If You Don’t Enjoy God, You May Not Be Saved

This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. (Ephesians 4:17-24)

The question of why people don’t enjoy God gets at the heart of what it means to be a Christian. What is the good of being reconciled to God if you don’t enjoy Him? What is the good of walking with God if you dread that walk? 

When Christians think of walking with God, of experiencing Him face-to-face and spending significant time alone with Him, far too many feel a paralyzing dread, a choking fear, a painful desire to run and hide from the presence of God.

In our most recent post on this topic, we showed you that the biggest hindrance to our enjoyment of God is our sin.  We must add an element to that.  If sin prevents us from enjoying God, then we can’t enjoy Him until we have been born again.

Our text describes the condition of the unsaved man as “being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart…” Unregenerate man is alienated from God. Such a person can strive to overcome sin all he wants.  He can feel a strong sense of remorse and a strong desire to change his ways because of his sin.  He may even be able to overcome some isolated sins. But he cannot overcome that alienation from God, no matter how much he might “turn over a new leaf” in his life, or how much he tries to reform himself.  So long as a person continues in a state of alienation from God, his sin will stand as a barrier between himself and God.  If he were to attack that barrier with a shovel and a wheelbarrow, he would find that the sins would pile higher even as he carted off loads of former sins. 

There are cases when a Christian will say, “I don’t enjoy God, I never have enjoyed God, I don’t even know what it would be like to enjoy God, and I don’t even know if I want to.”  There could be a variety of causes for this, but before we consider anything else, we ought to consider this, that you are still in your sins.  Paul describes the condition of every person apart from a supernatural work of grace…

And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) (Ephesians 2:1-5)

If you don’t enjoy God, we must consider the possibility that you are not saved.

Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. (2 Corinthians 13:5)

If you struggle to enjoy God, if your heart is as indifferent towards God as a rock is to a beautiful lake, then you should consider the possibility that you have not been “quickened.” 

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Consider three points related to this.

First, consider the fact – the unregenerate cannot enjoy God.

Let me apologize for using such a technical term as “unregenerate.”  I have used it several times already in this post.  “Regenerate” means to renew or restore or revive.  Jesus told Nicodemus, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  I use the term “regenerate” to refer to those who have been born again, and naturally, “unregenerate” refers to those who haven’t. 

While I want to avoid repeating too much of what I have already said, I should remind you that when God created mankind, He intended for man to enjoy a personal relationship with God.  According to the Genesis account, Adam and Eve enjoyed walking with God until sin disrupted that relationship.  

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (Romans 5:12)

Adam’s sin plunged the entire human race into sin and thus into a state of alienation from God.  This is not simply a product of Adam’s sin, but of our own. 

For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not. (Ecclesiastes 7:20)

Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. (Psalm 51:5)

The Bible makes a clear distinction between the “natural man” – one who is “dead in trespasses and sins” and the spiritual man, one who is “quickened,” “born again,” “raised to walk in newness of life.”

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (I Corinthians 2:14)

That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24)

Once sin entered our world, it became impossible for us to enjoy God without divine intervention.  The Bible tells us this repeatedly, so I won’t belabor the point. We can simply skim through a handful of passages that say it, and we can point to the experience of those who have not been born again to add some personal testimony.

Ephesians 4:18 refers to the lost as being “alienated from the life of God.” Verse 19 describes these same people as being “past feeling.” Ezekiel describes the heart of the unbeliever as being a heart of stone – which is to say that it is unmoved and unmovable when it comes to the beauty, the glory, and the pleasures of the Lord. If you were to build a beautiful home for a rock, fill that home with beautiful furniture and art, provide for beautiful music to play all day, and keep the temperature perfect, that rock would never feel anything like gratitude or pleasure at all those things. If you took the same rock and threw it into the bottom of a lake or dropped it into a deep rocky canyon or left it in Death Valley, it would feel no difference. So it is with the unbeliever.  He is “past feeling.”

When we speak of regeneration, of being born again, of the need for divine intervention in order for a sinful man to enjoy God, we are echoing the Bible’s insistence that the whole person must be redeemed and restored from his fallen state, or else he cannot be reconciled to God and enjoy Him.

And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled (Colossians 1:21)

Second, we will consider the possibility – if you do not enjoy God, you may be unsaved.

You may still be dead in trespasses and sins, in need of the spiritual quickening that comes through the grace of the Holy Spirit.  If you do not enjoy God, you should consider the fact that you might not be saved.

When a healthy baby is born, the baby wants to eat.  Even so, when a sinner is born again, though he may resemble a newborn babe, he will hunger for the things of God.  The newborn babe’s desire may be very weak, and the baby might be very incapable of fulfilling that desire.  But the desire is there.  And where the grace of God has been at work, we should expect to see some evidence in the form of hunger or thirst or desire.

This is normally the case, but not always. When my oldest son was born, we couldn’t get him interested in eating for several days.  We were very concerned about this, knowing how frail his little life was.  Even so, it is possible that one who has been born again lacks the desire for God that would be a sign of new life in Christ. 

In his wonderful book, The Pursuit of God, A. W. Tozer identified what he called “the self-life” as the problem in such a case.  He pointed out the way a person’s “self-life” – the “hyphenated sins of the human spirit” blocks up the way to Christ so that we cannot delight ourselves in Him.  He listed these hyphenated sins as self-righteousness, self-pity, self-confidence, self-sufficiency, self-admiration, self-love, and a host of others like them.  Tozer argued that the self can form a veil that will not let you get at Christ to enjoy Him.  And this could be true despite the fact that you have been redeemed.

Self can live unrebuked at the very altar.  It can watch the bleeding Victim die and not be in the least affected by what it sees.  It can fight for the faith of the Reformers and preach eloquently the creed of salvation by grace, and gain strength by its efforts.  To tell all the truth, it seems actually to feed upon orthodoxy and is more at home in a Bible Conference than in a tavern. (Tozer, The Pursuit of God, p. 49)

In a tract, J. C. Ryle offered some clear evidences that you have not been born again. Here they are in a nutshell:

First, if you habitually commit sin, then you have not been born again.

Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. (I John 3:9)

We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not. (I John 5:18)

Believers hate sin.  That doesn’t mean they don’t sin.  Just that when they do, they hate it.  They are constantly bothered by their sin and cannot enjoy it, or enjoy it for very long.

Second, if you deny that salvation is found in Jesus Christ alone.

Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. (I John 5:1)

When a sinner is born again, he becomes fully persuaded that apart from sacrificially shed blood of Jesus Christ, he could have no hope.  He knows that Jesus is the only one who can pardon him, that there is no other Savior besides Jesus.  He might have doubts about whether Jesus has actually redeemed himself.  But he knows for certain that Jesus is the only Savior.

Third, if you can enjoy living an unholy life, then you are not born again.

If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him. (I John 2:29)

Those who have been born again have been made holy. They might have many traces of unholiness in their lives – like a meth house would have the traces of meth in the materials of the house. But they cannot enjoy living an unholy life.  They want to do the things that please God and to avoid the things that God hates. 

Paul spoke of this as an ongoing struggle…

For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. (Romans 7:18-19)

An indisputable mark of Christian faith is this – that the believer struggles against sin.  He has been delivered from its power; he wants to be delivered from its presence. 

Fourth, if you feel little love for your brothers in Christ, then you have not been born again.

We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. (I John 3:14)

Fifth, if you love the world, you are not born again.

For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. (I John 5:4)

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (I John 2:15)

Sixth, if you are not careful about your own soul, then you are not born again.

We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not. (I John 5:18)

The born again believer keeps his heart with all diligence.  He is sober and vigilant, knowing that his adversary the devil walks about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

Considering these things, maybe you have concluded that you are not born again…

Third, we should consider the cure – “Ye must be born again.”

If you believe that you have not been born again, God offers a simple solution – believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.  Turn from your sins, from your idolatries, from your own self, your own life. Turn from whatever you have rested in before or trusted in before – be that your status in your church or a profession of faith made in the past – and look to Jesus.  Ask Him to forgive your sins, to redeem your soul, to be your Savior. Then, believe His promise. 

You cannot cause yourself to be born again, just as you can’t make a seed grow in your garden.  But God commands faith, and assures those who believe that they are born again.  You cannot quicken yourself, but you can rest in the promises of the Bible.

Charles Spurgeon called out those who claimed that “if God wants green beans to grow in my garden then He will make green beans grow in my garden.” If you refuse to plant the seed in your garden, then you would be foolish to expect any green beans to grow there.  His point is this: you must do what it is your duty to do.  God commands you to believe, and so you must believe.  And when you trust the Lord, He will not withhold from you one thing that is necessary for your salvation.  He will not fail you.  Trust Him.

In conclusion, I want to offer a final word of warning to the indifferent:

To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste. (Deuteronomy 32:35)

I would also like to offer a final word of encouragement to the hungry and thirsty.  God has never turned away any who longed to walk with Him.  Seek the Lord while He may be found.  Call upon Him while He is near.  The longing heart will not be denied.

If you are one who does not enjoy God but wants to, then keep trusting Him to open the wells of your affections.  But let me add that you must be willing to pay the price.  Don’t forget the rich young ruler who was not willing to sell everything and follow Christ.  Do what you know to do, and when God shows you the next step, do that.  And don’t stop until God delights your heart.

One thought on “If You Don’t Enjoy God, You May Not Be Saved

  1. Pingback: To Enjoy God, We Must Know Him – The Village Smithy

Comments are closed.