Have you ever had this experience? You’re listening to a worship song while driving in the car, feeling passionate for the Lord and filled with joy – then you walk into the house and get into an argument with your spouse or yell at your kids. Grace and spiritual joy deflate like a leaky balloon. And then in the aftermath you wonder, Did I just fake all that worship and joy stuff? Did I all my godliness leak out?
Here’s the reality: our experience of joy in the Lord, our desire to be humble when our spouse corrects us or patient when the kids are noisy, our faithfulness in prayer, will all go up and down over the course of our life – sometimes even over the course of a few hours! So how can we maintain joy even in those moments where godliness is at low tide?
The answer is that ultimately our salvation has taken place outside of us. It’s objective, finished, written in history. Jesus Christ died for sins once. Salvation is complete. There are things that take place inside of us, transformations of the heart and will and desire and emotion, but these things are not the grounds of our salvation, but its fruit. In the moment – perhaps this moment – where you feel least godly and most tainted by your short temper, harsh words, or lack of love, the gospel is still complete.
So where does your and my joy come from in the “leaky balloon” moments? Our joy comes from this: the gospel is not on God’s “Unfinished Business” list. Our sanctification isn’t complete, but the full and complete sacrifice for all our sins is.
“Christ offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins” (Hebrews 10:12).