We are living in a time where meaning and the way we live are largely determined by the pleasures derived through our senses. We’re driven by the pleasures gained through seeing, tasting, touching, smelling, hearing and even our emotions. Experiencing legitimate pleasure certainly is not wrong, for this is how the LORD created us and deemed it good! I certainly love the smell and taste of good food. I enjoy hearing fine melody and receiving a warm embrace and a loving kiss from my attractive wife. The LORD is very gracious and loving to allow us to enjoy His creation in these ways. However, these things are not meant to drive us to pleasure for pleasure sake, but instead to the Creator of those things. They’re merely avenues, not the destination. The things that lead to our experience of pleasure and pleasure itself are meant to lead us to God. God is ultimate and in His presence is the epitome of joy and pleasure. David writes in Psalm 16:11:
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
The reason why we don’t go to God for joy and pleasure is because we don’t perceive Him as the incomparable majestic holy being that He is. Therefore, we really don’t know Him as we should. We have other loves. We have other loves of infinitely lesser value. We have a greater affection for our other loves. We simply desire God too little.
So what do we do?
We need greater affection for God. I believe this comes by studying and meditating on Him as revealed in the Scriptures. I believe right theology leads to passionate doxology. We need a greater sense of awe concerning God. We first must understand who God is.
At the end of his pastoral ministry at Bethlehem Baptist Church, John Piper preached a series titled “Thirty Year Theological Trademarks” and it was transcribed into an e-book titled Doctrine Matters: Ten Theological Trademarks for a Lifetime. Unsurprisingly and necessarily, Piper’s foundation was the nature and character of God. Before we can live as God intended, we must first know God. He is the objective starting point for everything. In the first chapter, God Is, Piper unpacked just that – who God is. Piper’s desire for the listener / reader was to ponder how God revealed Himself to Moses as I AM and His eternal nature. Piper writes –
1. God’s absolute being means he never had a beginning. This staggers the mind. Every child asks, “Who made God?” And every wise parent says, “Nobody made God. God simply is. And always was. No beginning.”
2. God’s absolute being means God will never end. If he did not come into being, he cannot go out of being because he is being. He is what is. There is no place to go outside of being. There is only he. Before he creates, that’s all that is: God.
3. God’s absolute being means God is absolute reality. There is no reality before him. There is no reality outside of him unless he wills it and makes it. He is not one of many realities before he creates. He is simply there as absolute reality. He is all that was eternally. No space, no universe, no emptiness. Only God. Absolutely there. Absolutely all.
4. God’s absolute being means that God is utterly independent. He depends on nothing to bring him into being or support him or counsel him or make him what he is. That is what the words “absolute being” mean.
5. God’s absolute being means rather that everything that is not God depends totally on God. All that is not God is secondary, and dependent. The entire universe is utterly secondary. Not primary. It came into being by God and stays in being moment by moment on God’s decision to keep it in being.
6. God’s absolute being means all the universe is by comparison to God as nothing. Contingent, dependent reality is to absolute, independent reality as a shadow to substance. As an echo to a thunderclap. As a bubble to the ocean. All that we see, all that we are amazed by in the world and in the galaxies, is, compared to God, as nothing. “All the nations are as nothing before him, they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness” (Isaiah 40:17).
7. God’s absolute being means that God is constant. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He cannot be improved. He is not becoming anything. He is who he is. There is no development in God. No progress. Absolute perfection cannot be improved.
8. God’s absolute being means that he is the absolute standard of truth and goodness and beauty. There is no law-book to which he looks to know what is right. No almanac to establish facts. No guild to determine what is excellent or beautiful. He himself is the standard of what is right, what is true, what is beautiful.
9. God’s absolute being means God does whatever he pleases and it is always right and always beautiful and always in accord with truth. There are no constraints on him from outside him that could hinder him in doing anything he pleases. All reality that is outside of him he created and designed and governs as the absolute reality. So he is utterly free from any constraints that don’t originate from the counsel of his own will.
10. God’s absolute being means that he is the most important and most valuable reality and the most important and most valuable person in the universe. He is more worthy of interest and attention and admiration and enjoyment than all other realities, including the entire universe.
Meditate on these ten realities. They are profound and they are biblical. These reasons, and there are infinitely more, ought to cause us to consider how great God is. There is no one or nothing more truthful and exhilarating than God!
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.
(Psalm 63:1-8 ESV)
Grace & Peace,