The Essential Warfare for Holiness
One of the great points the Puritans saw in Scripture is the connection between happiness and holiness. For them, to be perfectly holy would be to be perfectly happy. Pastor John, how would you articulate this connection between happiness and holiness?
My approach will be slightly different, because the more I think about Christian Hedonism, the more careful I am in phrasing this connection. Happiness is part of holiness, so that if you tried to describe what it means to be a holy person and left out happiness in God, you couldn’t do it. There is no such thing as holiness minus happiness in God. Happiness in God is the essence of holiness.
Try to explain holiness without happiness, and you will fail. The essence of holiness is happiness in God.
God’s holiness is God’s being supremely valuable. That is his holiness. God infinitely delights in his infinite delightfulness because otherwise he would be a liar. He would be unrighteous. And so his holiness is being infinitely delightful and delighting infinitely in his infinite delightfulness.
Our holiness is seeing and savoring God as infinitely valuable, precious, and worthy of trust, delight, admiration and praise. We trust it. We treasure it. We embrace it. We enjoy it. We are satisfied by it, and we act in accordance with our esteeming Jesus above all things. So once you set things up like that, everything else flows from it.
The Upward Spiral of Holy Happiness
Happiness is like a spiral in the Christian life. Matthew 5:8 says, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” So because of what you see of God, joy floods your soul. That seeing enables you to do what God says we ought to do, like loving your enemy. When you love your enemy it circles back and makes you happy.
Piper: “The essential warfare of holiness or sanctification is the warfare to be satisfied in God.”
Additionally, there is a happiness of conscience that comes when you do what your conscience doesn’t condemn. This is seen in Romans 14:22, when Paul says, “Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves.” When you lay down your head at night having acted in ways that your satisfaction in God has enabled you to do, there is another level of happiness that comes. That kind of upward spiral of happiness then increases your joy in God, and that frees you to do more acts of love and thus makes you happier.
When we say God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in him, we are saying, therefore, the essential warfare of holiness or sanctification is the warfare to be satisfied in God. The number one fight is to see and savor him as beautiful. The fundamental way to sever the root of pornography, or theft, or desire for applause is by striving for the power of a superior satisfaction, namely satisfaction in God.