I loved the following excerpt from John Piper’s sermon, “God Is Most Glorified in Us When We Are Most Satisfied in Him.” Christian Hedonism he says will transform the way we look at evil.
First off, what is Christian Hedonism? In a nutshell its focus is on enjoying and delighting in God. Summarized in the last statement of the Westminster Shorter Catechism that says, “the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” God is our joy. He is our delight! In Christ we have a might Savior sent to us by a loving Father, how could we not delight in Him? And when we delight in Him we please our Father for He wants a love relationship with us. When He is the source of our satisfaction, He is glorified.
When He is our ultimate desire we are who He made us to be.
Our pleasure and our happiness isn’t self-centered, as some accuse Christian Hedonists of, when you consider this: we place the most value in what we delight in the most. Right? We delight in our friends, we delight in our family, and if we delight in God in the upmost we treasure Him. That’s worship. That propels us to be that “living sacrifice,” (Romans 12:1).
Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) made a statement that encapsulates this well. He wrote:
Now what is glorifying God, but a rejoicing at that glory he has displayed? An understanding of the perfections of God, merely, cannot be the end of the creation; for he had as good not understand it, as see it and not be at all moved with joy at the sight. Neither can the highest end of creation be the declaring God’s glory to others; for the declaring God’s glory is good for nothing otherwise than to raise joy in ourselves and others at what is declared” (Jonathan Edwards,The Miscellanies [Entry Nos. a-z, aa-zz, 1-500], The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume 13. Edited by Thomas A. Schafer [New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994], no. 3, p. 200).
God is glorified not only by his glory’s being seen, but by its being rejoiced in. When those that see it delight in it, God is more glorified than if they only see it. God made the world that he might communicate, and the creature receive, his glory . . . both [with] the mind and the heart. He that testifies his having an idea of God’s glory [doesn’t] glorify God so much as he that testifies also his approbation [i.e., his heartfelt commendation or praise] of it and his delight in it” (no. 448, p. 495).
Passionately, joyfully admiring God is the sole purpose for our existence.
Now how do we apply this to our fight against evil, our battle with our flesh? Piper says:
Christian Hedonism changes our combat with evil. Jeremiah 2:13 — the Christian Hedonist definition of evil — “for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”
What’s evil? The suicidal preference of empty wells over the river of delights flowing from heaven. That’s evil!
So the battle against evil is not to constantly say “No, no, no. Bad, bad, bad.” There’s no power in that. The power of the flesh is coming at you, the power of the devil is coming at you, and you’re going to screw up your willpower and make that the victory? You’re not. You’re not.
One thing will give you the victory: Faith is the victory that overcomes the world. And faith is a being satisfied in all that God is for us in Jesus Christ. You’ve got to stoke that engine every morning so that the evils that are clawing at you lose its fangs. You can’t have me, I’ve seen Jesus this morning. Lust, you can’t have me. Greed, you can’t have me. Fear of man, you can’t have me. Bitterness and anger, you can’t have me. I’ve seen Jesus this morning.
The battle against evil is totally transformed by Christian Hedonism.
We don’t have to focus on the “nos” we encounter on life when we can look upon our ultimate “Yes!” (2 Corinthians 1:20). I’m reminded of Hebrews as the author wraps up talking about the great hall of fame of faith. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”