4; Isaiah 22:12; Joel 2:12-13).
(1) This sorrow consists not in abstaining from spiritual but natural joy.
(2) It maketh way for spiritual joy.
(3) It should be accompanied with it (Psalm 2:11).
(1) Observe God's goodness to His creatures in making it their duty to rejoice.
(2) The privilege of Christians above all others (John 16:22).
(3) The false calumny that is laid on holiness as depriving us of joy (John 14:1).
(4) Our misery is all from ourselves (Hosea 13:9).
(5) In the excellency of Christian joy above all others; it is in the Lord.
2. Exhortation: Rejoice.
(1) Consider the necessity. God commands it for His glory and the credit of religion.
(2) Consider the excellency, above all other joy.
(a) It is spiritual, the joy of the soul (Psalm 33:21).
(b) Pure and unmixed (Proverbs 14:13).
(c) Easy and cheap.
(d) Real and true
(e) Universal in respect of time, place, and condition.
(f) Surpassing (Habakkuk 3:17-18).
(g) Well grounded; on God's mercy and Christ's merits (1 Peter 1:8).
(h) Full and satisfying (John 17:13; Psalm 16:11; Psalm 17:15).
(3) Consider this excellency in its nature.
(a) In the cause: God; the Father, the Son (John 17:13), the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).
(b) In the subject; the soul (Luke 1:46-47).
(c) The object; the chiefest good.
(d) The end: the glory of God as the ultimate, the good of man the subordinate.
(e) The effects. It will destroy our sinful joy (Psalm 16:11); lessen our esteem of the world (Psalm 4:7); enlarge our hearts and make them more capacious of heavenly things; facilitate all duties (Nehemiah 8:10; Deuteronomy 28:47); make us long more alter heaven (Psalm 119:20); support us in our afflictions (1 Peter 1:6-8); defend us against temptations.
V. MEANS AND DIRECTIONS.
1. Labour after a right know ledge of God (Psalm 9:10).
2. Endeavour to get an interest in Him.
3. Get thy evidences clear and keep them so (Job 19:25; Psalm 27:1).
4. Convince thyself it is thy duty to rejoice.
5. Live above the temperature of the body.
6. Study well the nature of justification (Romans 4:5; Romans 5:1).
(1) Christ was made sin for us;
(2) and we righteous in Him.
7. Have frequent recourse to the promises (Hebrews 13:5-6).
8. Let the eye of faith be constantly fixed on the attributes of God (Isaiah 45:24; Psalm 57:1, 7).
9. Have a care of what will damp thy joys.
(1) Wilful sins.
(2) Nice questions about election.
(3) Dark providences (Ecclesiastes 9:1).
10. Often meditate on a Christian's privileges.
(1) That He hath God for His Father and portion.
(2) Christ for his Advocate (1 John 2:1).
(3) All things working for His good (Romans 8:28).
(4) A kingdom provided for him (John 14:1-2).
1. My sins are many and great. Answer:
(1) God's mercies are more and greater (Isaiah 55:7).
(2) So are Christ's merits (Hebrews 7:25).
(3) So are the promises (Ezekiel 18:21-22).
2. My corruptions are strong. Answer:
(1) They are not too strong for God.
(2) Christ came to subdue them.
(3) God has promised to subdue them (Hebrews 10:16; Ezekiel 36:2.5-27).
3. The devil oft tempts me. Answer:
(1) So he did Christ.
(2) He can tempt thee no farther than God sees good.
(3) God's grace shall be sufficient for thee.
4. God hath forsaken me. Answer:
(1) It is only for a while.
(2) He will again receive thee (Isaiah 49:13-15; Psalm 42:11).
5. I have many losses and crosses. Answer:
(1) That is no new thing to saints (1 Peter 4:12, 13).
(2) It is often a sign of God's love (Hebrews 12:6-7; Amos 3:2).
(3) Their end is good (Hebrews 12:10).
(4) And their effect (2 Corinthians 4:17; Psalm 42:11).
I. Rejoice in the Lord AS YOUR SAVIOR. When Candace's treasurer found that Jesus had suffered for him on the cross, "he went on his way rejoicing." Our acceptance with God makes heaven rejoice — the return of the prodigal affords the greatest happiness to himself and all others.
II. Rejoice in the Lord AS YOUR GUIDE. They were journeying on in comparative fear. In tribulation even the saints rejoice because their Saviour will deliver them.
III. Rejoice in the Lord AS YOUR REWARD.
Parallel VersesKJV: Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.