John Piper – For Men: Augustine, Sin and Sovereign Joy at Campus Outreach National Conference-Dec.31,2011

Source-   Campus Outreach website –

John Piper spoke to the men at the CO National Conference on December 31, 2011. He used the life of Augustine to relate to the men at conference. He referenced Augustine’s book Confessions.

For mp3 format go here.

„Read Romans 6. We are ensalved to sin or we are enslaved to God. There is no hovering in the middle. And the only way to move from here (sin) to here (God),  Augustine discovered biblically and experientially, is,, „I have to be set free. I can’t do it, I can’t do it'”. It doesn’t sound real „male”, so don’t try to be theologically machismo. Be theologically childlike. Unless you turn and become like a little child, you’ll never enter the kingdom of heaven. To be a child, you say, „God, I’m a slave. I’m a slave to cravings and desires and longings and yearnings. I can’t make myself love godliness. I can’t make myself love Jesus. I can’t make myself love chastity. I’m jet in love with all this stuff.”  That’s true, you can’t. That’s what Augustine discovered.

So let me read to you his amazing understanding of what happens.


During all those years of rebellion, where was my free will, where was the secret , hidden place from which it was summoned in a moment so that I might bend my neck to your easy yoke, o Lord? How sweet, all at once, it was for me to be rid of those fruitless joys which I had once feared to lose? You drove them from me. You, who are the true, the sovereign joy.

Can you imagine anything better than to be set free, not by sovereign wrath, or sovereign anger, or sovereign severity, but sovereign joy, meaning, well let’s keep reading:

You drove them from me …and took their place. You, who are sweeter than all pleasure. You, who outshine all light, yet are hidden deeper than any secret in our hearts. You, who surpass all honor, though not to the eyes of men who see all honor in themselves. Oh Lord, my God! My light! My Wealth! My Salvation!

The way grace works, according to Augustine, and he’s right about this. Biblically true, is that in grace God is giving us sovereign joy in himself, that triumphs over the pleasures of sin. Grace is God’s giving us freely, powerfully, a sovereign joy in Him that is superior to the pleasures of sin and thus, severs the root of their power. Any other way of trying to get free results in despair or legalism. Either you fail in despair or beat everybody else up with your self righteousness. But if you are set free by a blood bought, Christ exalting sovereign joy… you don’t boast in doing what you want to do, you boast if you do really hard things and people admire you and pity you ‘cause you sacrifice so much. So if you’re set free by God’s sovereign, supreme, superior joy you’re not only  free from, you’re now (not hovering here) but increasingly satisfied by what’s good and beautiful, and holy, and God exalting,  which means you can do what you want to do. That’s freedom. This is why I want the Second Coming yesterday. You know what’s gonna be best about the Second Coming? After seeing Jesus? Not sinning anymore. Not even battling sin. Not feeling the slightest inclination for any sin, anymore. Can you imagine a more magnificent freedom than to do what you wanna do for a billion years.

Augustine penetrated to the bottom of his own soul and to the bottom of the Bible when he realized every man „Every man, whatsoever his condition, desires to be happy. There’s no man who does not desire this, each one desires it with such earnestness that he prefers it to all other things. Whoever in fact desires other things, desires them for this end.” If that’s true, and it is, I believe, then the battle for godliness is the battle for joy. If you try to deny your quest for joy, you will deny that you are a human being. God made you to be happy. You wanna be happy like you wanna eat.

Saving grace, sanctifying grace, conveying grace for Augustine, is God giving us a sovereign joy  in God that triumphs over other joys. We can be free, and he gives us that gift now. Now, in measure. That’s why I began saying, „I wanna help you in the fight of faith, not the drift of faith, or the coasting of faith in 2012. It will be a fight. But, when you’ve tasted the sovereign joy, when the sovereign joy has laid decisive claim on the roots of your emotions and your heart, then you know you can fight in the strength that God supplies and get the victory.

In the last 10 minutes John Piper talks about how all of life is the pursuit of maximum pleasure….

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