John Piper – Sex and the Supremacy of Christ Part 1

See also Part 2 – Sex and the Supremacy of Christ here.

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“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.” (Matthew 5:27-30

In other words, there is something far more important than to keep your eye or your hand—or your head—namely, to receive eternal life and not to perish in hell. And Jesus links it with the war that we are waging not in Iraq but in our hearts. And the issue is sexual desire and what we do with it.

Two Simple, Weighty Points

I have two simple and weighty points to make. I think everything in this conference will be the explanation and application of these two points. The first is that sexuality is designed by God as a way to know God in Christ more fully. And the second is that knowing God in Christ more fully is designed as a way of guarding and guiding our sexuality. I use the phrase “God in Christ” to signal at the outset that I am going to move back and forth because the biblical assumption of this conference is that Christ is God.

Now to state the two points again, this time negatively, in the first place all misuses of our sexuality distort the true knowledge of Christ. And, in the second place, all misuses of our sexuality derive from not having the true knowledge of Christ.

Or to put it one more way: 1) all sexual corruption serves to conceal the true knowledge of Christ, but 2) the true knowledge of Christ serves to prevent sexual corruption.

1. Sexuality Is Designed by God as a Way to Know God More Fully

God created human beings in his image—male and female he created them, with capacities for intense sexual pleasure, and with a calling to commitment in marriage and continence in singleness.1 And his goal in creating human beings with personhood and passion was to make sure that there would be sexual language and sexual images that would point to the promises and the pleasures of God’s relationship to his people and our relationship to him. In other words, the ultimate reason (not the only one) why we are sexual is to make God more deeply knowable. The language and imagery of sexuality is the most graphic and most powerful that the Bible uses to describe the relationship between God and his people—both positively (when we are faithful) and negatively (when we are not).

And so in the New Testament, after Jesus Christ has died and risen and is gathering a people for himself and his heavenly Father, the apostle Paul calls all husbands to live with their wives like this (Ephesians 5:25-27). Model your love on this kind of love:

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

Therefore, I say again: God created us in his image, male and female, with personhood and sexual passions so that when he comes to us in this world there would be these powerful words and images to describe the promises and the pleasures of our covenant relationship with him through Christ.

God made us powerfully sexual so that he would be more deeply knowable. We were given the power to know each other sexually so that we might have some hint of what it will be like to know Christ supremely.

Therefore, all misuses of our sexuality (adultery, fornication, illicit fantasies, masturbation, pornography, homosexual behavior, rape, sexual child abuse, bestiality, exhibitionism, and so on) distort the true knowledge of God. God means for human sexual life to be a pointer and foretaste of our relationship with him.

2. Knowing God Is Designed by God as a Way of Guarding and Guiding Our Sexuality

Now the second is this: Not only do all the misuses of our sexuality serve to conceal or distort the true knowledge of God in Christ, but it also works powerfully the other way around: the true knowledge of God in Christ serves to prevent the misuses of our sexuality. So, on the one hand, sexuality is designed by God as a way to know Christ more fully. And, on the other hand, knowing Christ more fully is designed as a way of guarding and guiding our sexuality.

Each of these texts teaches that knowing God revealed in Jesus Christ guards our sexuality from misuse, and that not knowing God leaves us prey to our passions. Romans 1:28:

Since they did not see fit to have God in [their] knowledge God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. (literal translation)

Suppressing the knowledge of God will make you a casualty of corruption. It is part of God’s judgment. If you trade the treasure of God’s glory for anything, you will pay the price for that idolatry in the disordering of your sexual life. That is what Romans 1:23-24teaches:

They exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves,

The desires of the body lie to us. They make deceitful promises—promises which are half true as in the garden of Eden. And we are powerless to expose and overcome unless we know God—really know God, his ways and works and words embraced with growing intimacy and ecstasy.

When Paul describes the new person in Christ, who is putting off the old practices and the old slaveries, he says in Colossians 3:10 that “the new self . . . is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” In other words, “I will betroth you to me forever, and you will know me.” And in this knowledge you will be renewed—including your sexuality.

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