The testimony that God wants to bring forth in his children is joy — genuine, lasting joy. “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). This joy, which results from biblical preaching and true repentance, brings true strength to God’s people and draws sinners into his house.
Most Christians never associate joy with repentance, but repentance is actually the mother of all joy in Jesus. Without it, there can be no joy. When David disobeyed, he lost the joy of the Lord and it could only be restored by true repentance. So he prayed, “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me” (Psalm 51:2-3). David also prayed to regain what he had lost: “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation” (51:12).
It is impossible to maintain the joy of the Lord if sin is present in one’s life. We must increasingly separate ourselves from the world around us. How can the Holy Spirit pour out joy on a people who continue to indulge in adultery, addictions and materialism, living like those who do not follow Christ?
Only the joy of the Lord supplies us with true strength. We can talk all we want about our long walk with Christ, but if we aren’t allowing the Holy Spirit to maintain the joy of the Lord in our hearts — if we aren’t continually hungering for his Word — then we are losing our fire and we won’t be ready for what comes upon the world in these last days.
How do we maintain the joy of the Lord? We do it the same way we obtained his joy in the beginning.
First, we love, honor and hunger excitedly for God’s Word.
Second, we continually walk in repentance.
Third, we separate ourselves from all worldly influences.
This is how a Holy Spirit person or church maintains “Jesus joy” — rejoicing always, full of gladness!