How to tell you’ve lost the joy of salvation

“Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation” –Psalm 51:12.

Just because salvation is for eternity, anchored forever in the faithfulness of God, does not mean you cannot lose the closeness and fellowship with our wonderful Lord.  A married couple can lose their joy and intimacy for a season, although the marriage is still valid and intact.

God’s faithfulness does not wax hot and cold depending on what we do or how we felt when we woke up this morning.  He does not undo our salvation when we weaken and falter.  The blessings upon us are conditional to our faithfulness and may dry up, but the relationship never varies.  Forever, we are His and He is ours.

My children may be in or out of my favor at given times, but they are still mine.

Just because the Lord brings us into His forever family (through faith in Christ, by His precious blood, as a result of His grace) and promises to “never leave thee nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5) does not mean we cannot lose the joy of that relationship.

We can. And many have.

Try not to lose yours.

Jesus promises us His joy (John 15:11 and 17:13) and fullness of joy (15:11 and 16:24).  He promises that no one can steal our joy from us (John 16:22).

Jesus sees joy as one of the essential elements of the Christian’s walk.  C. S. Lewis said joy is the business of Heaven.  Psalm 16:11 assures us joy is the very atmosphere of Heaven.

King David sure lost his joy.

He did it by taking his eyes off the Lord and diving headlong into sin.

That deadly plunge cost him more than he would ever know.

David sinned and he sinned grievously.  Giving in to his lustful heart, he denied himself no pleasure and took Uriah’s wife as his bedmate.  Then, when she became pregnant–her husband was off doing military service for the adulterous king!–David arranged to have him killed in battle in order to protect his own reputation.  Shameful doesn’t begin to describe what David did!

Scholars say Psalm 51 is David’s prayer of repentance.  Perhaps composed sometime later while reflecting on his fall from the closeness he had once enjoyed with the Father, this song (for that’s what it is) expresses so well that separation and the conditions necessary for restoration.

Sin separates us from God.  “Your sins have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He does not hear” (Isaiah 59:2).

So David prayed, “Restore me the joy of Thy salvation.” He said, “Do not cast me away from Thy presence, and take not thy Holy Spirit from me.”  (Psalm 51:12,11)

Have you lost the joy of your salvation?

Do you look back to a time when the Lord seemed nearer, when worship seemed more wonderful, the Scriptures more joyful?  Do you long for the time when joy was a constant and peace defined your life?

Do you remember being clean and feeling such joy in the Lord’s nearness? Do you long for that once more?

Here are seven ways to tell if you have lost the joy of the Lord’s salvation…

One.  Look at your face.  The Psalmist called God “the helper of my countenance” (Psalm 42:11).  You know He is that, don’t you?  When the Lord enters the heart of a yielding, surrendered soul, He fills that life with joy and peace and love.  And when He does, it registers on the face.  You’ve seen it happen and I have too.

But look at the face of one who has rebelled against His Lord and lived in sin for years.  The pain is etched in every line, the loneliness stares at you through the sad eyes.

A pastor told of a woman of the streets coming to him for counsel.  She looked rough and used up by life, much older than her actual years.  Opening her purse she took out a photo of a little girl, maybe 4 or 5 years old. So cute and  precious.  “That was me,” she said.  Bursting into tears she said, “Oh pastor, when I think what I have done to that little girl, I could just die.”

What does your face say about your joy in Christ?

Two.  Listen to your words. Our Lord said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 15:15-20).  When the joy of the Lord flees, the residue left in its place is guilt and restlessness, and that shows up in everything we do.  ((For a helpful Bible study on this, look at King Saul in I Samuel, beginning in chapter 13.  The more Saul forsook the Lord and took matters into his own hands, the more miserable he became.  He lost his power (I Samuel 18:12), lost his peace (I Samuel 18:10ff and 19:9), and lost his prayer (see I Samuel 28:6). ))

That’s the reason you cannot tell me the man speaking a constant stream of profanity is a follower of Jesus.  His words belie that claim.  (God alone knows.  I’m simply saying there is nothing in his life that tells the world he is saved.  I’m not judging him but neither am I believing if he testifies of salvation.)

What does your speech say of your relationship with the Lord Jesus?

Three. Examine your prayers.  The prayers of the backslidden Christian tend to be clichés, vain repetitions, just pious words that evade the real issues of life.

You’re going through the motions and you know it.  Just filling the air with religious words, hoping to impress someone–yourself, your church, your neighbor.  Everyone except the One to whom you should be praying.

Look at the prayer of the self-righteous Pharisee in Luke 18.  He wasn’t talking to the Lord, but making a little speech bragging on himself.

What do your prayers say about your love for the Lord Jesus?

Four.  Check your giving.  God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7).  When joy fills our lives we are generous and loving.  When the joy is absent, we pull the same stunt as the worshipers of Malachi’s day.  Read the early chapters of his short book at the end of the Old Testament.  People were bringing diseased, unworthy animals to the Lord, and they grew angry when the prophet challenged them, saying God was insulted by their shoddy gifts.

People do this in church.

People who have lost their joy hate to give.  People who have lost their joy in Christ resent the pastor preaching on giving.  People who have lost their joy in Christ write those anonymous notes preachers receive, urging them to quit harping on money or “You’ll be looking for another church.”  Or they’ll be pulling out and taking their huge gifts.  Which is a joke, of course.  If they were giving faithfully, they’d love the sermons on tithing.  That is an ironclad rule, friend, which you may engrave in stone.

Pastors should never cave in to the threats of the carnal and backslidden.  Never.

What does your giving indicate about your joy in Christ?

Five.  Notice your witnessing.  I’m all too aware that most backsliders never share their faith (or a reasonable facsimile of same).  But some who are in the habit of talking to people about their faith, their religion, and salvation, may keep right on doing so even after they’ve fallen into sin.  For one thing, it’s a good camouflage.  They think this will prove they’re still faithful.  But listen to what they say and you’ll find it rules-centered, legalistic, and superficial.  When we lose our joy in Christ, the message we share is no longer attractive to anyone.

What does your witnessing to others say of your relationship to Jesus?

Six.  Think about your singing.  I’m not saying the non-singers are out of fellowship with the Lord, but almost.  The backslidden may still be able to harmonize but not with the joy of the Lord which makes it acceptable to Him and precious to those around us.

What does your singing say about your joy in Christ?

Seven.  Ask those who know you best.  Ask your spouse and/or your children.  They will know in a heartbeat but may not tell you what they’ve noticed unless you ask.

Think of King David.  The foolish man thought his dalliance–and the resulting manslaughter!–were his private little secrets.  But the one group of people who knew beyond a doubt of his unfaithfulness were those who lived in the same house as he.  They saw what he did.   The family knew.  The servants knew. David’s best friends knew.  He alone deluded himself by thinking what he did in private was no one’s business but his own.

Through the prophet Nathan, the Lord informed David that by his rebellion and sinful indulgence, he had despised the Lord, despised His Word, and delighted the enemies (2 Samuel 12 verses 9, 10, and 14).  God would forgive him but nothing would ever be the same.

I have no doubt that for the rest of his life David looked back on those as the darkest days of his life.  He remembered those days with great shame and pain and deep regret.

But there is mercy with the Lord. And forgiveness to all who humble themselves and come home. That’s the story of the Prodigal in Luke 15.

If you are far away from the Lord, read Luke 15 and be encouraged.  Then, read Psalm 51 and give yourself to Him anew.


21 thoughts on “How to tell you’ve lost the joy of salvation

  1. I am a same sex attracted christian. I am 61. I have tried to change for the past 35 years. No change has ever come. I don’t act on it because it is sin. I have no joy. None. I’m so sick of being in this fallen body. So sick of desiring sin. Sick of my fallen mind. Sick of my fallen thoughts. I still trust only in the finished work of what Jesus did on the Cross for my salvation. Sadly…if that is not enough…I am doomed. Finished. I simply have no hope. I’m just gonna cling to the cross all the way to hell….I guess….

    • I don’t know of anyone who says the attraction is sinful. It’s acting on it that we believe is contrary to the Lord’s word. If you were attracted to the opposite sex and single, we would expect you not to have sex apart from marriage. So, your remaining celibate is not different–as far as I can tell from this distance–from the other. Be faithful and trust the Lord, friend.

      • I would say the attraction is sinful as it says in the Bible 1 John 2:16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.
        I believe that this man is oppressed by a demonic hold but still has a lovely heart for Christ.

        Ephesians 6:12
        For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places

        Deliverance is amazing, it worked for me and my life is fully changed because I had spirits of depression break from me and I can’t tell you how much my life has changed. I have a hunger for God, I’ve felt the Holy Spirit nearly take me off my feet, and I’m experiencing the fullness of joy like the scripture says!

    • A couple of things, first you can’t change you, only Christ can change you from the inside out, second you said you haven’t acted on these impulses but from your post it sounds like you certainly have in your mind and that’s just as much sin as if you were actually practicing it… Are you a new Christian? It sounds to me you don’t understand Gods word about sin and how it’s to be put out of your life… You don’t have to live like this, This is not who you are, these feelings and thoughts must go and they can through Christ, you must find an older, mature person in Christ that you can trust and help you with this, don’t let Satan isolate you with this… And don’t listen to people who tell you that your OK as long as you don’t act on it ( though it’s good you haven’t) it’s not OK to be overtaken in your mind with this, we can’t let sin dwell, we will end up obeying it, Satan will torment and tempt you and will not let up, please find another believer ( older, mature, perhaps a pastor) to help you and to stand with you in this, PRAYERS…

    • Desiring sin is temptation because we have a sinful nature praise God you have not Acked on it i know how you feel I’ve been there sometimes we beat are self with condemnation that will take your joy alway recive God forgiveness an very important learn to forgive yourself God sill loves you there is power in the blood of Jesus that wipe alway all sin get up don’t look back for God mercies are new every morning don’t give up

    • Hang in there friend, We all have temptations and wicked thoughts from time to time. I went through the same as you, But God see’s us through, Faith of a mustard seed can move mountains”

    • Hi, I read your comment and I was just wondering if you had ever had deliverence to break that? It says in scripture than we are given a sound mind and also that we have the fullness of joy in Christ. I know that I lived with depression for 5 years, I had deliverence and spirits that were oppressing me left that day, the pastor seen them leave through big yawns and since that day I have been feeling amazing. Everyone can see a difference in me. I can understand why it is called the fullness of joy as happiness doesn’t cut it.
      God has given you the ability to see the wrongness in homosexuality which is a gift in itself, he obviously wants you to inherit the kingdom of God so I say you need deliverance. It’s amazing what can break off when you are delivered.
      Ephesians 6:12
      For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

      What you are experiencing is not your flesh, it is spiritual and therefore needs broken through deliverance prayer. Believe and you will receive. We have been given authority over all this. I’ll be praying for you!

    • It also says in the Bible that we are given a new song in our heart and born again. Something is holding you back from that, I know it. The Lord has filled my heart with new desires completely. So much so, I can’t watch anything on TV apart from home interior shows haha. And I can only listen to Gospel music as I can see the filth in everything.

    • I’ve felt that way before. I only got victory over it when I confessed to God that I had a pride problem. God showed me I had a stronghold of pride on my life. I have a history of depression. It took years for me to get healed of my depression. I thought I would never feel better. The enemy kept influencing me because I was like a city with its walls torn down. He kept coming in. I had a bad habit of emotional suppression my whole life. Which I came to find out is ungodly and unhealthy. Prayers.

  2. It started as if I was filled with anxiety and lost my peace. I started having sleepless nights and torments like fire in my body.i have prayed prayer s of delivance, repentance, restoration but I can’t feel love and joy in me.i cannot sleep.its months now. I am not free…I am low having problems to pray and read the word.. people are avoiding me and when they look at me as if the r is something strange about me. I feel so empty inside out.. strange things happen to me. I want God to fill the vacuum in me.

    • Iris, get out of your house and find the nearest homeless shelter or ministry to troubled women, and volunteer. After a few days of this, you’ll be amazed at the change in you. God bless you.

    • Iris, are you better yet? I have the same. I believed on Christ 10 years ago, fell back into my old Sins after walking with the Lord for 3 years. My heart was slowly hardened and I didn’t even realize that I was so far from the Lord. I was just trusting in his grace but using it cheaply. I did stop those sins after 2 years and thought I was walking with the Lord but didn’t realize my mind was full of lustful thoughts and hatred. I because a very angry person, all the while witnessing Christ to others. And I was still judgemental of other Christians doing the same sins I did! Sick.

      Ended up getting sick after those sins for the last 4 years with itching from foods. 4 weeks ago I woke up to my senses and realized how far from the Lord I was. At the same moment I started getting fire and burning all over my body also, couldn’t sleep for the last 7 months and still cant.

      The worst is that I feel like God gave me over and the spirit left me. My health is detreating at a crazy rate and I have burning needles all over and cant even focus, I have no energy left to go on it horrible.

      The Bible is like reading fire to me. It accuses me at every page now. Its crazy and hard to deal with. Like I cant come back to God now and just have fearful Judgement.

      I keep repenting but cant seem to get God to give me peace now. I finally know the right way to go with my spiritual life yet cant get repentence.

    • I feel exactly the same way I was saved years ago. I was caught up in sin that was all encompassing. I never told or confessed my sins to anyone but God. I believed he saved me. Recently I was convicted to confess those sins to my family. They have forgiven me and some of the guilt has lifted. Now I feel totally separate from Jesus. I get terrible anxiety that is spiritually focused- “your not saved”. I feel no joy in the Lord. My instinct is to “work for it”. That doesn’t help either constant reading and praying makes me feel more distant. If I was forgiven why are these sins resurfacing ? Was I forgiven? I ask myself and God that constantly. I get advice that makes me feel worse. I never doubted salvation until now. It is horrible and steals joy from every thing. Emotions and empathy are non-existence no matter what I try. I was always compassionate giving and caring, that seems like a hassle now. I still do it but it is fake feeling. I have prob read too much and ask too many questions. It was like all that sin and addiction was in my face again. Doubts of Christ, what happened to me? Could I be this big of a fraud and not know it?

      • 2 Timothy 1:7 – For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
        Whatever way any of you are feeling, wether it be anxiety, depression, doubt, lustful thoughts, any of that. You need to bind it, because whatever is bound of earth is bound in Heaven.
        Bind it and cast it down to the pit of hell. Believe and you shall receive. In God’s presence is the FULLNESS OF JOY! anything other than that is not of God. Im telling you this because I have experienced it. Depression for 5 years, had deliverence ministry. My pastor is a wonderful man of God who is filled to overflow with the Holy Spirit. If your pastor is not, find one who is. Let them lay hands on you and cast this all out. I had spirits leave me in big deep yawns and my life has changed since. I felt something break off me and I haven’t been the same since. Literally my house could burn down and I’d still be praising God. He is so so good.
        When you become a Christian, you have a spiritual target on your back, many things may be sent your way but we are given authority over them all. Hallelujah!!
        If you are watching porn, taking the Lord’s name in vain, having hatred or unforgiveness, these leave doors open for spirits to come in and oppress you. They can steal your joy and make you distant from God. Close every door. Check your house for things that have symbolism that you should be careful of, careful of what comes from your mouth. Even gossip is described as an abomination. Close those doors, rejoice in the Lord and cast those things to the lake of fire. You are given authority to do this. I pray peace for every last one of you. Remember, Jesus leaves the 99 to go for the 1 wandering sheep. Read that parable. He will never leave or forsake you. I hope this helps.
        Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
        Luke 10:19
        Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.
        James 4:7
        Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

        Be a waste of time for the Devil!!

  3. To the above, Christ has not left any of you. No good works will get you a place in heaven nor has the Lord gone anywhere. We all fall short of Gods glorious standard. The good news is your sins have been paid for with a price. That means all your sins are forgiven, past, present and future. Paul says he is the chief of all sinners. But we are now saints when we accepted jesus into our lives. Dont let the enemy steal your joy! Satan is a master of deceptions and will keep you in a state of guilt and shame. Take your thoughts captive and give then to God. You will be made perfect one day but first you must finish the race. I see repentance in all comments and this means the holy spirit is atvwork in you all. Thanks be to God for this! Remember your salvation can not ne taken away. Read Luke 15 and Psalm 51. God bless x

  4. Hello Pastor Joe
    Grace and Peace my brother
    Thank you for this wonderful text.
    I ask your permission to use this beautiful teaching in our church.

    God Bless

    Pastor Elias
    Shalom Baptist Church, Sant Paul -Brazil

  5. In have also kind of Fallen from grace too over 6years now. The joy left me suddenly. I tried explaining to everyone that I have lost something but no one understood what I was talking about not until I joined a fellowship in school and everyone is expressing the joy of God. Ooh, I feel so left out. I am already tired and even already questioning the existence and power of God. Am so confused and sad. This is the worst punishment a man can ever receive from God. Am just a kid.

  6. Hello, I am a 75 year old lady and I have been a believer in Jesus since March 26,1977,over 45 years. My walk with Him practically from the beginning has been so awesome. I had gross sin in my life when I became a believer in Jesus and it took a while for it all to be dealt with. I remember that during that time, I would be so miserable because the sin and bad habits were not going away no matter how much I prayed and these things were serious to me, especially one of those sins. I was really trying to live as a good Christian but every once in a while I fell and one day I remember standing in my living room crying out to the Lord telling Him that I couldn’t change and I wanted so badly to live for Him. That was the first time I had ever heard His voice and he said to me from deep inside of me, “You can’t but I can!” That day I realized for the first time that I couldn’t change myself without the power of the Holy Spirit and over the next few years, my life slowly changed and those things that I believed were the only “SINS ” in my life and that if I was rid of them I would be perfect. Haha, I found out differently over time about all of the other sin and rebellion and bad attitudes that were all part of my nature. I said all of that to say this. I don’t know where I drifted but I did and here I am, 35 some odd years later,,my husband died, I lost one of my children and I remarried to a man who said was a believer but because of circumstances which I began to see, I found out that I don’t think he was. I think that it was somewhere around that time, a few years into that relationship that I noticed that I had been making my own decisions, not seeking Him anymore. I had sought him and prayed practically unceasingly about marrying him and I waited for what I knew was His either giving me a green light, or getting feelings, if I can use the word “feelings ” that definitely were letting me know that His answer to my prayer was a definite No! I got nothing but what seemed like a yes so we married and we are still together today, although he had divorced me after 4 years and we remarried in 2011 ( long, long story) So, as I try to figure out what I have done to put me in the place I am now, I believe that I must have just stopped believing that He was guiding me but in total honesty, I was the one making the mistakes because He is God and cannot make mistakes. Well, I remember that up until I stopped hearing and sensing His Presence in my life, I was going out with my Pastor and members of my church, sharing the gospel with folks in parks and other venues and I saw the Lord convict people of their lost conditions and turn their lives over to Him. After a while, I would hear Him tell me, as I was home just going about my life, go here or there and speak to this guy or that one. Again, I tell you all of this because a short time later, I heard Him for the last time and he said, “Redeem the time for the days are evil ” I had been praying shortly before hearing Him say that and I was asking Him to please forgive me because I knew that I had been wasting time playing stupid games on Facebook and also I felt that I was not praying like I used to, especially for my kids who were young adults but seemed to be walking away from their faith in God. He spoke those words minutes after I finished praying. I have not heard from Him since that day, I think that it was 2011 or 2012. I didn’t see it right away, but I started to realize that not only that I wasn’t hearing His voice, which I always had if I was seeking him or even if He just needed to share with me, like He had been doing. Okay, before this message becomes more of a novel, I have to get to today. It is June, 2022, I have been crying out to Him for years and especially in the past few. I saw that not only did I not hear from Him anymore but even reading His Word it felt like I was reading something that didn’t apply to me anymore. I didn’t feel His guidance and I really needed it and after a while as I prayed and prayed and sought answers, that I felt like the Psalmist David when he prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, OH God, and renew a right spirit within me, cast me not away from your Presence, OH God, take not thy Holy Spirit from me, restore unto me the Joy of thy salvation and renew a right spirit within me ” I realized that even though the Word of God says that He will never leave us nor forsake us, it seems that He does remove the Holy Spirit from us, and to me, forgive me, Lord, is the same thing or at least it feels the same. Losing the Joy of my salvation is the worst thing imaginable. I am trying to walk by faith because without faith it is impossible to please God, but walking in faith, unless I am wrong, takes the Holy Spirit to do. So, here I am, 75 years old with health and pain issues, a caretaker for my disabled husband, and missing and trying to hold on to the memories of the presence of the Lord in my life from years ago. I do thank Him for the visions and dreams and hearing His voice audibly once because without remembering these times, and also seeing the visions and dreams come to pass exactly as I received them, I would be tempted to believe that I was never saved in the first place, believe me that those thoughts do cross my mind from time to time and then I go back and remember. I’m sorry for making this such a long, drawn out message but I really need help to find out how to get back to the place where I knew that I knew that I was a child of the Most High God and I had His Joy and Peace and I didn’t fear that I would or could ever be in a place where I am now. Somewhere, I stepped off of the narrow path and I want to find it and get back to Him and know it. He is returning soon for His Bride, and I feel like one of the foolish virgins, a believer who has no oil in my lamp and not only that, I can’t seem to find out where to get it again. I am supposed to be watching and waiting for His soon return and I am so scared that I won’t be going with Him so instead I am praying, Lord, please, please don’t come back until I find You again. Thank you for reading this, if you have gotten this far and I pray that some of this message will help someone out there.

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