Think about this: We know from scripture that the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10b). If someone or something takes your strength away, what happens? Well, not much.

This past year I’ve gone through a medical procedure that took my strength. I had to pretty much do nothing for a few days because my strength was gone. No doubt you have experienced that as well, the reality that without strength, you pretty much can’t do anything, right?

What do you think the enemy wants to steal from you? He knows that when your spiritual strength is missing, you lose your ability to get things done for Jesus. You lose your joyful countenance, your joyful attitude—those things that testify to others about your faith. Therefore, if he can, he is going to steal your joy, because that is the source of your spiritual strength. And how does he do that?

Well, he has many ways of shooting that arrow that steals your joy. Honestly, it is one of his most effective weapons and one of his most subtle ones, because we often just don’t see that he is behind our loss of joy. We don’t recognize that flaming arrow he shoots at us.

And when you are living in regret, under a cloud of guilt from sins that have been confessed and forgiven, your joy is greatly diminished—stolen. And that debilitates you; it cripples you, it puts you on the sidelines; saps your spiritual strength and pretty soon you just want to quit. You feel unworthy and unlovable; and you’ve lost the joy of your salvation. And the enemy is watching all this and patting himself on the back because that flaming arrow he shot got you, stole your joy, and kept you from enjoying God’s forgiveness.

If that describes where you are lately, I’m hoping your take-away will be that you will, with God’s help, begin to enjoy your forgiveness. You will start to understand the enemy’s tactics to keep you in regret, and realize that it dishonors the one who has purchased your forgiveness, Jesus Christ. He has given you the gift of forgiveness, just as he said he would, but you are not living in the joy and the peace and the strength that is your birthright as a child of God.