Anyone can keep his joy when he’s riding high in the Holy Ghost, not being tried or tempted. God wants us to keep ourselves in his love at all times, especially in our temptations.
The apostle John tells us very simply how we can keep ourselves in God’s love: “we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16, NKJV). The word ‘dwell’ here means “to stay in a state of expectancy.” In other words, God wants us to expect his love to be renewed in us every day. We’re to live every day in the knowledge that God has always loved us and will always love us.
In reality, most of us flit in and out of God’s love according to our emotional ups and downs. We feel safe in his love only if we’ve done well, but we’re unsure of his love whenever we’re tempted or have failed him. That’s especially the time we’re to trust in his love.
Jeremiah 31 offers a wonderful illustration of God’s love. Israel was in a backslidden state. The people had grown fat and prosperous and were indulging in all kinds of wickedness. Suddenly, their lusts turned sour. They lost all pleasure in fulfilling their sensual appetites. Israel cried out, “You have chastised me, and I was chastised, like an untrained bull; restore me, and I will return, for you are the Lord my God. Surely, after my turning, I repented; and after I was instructed, I struck myself on the thigh; I was ashamed, yes, even humiliated, because I bore the reproach of my youth” (Jeremiah 31:18-19).
Listen to God’s response to Israel. “…’For though I spoke against him, I earnestly remember him still; therefore my heart yearns for him; I will surely have mercy on him,’ says the Lord” (Jeremiah 31:20).
God was telling his people, “I had to chasten you and speak hard words of truth to you. Even then you sinned against me, doing so despite the grace and mercy that I extended to you. You turned against my love, rejecting me. Nevertheless, my heart of compassion was moved deeply toward you. I remembered you in your struggle, and I will surely have mercy on you. I’ll freely forgive and restore you.”