Future Grace - Battling Unbelief - Lesson 8

How Does It Work Against Sin? (Part 2)

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

John Piper
Future Grace - Battling Unbelief
Lesson 8
Watching Now
How Does It Work Against Sin? (Part 2)

4. How Does It Work Against Sin? (Part 2)

Battling the Forms of Unbelief

Battling the unbelief of covetousness

  • 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 2)

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. Keeping your nose in the Bible is a good idea. We have a little saying at Bethlehem. No Bible, no breakfast, and it's a commitment on our part. Some of us anyway, that if you have to choose because you're a little bit behind schedule, you choose Bible, not breakfast. It is interesting that most people don't make that choice. They they say, I didn't have time for Bible this morning, but they ate breakfast. That's an odd choice, isn't it? Which food is more important? So as I was reflecting this morning in my own soul preparation, which is as important as overhead preparation, it occurred to me I should probably clarify something from one of the last sessions and then make that the the stepping stone into where we're going in this session. And the clarification regards the promise in Matthew 633. Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you. And one. One couple came to talk to me about that and and they are in a middle you where that verse is usually taken to justify the health, wealth, prosperity. Name it, claim it. Word of faith, kind of Christian living. And it sounded like I was saying that to them. And so let me say what I was saying and then give you a verse or two and then move into this session. All things there. And in second Corinthians nine eight and in Philippians four, 19 does not refer to everything you want from time to time. It refers to everything you need in order to glorify God.


And God calls some people to glorify him by dying. And so if you're dying in a prison or in the guillotine or on the rack or of a disease, clearly some of the all things like food and clothing and drink to sustain life are missing. So when he promises all these things will be added to you, he means exactly the amount you need in order to do what I want you to do. Could be die, could be live, could be prosper, could be have a very simple Spartan lifestyle in the city for the sake of the kingdom. It is. It's not clear from that text that you can apply it to. I want a BMW. And God says, All things will be given to me if I seek the kingdom. And so for the sake of the BMW, we lay Hold on it. So clarification, the text that I quoted in a recent sermon he gave last Sunday, in fact, that my wife and I chose is crucial chose for our wedding though the fig tree his is his backing 317 though the fig tree should not blossom nor and the fruit of the olive fail. There be no food in the fields and there be no flocks in the stall and there be no herd. Yet I will rejoice in the Lord. I will joy in the God of my salvation. That's an amazing statement. Food is missing both on the vine and in the field, and this farm is devastated and I will rejoice. And he didn't say in the sure accomplishment of rescue, he said, I will rejoice in God, the God of my. I salvation, there will be a salvation. This side or the other side of the grave. God is God and He is mine.


And when God is your God, you will live forever with ever increasing joy. But not necessarily prosper here. We pray again. Father in heaven. What? So much. That your word be heard in its proper proportions. Grant, I pray that as we unpack the practicalities of living by faith in future Grace, you would help us to understand each other and mainly understand the Scriptures. I want it to be true of us. What was true of those on the road to Imus? Did not our hearts burn within us when he opened to us the Scriptures so great that our hearts would burn for Christ as we hear His Word. Pray this in Jesus name. Amen. Let me give you an overview of where we've been so that you can see where we're going more clearly. Foundations or passions underneath this seminar were three A passion for the supremacy of God in all things. First, good at the INS 1031 Whatever you do, whether you eat or drink, do all to the glory of God. Your whole life, every moment of every day should be making God look good. That's the point of it. That's the passion we should have. Number two, rejoice in the Lord. And again, I say, rejoice. Philippians 44a passion for joy in the Lord should be moment by moment, steady state, daily passion and desire. I want to be more content in God, more satisfied in God, more happy in God, delighting more in God. That should burn as a passion in our lives. Third, a passion for practical holiness. Or we said love. We're going to talk about both in these sessions. Pursue holiness, without which you will not see the Lord. So the question we asked in what lifestyle, what way of living fulfills a passion for God's supremacy, fulfills a passion for joy, and fulfills a quest to be a holy and radically sacrificially loving person? My answer is living by faith in future.


Grace has the key in it that does all three of those, and how that works is the aim of this seminar. How is it that living by faith in future grace does that? But what we focused on last time was the biblical dynamics, the biblical foundations of it. Let me just summarize those for you and then we move into the HOW questions in this session and beyond. We talked about the nature of faith. It works. It's not dormant. It works. It produces works of faith. Paul talks about we talked about its future nature. It's not just looking past to Jesus. It's looking future to his promises. In fact, the dynamic that severs the root of sin is the future orientation of faith. And we said it is a being satisfied in all the God is for us in Jesus. So faith has a future orientation on the promises of God. It has an aspect tional essence, which is a being satisfied in all that God promises to be for us. And therefore it severs the root of sin which has power by virtue of lying promises. And it does works of love. Then we talked about grace. Grace is not just God's disposition to send Jesus. It is power arriving moment by moment. We said it's good to look back at past grace this this river coming to us of promises from the future, breaking over the present waterfall of our lives and gathering in a great reservoir of memory and history. So that we stand here looking back with gratitude, looking forward with faith in future grace ever arriving to get us through this seminar and through eternity. So grace is power arriving, and we talked about the function of gratitude and the dangers of trying to make gratitude do what it was never designed to do, namely empower your life in future obedience.


We need the assurance that there will be fresh grace for this hour lest we try to take past grace and make gratitude our engine for sustaining life. We can't do it by gratitude or any other means. We can. We do it with fresh grace and the human act that embraces and receives that grace is faith. Faith in ever arriving future grace offered to us in the promises of God in the Bible. We talked about that. And then we talked about the role of the Holy Spirit. Got a little clarification on the Agency of the Spirit helped me to think about that a little bit. The Holy Spirit has a role in this dynamic of how faith produces the works of love, and he does so by being the agent that bears the fruit. But he has an instrument through which he works, and it is faith. Does he who supplies the spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by. So the Spirit has a buy by works of the law or hearing with faith, hearing promises, hearing gospel and believing. Does the Holy Spirit work in you? Love and miracles. Hope. Power, Holiness. Does he do it by this? No. By this? Yes. Hearing by faith. So the fight to hear the Word of God. No Bible, no breakfast, lest I not be filled with the Holy Spirit today. Because the Spirit works by hearing with faith. Why does the Holy Spirit do it that way? We said because he wants to glorify Jesus. He doesn't want to arrive and become the main actor. He wants to arrive and be the quiet, humble, invisible member of the Trinity, calling attention to Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He came to glorify the Son, therefore the Son and all that the Son accomplished, purchased and promised is to be the conscious focus of our minds.


And the work of the Holy Spirit is to bring us to that point. And so we pray a Holy Spirit open my eyes to see the glory of the Son of God. Open my eyes to see the all sufficiency of His purchase as a great foundation and open my eyes to see the magnificence of his promises, especially the promise of fellowship with Himself and the Holy Spirit. When he hears a prayer like that says, That's what I said, my job description. Of course I'm going to do that. Yes, I will do that if that's what you want. And so he is absolutely essential in our living by faith, in future grace. We do not minimize the essentiality of the function of the Holy Spirit, even though we will make much now of the power of faith to sever the root of sin. I never mean that apart from the Holy Spirit. So that's a summary of where we've been. And I close by saying it's a fight, the fight of faith. And join me in it. I just confronted a guy the other day because I wanted to know how he was doing. And I just said kind of talk to me about your devotional. Actually, he gave me general comments and I just felt say, okay, this morning, tell me what you did before we met. Did you have a season of prayer? And he said, no. Asking general questions does not always tell you where people are. They kind of generalize about their lives. I try. I read the Bible, blah, blah, blah. How about this morning before you came here? What? Just give me the breakdown of the minutes. You need to be in each other's lives like that. Because we deceive ourselves and each other.


And I need people in my life to say. Okay, you talk a lot about no Bible, no breakfast. How about this morning, Piper? How about this morning? Let's go to Covetousness. This is big for Americans and everybody, but we have a lot of stuff in America. So what's the definition of covetousness? And how does living by faith and future grace defeat covetousness? Definition desiring something not for God's glory. Or in such a way that it that we lose our contentment in God and it can be anything innocent or bad. Can be a wife or a potential wife. Then it can be ministry. There is there are desires that are out of whack. They're out of proportion to the value of the stuff desired. And it's called covetousness. When we are not desiring something for God's glory and when the desire for it and not having it tends to make us lose our commitment to God or the desire for it and having it makes us lose our contentment in God. So is it idolatry? It is Colossians three five. Therefore, consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil, desire and greed, its covetousness, which amounts to idolatry. And that remarkable. Not I don't know if you've noticed that the connection between covetousness and idolatry is in the Ten Commandments as a bracket. The first of the Ten Commandments is you shall have no other gods before me. Don't commit idolatry. And the last of the Ten Commandments is you shall not covet. What's the relationship between those two? Don't commit idolatry. Don't desire or cherish or treasure anything above me. And that's the definition of don't cover. Same commandment. I think. And it puts the Ten Commandments in a living by faith in future grace sandwich.


A Christian hedonist sandwich. The big battle in these stealing, lying, adulterous issues. The big battle in here is do you value God more than stuff? Don't let anything become your God don't covet. And if you succeed at those, too. The ones in the middle are going to happen. That's the reason they don't happen is because we are not. Trusting, resting, delighting in. God. This verse right here. Is one of the clearest illustrations Hebrews 13 five and six, one of the clearest illustrations of the dynamic of living by faith in future grace in regard to covetousness in the Bible, probably the clearest in the Bible. So watch it. Make sure that your character is free from the love of money. The alternative of craving money is be content with what you have. And then comes the ground. How do you get to be like that? How do you battle for contentment that frees you from the love of money, which makes you a loving person for others rather than a greedy, covetous person. Ground for he has said something. We're talking promises here. Defeat covetousness. He said, I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you. So now you, on the basis of that, we on the basis of that can confidently say. And then he quotes Scripture again, The Lord is my helper. I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? So if you are tempted to love money. Tempted to be greedy, tempted to lay up treasures on Earth. One of the verses in your arsenal by which you put to death the deeds of the body is No, he's told me something. He said, I'll never leave you. I'll never forsake you. People can't do anything to you.


I'm on your side. I'll meet your needs. And I said, I think at the beginning of last session or whatever it was that I was going to show you a text for why in Philippians four, the all things of Matthew 633 does not imply everything that you want, but everything you need. Matthew 633, says Seek the kingdom of God first and all his and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you. And I've said all you need to be a martyr. Or all you need to minister in the city or what you need to do God's will. Now watch this. Philippians 419. My God will supply all your needs according to His riches and glory in Christ Jesus. So all your needs absolutely promise, no qualification. The question is, what's that? What's needs? Now? Back up. What? Six verses in the chapter. So that we are in. We're in Paul's mind as we read that verse. Don't take verses so out of context, you don't know what's flowing in and what's flowing out. So let's back it up. Verse 11 Not that I speak of want need, for I have learned to be content. Content. Be content with what you have, God has said. I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am, whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means and I know how to live in prosperity in any and every circumstance. I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry. Having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things. Through him who strengthens me. I can remember the early days when I saw this. I was teaching at Bethel and I would use it in devotions in class to to teach contextual interpretation.


Make sure you don't take a verse out of context. And so I would I would quote a text that almost all my students knew. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. And I would I would just I would say to the class, give me some examples of all things. I'd say just finish my homework. Be a faithful witness to all kinds of triumphs. They were all triumphs. Because that's the way we learn the verse. I can do all things to him who strengthens me. I try to. And half of the ones he mentions here are not triumph. At the external level. What is this? All things include. I can do all things. I can suffer. Need. I can go hungry. I can live in humble means. I can do all things through him. Who strengthens me. Even die. Now, knowing that he has just said that when I get to chapter four, verse 19 and he says, My God will supply all your needs according to his riches and glory in Christ Jesus. I take this all to be the same as that all. It would be totally unwarranted of me having just read this, to say he will give you the car you want, He'll give you the ring you want. He'll give you the suit you want. He'll give you the house you want. He'll give you. Give you. Give you all this stuff. When in fact, the all things includes being without things. And going hungry. Because those are not what needs are here. That's why I go to numerous other texts in the Bible, and I'm ready to be careful now that when Jesus says, Seek my kingdom first and all these things will be added to you.


I'm real slow to say everything I want will be added to me, and I'm very quick to say very likely he means something like that. And then you read the rest of things Jesus says, and you know that's what he means because he promises, We're going to get killed, we're going to get thrown into prison, we're going to be beaten in synagogues. And so the all things this prosperity thing don't count on it. In fact, don't even want it. But don't have covetousness. Because he's going to meet everything you need. He's going to do it. I'm going to skip these pages, I think. Gracious warnings about the dangers of desiring money and things. This is the this is not. These are not promises. These are warnings. Warnings are the flipside of promises that say if you don't embrace the promise of hope, here's what's going to happen. And that should scare you. Scare unbelief out of you and send you running to the promises. So all these negative things said about money are there. And I'm going to I'm going to pass over it. Go here, pray for a heart for the truth and not money. Pray for a heart that falls out of love with money. Psalm one, 1936. Incline my heart to your testimonies and not to getting gain. Do you pray about the inclinations of your heart? Mostly. Teach your children. Model for your spouse. How to pray about spiritual things, because most people who are either unbelievers or immature believers or carnal believers pray not about spiritual things. They do pray, but they pray about material things. Lord, help us to be healthy, Lord. Give us safety on our trip. Lord, help the visit with Joe to go well and on and on, all things that the devil would ask for.


They're not wrong. They're just. No evidence that you're a Christian. So what do Christians pray for? Mainly they pray for this mainly Father. Teach your nine year old to pray like this because nine year olds by default do not pray like this. There has to be a spiritual awakening and some and some instructional pouring in to the awakening so that a nine year old will learn how to pray about her little burnt heart. She should learn how to pray about her heart, not about her stuff. You don't condemn her for praying about her stuff. That's mine. Yes, we we pray about her stuff, but mainly you want to say, Lord, my heart is inclining towards gain money. Please forgive me and take hold of my wayward heart and incline it to your word. That's the way Christians pray. They pray about their inclinations. They pray about their heart condition. They have language that is spiritual, about what God needs to do on them to make them what they ought to be and what their spouses and daughters and what their church should be. They don't just say vague things like make it go well or give us a good service, or all these words that say nothing about what you really want to happen spiritually. Be spiritual in praying toward heart inclinations towards God's word. So if you're battling with covetousness, pray that and go and get specific Anti-covid just promises. 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.