Calvary Road Baptist Church


Philippians 4.4


Philippians 4.4: “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.”


What a wonderful verse. And what a delightful little chorus for children and adults both to sing. But do you realize that many Christians who strive to obey this command to rejoice in the Lord commit sin against God in their attempts? That’s right. Many Christians sin against God when they do not rejoice in the Lord, but they also commit great sin when they do attempt to rejoice in the Lord. The reason for this, of course, is that many Christians are not truly born again. Come on, now. You don’t think most people these days who claim to be born again really are saved, do you? Do you honestly think that these 70% of all Americans who claim to be saved, but who abort their unborn children, who divorce at a higher rate than the general population, and who adulterate and fornicate, are really new creatures in Christ, with old things passed away and all things become new?[1]

Oh, I know. You insist that no one can tell whether or not someone is saved with any kind of certainty. However, there are some very interesting people who would disagree with you. Charles Haddon Spurgeon, pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle in the last century would disagree with you. George Whitefield, that great evangelist used by God during the First Great Awakening, would disagree with you. John and Charles Wesley would both disagree with you. Jonathan Edwards, that great Puritan pastor, theologian, and evangelist in New England in the 18th century, would disagree with you. I could go on. More importantly, the Lord Jesus Christ would disagree with you. The Lord Jesus Christ said in Matthew 7.16,


“Ye shall know them by their fruits.”


Then in Matthew 7.20 He repeated Himself, saying,


“Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”


And if you object, saying that the Lord Jesus would know because He’s the Son of God, I would remind you that He said “ye shall know them.”

Therefore, let us move beyond this non-controversy that no one can know whether someone is saved or lost. Though we cannot know with absolute certainty, we can be fairly sure in many cases whether someone is truly saved or not. But my point is that, surely, most folks these days who are claiming and professing to be saved simply cannot be.

Consider what the Lord Jesus Christ said, in Matthew 7.13:


“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat.”


and in Matthew 7.22-23,


22    Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

23    And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.


All this on the same occasion when He uttered the words, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.”[2]

Thus, there is a statistical likelihood that any one of you who is a professing Christian is lost. Oh, the average Christian claims to be a believer. He may even know lots of scripture. But is there any fear of God in his soul? Is there any appreciation of God’s majesty in his bosom? Is he anything other than merely religious? Does he actually love God? Does he? Enough to humble himself? Enough to submit to others?

You know what I think? I think it’s likely that a professing believer is lost. I say this because most Christians are lost. God deals with a faithful remnant, a minuscule minority. It was so in Noah’s time. It was so in Abraham’s time. It was so in Elijah’s time. It was so in Isaiah’s time, Isaiah 1.9,


“Except the LORD of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah,”


and in Christianity’s early days, as Paul informs us in Romans 11.5,


“Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.”


It has always been that way. If it is true that God has always dealt with a remnant, that most who profess to be believers are actually not believers at all, then someone who pretends to be though actually is not a believer commits sin against God when he tries to rejoice in obedience to this command that is given exclusively to saved church members.




It’s like singing a gospel hymn when you are lost. Imagine a man who is God’s enemy, a wicked sinner, standing up in church and praising God. Singing words of praise to God with your mouth, while shaking your fist at God in defiance in your heart. Such a fellow actually has it backwards, just like the Roman Catholics who put works before faith, you are putting a supposed good deed, rejoicing, before repentance and faith in Christ. But it doesn’t work that way.

You see, a lost man’s righteousnesses are as filthy rags to God.[3] Nothing he can do is pleasing to God or commends himself in any way to God. What he needs to do is what he has been told. And what he has been told to do, what Paul informed the Athenians they were supposed to do, having never heard of Jesus Christ before, is repent.[4]

My friend, God wants sinners to turn away from their sins, to turn away from their present life of wickedness, to turn away from the allurements and enticements of this world, and to turn away now. And so long as a lost person tries to rejoice when he is lost, pretends things are okay when he is actually Hell-bound, he is lumped together with all the others who have not obeyed the gospel. Such a person is willfully ignoring a command God has directed to him; to repent and trust Christ, all the while striving to obey a command He has not directed to you. If that’s not the height of arrogant rebellion, I don’t know what is.




Of course, that makes one an impostor, a fraud, and a counterfeit. Imagine how that must grieve the Spirit of God, who we know from God’s Word is most sensitive to slights by the wicked? The Word of God specifically tells us that the Spirit of God indwells believers. Further, we are shown that those He indwells He influences, guides, sanctifies, gifts, and transforms. And part of this sanctifying and transforming work has to do with the generation of a spiritual personality, producing such things as love and peace and joy. Then, along comes the unbeliever and joins in a mockery of the Holy Spirit with others who pretend to be saved, with others who pretend to be indwelt, with others who pretend to have personalities wonderfully transformed by Him who is the Author of change in a Christian’s life, the Spirit of God. Only, the pretender does it without Him, ignoring Him, demeaning Him, and in effect ridiculing Him.

What the sinner is doing, of course, is lying. He is deceiving others. And he does this because his heart is deceitful above all things, Jeremiah 17.9. And what Jeremiah meant when He wrote “above all things,” is that more than anything else your heart is deceitful. It is the chief characteristic of your heart’s function to be deceitful, to mislead, to misrepresent, to lead astray. And this is precisely what is done when the unbeliever pretends to express joy by rejoicing. Like salting a mine with small gold nuggets so unsuspecting people will think real gold lies beneath, sinners salt their personalities with misrepresentations of joy for the purpose of convincing others that the Holy Spirit of God resides beneath the surface. Only He doesn’t. Those who feign happiness and rejoicing are misleading. They are misrepresenting. They are running a spiritual scam, a sham.

Does that not grieve the Spirit of God? Does that not offend Him? Would He not withdraw and shrink away from someone like that? And if He does withdraw and shrink away because of such sinning, what chance does that fellow have of ever being saved? Cast off the pretense. Abandon the sham. One should admit to the reality of spiritual barrenness while there is still opportunity for the soul’s salvation.




Romans 5.10 clearly shows anyone who is unsaved to be God’s enemy. Ephesians 2.2 describes the lost as children of disobedience. Ephesians 2.3 describes them as children of wrath. So, what does such a one hope to accomplish besides fooling a few of the people he knows by pretending to be God’s ally when he is actually God’s enemy?

There was a time, when Paul was in Philippi, when a damsel possessed with a spirit of divination followed Paul and his coworkers and cried out, “These men are the servants of the most high God, which show unto us the way of salvation.” Finally Paul, being grieved, turned and cast out the demon, in part, because he refused to allow the girl to posture herself as his friend while she was in actuality the opposite. Should we think God is any less particular?

There is absolutely no way God is pleased with or tolerant of a lost person in any way pretending to be on His side concerning anything, much less something as high and as holy as worshipping Him through rejoicing. My friend, all the lost do when they rejoice, when they pretend to have joy unspeakable and full of glory, is store up wrath for Judgment Day. You see, when someone pretends to rejoice and is not actually saved he is doing a number of things wrong. According to Proverbs 6.16-19, he exhibits a lying tongue, he exhibits a heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, and he is a false witness that speaketh lies. Such things the LORD hates. All of that while pretending to be what he is not, a friend of God.


We could go on, but I believe my point is made. When someone attempts to rejoice while lost he commits sin, wicked sin, evil sin, damnable sin, punishable sin. Frequently he thinks it to be but a light thing to pretend to be what he is not, but that’s only because he has a lying spirit about him. And lies are of the devil, who is a liar from the beginning and the father of lies.[5]

Rejoicing is the privilege of the saved, and only the saved, who are indwelt by the Spirit of God and who have joy. Don’t you do it. Don’t you try. The business you must be about is getting saved. Concern yourself with your soul. Give yourself over to seeking the LORD while He may be found.[6]

You see, there is a Savior. His name is Jesus, and He is the Christ. He is the Son of God. And He came and gave His life a ransom for your sins, including this one that I’ve been preaching on. Would you like to be forgiven your sins and to be cleansed from all unrighteousness? Jesus Christ can do that. Would you like to be reconciled to God, from whom you are now estranged by your sin? Jesus Christ can do that. Would you like the guilt you so richly deserve to be removed? Jesus Christ can do that. Would you like to be given reason for rejoicing? Jesus Christ can do that.

I conclude by observing that many who are not Christians feel a sense of frustration when it comes to doing right, only to find out that doing right for them is wrong. They feel like they are between the Devil and the deep blue sea. They are caught between a rock and a hard place. Please understand that is precisely the case. The unsaved are trapped between the righteous and holy demands of God and His plan to visit retributive judgment upon those who are not righteous and holy. There is no way out other than repentance and faith in Christ. You cannot turn to the right hand or to the left for deliverance, but only up with the look of faith to the enthroned Savior at God’s right hand.

You truly are on the horns of a dilemma. Remain as you are and you will perish. Try to deliver yourself and you will perish. Try to do good as means of pleasing God and you will perish. Your only recourse, the single and solitary option that is available to you is to admit defeat and throw yourself upon Christ to forgive all your sins.[7]

[1] 2 Corinthians 5.17

[2] Matthew 7.1

[3] Isaiah 64.6

[4] Acts 17.30

[5] John 8.44

[6] Isaiah 55.6

[7] The sinner faces the dilemma of sinning against God by rejoicing though he is lost, yet also sinning by refusing to sing songs of worship, praise and adoration to God. The single remedy for his dilemma is to turn to Christ in repentance and faith.

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