Thursday, June 28, 2007

To Know Him

Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD;
Hosea 6:3
I was made for this. You were made for this. To give ourselves to the never-ending pursuit of knowing God in the fullness of His being. This is the goal of the gospel.

And it took years of enslavement to sexual lust and the gratification found in pornography to figure this out. Confessing my sin didn't break the power. Setting up filters on my computer didn't break the power. Distracting myself with other things didn't break the power. One truth did: that I am made to know and be satisfied with the supremacy of God in all things. These two paragraphs written by John Piper encapsulate this truth that had a cataclysmic effect on my life:
Little souls make little lusts have great power. The soul, as it were, expands to encompass the magnitude of its treasure. The human soul was made to see and savor the supremacy of Christ. Nothing else is big enough to enlarge the soul as God intended and make little lusts lose their power.


Therefore, the deepest cure to our pitiful addictions is not any mental strategies—and I believe in them and have my own ... The deepest cure is to be intellectually and emotionally staggered by the infinite, everlasting, unchanging supremacy of Christ in all things. This is what it means to know him. Christ has purchased this gift for us at the cost of his life. Therefore, I say again with Hosea, let us know, let us press on to know the Lord.
Those two paragraphs have forever changed my life.

For my entire teenage life, my soul, which was made to be large and filled with the infinite Christ, was no bigger than a marble. So small earthly pleasures to me seemed transcendent. The buzz of an orgasm filled me to overflowing so that this is what I continually longed for. This was the satisfaction of my soul so that no matter what I did to fight such desires the need remained the same.

And then I read what John Piper wrote. Better yet, I heard him preach it. I had never in my life or in any book I read about how to fight lust heard anyone say the truth that is contained in those two paragraphs. And then he said this: "If you aren't reading substantial theology, I don't know how you are fighting your lust."

Read theology? Are you kidding me? That just seems like another distraction to me. Such were my thoughts. But Piper wasn't kidding. He said it with life and death seriousness and urgency. So I decided to take him up on the suggestion. And I learned that he wasn't lying either.

There is a new world of wonder that opens up to you when you begin to descend into the depths of the infinite riches in glory of the sovereign God who spoke this universe into existence, the God who upholds all of creation by the Word of His power, the God who has existed for all eternity never having had a beginning. When you begin to ponder the majesty of such grandeur, it takes your breath away and little else begins to matter. You begin to wonder why such a Creator would lift a finger to spare you from His impending wrath. You tremble at the fact that millions are passed over and consigned to eternal torment while you are undeservedly granted to see your need for the Savior so that you can enjoy eternal pleasures at His right hand. And you become heart broken that you don't love Him as much as you ought to because you see that He is infinitely worthy. An unseen world has been opened up to you and you now make it your aim to live here following the lead of the apostle Paul: "Therefore we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary and what is unseen is eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:18).

The soul is enlarged in experiencing the joy of the unseen world so that, as you are continually set on it, the pleasures of the seen world no longer offer appeal. They're simply not big enough. They're not powerful enough. You need something more massive, more soul-staggering, more breathtaking. Sex won't do it. Money won't do it. Television won't do it. Movies won't do it. Video games won't do it. And your heart has one cry: "Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD" (Hosea 6:3).

This is my life. This is why I can't stop reading theology. I don't know any other way to press on in knowing the LORD and keep my soul enlarged than to incessantly fill my mind with glorious truths about the unsearchable depths of His character. I need to know Him. This is why I am going to Regent College for two weeks to study Puritan theology. It's because those saints of the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries knew how to go hard after God. I need to be around people who hang the banner of Hosea 6:3 over their lives. Such is true of John Bunyan, John Owen, Jonathan Edwards, Richard Baxter, and company. They are precious friends to me.

I must keep my soul large because I know that the moment I stop pressing on to know the LORD is the moment my soul will shrivel down and those little lusts will begin again to seem overpowering to me. I do not for one second think that I have moved on past that and am immune. I fear being in that place again because I am not naive about the nature of my heart. Our hearts CANNOT be in neutral if we will love God. Paul says we must "fix our eyes." We must fix our hearts in a manner that is vigorous and forceful. This is active. We must never relent. We must press on because the moment we cease to do so is the moment we are "destroyed for lack of knowledge" (Hosea 4:6).

We must grow in the knowledge of our infinitely glorious God. We are not playing games. Eternity depends on it. We must strive to enter through the narrow door (Luke 13:24). Do you know Jesus this way? Do you see and savor Him? Are you captivated by His glorious countenance? Are you filled with awe at the radiance of His beauty? Are you amazed by His perfect righteousness? Are you filled with wonder that He always lives to intercede for you at every moment so that you may not sin? Is He supreme in your affections?

If you need some help with this (we all do), watch this and may the Lord in His grace by His Spirit open the eyes of your heart to see more clearly the perfect "image of the invisible God" (Colossians 1:15) so that the risen Christ would reign supremely not just in the universe but in your heart:

And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
John 17:3
Father, enlarge our souls to be what You created them to be. Forbid that we become little sailboats that get swept up in the tide because we are having too much fun to fight. But let us be massive battleships that steer the course and continually fight because we know what is at stake. Father I plead with You to grant us the strength to press on with all that we have to know You and to do so with great joy knowing that the pursuit will never end but will always continue with ever-increasing happiness because You are infinite and we are finite. And that is why eternal life is to know You. Because we will never fully exhaust the riches of who You are no matter how hard we try. Let such impossibilities make us gloriously happy. May You be most glorified in us by making us to be most satisfied in You. Forever. And so cause us to spread a passion for Your supremacy in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ. In His precious name, Amen.

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