Ecstasy & Delight

Ecstasy and delight are essential to the believer’s soul and they promote sanctification.

We were not meant to live without spiritual exhilaration, and the Christian who goes for a long time without the experience of heart-warming will soon find himself tempted to have his emotions satisfied from earthly things and not, as he ought, from the Spirit of God. The soul is so constituted that it craves fulfillment from things outside itself and will embrace earthly joys for satisfaction when it cannot reach spiritual ones…

The believer is in spiritual danger if he allows himself to go for any length of time without tasting the love of Christ and savoring the felt comforts of a Savior’s presence. When Christ ceases to fill the heart with satisfaction, our souls will go in silent search of other lovers…

By the enjoyment of the love of Christ in the heart of a believer, we mean an experience of the “love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given to us” (Romans 5.5)… because the Lord has made himself accessible to us in the means of grace, it is our duty and privilege to seek this experience from Him in these means till we are made the joyful partakers of it.

– John Flavel (1630-1691)

2 thoughts on “Ecstasy & Delight

  1. This may be true, but does not God lead us other times through “the valley of the shadow of death”? I worry about our culture’s obsession with stimulus and emotional highs. I fear that it may get in the way of facing the dryness that is sometimes integral to the Christian life.

    Or perhaps I just jumped into your blog at a high point…

  2. Matthew,

    I understand your concern, especially in light of the many who offer shallow thrill seeking as if it were a mark of genuine spirituality. I think that both ecstasy & dry periods (even as expressed by St John of the Cross in his classic Dark Night of the Soul) are commonly experienced in the genuine Christian life.

    In defense of Flavel’s point, however, I think what he says needs to be kept in mind. What he addresses applies to the empty nominalism, those who do nothing toward sanctification except perhaps attend church services. Such professing Christians experience no joy, no transformation. Many don’t even know they are supposed to.

    Flavel is encouraging a genuine experiencing of God through faithful and faith-filled availing ourselves of the means of Grace. As a Puritan he was keenly aware of trials and suffering and rejectgion that also are part of being a follower of Jesus.

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