God created Adam and Eve and provided for them everything “that was good” and He Himself inspected all that was created to ensure that. In the Garden of Eden there was nothing that could cause grief to the ‘First Couple’ till they continued in obedience to God. It was violation of God’s command that “thorns and thistles’ were produced by the earth and pain of labor to get the earth or the woman to yield her fruit came into existence. Lord Jesus came to restore and reestablish the lost kingdom in our hearts and change the Satan given miserable state into eternal joy. The heavy burden of sins He has taken off from our shoulders and instilled His peace in our hearts with the command “Delight yourself always in God and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). God establishes His throne in our hearts to give us happiness and joy and this joy lasts till we abide in Him and He in us.
Who am I? – After having created all the necessary ingredients for comfortable living of man, God formed man from the dust of the earth and breathed His ‘ruach’ into the man’s nostrils to give him the ‘breath of life’. The body was formed from the earth particles and will disintegrate into the same after death but the real man/woman living inside that body is the spirit that was breathed in by God. Every human being, thus, is a spirit and has a soul living in the body – the body provides the spirit a physical three dimensional shape but is not the real person. The spirit impacts the mind of the individual, giving him knowledge and wisdom and this then translates into a faith and belief system. The soul works in and through the ‘heart’ – the seat of emotions and feelings- and provides him with a set of psychological profile thus affecting his daily life and relationships. The body being the vessel containing the two initially had no role except providing the living space, but has the capacity to lead the soul astray from its spiritual identity.
In the Garden of Eden God had provided food for the body, companionship of each other and command over entire creation to satisfy the soul while guiding the spirit into the destined ‘image and likeness of God’ through daily meetings ‘during the cool of the day’. It was the body through the five senses that caused the fall of man, for at the urging of the ‘snake’ – “nachash” – the shining one- Eve moved over to the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil. Her sensory organs of hearing, sight, smell, touch and taste made her listen to the lies of the serpent, see the tree being good for food, the fragrance and appearance of the fruit was good and was ‘desirable’ (Genesis 3:6). The delight and happiness that was available through being in the presence of God was replaced by the pleasure of body satisfaction through the senses.
What is happiness? – God “in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). Man being a spirit can only find happiness and joy in the presence of God – a Spirit Being and not through the body. Joy flows from the source, God, into the human spirit, onto the soul by giving satisfied feelings and joyful emotions and the body is at peace with its surroundings. Body cannot impact the spirit for the spirit has a heavenly origin while the body has an earthly existence and source of formation. Thus the spirit cannot draw any happiness and delight from the body. The house getting renovated and equipped with every comfort creates no impression on the spirit but the body gets comforted and the soul gets joyful through ‘ego satisfaction’ while the spirit does not participate in either. Before the fall of mankind there was nothing in the Garden of Eden that was displeasing to man but sin affected man, the earth and also the nature. Man suffered separation from God and forced to labour to get produce from the earth and the woman suffers labour pain in childbearing. The earth produced ‘thorns and thistles’ while the debasement of nature brought various natural calamities.
Does God want to see us happy? – Even before the process of creation had started Lord Jesus’ coming and crucifixion for our redemption was “foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you” (1 Peter1:19-20). Even in the Garden of Eden, God, despite knowing the sinful act of Adam and Eve, came looking for them and did not forsake them. Righteous Noah and his family were saved by God whereas rest of humanity suffered death due to their sinful living. The long drawn out act of construction of the ark by Noah right in the middle of land mass all around was a chance given to the sinners to repent and turn to God. God saw from heaven and found that “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10) and His Son was sent to redeem us from the confinement of sin and evil.
Lord Jesus narrated the parable of the lost sheep and the lost coin to emphasize the intention of God to not abandon His creation. The shepherd leaves the 99 that did not go astray to go looking for then one lost sheep and it is ironic that after finding the lost one, there is no punishment or scolding but of hoisting onto “the shoulders and rejoicing” (Luke 15:4-10). The best mode of rejoicing is to sing songs and all friends to share in the joy. God sings songs to the culprit and blesses instead of cursing and punishment. King David exhorts us to “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). The Hebrew word used for delight is “anog” meaning delight, delicate and soft/dainty and Eliphaz the Temanite uses the same word to urge job to ‘lean towards God and humbly submit to Him’ (Job 22:26). Happiness for a Christian is, knowing, experiencing and witnessing about all that God has provided for us through His Son.
Receiving this happiness – God expressed His joy and delight in His Son at the time of His baptism, though He did not need that (Matthew 3:17) and again at His transfiguration (Matthew 17:5) while the Son delighted in obeying, honoring and pleasing the Father in every action of His (John 5:30). Our happiness is in the spirit which being in His image and likeness receives its joy from God to give it unto the soul and thus to the body. Body cannot provide happiness to the real me – the spirit but mankind searches for happiness in the body only and is disappointed. The lost sheep is taken back into God’s fold with the other 99 into the Divine presence to great delight and rejoicing for Lord our God desires that we experience “the fullness of joy that is in His presence; and the great pleasures available at His right hand” (Psalm 16:11). We are taken into His pleasures through the redeeming blood of Lord Jesus and required to search for and receive the same in His presence for the ‘torn curtain’ has provided us access to that.
Lord Jesus warned us about setting our heart at the right place and direction “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). Where and which treasure are we searching for and what do we delight in? The clear command is “Look for God’s kingdom and His righteousness first and all these things will be given to you” (Matthew 6:33) but we desire to enter the kingdom of God through the worldly treasures and focus more on these. Once our delight is in “His Divine presence” our heart will be in a position to obey the Lord’s command fully “Love your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul and with all your strength”. Lord Jesus is ready to bless us with all power through the Holy Spirit to delight in Him and not Satan and the forces of darkness. It is by following this path that “Whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do these things that are pleasing in His sight” (1 John 3:22). He has authorized us to call Him Abba Father and the Father delights in getting all His children into His bosom to give them all happiness. God is our Father but He is also just, holy and righteous and no sinner can ever enter into His presence. Lord Jesus took our sins on Himself on the cross to not only to redeem us but also to declare us sinless as ‘children of God’ through faith in Him. God does want happiness for us but this delight is available to us through the path of holiness.
Path of happiness – The fight every believer daily wages is the fight for delight and not for pleasure. We delight in the Holy presence of God in worship and prayer right from the early morning and all through the day for He ‘neither leaves us nor forsakes us’ and we wage this battle, which is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers’ of darkness, under the guidance of God the Holy Spirit. A Christian thankfully enjoys the blessings of prosperity given by God and looks for happiness in helping others as an act of expressing Divine love of God towards them. This delight is in leaning towards God through humble submission to seek His guidance and power. It is difficult to make us holy than happy for our prayers seek small worldly treasures from the Almighty Creator. The will of God for us is our sanctification, our being set aside for Him (1 Thessalonians 4:3) and this means the gradual and continuous process of correction of our living styles by the Holy Spirit. God is not content with only our salvation or justification but total change into the image of His Son to restore us back to the position of the Garden of Eden – a state of bliss in His presence. The Greek word used for sanctification is ‘hagiasmos’ meaning consecration and sanctification thus implying that we are specially anointed by God to lead a life of total purity as His chosen priests.
This slow process of change occurs through the guidance of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us who ‘continually reminds us of truth and Scripture’. “We, all, with unveiled face, holding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18). The action of the Holy Spirit is continuous all through our lives on earth through guidance, prayers – teaching us to pray and by praying with us; and by correction. Lord Jesus revealed God to us and through Him we have received an image of God as a comparative figure that we can see every moment and aspire to be like Him. This is a collaborative effort with the Holy Spirit and not only our own doing. This process is necessary or us to enter into God’s pleasures and it may not be a pleasant experience always for purification process alse requires travelling through the intense heat of fire to remove the dross of our sinful desires and wants.
Seven steps to holy pleasures – Apostle Paul assures us that our choosing is predestined by God and He justifies those whom He has called to lead to glory in His Son (Romans 8:30). This progression takes place through seven different steps initiated by God.
- Unanswered prayers – God processes our prayers through the medium of our intent for the desire. Anything that we seek that is likely to cause our downfall into sin is likely to be rejected. Any blessing already given will also be withdrawn to save us from the curse of ungodliness.
- Pruning and purging – “Every branch that does not bear fruit He takes away and every branch that bears fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:2). God does not desire our lives to be a façade as hiding our evil behind a veil but a life of blessing to others in fulfillment of the Great Commission. “Whom the Lord loves He chastens and scourges every son whom He receives” (Hebrews 12:6) and this disciplining may also include pain. However, those who adopt a rebellious and an unrepentant nature are left by Him to enter eternal damnation.
- Sufferings to witness to others – Ananias was commanded by the Lord Jesus to go to Saul to relieve him of his blindness “for I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake” to bear My name before the Gentiles, kings and the children of Israel (Acts 9:15-16). It is said that some people will read the Bible only through our lives to be led to Christ through our righteous living of sacrifice and love. But God gives us abundance of His grace and remains with us all along our travails to strengthen us in our trials (2 Timothy 4:16-18).
- God gives the vision and power – We are urged to “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). God works in us b y placing a vision and then empowers us to fulfill the same so that His purpose is accomplished in the lives of many others through us. But God does carry us and leads us in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake (Psalm 23:3 -4).
- Lost sheep not abandoned – Our basic sinful nature leads us astray but God does not leave us and leaving the faithful, comes looking for us Himself working through various means to win us back. Repentant sinners are not rebuked but forgiven and hoisted onto His shoulders in love and rejoicing.
- The Comforter – The indwelling Holy Spirit “convicts us of sin” as revealed by our Lord (John 16:8) and this is not an act of condemnation but of reminding at every stage of omission or commission. He tries to stop us from sinning at the thought process to control evil desires, to stop during the act and them reminds to seek forgiveness through repentance from the merciful God. His Holy Spirit then leads us to a position where we “delight to do Your will, O my God” by writing God’s commands on our hearts through this daily change (Psalm 40:8).
- Prayers and rejoicing – Holy Spirit teaches us to pray and prays with us with much pain and groaning and we are also commanded to “pray during our sufferings and rejoice and sing Psalms in times of cheerfulness” (James 5:13).
“God gives to a man that is good in His sight wisdom, and knowledge and joy; but to the sinner He gives travail, to gather and to heap up that He may give to him that is good before God” (Ecclesiastes 2:26). All the joy and pleasures are in the presence of God and this joy is conveyed by God – a Spirit – to a man, another spirit and it then flows to the soul and the body. Thus holiness has to be there in all three – body, soul and spirit – thought, word and deed. Our thoughts flow from our knowledge and wisdom from the spirit, words represent our feelings and desires from the soul and the body acts in consonance with all this. Repentance and forgiveness of sins after accepting Lord Jesus as our Savior Messiah, is the first step towards holiness. The Holy Spirit then moves in with us to help us understand the will of God, change according to that and remain in God’s presence.
We are confronted with this belief that success, in financial, social and professional realm, is the mantra to happiness, but we as spirit beings can only find joy in communion with God, the Perfect Spirit. Therefore, success cannot be the key to happiness but it is the other way – happiness is the key and all over the world organizations take various steps to make their workers happy and contented. Success is a result of a long period of transformation and change by God and it comes at a time when one enjoys the process and success does not remain the source of happiness. Spending time in the presence of God, laying bare our souls before Him and seeking His Divine help to transform our lives result in happiness – for God desires us to be happy and holy both.