16) Is not the meat cut off before our eyes, yea, joy and gladness from the house of our God?Joel 1:16 (KJV)
In Joel chapter 1 God unleashes a plague of locusts on the people of Judah as punishment for their sins.
Sin has consequences. Joel 1 shows us how sin affects everyone, and especially God’s church.
For example, the inhabitants of the land were cut off from the meat or “food” (“meat” comes from the Old English word “mete” meaning “food”) that would have been used as a sacrifice to God on the alter in the temple.“Sin has consequences. Joel 1 shows us how sin affects everyone, and especially God’s church.”
For the Israelites their source of connection to God was primarily though the ability to provide sacrifices to him as offerings for repentance and in obedience to him.
But sin had hindered their ability to worship God properly and enjoy being in his presence.
Therefore, they had not only lost the joy and gladness of being in step with God, but they also lost the ability to experience a true and proper relationship with him, and the same thing happens when we commit sin.
In the rest of this devotional we’re going to learn how sin strains our connection with God, keeps us from experiencing joy and gladness in his presence and how remembering such consequences can actually help us ward off sin and temptation and enjoy God and the Christian life more.
Sin Separates us from Fellowship with God
There’s nothing better than being connected to our Savior, but here God’s people found their primary connection to God severed.
That’s what sin does; it strains the Christian’s connection with his God. In fact, we can only have true fellowship with God when we walk in the light of who he is – by obeying and following him (1 Jn. 1:7).
During the locust plague everyone, including God’s church, missed out on the benefits that come from serving and following God. Specifically, they missed out on the joy and gladness inherent in God’s relationship with his children.“We can only have true fellowship with God when we walk in the light of who he is – by obeying and following him.”
They were unable to worship him or experience the exceeding joy of going to his altar (Ps. 43:4). They couldn’t enter into his gates with thanksgiving or his courts with praise (Ps. 100:4). They were spiritually adrift and only he could get them out through their repentance.
There would be no rejoicing in God’s house, no celebrations, no joy. And it wasn’t merely because of the plague and its consequences, rather it was because they had offended God with their sins that such distance had come between them and God.
It was an inward act of their hearts, not an external consequence, that left them separated from God and left in a spiritual desert.
It’s the same with us when we sin. Sin is separation from God (Is. 59:2) and it makes him appear far off (Prov. 15:29).
However, while experiencing these ill effects of sin is a grave and hard manner, taking time to think about and realize what we will miss out on when we sin is actually a way to ward off temptation and keep from sinning.
Remember Joy and Gladness
While believers can never lose their salvation or relationship with God due to sin, they can certainly lose fellowship with God, and miss out on the joy and gladness that comes from being in his presence if they continue in sin without contrite repentance.“We can escape temptation and sin by remembering that joy and gladness await us if we remain close to God.”
However, knowing this can help us avoid giving into temptation and sin in the first place. It can be preemptive by keeping us from being drawn away by our own lusts and enticed (James 1:14).
Therefore, we can escape temptation and sin by remembering that joy and gladness await us if we remain close to God (1 Cor. 10:13).
This is vital because the devil loves nothing more than to preoccupy our minds with lies that the Christian life is too hard, all work and no fun, and not worth the effort compared to what the world can supposedly offer (Jn. 8:44).
The next time you wish to gratify your own selfish and sinful desires, think about the joy and gladness you’ll miss out on if you commit sin.
Think about how you will miss out on things God has for you to learn, and spiritual growth he wishes you to undergo, which can only come during times of spiritual intimacy and glad worship with him.“The next time you wish to gratify your own selfish and sinful desires, think about the joy and gladness you’ll miss out on if you commit sin.”
Remember the stirring words of David, “in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16:11). Remember how Peter echoed the same sentiments at Pentecost, “thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance,” (Acts 2:28) and remember Solomon, how he taught that “the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day” (Prov. 4:18).
Joy and gladness are great motivators for Christian action. When either are missing, we’re not effective witnesses, servants or images of our Creator.
Sin takes these positive motivating factors in the Christian life away from us, and the devil uses this to distract us from God.
We find that we cannot worship God because of our shame and we feel like we have stopped progressing to become who God wants us to be. We feel forgotten and Satan wants nothing more than that.
Again, when sin entices you, focus on the joy and gladness that comes from being able to be in step and in line with God.
Think about the joy of walking in his ways as his child, and the gladness and rejoicing the comes from being in his presence – let these truths overcome your selfishness.“We stray from sin because being in God’s will, connected to him and pure through obedience, is what he wants. Moreover, it’s not only how we are to live but it’s the only way for the Christian to live.”
Having such an attitude, by the way, is not a reverse form of selfishness. We don’t keep from sin merely so God will bless us.
No, we stray from sin because being in God’s will, connected to him and pure through obedience, is what he wants. Moreover, it’s not only how we are to live but it’s the only way for the Christian to live (Rom. 13:12, 2 Tim. 2:22, 1 Pet. 3:11, Rom. 12:1, Ecc. 12:13, Matt. 10:38-39, Col. 3:5).
The fact that living in step with God brings us joy and gladness is simply icing on the cake. We don’t serve a God who asks for our allegiance only to treat us badly, not at all.
Even in times of struggle, even when we believe the devil’s lies that sin and shame have ruined our standing with God, God uses even those times to refine us and make us more like him (Phil. 1:6).
And in all other times we can enjoy his splendor and blessings. He’s truly a “good, good father” as the popular Chris Tomlin worship song goes.
Ultimately, our lives are wholly dependent on God. May we let nothing, including most of all sin, keep us from the throne of grace and from the one who we cannot live without.
During the locust plague in Joel 1, the sins of the Israelites prevented them from being able to offer sacrifices to God, and consequently from experiencing joy and gladness in his presence and through worship.
We face the same consequences when we sin. Sin separates us from fellowship with God, and keeps us from experiencing joy and gladness.“Choose to embrace God’s love and care instead of fleeting desires that profit nothing.”
However, knowing this can actually help believers ward off sin in their lives. It can be a way provided by God for us to escape temptation (1 Cor. 10:13).
Therefore, the next time you’re faced with choosing to sin or remain committed to God, remember the joy and gladness and the spiritual growth that comes from being close to God. Choose to embrace God’s love and care instead of fleeting desires that profit nothing.
Soli Deo gloria!
To read more articles like this one about defending against sin, subscribe to our email list.
Are you a Christian writer looking to publish? Learn more.