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I started reading The Legacy of Sovereign Joy by John Piper last week, and I have been greatly impressed by the perspective on grace that he draws forth from the life of St. Augustine. For those unfamiliar with the life of Augustine, prior to his conversion at the age of 32 he lived a life of fornication living for a long time with a woman who was not his wife. Yet later when reflecting on his conversion he wrote,

During all those years, where was my free will? What was the hidden, secret place from which it was summoned in a moment, so that I might bend my neck to your easy yoke?…How sweet all at once it was for me to be rid of those fruitless joys which  I had once feared to lose! …You drove them from me, you who are the true sovereign joy. You drove them from me and took their place, you who are sweeter than all pleasure, though not to flesh  and blood, you who outshine all light, yet are hidden deeper than any secret in our hearts, you who surpass all honor, though not in the eyes of men who see all honor in themselves…” (pg. 57)

What a phenomenal perspective on the depravity of the human heart and the nature of our sinfulness! To see that we are enslaved to our sins not because we are simply ignorant of right and wrong, but because we love them. We sin because we find joy and pleasure in them. That is the way sin has been since the beginning to seek to find delight, joy, or pleasure outside of God and his will. Consider the tree of knowledge of good and evil in Gen 2-3. God tells Adam not to eat it because it will kill him, “for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die” (Gen. 2:17). I can’t image that Adam look at that fruit and said, “Now I think I might enjoy it. After all death sounds like a lot of fun.” Lets be honest Adam would would have likely look on that fruit as being dangerous.

Yet in the very next chapter we find that the serpent has convince Eve that God’s assessment of the fruit or more particularly the consequences of eating it are mistaken. The fruit is not dangerous. It will not really kill them, but rather will make them more like God; it will enhance their enjoyment of the world around them. And all of a sudden, Eve’s assessment of the situation is totally backward. Instead of seeing it as dangerous and bring about death, she sees it as “good”, a “delight” and “desirable.” That is exactly how we see our sin. We see because we think it is good. We find delight in it. We take pleasure in it. We love it.

We need to have not only our concept of right and wrong corrected, more importantly, we need to have the object of our delight correct. We were not created to find delight in the creation, but rather the Creator. There is only One who is truly good and worthy to be desired and that is God, who has revealed Himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ. Thus the way to truly deal with the sin in our lives is to teach ourselves the truth about sin and about God. We must seek to be convinced that the beauty and the majesty of the creator far surpasses than beauty in the creation. We must come to delight ourselves in God; otherwise, we will continue to delight ourselves in our sin.  And in order for us to find God worthy of our enjoyment God must first shine the light of the gospel into our hearts through his Spirit (2 Cor. 4:4-6). Let me finish we these words from Augustine:

A man’s free-will, indeed, avails for nothing except to sin, if he knows not the way of truth; and even after his duty and his proper aim shall begin to become known to him, unless he also take delight in and feel a love for it, he neither does his duty, nor sets about it, nor lives rightly. Now, in order that such a course may engage our affections, God’s “love is shed abroad in our hearts” not through the free-will which arises from ourselves, but “through the Holy Ghost, which is given to us.” (Romans 5:5). (pg. 60)