The Key to Killing Lust
I have a few favorite sermon clips from the sermons of John Piper. Today’s clip is one of the very best. I have listened to it a dozen times, at least. It happens to also be the favorite sermon clip of a longtime podcast listener named Greg, who lives in Louisville, Kentucky. It’s from a 2004 conference message in which Pastor John is explaining how we order our sexual lives.
Now, you don’t have to be a Christian to see the destructive power of pornography on the human brain. You don’t have to be a Christian to discern the difference between love and lust. And you certainly don’t have to be a Christian to know that adultery destroys marriages. But you must be a Christian to see the battle for sexual purity within its fullest reality. So, how do we battle lust like Christians? And how does sexuality find its ultimate purpose and right place in our lives? It is no overstatement that the following clip explains the key to it all. Here’s Pastor John.
We were made to see and savor, with everlasting satisfaction, the supremacy of Christ. Our sexuality points to this, and we are sexual beings that we may know something of this. And we must know this in order to be pure and have our sexuality be sacred and sweet and Christ-exalting and secondary — quietly, powerfully secondary.
Sun at the Center
So, my prayer for this conference has been and is that you will all, one by one, see and savor the supremacy of Christ — married or single, male or female, old or young, disordered in your desires or walking in a measure of holiness — that you will behold and embrace the supremacy of Christ in all things.
Because I know without the shadow of a doubt, on biblical authority, that the little spaceships of our moral regimes — our little tactics to fight lust, our little spaceships to nudge the planet of our sexuality back into orbit — are absolutely futile if the supremacy of Christ is not the sun at the center of the solar system of your life. I know that. I don’t know many things. But I know that beyond the shadow of a doubt.
And therefore, this is an easy conference to do because the solution is clear. It’s not easy to appropriate because of our sin, but the answer to the problem is clear: there’s a massive sun that belongs at the center of the solar system of our lives, and by its weight and glory and mass and beauty and power, it holds the orbits in place.
Know His Supremacy
And therefore, my prayer — as much as I believe in my practical strategies, and oh, I believe in them — is that you will know, that you will press on to know, the supremacy of Christ.
We must know the supremacy of his deity, equal with God the Father in all of his attributes — the radiance of his glory and the exact image of his nature.
We must know the supremacy of his eternality that makes the mind want to explode with the imponderable thought that Jesus Christ never had a beginning; he is simply there — absolute reality with which we reckon. We must rise to the supremacy of his eternality, while all the universe, including this building and your body and this earth and all the galaxies, are fragile and contingent, like a shadow in comparison to the substance of Jesus Christ.
We must know the supremacy of his never-changing constancy. Oh, to have virtues that never change, a character whose commitment is constant yesterday, today, and forever. Let us know the supremacy of his constancy.
Let us know the supremacy of his knowledge that makes the Library of Congress look like a matchbox, and makes all the information on the Internet look like a 1940s Farmer’s Almanac, and makes all of quantum physics and everything that Stephen Hawking has ever dreamed look like a first-grade reader. We must know the supremacy of the knowledge of our Lord.
We must know the supremacy of his wisdom that has never been perplexed by any problem whatsoever, nor can he be counseled by any person or any being in the universe.
We must know the supremacy of his authority. “All authority is mine in heaven and on earth and under the earth” — no change, all authority, changing times and seasons, removing kings and setting up kings, doing “according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, ‘What have you done?’” (Daniel 4:35).
We must know the supremacy of his providence, without which not a single bird in the extended reaches of the Amazon forest has ever fallen off of any limb, and without which not one hair turns white or black. We must know the providence of Jesus.
We must know the supremacy of his word, which upholds the universe — all the galaxies, molecules, atoms, and subatomic reality nobody has yet dreamed of down there where no one has yet looked.
We must know the supremacy of his power to walk on water, and cleanse lepers, and heal the lame, and open the eyes of the blind, and open the ears of the deaf, and cause storms to cease, and with two words raise the dead — “Lazarus, come out” (John 11:43) — or with one word raise the dead — “I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’” (Ezekiel 16:6). We must know the supremacy of his power.
We must know the supremacy of his purity. He never sinned. He never sinned. He never had one millisecond of a bad attitude or a sinful lust.
We must know the supremacy of his trustworthiness. He never breaks a promise. He always keeps his word — absolutely without fail.
We must know the supremacy of his justice. He will render all accounts settled in the end, in the universe, either on the cross or in hell. No injustice will remain when Christ is finished with his supreme justice.
We must know the supremacy of his patience. He has endured you and me for decades. He has endured this city and brings the sun. Can you imagine why the sun rose on this city this morning — this wicked city, this world so full of sinners? And he makes paradise rise in the sky in Minneapolis. What kind of patience are we dealing with here?
We must know the supremacy of his servant-like, sovereign obedience. He kept every one of his Father’s commands absolutely. And in the end, he embraced the cross with total willingness.
We must know the supremacy of his meekness and lowliness and tenderness. He will not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering flax.
We must know the supremacy of his wrath. One day it will explode on this world from heaven such that all who have rejected him will call for rocks to crush their brain, lest they have to face the wrath of the Lamb. We must know this. When I look at the beheadings, and I hear someone ask, “Where is your supreme Christ?” my answer is really easy: he is in heaven storing up almighty wrath in fury to pour out on all those who commit such sins. That’s where he is. And you better get right with him and repent, or you will all likewise perish. That’s not a hard question to answer biblically.
We must know the supremacy of his grace, which gives to spiritually dead rebels like us life. He awakens faith in hell-bound haters of God. He justifies the ungodly with his own righteousness.
We must know the supremacy of his love, which dies for us while we are yet sinners, and gives to the absolutely undeserving the ability for ever-increasing joy in making much of him.
We must know the supremacy of his gladness in the fellowship of the Trinity: infinite power, infinite energy, infinite joy rising, spilling over in the creation of a universe, and becoming for you, one day, an inheritance for every struggling saint.
We must know: this is what we were made for. Press on to know the Lord. When we talked last night about when you’re not reading substantial theology, how do you think you’re fighting lust? Get the connection: We are made to know Christ. We’re not made to do little diddly things. We’re made to know this massive Christ. This world is a little two-second slice, and then we are with him, or not, forever. It’s what we are created to know and do and be about.
Scratching the Surface
And when we know him in those ways, we have begun to know the outskirts of his supremacy, for time would fail to speak of his supreme severity, and invincibility, and dignity, and simplicity, and complexity, and resoluteness, and calmness, and depth, and courage. If there’s anything admirable, if there is anything worthy of praise in all the universe, it is summed up in Jesus Christ. He is always infinitely admirable in everything and over everything supreme:
He is supreme over all galaxies and endless reaches of space.
He is supreme over the earth, from the top of Mount Everest at 29,000 feet up, to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean at 36,000 feet down in the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Rim.
He is sovereign and supreme over all plants and animals, from the peaceful blue whale to the microscopic killer viruses.
He is supreme over all weather and all movements of the earth: hurricanes, tornadoes, monsoons, earthquakes, avalanches, floods, snow, rain, sleet.
He is supreme over all chemical processes that heal or destroy: cancer, AIDS, malaria, flu, and all the amazing grace of antibiotics and a thousand healing drugs that we do not deserve.
He is supreme over all countries and governments and armies.
He is supreme over Al Qaeda, and the terrorists, and the kidnappings, and the suicide bombings, and the beheadings.
He is supreme over bin Laden and al-Zarqawi.
He is supreme over all nuclear threats from Iran and Russia and North Korea.
He is supreme over politics and elections and debates.
He is supreme over media and news and entertainment and sports and leisure.
He’s supreme over all education in universities, no matter what they teach, and over all scholarship and science and research.
He is supreme over all business and finance and industry and manufacturing and transportation.
He is supreme over the Internet and all informational systems.
As Abraham Kuyper famously said, and many of you know, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!’”