Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:8-9 (NIV)
Read: 1 Peter 1:1-25
Consider: Peter’s first letter was written to the churches in the Roman provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia (all in modern-day Turkey). The letter was written with the help of Silas (1 Peter 5:12) and was designed to encourage the believers in the face of opposition.
Did you notice what it says in 1 Peter 1:8-9 – Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. Think back to just after the resurrection when Jesus appeared to his disciples (John 20:19-23). We learn that Thomas was not present when Jesus appeared and this led him to say: Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe (John 20:25). When Jesus appeared again to the disciples (including Thomas), he gave Thomas the opportunity to see for himself the nail prints in his hands and the wound in his side. Jesus’ response to Thomas’ exclamation ‘My Lord and my God!’ (20:28) was: ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed’ (20:29). Can you see the similarity between what Jesus said to Thomas and what Peter is saying to the recipients of his letter? Since Jesus’ ascension into heaven no-one has seen Jesus face-to-face. This includes the believers to whom Peter wrote his letter, but also includes all who have since come to believe in Christ, as well as all those who will put their trust in him as their Saviour in the future. In other words, this includes you and me!
Look again at what is said in 1 Peter 1:8 – ‘… you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy …’. Can I ask you candidly if that is your experience? Yes, you have believed, but are you filled with this ‘inexpressible and glorious joy’? Many Christians go through life with such regrets about the past, that they miss out on this God-given joy in their everyday lives. I’m not talking about having a permanent smile on your face, but about a deep conviction that whatever your circumstances, your faith will not be shaken. There may also be circumstances where a believer is filled with remorse for something they have done and this extinguishes the joy they had. King David found this when he committed adultery with Bathsheba and this led him to come to God in repentance and say: Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions and my sin is always before me … Restore to me the joy of your salvation (Psalm 51:2-3;12). While we must always be careful not to rely on our feelings, there are times when we need to listen to our conscience and act accordingly. The apostle John puts it this way: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
If you lack joy in your faith, ask yourself if you have really let go of your past life with all its regrets. If not, then take the matter to God, asking him to reveal to you the extent of his love for you and that your past is forgiven. Make the truth of these words your own: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17).
If you lack joy because of some unrepented sin, bring the matter to God and confess your sin to him in the knowledge that you will be forgiven, asking him to restore the joy in your salvation.
Pray: Father, we know that you brought us to faith, not because we have seen Jesus face-to-face, but because your Holy Spirit was working in our hearts, bringing us to repentance. We pray for the joy that John describes as ‘inexpressible’ and ‘glorious’, that it may fill our hearts and spill out in our witness to the world. Amen