Audio Transcript

Katy from Palm Bay, Florida and Jared Bridgman both sent this clip in at the same time. It’s from a message John Piper delivered, titled, “How to Kill Sin, Part 2,” on February 17, 2002. Here’s what he said:

Ed Welch published a book called Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave. It is a great topic. It is taken from a proverb. It is a book on addictions. I commend it to you. It is the sentence from an article that he wrote in preparation for that book.

There is a mean streak to authentic self-control. . . . Self-control is not for the timid. When we want to grow in it, not only do we nurture an exuberance for Jesus Christ, we also demand of ourselves a hatred for sin. . . . The only possible attitude toward out-of-control desire is a declaration of all-out war.”

“The only possible attitude toward out-of-control desire is a declaration of all-out war.”

I hear so many Christians murmuring about their imperfections and their failures and their addictions and their shortcomings — and I see so little war. Murmur, murmur, murmur. “Why am I this way?” Make war! If you wonder how to make war, go to the manual. Don’t just bellyache about your failures. Make war! He says — I am continuing the quote:

There is something about war that sharpens the senses. . . . You hear a twig snap or the rustling of leaves and you are in attack mode. Someone coughs and you are ready to pull the trigger. Even after days of little or no sleep, war keeps us vigilant.

A Christian Violence

There is a mean, violent streak to the true Christian life. Now let’s very carefully ask: violence against whom or what? Not other people. Not other people. Not other people. Not Muslims. Not Hindus. Not Buddhists. Not atheists. Not secularists. Not nominal Christians. Not wives or husbands or children or ornery bosses — but on every impulse in our soul to be violent to other people — violence, a mean streak in Christianity against our own selves and all in us that would make peace with sin and a settling in peacetime mindset. We make war on that in us. It is a violence against all lust in ourselves, all enslaving desires for food, caffeine, sugar, chocolate, alcohol, pornography, money, the praise of man, approval of others, power, fame. This is our enemy. This is where we make war. It is a violence against all racism in our souls, all sluggish indifference to injustice in our souls, a violence against indifference to poverty and indifference to abortion in our souls.

“Don’t just bellyache about your failures. Make war!”

Did you know that in the warfare of Romans, Satan doesn’t show up until chapter 16? We tend to think of spiritual warfare as this little thing where you find some way to pray or some way to lay hands on or some way to do a Satan thing. Well, that is important. Believe me. That is important. “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). That is important. But you know what? It is not nearly as important as this, because the only foothold Satan has in your life is your flesh and your sin. Nobody goes to hell because of Satan. The only reason we go to hell is sin. Much more important than fighting Satan is fighting sin.

This warfare in Romans 8:13 is vastly more important than figuring Satan out. Get that. My biggest enemy is not Satan. My biggest enemy is John Piper. Fallen, fleshly, rebellious, hostile, selfish, lusting, power-grabbing, fame-loving John Piper is my biggest enemy and he is the only reason I will go to hell, not Satan. Satan, you don’t have nearly that kind of power. And, therefore, I really care about us learning how to do this battle. Christianity is not a settle in, live-at-peace-with-the-world-the-way-it-is religion like most Christians live their daily lives.

“Nobody goes to hell because of Satan. The only reason we go to hell is sin.”

The phrase in Romans 8:13 is if by the Spirit you kill. There is a mean streak in Christianity and it is not against anybody else but ourselves. In fact, it is against the meanness of ourselves against other people. If you feel like you are a mean person against others, a harsh person, a critical person, you know your problem? You haven’t learned to make war. You haven’t learned to be mean. You haven’t learned to get violent against your violence, against your meanness, against your critical spirit. And you complain of it, talk about it, but have you made war 24/7 against it?