Today’s Daily Light
Does God Want Me To Be Happy or Holy? (Part I..from an article by John Piper)
Does God want me to be happy? Or does God want me to be holy? Which is the priority? Such a question is really vital. This time it comes in the form of an email from a listener named Megan.
Megan writes, “Hello, Pastor John! I’m with you when you say that Christian Hedonism says my happiness is not at odds with God’s will for me. But what about the dark season of trials? In these seasons it seems my happiness is not as significant as God’s intent to grow my holiness. How would you describe the pain of trials in light of Christian Hedonism and God’s desire for my joy?”
If human life apart from Christ and salvation had zero happiness, and God’s goal was to bring us from the condition of zero happiness to great happiness in God, I suspect God would not need to introduce any hardship or discipline into our lives in order to bring us to the experience of supreme happiness in him. But that’s not the real world.
“Holiness is the newness of the human heart that no longer finds sin and self more desirable than God and goodness.”
Human life apart from Christ and salvation does not consist in zero happiness. It consists in a thousand experiences of godless happiness. When Peter describes the pre-Christian life among the Gentiles in his day, he says it consists in “living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry” (1 Peter 4:3). In other words, the world outside Christ abounds with what Hebrews 11:25 calls “the fleeting pleasures of sin.”
When God saves us, brings us into relationship with Christ, declares us righteous, justifies us in union with him through faith, he’s not working with people who have zero happiness and need to be given some. He’s working with people who have a thousand experiences of pleasure and happiness that are not rooted in God.
These pleasures do not flow from a sight of God’s glory. These people are not abounding with thanksgiving to God for his goodness. They do not reflect the character of God and his holiness.
I never thought of it quite this way before. This is amazing. Through conversion, God now has in his family, in his house, children who are deeply contaminated. All of us are deeply contaminated with the world from which he is saving us, because we still find so much pleasure outside God and his ways and his will.
Ephesians 4:22 says, “Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires.” In other words, the process of sanctification, the process of becoming holy, is the process of ceasing to have sinful desires and growing in our enjoyment of holy desires.
To put it another way, holiness is the newness of the human heart that no longer finds sin and self more desirable than God and goodness. To become holy, to be sanctified, is not something different than becoming happy in God. Sanctification is precisely the divine work by which we are weaned off the pleasures of the world onto the pleasures of God. (😊 Part II con’t tomorrow)