“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, ....” (Galatians 5:22) So, those who are living ‘in the Spirit’ are to demonstrate and develop the fruit of joy.
What does it mean to live ‘in the Spirit?’
This phrase is used 18 times in the Bible, referring to when individuals are in complete submission to God’s Holy Spirit, being supernaturally guided according to God’s will. Ezekiel 37:1 has the prophet brought to a valley where he is given a vision of the future. Matthew 22:43 describes the condition of King David by which he is able to write a Psalm, which is included in our Scriptures. Luke 2:27 shows the child Jesus being led to the temple, where he was to discuss the Torah with the teachers there. Acts 19:21 has Paul being led to go through Macedonia on his missionary journey. Romans 8:9 describes what this means for the true Christian, even today, “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.” From that verse, I see two important concepts: (1) submission to God, (2) belonging to God. Elsewhere in Scripture, living in the Spirit is described also as being ‘Spirit Filled.’ Ephesians 5:18 commands all believers to be filled with the Spirit of God. Acts 4:31 shows that this filling happens after prayer and results in much boldness in accomplishing the will of God.
What is this JOY that Christians are supposed to have?
The Bible describes joy as an attitude that a person chooses to have, that usually comes out of a heart that is resting in the peace of God because of a trust in God. Psalm 16:11 describes the pleasures God wants to provide us when we are in His presence, which brings the greatest amount of joy. Many of the Psalm describe joy as gladness for what God has provided to His people. Another great joy comes when we recognize that salvation comes from God in the person of Jesus Christ. Even in the New Testament, we see joy pointing to what God has provided, and what He will provide by way of Jesus Christ. Joy comes from a place of peace because our worries are given to God, and exchanged for the easy burden He wants us to bear (Matthew 11:28). Joy comes from a place of hope, looking forward to the positive results that will come when we endure the trials we are going through (John 16:21).
What if you have no JOY, does this mean you are not a Christian?
Acts 13:52 describes being filled with the Holy Spirit and being filled with joy in the same sentence, insinuating that they come together. The biggest thing that gives the righteous joy is the hope in the promises of God, especially regarding the end times. John 16:20-22 reminds us that we have great sorrow because of the wickedness of our world, yet that will be turned to joy as we remember Christ’s immanent return and victory over evil. Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” When you feel like you have no joy, it does not take away your salvation, but rather means that you just need a reminder of the joy and peace you can have when you truly believe in the hope of God’s faithfulness. When you fully submit to Him, and trust in the fulfillment of His promises, God will give you that joy. Then you can follow Christ’s example, persevering through suffering for the joy that is set before you.