Man’s Proper Happiness

Man’s proper happiness consists in the enjoyment of God; but it is not possible that man should enjoy God with only those things in him which he receives by the first birth.  So that there is this necessity of man’s being born again.

– Jonathan Edwards

as quoted by Piper, John; When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy; copyright 2004; Crossway Books; Wheaton, Il.; p. 56

Obedience, When it Happens, is a Gift

That is the mystery: We must obey the command to rejoice in the Lord, and we cannot, because of our willful and culpable corruption.  Therefore obedience, when it happens, is a gift.  The heretic Pelagius in the fourth century rejected this truth and was shocked and angered when he saw St. Augustine prayed in his Confessions.  Augustine prayed, “Give me the grace [O Lord] to do as you command, and command me to do what you will!…O holy God…when your commands are obeyed, it is from you that we receive the power to obey them.”

– Piper, John; When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy; copyright 2004; Crossway Books; Wheaton, Il.; p. 53

The Problem With Our Ignorance

Ignorance is rooted in hardness, not the other way around.  Therefore we are not excused.  The problem with our ignorance of God’s beauty is not innocent unawareness, but culpable hardness.  Our hardness is our deadness, and our deadness makes us unable to submit to the command, Love the Lord with all your heart.

– Piper, John; When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy; copyright 2004; Crossway Books; Wheaton, Il.; p. 50

A Mind So Hostile To God’s Authority

The natural person, the person defined by flesh, but not yet changed by Christ, is so hostile in mind to God’s glorious authority (not submitting to his law) that he cannot delight in God or rejoice in his ways.  He can do many things religious and moral things, but his heart is far from God (Matthew 15:8), and he cannot make himself stop seeing the greatness and authority of God as undesirable.

– Piper, John; When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy; copyright 2004; Crossway Books; Wheaton, Il.; p. 49

Rejoice in the Lord Alwyas, and Again I Say Rejoice

Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say Rejoice (Philippians 4:4).  All our joy must terminate in God, and our thoughts of God must be delightful thoughts.  Delight Thyself in the Lord (Psalm 37:4)…Observe, it is our duty and privilege to rejoice in God, and to rejoice in him always; at all times, in all conditions, even when we suffer for him, or are afflicted by him.  We must not think the worse of him or of his ways for the hardships we meet with in his service.  There is enough in God to furnish with matter of joy in the worst circumstances on earth…Joy in God is a duty of great consequences in the Christian life; and Christians need to be again and again called to it.

– Matthew Henry

as quoted by Piper, John; When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy; copyright 2004; Crossway Books; Wheaton, Il.; p. 48

And If the Joy Comes, It Is a Gift

When we understand that seeing Christ is what leads to enjoying Christ, and that therefore the fight for joy is mainly a fight to see, we grasp how the fight does not undermine the fact tha joy is a gift and a spontaneous experience.  The joy that comes from seeing beauty is spontaneous no matter how hard one fought to see.  The fighting does not cause the joy.  Seeing causes the joy.  And it does so freely.  There is no coercion.  No one stands before a beautiful sunrise and says, “Now I worked hard to get up this early; you owe me happiness by your bright colors.”  No.  We stand there and in humility we receive.  And if the joy comes, it is a gift.

– Piper, John; When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy; copyright 2004; Crossway Books; Wheaton, Il.; p. 44

He Hates to See Christ Honored

Third, we understand that the fight for joy is first and always a fight to see.  Seeing the glory of Jesus Christ in the gospel awakens joy.  And joy in Christ magnifies his worth.  That is why Satan aims chiefly at blinding us from seeing Christ for who he is.  He hates to see Christ honored.  And Christ is mightily honored when the sight of his glory gives rise to the kind of gladness that cuts the nerve of sin and causes radical sacrifice in the cause of the gospel.

– Piper, John; When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy; copyright 2004; Crossway Books; Wheaton, Il.; p. 43