Some where, some time began a movement that created cultural chaos. I do not know where it began, nor do I know when it began. Certainly it was many years ago in some of the most indiscriminate ways. While we may never know its origin, history can now point us to the most significant moments that have driven us to the crisis we are now in. What force could have such a detrimental impact? It was a great exchange from happiness to pleasure.
Perhaps this is not the root or the very beginning, as we know that all such things begin with the same root issue: sin. Yet, we are currently a joyless society because we have succumbed to the notion that pleasure and happiness are the same thing. A search in the thesaurus will yield results that cause us to reach one conclusion. Our society sees them as words that are simply different expressions of the same concept. If we allowed ourselves to be moved by truth, we would recognize that there are times in which they exist separately.
Pleasure produces merely a temporal effect that will not last. Generally, it is associated with sin. There is truth in this association because sin is the result of seeking pleasure. However, we must be careful not to define all things that are pleasurable as sin. Surely righteousness and pleasure affiliate with one another. With that in mind though, we must be careful also to not confuse that which brings pleasure with that which brings happiness.
Happiness, or joy as I have interlinked with it, extends beyond the temporal and instead is grounded in the eternal. The coming of Jesus brought joy (Matthew 9:15; Mark 2:19). Further, God’s kingdom, which is associated with the kingdom of Christ brings forth joy and righteousness, and not to forget it also brings forth peace (Romans 14:17).
Joy is something not found outside of God. It must be rooted in Him first and foremost. If this point is understood we see that joy is not merely the absence of affliction, but it is the contentment of God, with God through affliction . . . and all other circumstances as well.
Such a distinction between joy and pleasure is important because of a point that R.C. Sproul brings to our attention. While sin can be pleasurable, it will never bring forth happiness. Yet, as the culture has chosen to make the two equal, then sin also becomes equated to happiness and joy.
This transformation has helped to cultivate the moral revolution which we see taking place. If sin brings forth joy then it must also be acceptable. In no way am I suggesting this is the cause, but instead it represents part of the transition that has taken place.
The concept of joy was revolutionized through the coming of Christ. It is here that true contentment is found, and thus it is only in Him that true happiness can be found. Thus our entire concept of living is transformed because it affects how we approach all aspects of life, both the good and the bad, the difficult and the easy. To be joyful is to be content in your life in Christ.
I have been reading through R.C. Sproul’s The Holiness of God . Join me each week as we read a chapter and reflect on what we have learned. It’s not too late to join! For more information click here. Next week we will read chapter 9.