When last we talked about a passion for the glory of God, we looked at what it means for us to have such a passion. Men of old, such as Moses and David, earnestly desired to know the glory of God and to make it visible through their lives. Knowing who God is leads to a love for Him and for His glory. In the second part of this series on a passion for the glory of God, we’re going to take a look at what this passion means for us practically, particularly the fight within ourselves against sin. How can we passionately pursue the glory of God internally, with regards to sin?
There is a quote by John Piper in his book Future Grace that illuminates the answer to that question, and it will guide us in understanding how God will be glorified when we fight sin. He writes, “Sin is what you do when your heart is not satisfied with God. No one sins out of duty. We sin because it holds out some promise of happiness. That problem enslaves us until we believe that God is to be more desired than life itself (Psalm 63:3).” Sin, then, is ultimately theft of the glory of God. God gets glory when we look to Him for the fulfillment and satisfaction of our souls. God gets glory when we believe the promise of His word when it says, “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). When we sin, we seek delight in something other than God; when we sin, we do not take Him at His word that He will satisfy. There is no other way to look at it: sin steals God’s glory.
Then those who seek to glorify God to the fullest, who are jealous that He receive all the glory He is due, should be engaged in rooting sin out of our lives. John Owen said, “Be killing sin or it will be killing you.” That is certainly true, but not the focus of this post. This is a different motivation–not one of self-preservation, but of God-glorification. Does the earnest desire to see God glorified in our lives extend to the fight against sin? Do we wage war against sin because of it robs God of His glory? Or perhaps, yet another motive–do we fight sin because growing in holiness makes us look more like Christ (Ephesians 4:20-24)? Do we pursue becoming like Him so that when people see our good deeds, they glorify our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16)?
We also glorify God through our simple obedience to His commands, and He commands us, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you” (Colossians 3:5a). And this: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). We glorify God also by fighting sin because our victory is due to our union with Christ. We know also that “one who has died has been set free from sin” (Romans 6:7); in our union with Christ we died with Him, dying to sin in the process. By the grace of His atoning death and miraculous resurrection, sin has no power over us. Every time we conquer sin, we put His sanctifying grace on display.
Then how? How will we put sin to death that we might put God’s glory on display? In Romans 8, Paul says that “by the Spirit” we are to “put to death the deeds of the body” (8:13b). It will be through the power and grace of the Spirit that we will put sin to death. In Ephesians 6, Paul gives more clarity as to what this is, when he makes reference to “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (6:17b). This, the only offensive article in our armor of God, is what will help us put sin to death. There are promises and truths that are sure: that we have a high priest who sympathizes with us and provides strength through prayer according to His knowledge of our temptations (Hebrews 4:15-16), that God’s love is better than life (Psalm 63:3) and satisfies to the utmost (63:5), even the truth that we as believers already have victory over sin through Christ. All these, and more, are found in the Word, of which it is also said, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
I was originally going to call this series “Going to War for the Glory of God.” I changed it to its current title because I didn’t want to give the impression that I was going to biblically defend national military action. But as the imagery of the armor of God shows, believers are engaged in war. That may be the intensity we need to think rightly about the way we glorify God. At every moment of every day, spiritual powers are battling for our affections, and because of our sinful nature we may be inclined to give into evil. There is a war going on for what we will believe, what we will worship, what we will glorify. Do we see it that way? Sin robs God of His glory! Do we value the glory of God so much that we fight sin with the intensity and fury of a solider on the field of battle? If we know that killing sin will glorify God, and if we know how to kill sin, that is enough. Let us put sin to death that God might be seen glorious in us.
NOTE: John Piper’s sermon on How to Kill Sin (Part 3) was particularly helpful in helping me write this post. You may find it helpful, as well.