I have lost my joy in salvation after becoming Reformed. What am I missing?

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The Reformed love to talk about justification by faith alone—how we have a new status because of Christ’s righteousness imputed to us. Now, that is all forensic language; it’s about legal status. As a sinner, I do not have the right to stand before God. But I am clothed with Christ’s righteousness, so I have a legal right to stand before God because of God’s divine declaration. But that’s not the sum total of our salvation. That is right at the heart, but it is not the totality of what our salvation is.

In order to be clothed with the righteousness of Christ, the Spirit must regenerate you. He must give you a new heart and unite you to Jesus Christ. And that means two things. First, it involves being given a new heart, which means that you are given affections and desires you did not have before. You are made to know, glorify, and enjoy God. Regeneration enables you to enjoy God. Second, justification comes as part of being united to Christ, which means being given not merely the status of Christ before the Father as righteous, but also being given the relationship and communion that the Son enjoys with the Father—and that is what we are called to enjoy.

I would recommend two things for someone feeling like this. First, you need to have a richer understanding of what our salvation means. We are brought to be united to Christ, which means that we are given the Son’s communion with the Father—communion to enjoy Him. I would suggest reading some good books on our union with Christ. Second, the privilege of being united to Christ is that we’re given communion with God. So, read some great books on things like the holiness of God. Read some great books on who God is so that you might know Him better.

Reformed theology should teach you not simply that we can be justified by faith alone, but it also presents to you the highest, most glorious, most beautiful vision of God for us to enjoy, which is what we’re made for. And if you’re not enjoying God, you’ve not been taking advantage of the central privilege of Reformed theology. What do we believe? What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

This is a transcript of Michael Reeves’ answer given during our 2023 National Conference and has been lightly edited for readability. To ask Ligonier a biblical or theological question, email ask@ligonier.org or message us on Facebook or Twitter.