1 Peter eludes to the idea that we can be filled with inexpressible and glorious joy. We greatly rejoice in the living hope we have in Christ. The dots don’t always connect for me though. The Bible calls us to rejoice always… I rejoice sometimes. Over the last several years I’ve been working through my understanding and convictions on biblical joy. People have told me to choose joy, pray for joy, work through what is stealing my joy, and now I’m learning to pray for the testing of my faith if I want to experience more joy. I see that the center of our joy is is founded on our faith in Christ. That’s what I’d like to reveal here by walking through 1 Peter.
To be filled with glorious and inexpressible joy that results in rejoicing, pray that your faith be tested and proven genuine.
What is the goal of your faith? Why do you believe in Jesus?
1 Peter 1:9 says our goal for our faith (believing in Christ) is the salvation of our souls (the preservation or deliverance from harm, ruin, or loss). That salvation, our inheritance, can never spoil, fade, or perish (1 Peter 1:4). It is kept in heaven, safe for us. In the meantime, we who keep believing in Christ, are shielded by God’s power (1 Peter 1:5). And so we have a living hope because we have been shown great mercy (not getting what we deserve) for our sins, an inheritance that is kept safe, and we are shielded by God’s power. We rejoice greatly in this living hope even though we have trials. But not merely by will power…
Why do we have trials, grief, or suffering? 1 Peter 1:7 says we have trials so our faith may be proved genuine, authentic, honest, and true. This authentic belief in Christ and what he has done leads to the praise, glory, and honor of Christ when He is revealed (because it was He who did it!) and genuine faith leads to being filled with an “inexpressible and glorious joy because we are receiving the goal of our faith”. 1 Peter 1:8-9
So it might stand to say that the reason we have little joy is because we are struggling in our faith in Christ. And the response to one another ought not to be “Just have more faith!”, but to tell God to have our faith made more genuine, more sincere and proven true.
God gives us trials so that by testing our faith and making it more genuine, we may have more joy. If we want more joy in Christ, we need to desire and ask for our faith to be tested so the un-authentic parts can be revealed, confronted, and removed. The result of authentic faith in Christ is praise, glory, and honor for Christ and inexpressible joy because we are being delivered from all harm, ruin, and loss.
Doesn’t everyone want the un-authentic parts of their faith removed? Well, it’s quite uncomfortable isn’t it? But, who really wants to say, “I want to keep the un-authentic parts of my faith!”? I suspect no one.
This is our plight as Christians. It turns out our childhood confessions of Christ as Lord and Savior need to be proved sincere. We are being ever tested that we might run the race and fight the good fight of faith through all circumstances. To endure the testing of our faith to that end (expressing and experiencing more praise for Christ and joy) we must grow up in our salvation (1 Peter 2:2) and we must not stumble because we disobey trusting in Christ (1 Peter 2:8).
Understanding that our trials are working FOR US to lead us away from death and INTO LIFE, as a GIFT from the Lord, Peter spends the rest of the letter persuading it’s readers to have the right perspective on trials so they may continue in faith, and so in the praise of Christ and joy.
To grow in faith and to not stumble in our suffering and grief we must:
- Prepare our minds for action and be self-controlled so we can pray (1 Peter 4:7)
- Abstain from sinful desires like malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, slander (1 Peter 2:1), don’t conform to evil desires, but be holy. Crave holiness! Sin wages war against our souls. Christ has brought us salvation from harm, ruin, and loss. Sin has brought us harm, ruin, and loss. Sin is the opposite of our goal. Resist the devil.
- We ought to live good lives described in 1 Peter 2:12 to the end including repaying evil with goodness and submitting to all kinds of authority.
- Do not be surprised by the suffering we are facing when suffering for Christ or doing good.
- Commit, pledge, and bind ourselves to the faithful Creator, and continue to do good. (1 Peter 4:12)
- We set our hope on GRACE as the gift of salvation we do not deserve and could not earn.
- Take on the attitude or have a settled way of thinking that suffering helps us flee our evil fleshly desires, and live our lives for the will of God. 1 Peter 4:1-6
How do I respond when trials come? Why don’t I immediately think that God is testing my faith? That he wants me to have more joy in the promises of salvation and the hope of eternity? That he wants me to give him praise and glory? My immediate response is usually frustration, anger, and doubt. If it doesn’t feel good or work how I would like, I let that lead me to the conclusion that he’s doing something not good and, almost subconsciously, that God isn’t good. I pray that God gives me the settled way of thinking that the trials and suffering in my life are to refine my faith, to make it more genuine, because he wants me to glorify him and experience the inexpressible glory and joy from trusting in my savior. I pray that he refines my faith. I pray he tests my faith so the un-authentic parts can be revealed, confronted, and removed so all that’s left is faith and rejoicing. Test my faith Lord! Test my faith! Send me the trials to reveal the parts of my heart, soul, and mind that do not believe in your truth. Help me to not be afraid. Help me to consciously declare that you have given me suffering so that through my faith being refined I will praise you more and have more joy after being tested.