We try to obey these rules because we feel like we owe God something. At least this is how I felt early on in life. Growing up in a conservative household with lots of rules, I was conditioned to think more of duty than joy. I read my Bible out of duty instead of a place of joy. There were things I was tempted to do, but out of obedience to God, I would abstain. I felt like it was the least I could do to give back to God. The problem with this line of thinking is that I thought the temptations of this world were appealing and, on some level, something that would bring joy to my life.
My view on this changed years ago, and it made all the difference in the world. I realized that when God gave me instructions, He wasn’t telling me to do these things to test my love. God was telling me to do these things to help me find joy. Like a good father, God was giving me wisdom on how to have the best possible life. Wait for marriage, be of sober mind, be honest. These weren’t commands to follow. They were tips to avoid unnecessary pain.
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
— Psalm 119:105
A lamp is a gift to a traveler to help them navigate their path to avoid pain and hardship in dark times. If you are lacking joy in your life and you want a change, I would suggest that you start looking at the decisions you are making. If you are living outside of God’s wisdom, then you are destined for frustration. No matter how much the world tells you that the pleasures of the world will bring joy, remember that the author of life has told us what was good and what would bring life. Simply put, if you want joy, do what God tells you.