December 05, 2020—God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him
John Piper is well known for coining this phrase:
God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.
I want to take a look at where he found this in the Bible, then think about an objection that people have raised.
Take a look at Philippians 1:18–26:
What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.
Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.
Notice these things:
In both cases (life and death) Paul said Christ would be honored, and he connects both cases directly to his desire for Christ.
I understand that to be the heart of Piper’s statement.
I think it’s very fair to conclude from Philippians 1 that God is glorified in us when we are satisfied in Him. But most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him? I don’t think that necessarily comes from Philippians 1 alone. But let’s keep looking at the Bible.
First, recall Exodus 20:3:
You shall have no other gods before me.
In the Bible’s terms, to worship another god is called “idolatry”.
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
So in the Bible’s terms, idolatry is more than worshiping Baal. It is also the love of stuff that isn’t God.
So the Bible says that there is only one holy option for what occupies the top shelf of our hearts and desires: God. In other words there is no other holy choice but to be most satisfied in God.
I didn’t go into a lot of detail but I think that’s enough to establish from the Bible that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.
- According to the law of identity, “joy in God” is not God, and God is not “joy in God.”
- Seeking as the highest aim anything but God is idolatry.
- Therefore, seeking joy in God as the highest aim is idolatry.
The author also states this:
Let me be clear that I am not denying that we should find our greatest joy in God. Rather, that seeing God merely as a means to our greatest joy is not glorifying to God and is actually harmful to our relationship with God.
I’m not sure where to go with this. On the one hand the author is right that seeing God as a means to an end is idolatry. On the other hand I don’t understand how this is an objection against Piper’s thesis.
It’s a little subtle but there can be a difference between seeking joy in God and seeking God. By definition, seeking God means you are desiring Him. So to have God as one’s highest aim means that God is one’s chief pleasure. But if one’s pleasure of God somehow becomes more important than the person of God then something is wrong. It’s subtle, but I think the author is technically right.
But I’m not sure how meaningful this argument is in general. Consider what happens when we cut another argument from the same template:
Is that helpful? I guess there could somehow be a difference between the pursuit of the pursuit of God and the pursuit of God. But that doesn’t move the chains very far.
And at the end of the day I don’t see how any form of argument from that template can make it untrue that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.
The point is that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.
How do you view God? Is He your highest pleasure? If not then consider what the Bible says about idolatry on the one hand and what is most glorifying to God on the other.