Sam Storms – How to wage war with sins like sexual temptation, pride, envy ….(on Jonathan Edwards)

The Sin-Killing power of Christian Hedonism

To read the  Jonathan Edwards sermon quoted by Sam Storms, go to – Youth and the Pleasures of Piety.

(paraphrased from the video below from lecture given by Sam Storms) wwwdesiringGod.org

How does christian hedonism help you wage war with sin like sexual temptation, pride, envy, and so on?

Christians usually employ 1 of these 3 tactics to face the battle with sin:

  1. By portraying sin in the most unappealing way in order to frighten people away from sin. They will describe in graphic detail the consequences of that particular sin, like the sexual diseases that can result from sex outside of marriage; or, the horrors of prison if you embezzle, or, the horrors of destroying your family over the sin of adultery. While truth is spoken in this kind of information; mostly, it does not prevent people from sinning.
  2. By reverting to legalism by making a list of regulations and prohibitions, many times without any biblical support in order to control impulses and adding predictions (again) of what will happen if you don’t obey the regulations imposed. This also does not work because for a person who is sinning, they are only looking at the immediate gratifications and pleasures of sin, which can be more powerful than the fear of the long term consequences.
  3. By claiming that yearning or actual desire in man’s heart to have happiness and excitement is bad in itself.

Although there are elements of truth in all these methods, SOMETHING MORE is needed.

What Jonathan Edwards preached in May of 1734, a sermon entitled ‘Youth and the Pleasures of Piety’ gives an insight as to what does work in keeping us from sinning. Even though Edwards himself was fully capable of describing the horrible consequences of sin; he was far more adept and far more given to appealing ‘Superior Joys of Pleasure to be found” in what he called true religion- which really meant devotion to God, purity of life, biblical spirituality. Edwards believed that the greatest objection voiced by the young people in his own day was that they were living in fear that religion would undermine their pursuit of pleasure. As far as they were concerned, it was either Jesus or joy, but certainly not both. He said, „This is what they aim at- to spend their youth pleasantly, and they think that if they should forsake sin and youthful vanity and give themselves to a religious course of life, this will hinder them in the pursuit. So they think if they embrace it (religion) they must have done with their pleasures.

Jonathan Edwards says that the problem isn’t the pursuit of pleasure, but, the uninformed minds that settle for comparatively inferior joy when God offers us unsurpassed and far more durable delights. And he preaches that religion is not the hindrance to pleasure but in fact is the most effective and direct way to attain it (pleasure). He bases the sermon on Proverbs 24:13-14.

In his book When I Don’t Desire God, John Piper tells us to put ourselves in the way of God’s allurements by meditating on the Bible, memorizing it, partaking of the Lord’s Supper, praying, worshiping, reading books on God, experiencing community with others who have a life passion, eliminating distractions in our life, etc.

Here are five ways to work for your own joy and the joy of your people:

  1. Weave into the spiritual and intellectual fabric of your people the awareness that God’s designs in the moral commandments of Scripture are to expand their capacity to enjoy him and not to inhibit it. (See Jonathan Edwards’ sermon „Christian Happiness.”)
  2. Preach often on the bigness and the beauty of God.
  3. Labor to turn their eyes from the pathetic, little, transient pleasures of what can be seen and felt and tasted to the grand and eternal pleasures of the glory that is to come.
  4. Build into the mental, emotional, and theological framework of your people an understanding of how suffering serves joy. (For a good resource, direct your people to Matt Chandler’s videos about the brain cancer he is facing.)
  5. Be an example to them of joy in your own life and relationship with God.

My greatest desire for you is that you and I would be utterly captivated and consumed by the same spiritual energy that led the apostle Paul to cry out, „Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?’ ‘Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?’ For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:33–36).

What your people need most is for you to immerse yourself in the fountain of this joy-generating revelation of God and to be saturated to the bone with what caused Paul to explode with this declaration. People are in bondage to sin today because they are bored stiff with God, and that’s our fault. If your people don’t hear you speak the same truths that Paul did and if they don’t sense the enthusiasm in you that was in him, they will just go home and turn on whatever anesthetizes their pain.

May God help us to serve and to love and to teach and to pray and to shepherd and to lead, by the grace of God, all the people of God into the enjoyment of God for the glory of God.

Free audiobook through December 31 – „When I don’t desire God” by John Piper

Here is a great gift to us from John Piper: You have about 8 days to go to http://www.audiobook.com (or click on the photo of the book on the right hand side)and get this book in audio form. Here are the instructions on how to do this:

  1. Go to the book’s link at Christian Audio
  2. Click „Add to Cart”
  3. Enter the code DG1211 and „Apply Coupon”
  4. Checkout and „Download Now”

You can also download the book in pdf form here – Download When I Don’t Desire God (PDF).

From the book cover:

For over thirty years, John Piper has been trumpeting the truth that “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” He calls it Christian Hedonism.

The problem is that many people, after being persuaded, find out that this truth is both liberating and devastating. It’s liberating because it endorses our inborn desire for joy. And it’s devastating because it reveals that we don’t desire God the way we should.

When you discover the biblical truth that God commands our happiness in him, the absolutely urgent question becomes: What can I do if I don’t have it?With the heart of a pastor and with radical passion for the glory of Christ, John Piper wants to help you answer that question.

(via)Jonathan Parnell @ http://www.desiringGod.org

John Piper – Job (3) Why we can rejoice in suffering

you can listen to the audio sermon here at DesiringGod.org

1 Peter 4:12-19

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. By no means let any of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed, but in that name let him glorify God. For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner? Therefore, let those also who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.

Suffering and Christian Hedonism

It might seem strange to you that 1 Peter is one of my favorite biblical books—since it’s mostly about suffering and how to live in a hostile culture, while I am a card-carrying, full-blooded, unwavering Christian Hedonist. But it isn’t strange for people who have lived long enough to realize what Paul Brand, the missionary surgeon to India wrote in his book: Pain: The Gift Nobody Wants.

I have come to see that pain and pleasure come to us not as opposites but as Siamese twins, strangely joined and intertwined. Nearly all my memories of acute happiness, in fact, involve some element of pain or struggle. (Christianity Today, Jan. 10, 1994, p. 21)

I have never heard anyone say, „The deepest and rarest and most satisfying joys of my life have come in times of extended ease and earthly comfort.” Nobody says that. It isn’t true. What’s true is what Samuel Rutherford said when he was put in the cellars of affliction: „The Great King keeps his wine there”—not in the courtyard where the sun shines. What’s true is what Charles Spurgeon said: „They who dive in the sea of affliction bring up rare pearls.”

Christian Hedonists will do anything to have the King’s wine and the rare pearls—even go to the cellars of suffering and dive in the sea of affliction. And so you can see that it is not strange that we love the epistle of 1 Peter—a handbook for Christian persecution and martyrdom.

A Story About a Joy-Seeking Missionary Family

When Bernie May was the head of Wycliffe Bible Translators he visited a young family in a Muslim nation. They had been there three years working with a people group of 100,000 people and no knowledge of Christ. This couple had three children under five years old.

The baby was covered with pox marks, some of which looked infected. He asked if the child had chicken pox. „No, those are ant bites,” the mother said. „We can’t keep the ants off him. Eventually he will become immune to them.”

Bernie May wrote:

In a moment of honesty she confessed she felt guilty because she was suffering from stress. Stress! She and her young husband came there from mid-USA. Now they live in a place where the temperature is above 100 degrees most of the year. The children are covered with bites; a war is going on close by; their helpers are in danger for being their friends; many in the villages are suffering from hunger and disease; they can’t even let their supporters know what they are doing so that they can pray for them since they are in a „critical” area—and she feels guilty because she is under stress.

I told her she had every right to feel stressful. I had only been their three days and I was already beginning to come unglued.

Yet this dedicated young couple are laughing and joking and filled with the joy of the Lord. (Letter from Bernie May, Jan. 1990)

1 Peter is a letter mainly about how to be like that. Today’s text, in fact, commands us to be like that and gives at least six reasons why we should be and can be.

Keep on Rejoicing: Six Reasons to Do So

The command is found in verse 13: „To the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing.” Keep on rejoicing. When you are thrown in the cellars of suffering, keep on rejoicing. When you dive in the sea of affliction, keep on rejoicing. In fact, keep on rejoicing not in spite of the affliction but even because of it. This is not a little piece of advice about the power of positive thinking. This is an utterly radical, abnormal, supernatural way to respond to suffering. It is not in our power. It is not for the sake of our honor. It is the way spiritual aliens and exiles live on the earth for the glory of the great King.

„Count it all joy when you meet various trials,” is foolish advice, except for one thing—God. Peter gives six reasons why we can „keep on rejoicing” when the suffering comes. They all relate to God.

1. Not a Surprise but a Plan

Keep on rejoicing because the suffering is not a surprise but a plan.

Verse 12: „Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you.”

It isn’t strange. It isn’t absurd. It isn’t meaningless. It is purposeful. It is for your testing. Look at verse 19: „Let those also who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator.” „According to God’s will.” Suffering is not outside the will of God. It is in God’s will. This is true even when Satan may be the immediate cause. God is sovereign over all things, including our suffering, and including Satan.

By why? For what purpose? Compare verses 12 and 17. Verse 12 your fiery ordeal comes „for your testing.” Verse 17 says, „For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” The point is that God’s judgment is moving through the earth. The church does not escape. When the fire of judgment burns the church, it is a testing, proving, purifying fire. When it burns the world, it either awakens or destroys.

Verse 18: „And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner?” Believers pass through the testing fire of God’s judgment—not because he hates us, but because he loves us and wills our purity. God hates sin so much and loves his children so much that he will spare us no pain to rid us of what he hates.

So reason number one is that suffering is not surprising; it is planned. It is a testing. It is purifying fire. It proves and strengthens real faith, and it consumes „performance faith.”

Alexander Solzhenitsyn had long been impressed with the patience and longsuffering of Russian believers. One night in prison in Siberia Boris Kornfeld, a Jewish doctor, sat up with Solzhenitsyn and told him the story of his conversion to Christ. The same night Kornfeld was clubbed to death. Solzhenitsyn said that Kornfeld’s last words were, „lay upon me as an inheritance . . . It was only when I lay there on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good . . . Bless you, prison, for having been my life.”

We have strong hope, therefore, that the sufferings of our own day will bring purity and life to many. Suffering is not surprising; it is purposeful.

2. Evidence of Union with Christ

Keep on rejoicing because your suffering as a Christian is an evidence of your union with Christ.

Verse 13a: „But to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing.” In other words your sufferings are not merely your own. They are also Christ’s. This is cause for rejoicing because it means you are united to Christ.

Joseph Tson, a Romanian pastor who stood up to Ceausescu’s repressions of Christianity, wrote,

This union with Christ is the most beautiful subject in the Christian life. It means that I am not a lone fighter here: I am an extension of Jesus Christ. When I was beaten in Romania, He suffered in my body. It is not my suffering: I only had the honor to share His sufferings. (undated paper: „A Theology of Martyrdom”)

Keep on rejoicing, because your sufferings as a Christian are not merely yours but Christ’s and they give evidence of your union with him.

3. A Means to Attaining Greater Joy in Glory

Keep on rejoicing because this joy will strengthen your assurance that when Christ comes in glory, you will rejoice forever with him.

Verse 13b: „[As you share the sufferings of Christ] keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation.” Notice: keep on rejoicing now, so that you may rejoice then. Our joy now through suffering is the means of attaining our joy then, a thousand-fold in glory.

First there is suffering, then there is glory. 1 Peter 1:11, „The Spirit predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glory to follow” (cf. 5:1). Paul said, „If we suffer with him we will be glorified with him.” First the suffering, and then the glory—both for Jesus and for those who are united to him.

If we become embittered at life and the pain it deals us, we are not preparing to rejoice at the revelation of Christ’s glory. Keep on rejoicing now in suffering in order that you might rejoice with exultation at the revelation of his glory.

4. The Spirit of Glory and of God Resting on You

Keep on rejoicing in suffering because then the Spirit of glory and of God rest upon you.

Verse 14: „If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.”

This means that in the hour of greatest trial there is a great consolation. In great suffering on earth there is great support from heaven. You may think now that you will not be able to bear it. But if you are Christ’s, you will be able to bear it, because he will come to you and rest upon you. As Rutherford said, the Great King keeps his finest wine in the cellar of affliction. He does not bring it out to serve with chips and on sunny afternoons. He keeps it for extremities.

If you say, „What is this?”—the Spirit of glory and of God resting on me in suffering—the answer is simply this: you will find out when you need it. The Spirit will reveal enough of glory and enough of God to satisfy your soul, and carry you through.

Seek to be holy; seek to bring truth; seek to bear witness; and do not turn aside from risk. And sooner or later you will experience the Spirit of glory and of God resting upon you in suffering.

5. Glorifying God

Keep on rejoicing in suffering because this glorifies God.

Verse 16: „If anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed, but in that name let him glorify God.”

Glorifying God means showing by your actions and attitudes that God is glorious to you—that he is valuable, precious, desirable, satisfying. And the greatest way to show that someone satisfies your heart is to keep on rejoicing in them when all other supports for your satisfaction are falling away. When you keep rejoicing in God in the midst of suffering, it shows that God, and not other things, is the great source of your joy.

I mentioned Paul Brand earlier—the missionary surgeon to India. He tells the story of his mother who was a missionary in India and who did something that symbolizes a life devoted through suffering to the glory of God and not self. Dr. Brand writes,

For Mother, pain was a frequent companion, as was sacrifice. I say it kindly and in love, but in old age, Mother had little of physical beauty left in her. The rugged conditions, combined with the crippling falls and her battles with typhoid, dysentery, and malaria, had made her a thin, hunched-over old woman. Years of exposure to wind and sun had toughened her facial skin into leather and furrowed it with wrinkles as deep and extensive as any I have seen on a human face . . . Mother knew that as well as anyone—for the last 20 years of her life she refused to keep a mirror in her house. (Christianity Today, Jan. 10, 1994, p. 23)

Twenty years of ministry without a mirror. Do you get it? She was the mirror. God was the light and the glory

6. God’s Faithfulness to Care for Your Soul

Finally, keep on rejoicing because your Creator is faithful to care for your soul.

Verse 19: „Therefore, let those also who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.”

The degrees of suffering and the forms of affliction will differ for every one of us. But one thing we will all have in common till Jesus comes: we will all die. We will come to that awesome moment of reckoning. If you have time, you will see your whole life played before you as you ponder if it has been well-spent. You will tremble at the unspeakable reality that in just moments you will face God. And the destiny of your soul will be irrevocable.

Will you rejoice in that hour? You will if you entrust your soul to a faithful Creator. He created your soul for his glory. He is faithful to that glory and to all who love it and live for it. Now is the time to show where your treasure is—in heaven or on earth. Now is the time to shine with the glory of God. Trust him. And keep on rejoicing.

from © Desiring God

No One Will Take Your Joy from You – Desiring God

From Gabi Bogdan (VIA) No One Will Take Your Joy from You.

John 16:16-24

„A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” So some of his disciples said to one another, „What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?” So they were saying, „What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, „Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”

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A „Pillar-Strengthening” Sermon

When I returned from the leave of absence earlier this year Noël and I sat down with representatives of the Elder Care Committee who are charged to help us watch over the pace of our lives, and they suggested that on the weekends when I am teaching a five hour seminar (like I did on Desiring God this weekend), I preach what they affectionately called a „classic sermon”. I thought that was a good idea because it accomplishes two things. One is to take some of the pressure of preparation off by preaching on something familiar; and the other is to strengthen some of the biblical pillars of our church that newer people may not be as aware of as those who have been here for a while.

So that’s what today’s sermon is. I don’t know if „classic” is the right word. But „pillar-strengthening” is. So this is a topical message on the pillar of the truth of Christian Hedonism. And the reason I say the pillar of „the truth” of Christian Hedonism is because the phrase „Christian Hedonism” is not of the essence and is not in any of our official documents. That’s intentional. It’s the truth that matters not the name.

The Aroma of Christian Hedonism

What it refers to is the truth that „God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in him”—along with the astonishing implications of that truth. After the Bible, which alone is infallible, the most formative document of this church is the Elder Affirmation of Faith. The truth (not the phrase) of Christian Hedonism runs through the document, creating the aroma that we aim at in all we do. For example:

2.2 We believe that God is supremely joyful in the fellowship of the Trinity, each Person beholding and expressing His eternal and unsurpassed delight in the all-satisfying perfections of the triune God.

3.1 We believe that God, from all eternity, in order to display the full extent of His glory for the eternal and ever-increasing enjoyment of all who love Him, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His will, freely and unchangeably ordain and foreknow whatever comes to pass.

4.1 We believe that God created the universe, and everything in it, out of nothing, by the Word of His power. Having no deficiency in Himself, nor moved by any incompleteness in His joyful self-sufficiency, God was pleased in creation to display His glory for the everlasting joy of the redeemed, from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.

4.2 We believe that God directly created Adam from the dust of the ground and Eve from his side. We believe that Adam and Eve were the historical parents of the entire human race; that they were created male and female equally in the image of God, without sin; that they were created to glorify their Maker, Ruler, Provider, and Friend by trusting His all-sufficient goodness, admiring His infinite beauty, enjoying His personal fellowship, and obeying His all-wise counsel . . .

12.1 . . . We believe that the ultimate purpose of the Church is to glorify God in the everlasting and ever-increasing gladness of worship.

13. We believe . . . the ultimate aim of world missions is that God would create, by His Word, worshippers who glorify His name through glad-hearted faith and obedience.

14.2 We believe in the blessed hope that at the end of the age Jesus Christ will return to this earth personally, visibly, physically, and suddenly in power and great glory . . . We believe that the righteous will enter into the everlasting joy of their Master, and those who suppressed the truth in unrighteousness will be consigned to everlasting conscious misery.

14.3 We believe that the end of all things in this age will be the beginning of a never-ending, ever-increasing happiness in the hearts of the redeemed, as God displays more and more of His infinite and inexhaustible greatness and glory for the enjoyment of His people.

15.2 . . . We believe that the supreme virtue of love is nourished by the strong meat of God-centered doctrine. And we believe that a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ is sustained in an atmosphere of deep and joyful knowledge of God and His wonderful works.

In other words, Christian Hedonism is woven into the fabric of this foundational document and thus into the faith and life of our church. This document is the way all your elders understand the Bible. In it are the pillars of our common faith—what we believe and what we teach. And so it is fitting that from time to time we explain and strengthen the pillars with sermons like this.

Nine Implications of Christian Hedonism

So here’s where we are going. First, we will go to Philippians 1 for one of the foundational texts underneath this pillar of Christian Hedonism—the truth that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. Then we will spell out 9 implications for our lives and our ministry.

1. God himself, most fully revealed in his Son Jesus Christ, is the supreme value in the universe.

That’s why Paul says in Philippians 1:20, „It is my eager expectation and hope that . . . now as always Christ will be honored in my body.” That is the greatest goal for all of life, because it is the goal of the creation of the universe. „From him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Rom 11:36). Valuing God and the glory of God above all else permeates the leadership of Bethlehem.

2. Joyfully treasuring Jesus above all things in life and death displays his worth and glory.

3. Since God is the most glorious of all beings, and since that glory shines most brightly in us when we are most satisfied in him, therefore it is our duty to pursue the greatest and longest happiness in God every hour of the day and forever.

Psalm 16 is one of the great expressions of this. I get the words „greatest” and „longest” from this psalm. Here is composite of verses 8–11:

„I have set the Lord always before me [so this is intentional; this is pursuit] . . . Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; For . . . You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

We are commanded to pursue our joy in God.

„Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing” (Psa 100:1–2)!

„Delight yourself in the LORD” (Psa 37:4).

„Rejoice in the Lord . . .” (Phil 4:4).

[Illustration of objection: Pursue obedience not joy. That’s like saying eat fruit not apples.]

4. When we say you should pursue your joy in God all the time, no exceptions, we do not make a god out of joy. We say that you have already made a god out of whatever you find most pleasure in.

We don’t worship joy; we say that joy in God is the heart of worship. What you find most joy in is what you worship. That’s what worship is. Valuing and treasuring and cherishing and enjoying and being satisfied in God—or, if you are an idolater, anything other than God.

5. The aim of corporate worship is to awaken and express together our joyful admiration of all the wonders and works of God.

„I will go to the altar of God,
to God my exceeding joy,
and I will praise you with the lyre,
O God, my God” (Psa 43:4).

I do not criticize you for coming to „get.” I think God greatly honored when people come to corporate worship starving for God. And deeply desiring that they will meet him, and hear from him.

6. The word of God and preaching exist to reveal God to us for the sake of our joy in him.

„The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul; . . .
the precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart” (Psa 19:7-8).

„These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11).

Therefore my job in worship is to set a table for you where you eat and rejoice in the God you taste. I am aiming not merely to change your ideas about God but to change your affections for God. God’s glory in your life, hangs in the balance.

7. The aim of all discipling and all Christian relationships is to help each other maintain our joy in God above all things.

This was Paul’s whole ministry.

„Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith” (2 Cor 1:24).

„I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith.” (Phil 1:25).

8. Seeking your greatest and longest joy in God severs the root of sin.

Sin only has power because of the promises it makes. Promises for happiness. Nobody sins out of duty. We sin because we believe the promise of sin that we will be happier. The only way to defeat the power of sin’s promise is with the power of a superior promise.

For example, how does the Bible free us from the love of money and the sin of anxiety and greed?

„Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, „I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, „The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me” (Heb 13:5–6)?

We are freed from the sin of loving money by the pursuit of „contentment” in God. And that contentment is rooted in a superior promise: „I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

This is the whole secret of sanctification: The expulsive power of a new affection!

9. The pursuit of joy in God is essential not only because God is glorified by it, but because people are loved by it. Pursuing your joy in God is essential to your loving people.

„We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part” (2 Cor 8:1–2).

Love is the overflow of joy in God that meet the needs of others. Or: Love is the grace-enabled impulse to increase your joy by seeing it expand into other people.

„I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive‘” (Acts 20:35).

„For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one” (Heb 10:34).

Loving as Leaders and Husbands

If leaders would love their people, they must pursue their joy in ministry, and the people must help them.

„Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you” (Heb 13:17).

If husbands are to love their wives, they must pursue their own joy in the joy of their wives.

„Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her . . . so that he might present the church to himself in splendor . . . In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body” (Eph 5:25–30).

We love them well when we find our joy in their joy. Cherish her, for no one every hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it. Seek her joy for she is you. Her joy is yours.

Invincible Joy in Jesus

And the implications go on and on. But we close. God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. Therefore, since glorifying God is the main goal of the universe and your life, be relentless and unwavering in fighting for joy in God. This is your lifelong vocation.

And here is a wonderful note to close on: since God is sovereign, he guarantees the triumph of your joy in the end. In the text from the Gospel of John that was read at the beginning, Jesus said to the disciples who were about to lose him in death and get him back at his resurrection, „So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (John 16:22).

No one. It is invincible. Full. Solid. Eternal. No one will take this joy from you. God is our exceeding joy. And he cannot fail.

© Desiring God website desiringGod.org 

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