The online Bible teaching ministry of John Brand

Pursue Holiness, Not Happiness

I suspect that the word most uttered by human beings on planet earth over the last few days, in one language or another, is the word happy, as in ‘Happy New Year!’

As I read in a blog post a couple of days ago, “Ask people what they want out of life, and they’ll answer, “to be happy.” That same blog, by Randy Alcorn, included these quotes that testify to the universal pursuit of happiness

The Greek philosopher Aristotle (384–322 BC) wrote, “Happiness, then, is something final and self-sufficient, and is the end of action.”

Centuries later, French philosopher Denis Diderot (1713–1784) said essentially the same thing: “There is only one passion, the passion for happiness.”

Even Charles Darwin (1809–1882), best known as the father of evolutionary theory, wrote, “All sentient beings have been formed so as to enjoy, as a general rule, happiness.”

William James (1842–1910), the philosopher and psychologist, wrote, “How to gain, how to keep, how to recover happiness, is in fact for most men at all times the secret motive of all they do, and of all they are willing to endure.”

Holocaust victim Anne Frank (1929–1945) wrote as a teenager, “We all live with the objective of being happy; our lives are all different and yet the same.”

In an 1898 article arguing against religion, L. K. Washburn said, “There is a constant mental pilgrimage towards that Mecca of the human heart—happiness. . . . Everybody wants to be happy, and thinks, strives, wishes, and lives to that end.”

Well, the Bible tells us that true happiness is a result of true holiness

Psalm 119, that great psalm about the Scriptures, opens by stating that the blessed person – i.e. the truly happy person – are those whose lifestyles are blameless, who are, in God’s sight and estimation, holy.

They are the only people who can be truly described as truly happy. They’re the happy ones, and only they – the rest are kidding themselves.

The Devil tells us that it is possible to be happy and not to be holy. God says, ‘never’.

“superficial happiness without spiritual holiness is one of Hell’s major exports”

John Blanchard

“God has linked together holiness and happiness; and what God has joined together we must not think to put asunder.”

J C Ryle

You can’t have happiness without holiness, and holiness is always accompanied by true happiness.

Searching for true happiness in the context of godless life is like looking for a needle in a haystack that doesn’t have any.

The Devil encourages us to search for happiness, but God says search for holiness and happiness comes along as well.

The pursuit of happiness is self-defeating.  Only frustration awaits the one who goes down that path. And seeking happiness in any other source than God himself is ultimately guaranteed to lead to severe disappointment.

That’s why people fall to pieces when partner, friend, idol, whatever betrays them or dies etc. Because their happiness is bound up in something unreliable and a place that was never created to be the source of happiness

Here’s the great Spurgeon on this divinely ordained linkage:

“settle it in your hearts as a first postulate (proposition) and sure rule of practical service that holiness is happiness”.

Spurgeon goes on to say that, “the more complete our sanctification the more intense our blessedness”.

The call of God’s Word is – don’t pursue happiness, pursue holiness and then, and only then, you will find happiness.


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