Authentic joy will neither be built by prosperity nor be ruined by adversity. The only path to true happiness is to be saved from sin and subsequently be holy (Proverbs 29:18, John 14:28, John 15:10-11, Romans 14:17, Galatians 5:22, 1 Peter 3:14). To keep the commandment of God means to be holy (Romans 7:12-13). It is our whole duty to keep God's commandment (Ecclesiastes 12:13) so to do wrong is to waste the limited time in this life. Life is too short to sin. Sinning is wasting time. Human being is purposed to be holy so deviation from the purpose will bring regret. Total freedom comes from the ability to abstain from doing wrong. If a saved person does not have joy, something is wrong somewhere. Instead of praying that God will give joy to a person, pray that God will train the person to be holy or sanctified.
In our living environment there is very little chance to understand that true happiness comes from salvation and holiness. Even many saved people do not know that they can be happy through holiness. A course on happiness was offered by Harvard University, but teaching to believe in ourselves etc in the hope to get happiness. The world portrays that holiness is lack of happiness. Many people try to get happiness from purchases, movies, video games, addictive subtances and promiscuity. The current culture tries to make us admire people who are rich or promiscuious (Proverbs 23:17). Whining and gossiping, often with cuss word, are being done daily. Some product marketing exploits women by scanty clothing to stimulate shopping. Lust brings forth sin (James 1:15). A Chinese saying also states that lewdness is the first of all sins. Consumerism and materialism promote indecent clothing, causing people to have impure heart. Impure heart then leads to unhappiness in the long run. Unhappiness encourages shopping. Happiness is evasive in attempt to get it by buying things. Hedonic treadmill (tendency of humans to quickly return to indifference despite events) causes such happiness to last for short time only.
Success in life must not be measured by wealth or fame, but by holiness. Being holy also brings betterment of life. If we fear God by departing from unholiness (Job 1:1, Proverbs 3:7, Proverbs 16:6, 2 Corinthians 7:1), besides happiness, we will also get wisdom (Psalms 111:10, Proverbs 9:10) and lack nothing (Psalms 34:9). There will be peace of mind. A holy person is sought after due to his or her ethics, integrity and discipline. Nobody likes to deal with an unholy person. In the case of getting married, being holy can help screen out potential spouse (such as by no premarital intimacy), producing strong marriage. We do not have to drink something unhealthy, buy things, watch television, watch movies or play video games to be happy if we are holy because we will be happy already. By not engaging in activities that are not value-added, productivity is higher so more things can be accomplished in life. Clean life and mind bring no selective mutism (the fear to speak in specific situations or to specific people).
To be holy, conscious moral effort is needed because Holy Spirit can be quenched (Ephesians 4:30, 1 Thessalonians 5:19). Do not go ahead to do it knowing it is wrong. Behave like a noble person even when alone. Appreciate the motor skill (ability to control the body to move) by not doing wrong. Freedom and joy come from controlling the body to avoid doing evil. One is in bondage if he or she cannot take back that control. However we must not think that this is 100% personal effort or else we will fail. Instead put faith in God that He will help us to become holy. Do not do unholy conduct thinking to avoid some trouble or to earn for the thing we want. Do not whine (1 Corinthians 10:10) but be part of the solution or workaround. Nobody likes a whiner. Put trust in God that He will provide. Pray always so that we will think of God. Eliminate impure motive by examining our heart in the light of God. For example it is good to shape up but the motive must not be revealing it for public display. When a saved person comes to think of an unholy thing of his or hers, it is the prompting from Holy Spirit. Just follow Holy Spirit to get rid of that unholy thing (Galatians 5:16). If it is not done, the nudging continues. Repent. By following the Holy Spirit to be holy, we will be filled by Holy Spirit (Matthew 5:6, Matthew 5:8, Ephesians 5:17-18). Being filled by Holy Spirit brings joy (Galatians 5:22). Holy Spirit will prompt us on matters pertaining to holiness only, as the name implies, so just treat the prompting seriously. If we think highly of ourselves and personal glory (self-centred), misery comes. For example we can be easily offended if we are self-centred. If we pursue holiness and God's will (God-centred), joy comes. Always check whether what we do will glorify God or not. We are the followers of the Creator of the universe. God is our Lord, so when pursuing anything, always follow God's will (Matthew 7:21). Following God's will means following God's commandments in the Word of God. The motive of pursuing something in life must always be glorifying God. Saying He is our Lord also means whatever we do is in His name. If there is impure motive before performing certain action, stop. For example, when pursuing a spouse, check the person's character based on biblical principle, which reflects God's will. Do not be obssessed and owned by material possession. Let go the possession when necessary (Matthew 19:21) as those are not everlasting (Matthew 6:19). After all, this life is short and all personal pursuits, without considering God's will, will come to nothing. Once the personal pursuit is given up to submit to God's will, yet life is less difficult by itself (Daniel 4:36, Matthew 6:33). This is a process of sanctification.
On the contrary, there is no true joy in unholiness, but consequence that brings grief. God will discipline us (Hebrews 12:6). Sinning is worse than losing all the money and things that one has (Psalms 119:72, Matthew 18:8-9). Even there will be sorrow after one has sinned, for example being caught from lying. Most misery is self-inflicted. It is right to pursue happiness. However pursuing it without salvation and holiness yields little or temporal happiness, followed by emptiness or even agony. Sin brings temporary pleasure only (Hebrews 11:25). It is absurd to pass on the long-lasting joy for temporary pleasure. Like drug abuse, suffering will come later.
Even if we are holy in many things, be careful not to fall into thinking that we are more superior than others. It is not good to think so (James 4:6) and we will not get the joy. Holy Spirit is the cause of the holiness, not us. Not doing bad things is not merit, but bottomline or obligation. However, that does not mean we cannot admonish other people for unholy behaviour. Just do not be arrogant (Proverbs 8:13) or withdrawn. Instead, try influence them to be even better than us. Be friends with all, yet be vigilant, without following their unholy behaviour (Hebrews 12:14), instead admonishing them as a friend. But do not admonish others on the same sin that we ourselves are currently committing sin because that is hypocrisy (Matthew 7:5).
Test it out. By today, we can repent from all sins we are currently committing. Why wait? Without repentance, we will still have guilt after confessing sin, even our prayer is an abomination (Proverbs 28:9). Be ready for rapture (Matthew 24:42) by being holy.Bible verses in this article: