Sin, Suffering, and Satisfaction

Our Spiritual Formation Conference this past weekend was fantastic.  From the comments and emails I’ve received, it is clear that Sam Storms served UBC very well.  I certainly know that God ministered to me through him.

The truth that is sometimes called “Christian Hedonism” is not new to me, nor is it to some of you.  But because it is so intrinsically tied to the gospel itself, it is a message that we need preached to us often.  We settle for lesser joys all the time.  To be reminded of Piper’s statement, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him,” is important to the soul of the believer and the life of the church.

The fact that “sin is what we do when we’re not satisfied with God” (Storms) resounds in my head.  This is not only the truth of my failure, but in it lies the deliverance from present sin struggles and failures.  We’ve said this before… the way to battle sinful desire is to have a super-desire…God.  I like what Sam said about living the Christian life.  He said that living the Christian life is not about “working harder” rather by “desiring more (of God).”

You know, this battle for joy is not dependent upon your personality.  It’s a resolution.  A resolution of the heart of one who has the indwelling Holy Spirit, having been saved by grace.  Essentially, we are enabled and freed (by grace) to work really hard for joy!  That may sound counter productive, but that’s only because we’ve treated joy as a by-product, or some mystical euphoric experience that is uncontrollably unplanned, much less worked for.  But God has designed you (in regeneration) to want Him more than you want anything or anyone else.  He has filled you and freed you so that you live fully free in Himself.

“Suffering serves joy.”   This is an important truth.  Many today use joy as the consequence of living a life untouched by trouble.  Many in the health-wealth arena would say that joy that is the result of a faith-life that believes that God will deliver from all illness and fill my pocketbook (as if this is the pinnacle of the witness of a true child of the king).  Scripture is contrary to this, however.  Storms reminded us again and again that joy is actually to be pursued during suffering as much as we know that it is the result of our suffering.  This joy is not bound to relief, rather realization; the realization that Christ is supremely satisfying.  Suffering loosens our satisfaction in all other things or persons.  Everything else is temporal, while Christ and joy in Him eternal.  Suffering hits the temporal.  In that way, this world becomes tasteless and Christ increasingly becomes the only One to satisfy our thirst.

I’m grateful for UBC so faithfully supporting this conference.  By God’s grace, I look forward to next year’s conference.  Pray for us as we determine who to invite and what the emphasis needs to be.

For Your Joy,

Mike

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