“Take warning this day, that you never will be happy till you are converted. You might as well expect to feel the sun shine on your face when you turn your back to it, as to feel happy when you turn your back on God and on Christ.” J C Ryle
When Jesus promised happiness eight times at the beginning of His Sermon on the Mount, He did not promise it to everybody. Rather, He identified the marks, the characteristics of those who will experience this blessedness.
They don’t find happiness in themselves. Poor in spirit, they recognize, “I am nothing.”
They don’t find happiness in their sins. Rather they mourn over them.
They don’t find happiness in their achievements. They are meek not boastful.
They don’t find happiness in lusting after the pleasures of sin. They hunger and thirst for righteousness.
They don’t find happiness in asserting their rights. They are merciful, dealing with people in ways they don’t deserve.
They don’t find happiness in mere outward reformation. They seek cleansing of their hearts.
They don’t find happiness in beating people. They find happiness in making peace with people.
They don’t find happiness in popularity. They find happiness in pleasing God even if it means suffering personal pain and loss.
In other words there is no happiness in being self-confident, self-accepting, self-assertive, self-righteous, self-seeking, self-centered, or self-protective. There’s only happiness in turning from self to the Savior by the grace and power of the Holy Spirit.
“Happy are the people who are in such a state;
Happy are the people whose God is the Lord!”
David Murray is Professor of Old Testament & Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. This article first appeared on his blog, Head Heart Hand,