I. Salutation(1 Corinthians 1:1-3)
A. Paul begins by identifying himself in relation to God and identifying us in relation to God(1:1-2)
- By The will of God
- To be an Apostle of Christ Jesus
- Our brother
- Church of God
- In Corinth
- Sanctified in Christ Jesus(1 Thessalonians 5:23, Romans 6:19, 1Peter 1:15)
- Called to be saints(God’s act)
- Who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ(Our response)
- Our response is a result of God’s calling
B. In conrast, the world’s self understanding is defined in relationship to their education, profession, physical fitness, their possessions, and to their association with certain groups
C. Grace and Peace
- Paul’s aim is that through this letter the believers will experience grace and peace
II. Paul’s Thanksgiving(1 Corinthians 1:4-9)
A. Paul thank God for the Corinthian Christians
B. The reason for the thanksgiving is the grace of God that was given to you in Christ Jesus
- The purpose of the giving of God’s grace is that the believers might be enriched in Christ in all speech and all knowledge
- This enrichment in Christ accords with their acceptance of Paul’s testimony about Christ
- The result of this enrichment is all the necessary gifts that they need to be presented guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ
- Paul is confident and so should all believers that they can bank on this promise because God is faithful, for He already have called you into fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord
III. Identity In Relationship To God Is All That Matters
A. The Corinthian church and us today suffer from identity crisis
- Division in church happens when we forget that we are all sinners equally underserving of God’s saving grace
- One ups-manship happens when we forget that all our gifts came from God
- Continuing lifestyle of sin happens when we forget that we are not just called to be saved, but also to be holy
- Self entitlement happens when we forget that we are all debtors to God, and therefore to others
B. Refocusing our view of our identity in relationship to God will result in
- The unity of the church
- Humility of believers
- Empowerment to resist the temptation to sin
- Self denial in order to serve others
C. How will you know then if you are called into Christ’s fellowship?
- Call upon the name of the Lord(Romans 10:9-13)
The Problem of God’s Pleasure In Himself
In the last two messages, we have seen that God takes delight in his Son and in all that he does, which is essentially saying that he takes delight ultimately in himself. If God were to seek his highest pleasure in anything else, He is committing idolatry, and therefore He is not God. Now this presents us with a problem. I will present them in the form of three questions:
- Does God then take pleasure in His creation?
- How can God take pleasure in His creation and not be an idolater?
- What’s the difference between sinners taking pleasure in created things and God taking pleasure in them?
God Takes Pleasure In Creation
The first question, “Does God then take pleasure in His creation? ” is easy to answer. The simple answer is yes! When God created the world, look at how He described his creation in Genesis 1 :
Gen 1:4, “And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness”
Gen 1:10, “God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.”
Gen 1:12, “The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.”
Gen 1:16-18, “And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.”
Gen 1:21, “So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.”
Gen 1:25, “And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.”
Gen 1:31, “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”
In a staccato fashion, God described his creation as good which implies that He does take good pleasure in them for He delights in what is good.
God Takes Pleasure In Creation Because They Reflect His Glory
But in what sense the Lord take good pleasure in his creation? The answer is right there, all that He created does exactly what He ordained them to be and to do, which demonstrates his power, wisdom and beauty. And here this answers our second question, “How can God take pleasure in His creation and not be an idolater? “
In other words, God is not an idolater in taking pleasure in his creation because what He saw in them is not the creatures themselves, but the reflection of his power, wisdom and beauty and hence glory. Even after the fall, marred as they maybe. We can see this specially with His human creatures. God still upholds the sanctity of life for the sole reason that they bear the image of God. However, as we have seen from God’s pleasure in His Son, Jesus Christ, He will restore again His image in us by transforming us into the image of His Son. But now, we return to the non personal creation of God. Let’s look at how our passage today shows that first he takes delight in his creation and second how it provides the reason for his delight, namely that creation reflects his glory.
The main point of Psalm 104:24-35 is in verses 31-35, but we will only focus on the first half of the main point, namely in verse 31, “May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works”. This is a prayer but just as what John Piper said, “This is not a prayer for something that might not happen. The psalmist does not mean: “O, I hope God will rejoice in his works, but I am not sure he will.” If that were the meaning, then the first line of the verse would have to have the same sense: “O, I hope God’s glory will endure forever, but I am not sure it will.””
So when the Psalmist said that “may the Lord rejoice in his work”, it is as sure as the fact that the glory of the Lord endures forever. Therefore we can say that God does in fact take pleasure in his creation. But how then the psalmist support this prayer? Where does he find confidence that God will in fact answer this prayer, and that God does and will do it? In answering this questions you will also be able to see that the reason he takes delight in them is that they reflect his glory.
First, in verse 32, it says, “who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke!” This verse is not merely telling us who the Lord is. The psalmist is giving the reason why God rejoices in his works. All creation, in this case, massive land masses, obey Him. When God says let there be earthquake, or volcanic eruptions, they obey. God’s ability to command nature demonstrates his power, and therefore his glory.
Second, verses 24-30 is another ground for God’s delight in his creation. We can see at least two attributes of God mentioned here, one is explicitly mentioned in verse 24, namely wisdom, “O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.” The second is the scope or extent of his sovereign rule and power, which is implied in the word “manifold” and the fact that God made them all. Isn’t it the point of verses 25-26, “Here is the sea, great and wide, which teems with creatures innumerable, living things both small and great. There go the ships, and Leviathan, which you formed to play in it.” This is meant to show the bigness and power of God.
This is also implied in verses 27-30, where God is shown as the one who sustains the creatures. In verse 27- 28, God is providing their food, “These all look to you, to give them their food in due season. When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things. When you hide your face, they are dismayed”. And ultimately God is the one giving them life or taking it away in verses 29-30,”When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. When you send forth your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground.” This means then that all things are dependent on God, which shows the glory of God, not only in creating them but also in sustaining them.
Sinners Exchange The Glory Of God For Created Things
We come now to our last question, “What’s the difference between sinners taking pleasure in created things and God taking pleasure in them?” Here’s the answer, when God looks at creation He saw himself, but when sinners looked at creation, they see glory without reference to God, and worst they see their own image, and exchange the glory of God for the things that are created. This is what Romans 1:19-21 says, “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” This is what makes taking pleasure in creation idolatry. It is idolatry when we prefer them over God himself.
Glorify God by Enjoying Him Forever
So how can we take pleasure in God’s good creation and not be idolaters? The same way God ultimately glorifies God, namely by enjoying him through his creation. We can see this in the last half of the main point of the passage in verses 33-35, “I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being. May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord. Let sinners be consumed from the earth, and let the wicked be no more! Bless the Lord, O my soul! Praise the Lord!”
Notice that in saying “Let sinners be consumed from the earth, and let the wicked be no more!”, the psalmist is recognizing that creature, such as a human being, is not the most valuable person in the universe. Also notice that the grounds for whether his meditation will please God is that he is rejoicing in the Lord, which means that the sinners and wicked mentioned in verse 35, the reason they will be consumed is that they are taking pleasure in created things more than they are in God. They rejoice in creation rather than rejoice in God. But how does the psalmist rejoice in God through his pleasure in creation? It is when he saw all of creation, and saw its beauty and wonder, he traces all of it back to God and said, “I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being.”
We have heard from the Westminster Shorter Catechism that the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever, or better yet, to glorify God by enjoying him forever, and its foundation that God’s chief end is to glorify Himself by enjoying Himself forever as John Piper helpfully pointed out, but I will add another question to it, what is the chief end of all non personal creation of God? The answer is namely that through them God, and man would glorify God by enjoying God forever.
How Does God Show His glory?
Before we address the pleasure of God in all that he does, I want us to ask first, “what does it mean for God to show his glory?” The reason is because I want us to see from scriptures how integral, important and necessary to his glory the pleasure of God is in all that he does.
So how does God show his glory? Or what does his glory consist of at the very minimum? To answer that let’s look at Exodus 33:18-23.
In verse 18, after the Lord granted Moses’ request that His presence be with his people, Moses asked the Lord to show His glory, “Moses said, “Please show me your glory.”” Now notice the response of the Lord in verse 19, “And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.” I want you to notice the I will’s in this verse:
- I will make all my goodness pass before you
- [I] will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’
- I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious
- [I] will show mercy on whom I will show mercy
The first two “I will’s” is basically explaining each other, the first one being the manner of the second. That is, “By making all my goodness pass before you, I will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord’.” I say that because when the Bible speaks of the name of the Lord it always does refer to his glory, reputation, fame or weight. Look at Isaiah 48:11, “For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.” Or in 1 Samuel 12:22, “For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself.”
So the Lord’s response to the request of Moses is not to show him two glories but one, namely his name through proclamation, and He will do it by letting his goodness pass before him.
Now how about the last two “I will’s”? The first one, “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious”- is just being explained by the second, “[I] will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.” And as a whole they are qualifying what the glory of God is consist of, or what does it mean for him to act(in this case letting his goodness pass) for his name or glory. It means that for God to be acting for his own glory, he must do so out of the shear pleasure of his will. Otherwise He is not God. Do you remember how the Lord revealed his name to Moses in Exodus 3:14? It says, “God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’”” When someone tells you “I am what I am, and therefore I do what I do”, what’s being said is that such person is doing what he does not begrudgingly, nor out of debt to someone, neither because of compulsion, rather he does according to his own pleasure. So for God to be God, that is, for Him to show His allegiance to His glory, His great name, He must do everything according to His own pleasure. Or to put it another way, God does whatever he pleases. Or God is pleased in all that he does.
The Pleasure of God in All That He Does
Now we’re ready to talk about the pleasure of God in all that he does. There are three explicit passages in the Bible that talks about this,
- Psalm 135:6, “Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.”
- Psalm 115:3, “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.”
- Isaiah 46:10, “declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose”
God is God Because He Does What He Pleases and He Does What He Pleases Because He is God
Before we go to Psalm 135:1-12, let me just point to one observation from Psalm 115:3 and Isaiah 46:10 that relates the Godness of God to his being able to act always what pleases him. Notice that when the psalmist says, “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases,” he does so in order to distinguish the Lord from idols. It says in Psalm 115:2-7,
“Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?” Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound in their throat.”
Isaiah does the same thing in Isaiah 46:5-10,
““To whom will you liken me and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be alike? Those who lavish gold from the purse, and weigh out silver in the scales, hire a goldsmith, and he makes it into a god; then they fall down and worship! They lift it to their shoulders, they carry it, they set it in its place, and it stands there; it cannot move from its place. If one cries to it, it does not answer or save him from his trouble. “Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.””
Therefore we conclude from this passages that essential to the essence of God is his freedom, that is, his freedom to do what he pleases, and that all that God does must in the ultimate sense please him.
We Praise God For His Pleasure In All That He Does
Now in Psalm 135:1-2 it says, “Praise the Lord! Praise the name of the Lord, give praise, O servants of the Lord, who stand in the house of the Lord, in the courts of the house of our God!” Then in verse 3-4 the psalmist restates the command but this time providing the reason why we should praise the Lord, “Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; sing to his name, for it is pleasant! Now does this passage sound familiar to you? Notice those two words, “good” and “name”? We have seen that before in Exodus 33:19, “And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’” I think the psalmist is making a point that the reason precisely why God deserves praise is because when he the Lord shows his goodness, he shows his name, his glory, and he does so on the basis of his good pleasure. That is why we ought to praise him, because God does all that he pleases. Look at Psalm 135:4-5, first he points to what God did, and then to his character or essential nature, which correspond to his act of goodness and name, “For the Lord has chosen Jacob for himself, Israel as his own possession. For I know that the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all gods.” See that? God does something, that is, he chose Israel, and God is said to be great or glorious. But then look at how Psalm 135:6 supports or clarifies for us how is God great in doing that, “Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.”
What’s does it mean then? It means that God is great for choosing Israel as his possession because he does it according to his own pleasure. Or to put it another way, it pleases the Lord to show goodness to the Israelites, and because he is able to always accomplish his pleasure he is shown to be great. That’s why he deserves our praise!
But God Does not Delight In The Death of the Wicked Right?
Now one possible objection that can be made against this teaching that all that God does pleases him is Ezekiel 18:30-32, ““Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, declares the Lord God. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.”” In this passage, it seems that God is forced to do something that he doesn’t take delight in.
There are three wrong ways to address this issue:
- One is to say that God only take pleasure in orchestrating the natural universe but not in the death of persons. One might say, “look at Psalm 135:7, God does what he pleases with regard to natural phenomenon only, ‘He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth, who makes lightnings for the rain and brings forth the wind from his storehouses.'”
However, this is incorrect, because if you read further in verses 8-12 the death of the wicked is included in what pleases God, “He it was who struck down the firstborn of Egypt, both of man and of beast; who in your midst, O Egypt, sent signs and wonders against Pharaoh and all his servants; who struck down many nations and killed mighty kings, Sihon, king of the Amorites, and Og, king of Bashan, and all the kingdoms of Canaan, and gave their land as a heritage, a heritage to his people Israel.”
- Another way to address the seeming contradiction between Psalm 135 and Ezekiel 18 is to say that whenever the Bible speaks that God is doing what he pleases, they only meant that God is able to accomplish his purpose, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that He is pleased in all that he purposed.
Again this is incorrect because there’s an even more explicit passage that does talk about God’s delight in judging and killing people. Look at Deuteronomy 28:63, “And as the Lord took delight in doing you good and multiplying you, so the Lord will take delight in bringing ruin upon you and destroying you. And you shall be plucked off the land that you are entering to take possession of it.” It says here explicitly that as the Lord took delight in doing good, he took delight in bringing ruin and destruction upon people.
So how should we address this problem then?
First, we must recognize that we are not God and it is impossible for us to exhaustively or fully understand the emotional being of God.
Second, when we try to make sense of seeming contradictions like this one, we must do so not by denying one over the other or at the expense of the other. The Lord did say in Ezekiel that he does not take pleasure in the death of anyone, and he did say in Psalm 135 and in Deuteronomy 28:63 that he does take delight in all he does and that includes killing, destroying impenitent sinners. Let both of these passages stand!
Third, we must recognize that God is able to look at all of history and all that he does in two ways, one through a narrow lens, and another through a wide lens. Meaning, when God considers death and sin by themselves, i.e. through a narrow lens, he doesn’t take pleasure from them. God is not a sadist who’s thirsty for blood. But when he look at all of history and all that he has done in relation to each other through a wide lens, including the death and final judgement of the wicked, he can and does take delight in them. Because in the death of the wicked, his righteousness, his glory, is vindicated and shown to be great and true and beautiful.
Therefore in the ultimate sense God is not cornered into doing something that will ultimately make him unhappy. No! God does all things according to his pleasure, and in that we should stand in awe and wonder, because God is absolutely, gloriously and joyfully sovereign. That’s our only hope if we are to be saved. Because no one can constrain him other than himself in being for his people.
This sermon series is in no way original from me. The material is largely based on John Piper’s book and sermon series with the same title, “The Pleasures of God”. My sermon titles will be based on the title of each chapter from the book. However, in order for me to preach without having to just simply parrot Piper, I will be preaching from the relevant passages of Scriptures that deals with the subject. After all, we should preach and believe these things not because Piper says so, but because it is biblical, as I will try to show you in the next few Sundays.
Now, before I continue with the exposition, let’s try to ask the question first; why should SMEC hear a series of sermons about the pleasures of God?
Here are at least five reasons
- The more we get to know what pleases God the most, the more we can see his glory, because as Henry Scougal says, “The worth and excellency of a soul is to be measured by the object of its love.” So you want to measure the excellencies of God, his glory, his greatness? Then, know his delights.
- Studying the pleasures of God will reorient our notion of what is primary and central in the universe.
- It will help us answer the question, “how is God loving if he is for his own pleasure first and foremost?”
- The gospel is at stake here. If the God that one day we will live with for all eternity is ultimately unhappy, then the gospel is not good news at all.
- Sin is displeasing before God and understanding the pleasures of God will help us know how and why God hates sin, and why does he abhor evil. And it will also help us in fighting the temptations of the pleasures of sin.
I’m hoping that as we go through the pleasures of God, we will all get to see the excellencies of God more clearly and that by it, dead people will be raised from their spiritual deadness, and those who are alive will be changed from one degree of glory to another.
God Is Alone But Never Lonely
Monotheism is the belief that there is only one God. We confess with the saints for all time, “The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” And before creation came to be, there is only God. God simply is. Genesis 1 already assumes the existence of God, “In the beginning God..” Everything else are contingent and dependent on this God for their existence and continuing existence. Now when asked why God created the universe, which includes us, the answer cannot come from us or anything in God’s creatures. The answer is found in another doctrine, namely the Trinity.
This word is not found in the Bible, but the truth that it is trying to point to is biblical, namely that there is only one God subsisting in three persons, the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Meaning, God is one in essence and three in person. Here we can find the ultimate answer why God created the universe. It is not because He is lonely, but that because He is so happy, complete and overflowing with joy in the fellowship of the Trinity, He created the universe. Or as Jonathan Edwards said, “Tis no argument of the emptiness or deficiency of a fountain that it is inclined to overflow.” Or to borrow from a fourteenth century theologian, out of the laughter of the Trinity the universe came into being. God created the universe, not out of need or lack, but out of his abundance of joy. This leads us to the first and ultimate delight or pleasure of God, namely his Son. The Father has always been with the Son for all eternity, delighting in one another.
God Loves The Son
We can see this truth first in Matthew 17, where Jesus takes Peter, James and John up on what we call now the mount of transfiguration, where the Father reveals the glory of Christ. Matthew 17:2 says, “And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.” Then right after that in Matthew 17:5 the Father says these words to them, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” In Mark 1:11 and in Luke 3:22, at Jesus’s baptism the Father spoke the same words, but this time it is spoken directly to Jesus, “And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”” The first statement, “This is my beloved”, implies the second statement, “with whom I am well pleased”. Or to say it another way, when the Father referred to the Son as his beloved, he meant that he takes delight in or takes pleasure in the Son. We call this love in human terms, fondness. The Father loves, likes and is fond of the Son, not out of pity for him, nor despite of him, but precisely because he, Jesus, is pleasurable. By way of analogy, I love, like or am fond of eating strawberry ice cream, not despite of it, but because I find in the strawberry ice cream pleasure. I don’t begrudgingly or unconditionally, out of mercy for the ice cream eat, I delight eating it. That’s the kind of love or pleasure the Father has for the Son, only that we would raise it to infinity. Jesus is infinitely worthy of the Father’s delight. So when Jesus says in John 3:35 that the Father loves the Son, he meant, that the Father takes pleasure in him. I say this for the following reasons:
- Jesus is without sin, He is righteous and holy (2 Corinthians 5:21, Hebrews 4:15, Psalm 1:6)
- Jesus obeyed God in the laying of his life for his people(John 10:17)
- The Father loves Jesus even before the foundation of the world(John 17:24)
It is in this third reason we can see the most foundational reason why God delights in the Son.
God Loves Himself
Though it is true that the man Jesus is worthy of God’s love and delight because of his perfect obedience, however, more than that, it is because in him, dwells the fullness of deity in bodily form. According to Colossians 2:9, “in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily..” And in Colossians 1:19, it is the pleasure of the fullness of deity to dwell in him. Which means that before taking the form of a human, this fullness of deity already existed as a person for all eternity. In Colossians 1:15 he is called, “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation, for in him all things were created in heaven and on earth.”
As the firstborn, he is the supreme creator ruling over all things. Firstborn here doesn’t connote chronological order, but of rank. Take note of the last clause of Colossians 1:15, “for in him all things were created in heaven and on earth.”
As the image of the invisible God, according to Hebrews 1:3, “He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.”
Now according to Philippians 2:6 before He(the Son) took the form of a servant, he was in the form of God. Or as in John 1:1, “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God and the word was God.” Then in John 1:14 this word became flesh, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
So in summary the Father delights in the Son, because he reflects the glory of God the Father perfectly, and himself is God. For the Father to have an exact and perfect reflection, representation or image of his nature, that image must be God as well, otherwise it cannot be called an exact imprint or representation of his nature. So when the Father looks at the Son, He is seeing his very nature and glory. Therefore as John Piper rightly concludes, “the original, the primal, the deepest, the foundational joy of God is the joy he has in his own perfections as he sees them reflected in his Son. He loves the Son and delights in the Son and takes pleasure in the Son because the Son is God himself.” So the pleasure of God in the Son is the same as his taking pleasure in himself.
The Essence of Sin
Now at first glance that seems narcissistic, vain, conceited and selfish of God to look at the mirror and admire, take delight in, and love the person in the mirror. After all, we cringe when we see someone doing that right? That’s like congratulating yourself, or in this age of social media, it’s like love reacting to your own Facebook posts or liking your own Youtube videos. How can this be right for God and wrong for us? Here’s the difference, we are not the greatest being in the universe. We are not the most to be desired, nor to be looked at, nor to take pleasure in, God is!
Therefore when we act in such a way that points to our own so called worth, beauty, and righteousness, we are distracting ourselves and others to that which is highest good and most beautiful, that will give us eternal pleasure, namely God. And it is sin to choose anything lower, while God is offering himself to you. That’s the very essence of sin, it is seeking our deepest satisfaction in anything else, like ourselves, than in God. Romans 1:21-23 says, “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.” So when we prefer everything else over God, we are committing idolatry. That is why sin is a falling short of the glory of God according to Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.
The Essence of Righteousness
This is true of God as well. If God is righteous, and He is, He will point people to the highest good and most beautiful, namely himself. Therefore it is only right for God to take pleasure in himself, for how else can he point us to the greatest pleasure that would satisfy us, if not by pointing to himself. God cannot and will not deny himself.
The Pleasure of God In Himself: A Problem, And Hope For Us
As mentioned above, when we take pleasure in anything else but God, we sin, and God does not take pleasure in sin, for the only thing that can please God is himself, and sin is basically offering ways of pleasure than God. So Go hates sin, because sin is a slap to his glorious face. Look at this sampling of verses from the Bible, Psalm 11:5, “The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence,” Psalm 5:4-5, “For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers.” Or in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. ” So that’s a problem for all of us. How can this righteous and infinitely glorious God ever set his affection, and delight on sinners like us?
Now, the answer, paradoxical as it may be, is the very pleasure of God in himself, namely his Son. As John Piper states “herein lies also the very foundation of our salvation, for it is precisely the infinite regard that the Father has for the Son which makes it possible for me, a wicked sinner, to be loved and accepted in the Son, because in his death he restored all the insult and injury that I had done to the Father’s glory through my sin.”
The Son’s willingness to die and actually dying on the cross in order to uphold the worth of God, is the greatest display of God’s glory. That is why sinners like us can only be accepted by Him if we are clothed with the very person of his Son through faith, for he alone the Father takes delight in. And as Hebrews 11:6 says, “without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” Faith unites us to whom God is well pleased, namely Jesus.
So pursue Jesus, cling to him. Let us therefore turn away from all our trivial pursuits, the fleeting pleasures of the world and of sin, but instead seek the pleasure of God in his Son.