10 Many sorrows shall be to the wicked; But he who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him. 11 Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous; And shout for joy, all you upright in heart (Psalm 32:10–11, NKJV)!
David concealed his sins from others but could not hide them from God (Ps. 32:3; 2 Sam. 11-12). His futile effort caused distress to the depth of his soul (Ps. 32:3-4). Only when he acknowledged his sin to God did he find relief when God concealed (forgave) his transgression (Ps. 32:5, 1-2; 2 Sam. 12:13). Even now, sorrow attends the wicked, but God’s mercy surrounds those who trust in the Lord (Ps. 32:10). Jesus will give you rest from sin’s burden when you come to Him (Matt. 11:28). Forgiveness in Christ is available, and God wants to save you (Acts 10:34-35; 1 Tim. 2:3-4). When God forgives us, sorry is turned to gladness (Ps. 32:11). Our faith is accounted for righteousness when we (like David) act in faith, repent before God, and obey the gospel from the heart (Rom. 4:5-8; 6:17-18). Come to the Lord in faith and follow His gospel to be saved from your sins (Acts 2:37-41). Christians are privileged and eager to praise God daily with joy and gladness for His merciful grace in Jesus Christ. Trust in the Lord, and His mercy will envelop you. Freed from the burden and death of sin, you may “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice” (Phil. 4:4)!
12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; 13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy (1 Peter 4:12–13, NKJV).
What are Christians to do when trials come? They will come in various ways, especially when we live godly (James 1:2; 1 Pet. 1:6; 2 Tim. 3:12). Peter teaches Christians how to overcome the distress of trials with the joy of Christ. (1) Do not think your trials are unique to you (1 Pet. 4:12). Trials can be fiery. Your adversary wants to isolate you, but others have faced and overcome trials, and so can you (Heb. 11:36-40). (2) Rejoice to partake of Christ’s sufferings (1 Pet. 4:13-14). Jesus suffered trials, and He comes to the aid of all who put their faith in Him (Heb. 2:18; 4:15-16). Rejoice in Christ and follow His steps (1 Pet. 2:21). (3) Do not be ashamed of being a Christian (1 Pet. 4:15-18). Remain faithful through the difficulties you face for wearing His name (Mark 8:38). Accept suffering for those things that glorify God, and you will be judged faithful for your obedience to Christ. (4) Commit your life to God (1 Pet. 4:19). Deposit your soul for safekeeping to God. Accept the momentary grief trials bring and keep doing good (1 Pet. 2:19-23). Your trial is a moment to purify your faith and look toward your heavenly reward (1 Pet. 1:6-9; 2 Tim. 4:6-8). Faith in Christ overcomes this world’s trials (1 Pet. 5:4). Trust that God will not leave you (Heb. 13:5-6). He will right every wrong and reward your faith with eternal life.
2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation! 3 For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh (Philippians 3:2–3, NKJV)
Christ’s apostle boldly described those who perverted the gospel (i.e., false brethren) by demanding Gentiles keep the law of Moses to be saved; They were false brethren (Acts 15:5; Gal. 2:4-5; 5:4). For emphasis, Paul gave one warning three times. (1) Beware of dogs (v. 2). Feral dogs lived in packs, scavenging for food (Ps. 59:6; 1 Kings 14:11). We must be alert against false teachers who attack and consume souls (Gal. 1:6-10; Jude 4). (2) Beware of evil workers (v. 2). Their works are wicked; Do not give them quarter (Ps. 119:115; Phil. 2:18-19). (3) Beware of the mutilation (v. 2). The doctrine of binding circumcision for salvation did nothing to remove sin because it was only a physical incision. By contrast, Christians (whether Jews or Gentiles) are “the circumcision” (the covenant people of God, whose hearts are circumcised, Rom. 2:28-29; Col. 2:11-13). Next, Paul gave three counterbalancing descriptions of Christians. (1) Christians worship God in the Spirit (v. 3). The word “worship” denotes service to God. We serve God according to the truth that the Spirit revealed, not by the error of the “dogs” (Gal. 3:1-3; 5:5-6). (2) Christians rejoice in Christ Jesus (v. 3). We have joy in Christ and do not take pleasure in evil things (Phil. 3:1; 4:4; Rom. 12:15). (3) Christians have no confidence in the flesh (v. 3). Our salvation in Christ does not depend on physical pedigree, performance, and promotion. Paul refused to trust in such things (Phil. 3:4-7). Brethren, be alert to error and those who teach it. Serve God with the confidence of the truth of the gospel.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. (Romans 12:15, NKJV)
I had occasion to rejoice and to weep with others this week. Good news joyfully shared brought joy and relief, reflection, and thanksgiving. Sad news of loved ones passing from this life brought resignation and resolution, gratitude for a life well-lived, and prayers for strength to go onward. Christians are ready to rejoice with those who rejoice. Free of envy, jealousy, and pride, we delight in each other’s good fortune. Christians are also ready to weep with those who weep. We have shed tears of sorrow with eyes of faith trained on Jesus, hanging on the cross for our sins. We know what it is to be sorrowful for our sins. Yet, our sorrow turns to joy as we remember His empty tomb, resurrected to die no more. Our hope is in Christ, so we soothe our momentary afflictions and sorrows with expectations of eternal glory (2 Cor. 4:16-18). We all walk paths of pain, regret, and loss, which help us comfort one another when sorrow comes (Gal. 6:2; 2 Cor. 1:3-5). Rejoicing and weeping with each other means we know each other, we share our lives with each other, and we love each other. Why do we do this? Because we are “members of each other” (Rom. 12:5).
3 So He spoke this parable to them, saying: 4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ 7 I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance. (Luke 15:3–7, NKJV)
Jesus taught the parable of the lost sheep in response to those who complained He “receives sinners and eats with them” (Lk. 15:1-2). This slur was against Jesus and those who came to hear Him. The record shows Jesus was teaching these lost souls, not endorsing their sins. The parable illustrates the compassion of the Lord toward the lost. His work of teaching them the gospel was heaven’s work of seeking and saving the lost (Lk. 19:10). The parable also reflects heaven’s joy when one sinner who repents. We cannot escape the linkage of the sinner’s repentance to salvation. God is seeking the lost, and when the lost repent, they are “found” (saved). Instead of chastising Jesus for trying to save sinners, these complainers revealed themselves as ones who needed to repent; they needed saving, too. Like Jesus, compassion for the lost drives us to teach them the gospel, persuading souls to repent toward God and have faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:20-21).
11 Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; Let the sea roar, and all its fullness; 12 Let the field be joyful, and all that is in it. Then all the trees of the woods will rejoice before the Lord. 13 For He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth. He shall judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with His truth. (Psalm 96:11–13, NKJV)
Throughout history, the Lord God has come in judgment against sin. The most notable being the flood in the days of Noah, which is a type of the fiery day of the Lord yet to come (2 Pet. 3:5-10). The Bible records God coming in judgment against cities and nations (Jude 5, 7). He stirred up nation against nation to render His punishments against their sins (Isa. 13:1, 17-22; Isa. 14-24). God’s creation in heaven and on earth rejoice when God applies His justice against evil. Righteousness and truth are His standards of judgment (Rom. 2:1-5). We dare not minimize and forget that God reigns and blesses good while calling evil to account. Jesus promised a day of judgment for all who reject Him and His word (John 12:48). If you cannot rejoice in God’s righteous judgments of truth, then it is time to repent and honor God (Rom. 2:4-5). James’ exhortation still rings true, “You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!” (Jas. 5:8-9).
“For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17, NKJV)
The apostle Peter speaks of judgment commencing at God’s house. Since it has been almost two thousand years since he wrote this, we can safely conclude what started then continues to be true now. God’s house is the church (Heb. 3:4-6; 1 Tim. 3:15). So, we readily admit the church of Christ has and will undergo judgments. Judgment in this verse means “the process of judgment (separation) leading to a decision” (Vine, I:222). Peter has been discussing intense persecutions already happening to Christians. He said God’s people should not think it a strange (foreign, novel) thing when trials come upon us (1 Pet. 4:12). Instead, he exhorts us to “rejoice” since such trials are our fellowship with the sufferings of Christ (1 Pet. 4:13; Phil. 3:10). God blesses and comforts Christians who suffer for His name’s sake. Accepting reproach for our faith without shame, we are to glorify God in the name “Christian” (1 Pet. 4:14-16). To be ashamed of being a Christian judges us unworthy of Christ (Mk. 8:38). Suffering for one’s faith in Christ separates the faithful from those who abandon their faith to escape reproach. Thus, persecution has the effect of judging Christians. It separates the unfaithful from the righteous. Since Christians are saved through such difficulties, it becomes obvious that those who “do not obey the gospel of God” will not be saved (1 Pet. 4:17, 18).
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit. (Psalm 51:12, NKJV)
Joy is connected to salvation from sins. When the Ethiopian believed and was baptized “he went on his way rejoicing” (Acts 8:39). The Philippian jailer and his household rejoiced after they believed and were baptized in obedience to the word of the Lord (Acts 16:31-34). God’s gracious forgiveness refreshes the soul with a joy that “no one can take from you” (John 16:22). How then could it be said that the joy of God’s salvation needed to be restored to David? Simply because David had separated himself from that salvation’s joy by his sins of adultery, deceit and murder (2 Samuel 11-12). His ability to rejoice in God’s salvation was restored because he acknowledged his sins and God washed him of his sins (Psalm 51:1-4, 7-9). We cannot sin and expect salvation and its joy to continue with us. Such would be a high-handed view of holiness that disrespects God and His justice (Psalm 51:4). Sin brings shame, sorrow and death. It does not perpetuate joy. Salvation brings joy because of the victory of faith we have in Jesus (1 John 5:4). Jesus gives His faithful disciples the joy of salvation, and exhorts all who follow Him to “be of good cheer” because He has “overcome the world” (John 16:33).