For Your Joy By: John Piper
I’ve been reading through and thinking about a short book/long tract written by John Piper. Here’s a few quotes I’ve been thinking about.
“His law demanded, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5). But we have all loved other things more. This is what sin is-dishonoring God by preferring other things over him, and acting on those preferences. Therefore, the Bible says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We glorify what we enjoy most. And it isn’t God.”
I thought John Piper’s definition of sin was both convicting and thought provoking. Sin is so much more than just breaking the rules. It’s breaking the purpose of what we were designed for- fellowship with God. We distort the very essence of who we are created to be when we follow after the lusts of the flesh instead of satisfying our whole being with God’s presence. To not love God with every fiber of my being is sin. Everything in me according to the scripture must cry out for the presence of God.
This reminds me of David’s words in Psalm 42: 1-2 “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirtieth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?” It makes me realize more fully why David was called a man after God’s own heart and why God reckoned David’s faith as righteousness. David truly with every thing in him wanted to see and know God.
John Piper goes on to say, “Therefore sin is not small, because it is not against a small Sovereign. The seriousness of an insult rises with the dignity of the one insulted. The Creator of the universe is infinitely worthy of respect and admiration and loyalty. Therefore, failure to love him is not trivial- it is treason. It defames God and destroys human happiness.” pg.12 For Your Joy By John Piper
Wow. That second line, “The seriousness of an insult rises with the dignity of the one insulted.” I’ve tried to explain this concept before using words like, “God’s holiness and justice is so perfect, it is far above our human comprehension.” That’s true but I really like the mental picture created by John Piper’s words. I can imagine myself standing trembling before an earthly king that I had insulted how much more should I tremble at the thought of having offended The KING of kings?
These next several paragraphs are so good because it hits an issue that is often overlooked in gospel presentations. I don’t like gospel tracts that scare people with hell to get them to say a prayer for the sake of trying to secure eternal security. It’s not the whole picture. We very well should fear hell but fearing hell in and of itself won’t save a person.
“But what is the ultimate good in the good news? It all ends in one thing: God himself. All the words of the gospel lead to him, or they are not gospel. For example, “salvation” is not good news if it only saves from hell and not for God. “Forgiveness” is not good news if it only gives relief from guilt and doesn’t open the way to God.” “Justification” is not good news if it only makes us legally acceptable to God, but doesn’t bring fellowship with God. “Redemption” is not good news if it only liberates us from bondage, but doesn’t bring us to God. “Adoption” is not good news if it only puts us in the Father’s family but not in his arms.
This is crucial. Many people seem to embrace the good news without embracing God. There is no sure evidence that we have a new heart just because we want to escape hell. That’s a perfectly natural desire, not a supernatural one. it doesn’t take a new heart to want the psychological relief of forgiveness, or the removal of God’s wrath, or the inheritance of God’s world. All these things are understandable without any spiritual change. You don’t need to be born again to want these things. The devils want them.
It is not wrong to want them. Indeed it is folly not to. But the evidence that we have been changed is that we want these things because they bring us to the enjoyment of God. This is the greatest thing Christ died for. “Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.” (1 Peter 3:18)
Why is this the essence of the good news? Because we were made to experience full and lasting happiness from seeing and savoring the glory of God. If our best joy comes from something less, we are idolaters and God is dishonored. He created us in such a way that HIs glory is displayed through our joy in it. The gospel of Christ is the good news that at the cost of HIs Son’s life, God has done everything necessary to enthrall us with what will make us eternally and ever-increasingly happy, namely, himself.
Long before Christ came, God revealed himself as the source of full and lasting pleasure. “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forever more” (Psalm 16:11) Then he sent Christ to suffer “that he might bring us to God.” This means he sent Christ to bring us to the deepest, longest joy a human can have. Hear then the invitation: Turn from “the fleeting pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:25) and come to “pleasures forevermore.” Come to Christ.