Future Grace - Battling Unbelief - Lesson 7

How Does It Work Against Sin? (Part 1)

Sins that get in the way of holiness.

John Piper
Future Grace - Battling Unbelief
Lesson 7
Watching Now
How Does It Work Against Sin? (Part 1)

4. How Does It Work Against Sin? (part 1)

Battling the Forms of Unbelief

Battling the Unbelief of Anxiety

  • God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying him forever. One aim of this course is to show that living by faith in future grace is the way of life that unites these passions.

  • We are justified by faith alone, but that faith never remains alone. Therefore, justifying faith is always and inevitably accompanied by good works.

  • Grace is the ever-arriving, moment by moment enablement to act in reliance on God. God doesn't promise us comfort or everything we want, but everything we need to do what God wants us to do.

  • [Since] God did not spare his own son but gave him up for us all, [surely] he will freely give us all things. (Romans 8:32) The motivating power of a life of obedience is faith in future grace.

  • In the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5), if the key to doing the harder thing is faith in future grace (believing it with all your heart), then the key to doing the easy thing is also faith in future grace. A legalist tends to attack a command directly with the intention of doing it. A faith-based person prays that God will change them so they will become a person who loves as an overflow of who they are.

  • Bible texts that are illustrations of how hope, faith, confidence, satisfaction in future grace liberates love. The main battle to be fought in the quest for love is the battle to trust God for future grace.

  • Sins that get in the way of holiness.

  • Learn to pray about the spiritual condition of our heart not just about our possessions or circumstances.

  • If you yield to a life driven by lustful passion, you act like you don't know God. Knowing God deeply so that God is your treasure, is a good strategy for overcoming lust. The evidence of being born of God is that you make war on sin.

  • The definition that Dr. Piper uses for bitterness is, "Holding a grudge or savoring the thought of getting even with no true desire for the salvation and reconciliation of the offending person." He defines impatience as, "Murmuring against Providence when we are forced to walk the path of obedience in an unplanned place or an unplanned pace."

God is infinitely committed and passionate to preserving and displaying his glory in all that he does from creation to redemption. In this commitment we see his zeal and love and satisfaction in his glory.

The main question that Dr. Piper attempts to answer in this class is, "Why does practical holiness (love), inevitably accompany justifying faith?"

We are thankful for John Piper's willingness to share these lectures with us. Copyright 2014 by Desiring God Ministries. Used with Permission. For more information, please visit www.DesiringGod.org.


Future Grace - Battling Unbelief

Dr. John Piper


How Does It Work Against Sin? (Part 1)

Lesson Transcript


The following message was recorded at an event hosted by Desiring God. More information about desiring God events, conferences and resources is available at W WW dot desiring God dot org. Okay. In this section. It's the flipside of what we just looked at. We just talked about how living by faith in future grace releases love or produces holiness, the sort of the positive way of talking about it. Now we talk about how does it undermine, destroy, overcome sins, typical sin. So we're going to spend all the remaining time walking through sample sins. Get down to the nitty gritty of the battles of our lives. Sins that get in the way of love, sins that get in the way and are the opposite of holiness. So that's where we're heading. And we'll start with the sin of anxiety or the unbelief of anxiety. So a definition of anxiety. The loss of confidence, security in God. Owing to feelings of uneasiness or foreboding that something harmful is going to happen. That's my definition of anxiety. Loss of a sense of confidence. Security. Because feelings are arising of uneasiness or foreboding. Something bad is going to happen. And we've already looked at this text from Matthew 625 to 34. So I think I won't look at the whole thing. There are eight arguments against anxiety in this passage, and most of them have to do with the future. But rather than walking through it in detail, let's just look at the end of it and relate it to Lamentations three. So that's where shall we start? Verse 32? No, verse 31. Don't worry, don't be anxious. Saying, What will we eat or what will we drink or what will we wear for the Gentiles? Eagerly seek all these things.


That's one negative argument. You don't want to be like the nations that have no hope in God when you behave and pursue the things that they're pursuing. You look like you have the same treasure which dishonors your treasure. For positive argument, you're Heavenly Father knows that you need these things. And clearly the implication is he knows you need him and he'll provide what you need. So seek first his kingdom and his righteousness. Just let that be your focus, not what you wear, what you drink, your house, your car, your clothes. Don't focus on those things. That's just way, way down on the list of priorities. And let those things be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow. Then this. This strange argument. Tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Light fell on that passage for me when I related it to this passage in Lamentations. The Lord's loving kindness. This is Lamentations 322 The Lord's loving kindnesses indeed never cease. Now that spoken in the midst of the rape of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. Women were boiling their children and eating them. Never cease. The Lord's loving. Kindnesses indeed never cease for his compassion, never fail. They are new every morning. And it seems to me there's a relationship between this and this. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Enough For what? What's enough? I think what he's saying is in God's economy for his elect, there is a perfect correspondence between the amount of trouble planned for you and the amount of mercies to sustain you in those troubles. They go perfectly. Therefore, don't pile into any day troubles that don't belong there. There will be trouble tomorrow. Count on it. Through many afflictions, we must enter.


Through many tribulations. We must enter the kingdom. Paul taught every church on his first missionary journey. Count on it. There will be trouble tomorrow and count on it. Every morning. There will be new, new mercies. His compassion. His mercies never failed. They are new every morning. In other words, the comparisons that arrive today are new. They're not for yesterday's troubles and they're not for tomorrow's troubles. There will be new ones for tomorrow. Today's Mercy's Compassion are designed for today's troubles. I tell you, that is an amazing way to think about your future. I have had so many crisis situations in which a man or a woman will say to me. I don't think I could make it. I don't think I can make. A child just died. Husband just got cancer. A job was just lost for blows in a row in one week. And the word is, I don't think I can make it. And this is unbelievably helpful at that moment, because here's what's making the person say that they're looking at the resources they have for the next 6 hours. And they feel I might make it 6 hours. And then they're looking at the testing for cancer and the chemo and the hair falling out and the nausea again. They've done it three times and they see it's coming tomorrow. And today's resources are not there for that. And they feel that. And that's what they mean. I can't make it. And the answer is, that's right. What you have today to get through the next 6 hours is not enough to get through tomorrow. And then you remind them. But what God calls you to do now is not to feel what you need to feel tomorrow. You need to trust that it's going to be there tomorrow.


Sheer trust on the basis of promises and promises are enough to get you through today, knowing that tomorrow's grace will be sufficient for tomorrow's trouble. So we. We fight against the sin, the unbelief of anxiety. By this kind of thinking. Every day has its troubles that tend to make me anxious and every day will have its. His passions never fail. They are new every morning. Isn't it a thrilling thought that the pleasures, delights, joys, pains, frustrations you're feeling right now? God says to you tomorrow morning, I have some new companions for you. Got today's new ones tomorrow. I just find that absolutely thrilling. Tomorrow morning will be new. Do you think I can't do tomorrow what I'm expected to do? It's over my head. Is it? It is over your head. But there will arrive tomorrow morning. A mercy for it. I think it's obvious about a lot of these takes. You've got them in your book there, if you have the book. I'm just going to skip all those general texts and go directly to the specific kinds of anxieties we have. Battling anxiety about uselessness. Now, here's what I'm illustrating in these texts. Living by faith in future. Grace should not merely be a vague general sense that God is going to help me. That's good and it's wonderful. But I believe the Bible is a book replete with specific promises of grace, tailor made to specific temptations of anxiety and other kinds of sin. And God wants us to know enough of His word so that we can take a specific promise and lay it on a specific temptation and kill it. So let's look at specific kinds of promises designed for kinds of temptations to anxiety. And we're talking now about the fear of being useless.


This may be when you're young and you look at your gifts and you think you don't have any significant gifts, and everybody around you seems to be so competent. And my life is not going to be of any count. Or it might be that you're 65 and they've just told you you're done. And you wonder, is there any use between now and the grave? So here would be one text. Therefore, my this is first good news. 1558. Therefore, my beloved brethren be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing something. Your toil is not in vain in the Lord. I have used that to establish my heart. At moments in the ministry over and over again, you undertake to do something and it looks like it's just hardly succeeding at all. Some outreach effort, some teaching effort, some counseling effort. And it just this is not a success. This is not going the way I hoped it would go. And what do you do it that moment feel useless. I'm wasting my time. I tried. And this is just I wish I wish I could just bail on this plan. And you say nothing, Nothing done in the name of the Lord for the glory of the Lord is in vain. Nothing is in vain. I have walked into settings where I'd hoped for crowds and I remember doing a seminar in I think it was Kansas City. And they botched the advertising so bad they rented a 1500 person sanctuary and 36 people showed up for this seminar. And you've been flown in for this seminar. How emotionally, what do you do with that? You go right here. Your toil is not in vain. One person, one person impacted with the truth might be a Billy Graham.


Or Mary Slessor or just a marriage might be saved. Would you fly to Kansas City to save a marriage? You preach to yourself. Promises like that. You tailor the promise for the particular temptation to anxiety. Let's skip over that Isaiah text and just go to the next one. Battling anxiety about feeling weak. You feel weak and my weakness is going to make me useless. He has said to me, Second Corinthians 12 nine, My grace is sufficient for you. My power is perfected in weakness. Must gladly, therefore, will I boast about my weaknesses. It changes your orientation to be anxious about your weaknesses so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore, I am well, content with weaknesses, insults, distress, persecutions, difficulties for Christ sake. For when I'm weak, I am strong. That is, Christ is strong in me. What about anxiety about difficult decisions? Got any in front of you and you don't know what's the best thing and you're anxious that you might make the wrong decision. What do you do with that anxiety seen to be anxious. You attack it with faith in future grace by getting some particular promises about that issue. For example, I will instruct you some 30 to I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go. I will counsel you with my eye upon you. You read that and you get on your face before the Lord. You say, I'm banking on that, Lord. I'm banking on your counsel. I'm banking on your instruction as I walk into this conversation. And we have to make a decision. Or suppose you feel unworthy of the help of the Lord for counsel. This is this is awesome. Some 25 eight good and upright is the Lord.


Therefore, He instructs sinners in the way he leads the humble injustice. And he teaches the humble his way. So do you qualify for the counsel of God? Well, are you a sinner? Yes. So raise your hand. We're sinners. And how does that sin affect you? Make you proud. I'm really glad I'm a sinner. No, it humbles you. Okay, Now you're. You're a candidate for the counsel of God, which is so encouraging, because if the devil's going to say this promise doesn't apply to you. There's some 32 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go because you're not good enough to get the counsel of God and you get the leadership of God. And so you you fight that lie with another psalm and say, no, no, no, no, He said, because he's upright. He instructs sinners in the way and he leads the humble. And so what do you expect from me now is to regret my sin, be broken, be on my face, pleading for his help. Then if I am broken for my sin and pleading for mercy, he's going to help me make this decision and the anxieties. Go away. Battling the anxiety about opponents. You've got people in your life who are hard on you. They make life miserable for you. Where do you go to fight this anxiety? Romans 831 What then, shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? Course, we answer lots of people. Lots of people are against us. But what does it mean if he knows that Jesus got killed? Paul got put in prison. What is. Who is against us? In the answer is it means who is against us successfully. Nobody. They think they're succeeding against us by putting us in prison.


They think they're succeeding against us by reproaching us or firing us. They're not. That promise transforms your anxiety response to people in your life, making life hard for you. Nobody can be against me successfully if God Almighty is for me. Because if he's for me and he's Almighty, he's governing all their reproaches for my good and they are becoming the agent of my sanctification and the lackey of God. Though they rage against him, they serve him for my sake. And that'll change your whole anxiety response towards the people in your life. What about the anxiety about afflictions some 3419. Many are the afflictions of the righteous. But the Lord delivers him out of them all. I've quoted that more times that I can know in hospitals and on phones and at funerals and lost jobs. And that's kind of the default comfort verse for somebody who's just had 1 to 3 blows. And I say, you know, this doesn't take the Bible off guard. Many are the afflictions of the righteous. And this deliverance here is not from them all, but out of them all. You're going to come out. You're going to come out. I promise you, on the basis of God's word, you're going to come out. And it doesn't say how or when. And that great passage from Romans five three about afflictions. Not only this, but we exult in our tribulations. Is that amazing? You do that thing go bad and you say. Hey, man, praise God. I'm having a hard time today. Exalt. Exult in your afflictions. Tribulations. And then here comes the ground of how you can do that. You know, something you confident about, something tribulation brings about perseverance. Picture this. It's like a muscle. The bicep and a bicep is made to do this.


And it starts to weaken. So what? It's. What do you do to make it strong? You push. You create tension. You do this. Bye bye. Making life hard for this bicep and it builds bicep that that's the way faith is. Tribulations bring about perseverance because you might say, well, really tribulations, test perseverance. Like I might quit believing if you treat me this way. God. And God is walking the fine line. You will not be overtaken by any temptation that is beyond your capacity to endure. But I'm going to test you because I want that bicep work in long term in this life and working well. So I'm going to push on it. And perseverance produces a proven character or approved witness and proven character produces hope. The future grace Because now I see that I'm authentic. I've endured a trial and my faith has held firm. And therefore, my hope is real. And hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out. So that kind of dynamic and some 34 help us defeat the anxiety about afflictions. What about the anxiety of aging? My dad. Is. I called him on the phone yesterday in a home called Shepherd's Care in Greenville, South Carolina. And. They don't know if he has Alzheimer's. I asked a doctor one time, How can you verify a diagnosis of Alzheimer's? He said, Do an autopsy. It's a very tricky it's a very tricky disease. You go on the basis of symptoms and my dad is forgetting a lot of things and he still knows me well, knows his Bible, but. We repeat a lot of things on the telephone, and he was just stunned when I told him about the hurricane and all that happened.


I'm sure they talked about it there, but he was just, Oh, that's terrible. I can't believe that happened. And then by the end of conversation, he was hearing it again for the first time. So that's what my dad is dealing with. He's 86. I'm 59. Was that 25 years? So likely that's me. Has every reason to think that's going to be me. I have a back problem exactly the same as my dad. I'm losing my hair exactly the way he lost his hair. I just watched my dad move through the seasons and I see me. I mean, I won't live till 86, but, I mean, just, you know, assuming that I will. My guess is I'll be in Augusta and a home down there. And. And a few of you young guys might drop by and speak real loud, just like I'm just screaming into this telephone. So should I worry about that? It's really sad to watch. Man so full of the Holy Spirit, so full of spiritual power, so effective in the ministry for 50 years. Why would it have to go like this, Lord? Would you just take. And he's the happiest man you could ever talk to. That glorious. May that be true. I mean, my dad's been always way happier than I am. That's why I'm always on a quest for joy. I probably want to be as happy as my dad was. But I say, Daddy, how's your health? Oh, my health is wonderful, John. It's just wonderful. God is so good to me. Well, how's your. How are your accommodations? Oh, this place, they're just so good to me. He doesn't even know where he is. He said. He said, I hope you're coming down soon. We'll have a Lavon will have a place.


Lavon has been dead for four years. Lavon will have a place for you. So hope you can come. He's even. No, he's not at home. It is full of the Holy Spirit, full of the Bible and full of joy, which is a beautiful thing, but not the way I would like to go out so anxieties can come, right? Listen to me. Oh, House of Jacob and all the remnant of the House of Israel. You have been borne by me from birth and have carried from. I've carried from the womb, even to your old age. Even to old age. I will be the same. And even to your graying years, I will bear you. I have done it. And I will carry you. I will bear you and will deliver you. It seems like the Lord wants to drive home to us. I'll deliver you. I'll bear you. I'll carry you. I'll bear you. I'll be the same for you. Even to graying years. So. My only hope is that when the senility and the memory loss comes and it's coming now at age 59, I know how much harder it is to memorize scripture. I know that I forget phone numbers and names more quickly. It's coming now. The way to have peace is to say he will carry me. There will be grace for tomorrow's senility. He will guard me from sin and from making shipwreck of faith and bringing reproach upon the name of God by any kind of slippage into worldliness or selfishness. And the big anxiety that probably plagues us as much as any is our own faith and our own real, authentic standing with God. Am I really a Christian? Will I persevere in faith? Am I one of those first three soils in the parable? Well, I know I'm not the first one because I've been a professing Christian for quite a while, so the seed didn't get plucked off the ground by the Devil Bird right away.


It it has taken some root. But will enough tribulation come that I dry up and bear no more fruit? Will I last? Will I abort and prove to be a fake someday? There have been pastors who've served as long as I have who have totally forsaken the Lord. So we go to the Bible to fight for faith in future. Grace I am confident, Paul said of this very thing that he who began a work in you will perfected until the day of Christ. You said God. My only hope to endure is that you will work in me or Hebrews seven. He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through him now, since he always lives to make intercession for them. You preach the fullness of the Gospel to yourself. Including things like he is at the right hand of God with blood on his hands poured out for me, speaking words of intercession to his all Holy Father on my behalf. I'll make it. That's the way you preach to yourself to overcome the anxiety about perseverance. This is probably one of the best promises in all the Bible about perseverance from Jeremiah 32. I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I may not turn away from them to do them good, and I will put the fear of me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from me. What makes you think you're going to wake up a Christian tomorrow morning? What makes you think that when you wake up tomorrow morning, you will believe in Jesus instead of disbelieving in Jesus and just wait and see what comes to their mind. Because most people have not posed the question, Why do I wake up every morning with the same faith that I had yesterday? What? What's keeping it going? And then I.


I ask rhetorically, do you think it's owing to your remarkably faithful, autonomous freewill and that you can count on that to the end? My free will keep me a believer till the day I die. And then I say, Don't count on it. You're about as fickle in that as anybody. Your freewill may or may not choose Jesus tomorrow morning. And if the devil chooses to make an alternative, treasure looks more attractive. Your free will may totally cave. So don't bank on it. Bank on that. Bank on the promise that as a covenant member in Christ, blood bought forever. God will not let you turn away. When you go to bed at night, you feel some anxiety about persevering to the end through a long life of of battling unbelief. And you say, I don't know if I can make it. Say I can't make it, but I have promises like this that I will make it. And I beg on his faithfulness, not my fickleness. This is really helpful for young believers. I don't know how many people you've dealt with who are just trying to cross the line into Christianity. One of the big obstacles to people who sort of begin to catch on to the gospel, they sort of look around at the church. They think this is to be if I go this, if I become a Christian, this is going to be so unbelievably different. I don't think I can live it. I don't think I can last it. I mean, I've got to 18 or 38 or 48 years of doing my thing. I know this way of life really well. I can do this. On the other side of this line called Faith is so much unknown to me that I don't have any confidence that I can live that.


That keeps a lot of people out of the kingdom. It does. And so we need to be ready with promises like this. We need to show people, look, of course, here at the front end, this is all new to you. And of course, you can't imagine what it'd be like to persevere for 50 years in the faith and grow up to be a saint. That's just so foreign to you right now. You can't even imagine what that would be like. Can I show you a promise or two that God will take that on himself? And that when you are united to Christ by faith, the Holy Spirit comes into you and He makes promises to you like this. I will put the fear of me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from me. Will you? Will you look at Jesus and his purchase on your behalf and. And throw yourself on Him and trust him to do that, Not you to do that. I don't know how else you get over the line into the kingdom without some hope that God is going to be there to keep you believing. Death, of course, is just a huge anxiety. But it's not different than all the ones we've looked at. And you go to specific texts about promises of God in the face of death. Now one of us lives to himself. Not one of us dies to himself. If we live, we live to the Lord. If we die, we die to the Lord. Whether we live or whether we die. We are the Lords for to this end, Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord, both of the living and the dead. Some of you are preparing for ministry.


All of you know somebody who one day will die. And God may call you to go to their bedside as they're dying. I think every lay person, not just pastors, every lay person, ought to be able to minister in that situation. And I would just commend one of these. That text right there stored up, put your Bible maybe at the foot of your Bible, put death verse. Or memorize it. I memorized it years ago, and it's been among the most common ministries of going. And you're always this is a delicate call and you have to be sensitive to the relatives and to others who stay around the bed. Are you going to make the call? They're dying. Because sometimes wrestlers don't want getting close to that. They know it's true. But then we'll talk about it. And if we've got a believer in front of us, I'm going to say to the relatives out in the hall, Look. If you were dying. If I were dying, I would not want that to be concealed from me. I want strength. I want help. They're dying. Are they not? Doctors said they're dying. They got a day or two or an hour. Yes. Let's talk about it with them. And you. You reach down. And you say. James. You know, you know the word from the scriptures. None of us lived to himself and none of us dies to himself. If we live, we live to the Lord. And if we die, we die to the Lord. So, James, whether you live or whether you die and it looks like you're going to die. Whether you live or whether you die. You, James, are the Lords. Get real. He'll play two games here. You're the Lords for.


You know how we've talked about ground courses through the year in preaching games? You know how I've always given reasons from the Bible to believe things for to this in Christ died that He might be Lord of the living up dead. It's good to be your Lord tomorrow, whether you're in this bed or in heaven. Isn't that glorious? Squeeze of the hand. Pray. I love you. I'll see you tomorrow. Or I see you in heaven as ministry. Everybody can do that. You don't need to go to seminary to do that. You just need to know Jesus and. And know the word and lean on it and fight your own fight of faith day by day. And then just share with people what the Lord is doing for you. Thank you for listening to this message from Desiring God, the Ministry of John Piper, Pastor for preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Feel free to make copies of this message for others, but please do not charge for those copies or alter the content in any way without permission. We invite you to visit desiring God online at w WW dot desiring God dot org where you'll find hundreds of sermons, articles, radio broadcasts and more all available at no charge. Our online bookstore carries all of Pastor John's books, audio and video resources, and you can also stay up to date on what's new at Desiring God. Again, our website is w WW dot desiring God dot org or call us toll free at 1888346 4700. Our mailing address is. Desiring God. 2601 East Franklin Avenue. Minneapolis, Minnesota. 55406. Desiring God exists to help you make God your treasure because God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.