Part 2 - Happiness: Intrinsically linked to our relationship with God
The Apostle Paul realised the significance of making much of the justified position of the Christian in order to provide definition to the subject of happiness. In the majestic writings of Romans he draws upon the words of Psalm 32, when he said, ‘..even David also describeth the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works’ Romans 4:6.
This quest for happiness or blessedness is not that complex in terms of determining the source. The difficultly resides in the wretchedness of the human heart and its inherent willingness to explore every other method other than God’s salvation.
Describing this blessedness is what it is all about. Let us pause and remind ourselves that the one whom God declares to be just, on the account of the righteousness of another (Christ), is the happiest and most blessed of all. By this we are immediately we are thrown into a state of thinking that runs contrary to much of society around us. Happiness, lasting happiness, eternal happiness, centres upon what God does for us and not what we do for ourselves.
Going back to the beginning
When was mankind at its most happiest? If all we are left with in this world is the testimony of man and the absence of Biblical testimony then there is no way of knowing the answer. In tracing the human record we discover a consistent journey of high and lows. Man is capable of achieving great things and yet also quite a lot of not so great things. It has often been quoted that there have been more years of war than peace throughout history. The unanimous verdict, according to the man-without-God testimony would be no, there was never a time when man was in a euphoric state of consummate happiness.
But the Word of God tells us differently. It is the Genesis authority that shapes and moulds the thinking of the genuine believer. From the outset we are told that the Divine verdict upon the original creation was ‘very good’ (Genesis 1:31). Likewise, mankind, created in God’s image and being the pinnacle of God’s Creation, was also very good. Man’s condition was like the Creation - one of perfection. Admittedly not impeccable perfection or else he would not have sinned but positively perfect and not sitting somewhere on the fence. Subsequently, he would have known the fullest possible experience of happiness.
Therefore, was this estate of happiness an outcome of his environment? Surely he must have taken in Creation in all of its untarnished beauty and rejoiced in God but this wasn’t the source of his happiness. That belonged to his perfect relationship and walk with God.
The misery of sin
The entrance of sin into this world was the most catastrophic event in history. Plunged into the curse of a broken law mankind quickly felt the effects. That sweet, blessed communion with the Almighty had been shattered. As time went by the natural creation bore record of this, not just through thistles and thorns but more solemnly through death in all of its forms. Many centuries later, Paul, in appraising the sinfulness of man concluded, ‘destruction and misery are in their ways…’ (Romans 3:16).
There is a certain paradoxical element to sin. It carries with it pleasure - none would deny this. However, it carries with it the sting of death. To the rebel heart it is welcome but to the regenerate heart it is the unwelcome but very persistent visitor. Every child of God appreciates how the happiness of walking with God can be rudely disturbed by waywardness and backsliding.
David, in Psalm 32, knew that unconfessed sin brought with it a struggle within his very soul, ‘when I kept silence my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.’ Do you see his point? His unconfessed sin, his broken walk with God drained him of all happiness. The pleasure of sin was only for a season. God given happiness, which is incompatible with cherished sin, endures forever.
In ‘Happiness Part 3’ we shall see how it it originates in our reconciliation to God