John MacArthur argues that it is not found in this earth, or the things of this earth.
Pleasure isn’t the path to happiness. Possessions aren’t the path to happiness. It’s ridiculous to spend your whole life trying to make yourself happy on things that are all going to end up on the junk heap. Happiness is never found in the cursed earth and it’s never really ultimately and finally found in the evil system. Why? Because physical things do not touch the soul. You cannot fill a spiritual need with a physical substance.
That’s a quote from his sermon “The Only Way to Happiness.” In it, John takes a bird’s eye view of the Beatitudes, and helps listeners understand what it means to be “blessed” in the sense Christ used the term in His Sermon on the Mount.
We’re talking here about contentment. We’re talking here about satisfaction. We’re talking here about what we tend to call happiness, inward happiness, a condition of bliss which is neither the result of external circumstances nor is it the result of some outside influence subject to change. Most people in the world experience a little bit of happiness when they have internal emotions that are positive, or when they have external circumstances that for the moment are positive. But both of those things are whimsical. The basic New Testament meaning that we’re looking at is a continual constant state of happiness, a state of bliss, a state of blessedness, a state of well-being in which a person finds satisfaction and fulfillment.
In that sense, John argues that “Jesus is committed to providing true happiness.” That’s not always the way believers see their lives or their callings—prioritizing our happiness instinctively seems somewhat man centered. And it would be if we were merely defining happiness in the flawed way the world does.
But as John MacArthur explains, the happiness we know in Christ is not the transitory emotion the world craves.
Jesus is saying happy people are people who have the right attitudes. . . . It’s attitudinal. It’s not what you possess; it’s poverty of spirit, mourning, gentleness, hunger and thirst for righteousness, mercy, purity, peace. It’s attitudes that produce happiness. It’s attitudes that are Godlike attitudes that literally come to us by virtue of us sharing His divine nature. Jesus was saying happiness starts from the inside and works its way out. And even where there is suffering and sorrow, happiness is not canceled out—it is, in fact, generally aided and increased.
That kind of happiness is not fleeting. It is grounded in the unchanging character of Christ. And it’s available to all who know and love Him.
Click here to listen to “The Only Way to Happiness.”