I haven’t read a lot of John Piper’s stuff, but I hear a lot of good things about him. A friend of mine, one who had a huge impact on my coming to a relationship with Christ, gave me one of Piper’s books once, and although I admit to never having read it all the way through, I have started reading it several times. I always get to one particular passage, and it causes me to stop where I am and give it some serious thought – in that passage, Piper states “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” As many times as I’ve read that statement, and as many times as it’s made some kind of impression on me, I will confess that I have not allowed it to make any kind of lasting impact on me. And now, after some time, and after a little more spiritual growth, I still remember that statement, yet I recognize that my level of satisfaction in God is low. This is the latest thing I have come to despise in myself:
I am not nearly satisfied enough in God alone.
I say “God alone” because I often do find satisfaction in Godly things, but I rarely seek every bit of my satisfaction from only Him. There are many things relating to God that I use to try and satisfy my desires – I go to church, sometimes for the right reasons, but often just to accomplish a weekly ritual in order to satisfy my desire to have done something spiritual. I go because “it’s the right thing to do,” and not because I want to glorify God. The same is true of me writing blog posts – I may have good intentions with many of my posts, but often I only write out of some kind of pride, attempting to show off some theological knowledge that I really don’t have. God forgive me for that.
My actions are what really show that I am not personally satisfied in God alone. I am coming to realize the danger in that – humans will always seek satisfaction in something, and when it’s not God, it will likely be something that will steal, kill, and destroy the good things in life. Take a sermon I listened to this afternoon by pastor Voddie Baucham – in a message from a series on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, Baucham relates the sin of adultery (and the introspective counterpart, lust), which Jesus speaks about in Matthew 5:27-30, to really nothing more than a lack of satisfaction in Christ. All sin is bad, but sexual sins have an extra layer of wrong-ness. Baucham says that when someone lusts after another person in their heart, they are not only committing adultery (against their spouse or future spouse), they are committing the sin of idolatry and the sin of covetousness. They are worshiping the created things and not the creator (Romans 1:25). When speaking about how to place yourself in a position to rise above the sin of adultery/lust and the legalism of modesty, Baucham lists these 4 things we must do:
- I must adorn myself in a manner that honors my bridegroom [Christ] and identifies me as belonging to Him, and give no indication or impression of seeking to please another
- I must not seek to steal the affection or attention of another, which is essentially to compete with Christ with His place in their life and offer them an inferior substitute that could never satisfy
- I must satisfy myself with the abundant provision offered me by my personal, intimate, exclusive relationship with Christ, and recognize that seeking satisfaction for my longings and desire from another 1) represents idolatry and 2) is destined not to satisfy me in the long run
- I must do all of this with full awareness of my frailty and failings knowing that I am utterly dependent on Christ to empower, instruct, and fully satisfy me
This really hit the nail on the head for me. It all comes down to how satisfied I am in Christ. Like most men, I’ve had problems with sexual sin in my life, much of which I haven’t dealt with thoroughly enough. And sexual sin isn’t the only sin that signals a lack of satisfaction in Jesus – gluttony, greed, drug and alcohol abuse and addiction, and selfish ambition are all similar in that respect (Galatians 5:19-21). There are a million things I could do to try and stop myself from entering into these kinds of sins – Baucham talks about the people who blame other people’s lack of modesty for their own sins of lust. But trying to do these things really only treats the symptoms of the sin. If I want to cure the actual infection, I need to fix the problem at its root. I need to work on my relationship with Christ. Because when my relationship with Jesus is good, I am satisfied in Him, and these other things will be worthless to me.