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God is most glorified in us when . . .


“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” —John Piper

I went to bed last night contemplating that well-worn assertion, and woke up this morning with it still on my mind. During the interim, I think it might even have made an appearance in that ephemeral fog of lost dreams.

This is the slogan of Piper’s Desiring God ministry and a summary of his teaching of “Christian hedonism” (an oxymoron if ever there was one), and although it probably contains a grain of truth—godliness with contentment is great gain (1 Timothy 6:6)—it has never set well with me.

That the satisfaction of fallible, sinful beings could be the ultimate measure of anything good simply cannot be right. We are naturally self-centered (hedonistic) beings. To be satisfied in God is surely a good thing, but at its center is our own pleasure, and no matter how sanctified we are, our pleasure—even our pleasure in God—is still about us. God may be glorified in it, but most glorified? I think not.

I was left wondering, then: How would I finish the statement, “God is most glorified in us when . . .”? It wasn’t an easy question. There are many ways in which we may glorify God, but my hang-up is with the word most. Maybe it’s not even a question we need to answer at all, but I’ll give it a shot.

I began by asking, who is God, and from whence is his glory derived? The answer is that God is entirely self-existant, therefore his glory originates from himself. He simply is glorious, always has been (John 17:5), and is in no way dependent on any part of his creation—that is, anything that exists outside of himself—to be so. He needs nothing, he needs no one.

The next question is, who are we, and what is our purpose? If God does not need us, then why did he create us? Our purpose, the reason for which we were created, is for God’s glory (Isaiah 43:7; see 1–7 for context). He didn’t need us for that purpose, but he wanted us for that purpose. We are his creation, made in his image (Genesis 1:26–27). That image has been disfigured through the Fall, when Adam sinned. Consequently, we are all born in sin (Psalm 51:5), subject to the wrath of God (Ephesians 2:3), from which we need to be saved. But there is nothing we can do to secure that salvation; we are entirely dependent on God (Ephesians 2:1–9). And we are dependent on him not only for our justification, which puts us in a right relationship to him, but for our sanctification, which makes the good works (v. 10) for which we were created possible (Philippians 2:12–13). Without him, we can do nothing (John 15:5).

Yet, we try. The idea of total helplessness offends our pride, and we like to think, contrary to the testimony of scripture (Isaiah 64:6), that we can do something, however little. In doing so, we call God a liar, and declare our (at least partial) independence. This does anything but glorify him.

All we can do is throw ourselves on the mercy of God, acknowledging our helplessness, and trusting in his grace through the shed blood of Christ to reconcile us to himself. This is what will bring him the greatest glory.

God is most glorified in us when we are most dependent on him.



Posted 2019·04·17 by David Kjos
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