A Buzz Better Than Porn

In a John Piper sermon I watched recently, he said that our souls were designed to be connected to “shocking, stunning, divine, absolute, staggering grandeur,” that the human heart was “made to be staggered by terrifyingly awesome, joyous dread and peace.”

Have we caught a glimpse of this in our lives?

I am reminded of Moses’ request while on Mt. Sinai: “Please show me your glory” (Exodus 33:18). I am reminded of the request of Philip in the upper room with Jesus: “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us” (John 14:8). There is a longing in us to interact with the Divine.

The soul that was meant to be touched by the majestic and holy I AM will go for the best buzz it can get when it is cut off from that Source. Typically, sexual pleasure is the buzz of choice.

In the absence of the Supernatural, we seek cheep substitutes to set our hearts ablaze with passion and intense feeling. When we ignore the awesomeness of the Creator God, we have “exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man” (Romans 1:23). We make an idol of sexual fantasy.

CS Lewis’ Spell

One of my favorite sermons ever preached was written by CS Lewis: “The Weight of Glory.” In it he writes:

“The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire. . . . Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

Lewis points out that the New Covenant promises are filled with appeals to our desires. Why? Because God is most glorified in me, when I am most satisfied in Him, when I am most alive in Him.

Our problem with our desires is not that they are too strong; they are too weak. We are nearsighted creatures. As Piper puts it, we are so awash in the ocean of earthly desires, we’ve ceased to dream about the open air.

Does it seem like Lewis is trying to just weave a spell over us with these words? He certainly is. Lewis writes, “You and I have need of the strongest spell that can be found to wake us from the evil enchantment of worldliness.”

Practically Speaking

Often our remedies to sexual sin are man-centered rather than Christ-centered. (Special thanks to Ronald Sanchez of Family Bible Church for his blog post about this. He writes, “The greatest remedy for any kind of sexual sin problem is to be satisfied with Christ above the sin.”)

We often approach sexual purity like a recipe for success or an equation. We devote ourselves to being mentored, having rigorous spiritual disciplines, cutting ourselves off from the source of temptation, and memorizing God’s word . . . and hope that the result is our purity and freedom. These are wonderful practices and I firmly believe they are integral parts of being obedient to Christ, but they are not a recipe. The goal of these practices is connecting ourselves to the only One who can set our souls on fire with Divine desire.

One of my friends, Dean Trune, has taught me a lot about developing a “spiritual root system,” sinking my roots deep into intimacy with God. These roots include time in prayer, intercession, fasting, meditating on the Scriptures, etc. But they ought to be connected to the “tap root” of a passion for God.

Surely we are called to bear fruit, like a tree is designed to bear its fruit. We long for the fruit of love, not the outcropping of lust; the fruit of self-control, not slavery to sin; the fruit of joy, not the temporary rush of hormones; the fruit of goodness, not the evil of sexual idolatry. It is bearing the fruit of Christlike character that marks us as Jesus disciples (John 15:1-17).

While bearing this fruit is a choice made by an obedient heart, the power to bear fruit comes from the root system. We must be connected to the wonder of intimacy with God. Deep beneath the soil is the river of life, God’s Spirit.

So while the roots are indispensable, they are of no good simply scattered or cut off from the tree. Only when they are connected to the tap root of a PASSION for God are we really transformed on the inside.

In the Scriptures we are given the divine promise that we can live a life that does NOT gratify lustful desires. But what is the condition of that promise?

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). We do not have the power to say no to sin until we begin to live to gratify greater desires. We must live our lives according to the desires of the Spirit, desires placed in us when he regenerates our dead hearts.

And what are the Holy Spirit’s greatest desires? It is to glorify Jesus Christ, because He alone is truly glorious. It is to speak of the greatness and majesty of Christ, because He is the One worth speaking about. His desire is to speak of our glorious inheritance in Christ and the coming glory of Christ’s kingdom (John 16:12-15).

Is your heart captured by Him?

(For more helpful material from John Piper, listen to Battling the Unbelief of Lust)