Par conséquent, toutes les mauvaises utilisations de notre sexualité en dehors du lien marital tordent la véritable connaissance de Dieu. Dieu désire que la vie sexuelle humaine soit un pointeur et un avant-goût de notre relation avec Lui.
Non seulement toutes les mauvaises utilisations de notre sexualité en dehors du lien marital tordent la véritable connaissance de Dieu en Christ, mais cela oeuvre puissamment dans l'autre sens : la véritable connaissance de Dieu en Christ sert à prévenir les mauvaises utilisations de notre sexualité. "
- John Piper
Voici le texte intégral original en anglais apporté par John Piper lors d'une conférence :
Desiring God National Conference
There is a connection between the beheadings of Jack Hensley and Eugene
Armstrong and Nick Berg and Paul Johnson and perhaps Kenneth Bigley, and this
conference on Sex and the Supremacy of Christ.
I look at them and I see their hands and their eyes. And I think of my hands
and my eyes and my death and my faith. And then I hear the words of Jesus put it
all in perspective, and in relation to sex.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’
28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful
intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If
your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is
better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown
into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off
and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that
your whole body go into hell.” (Matthew 5:27-30)
In other words, there is something far more important than to keep your eye
or your hand—or your head—namely, to receive eternal life and not to perish in
hell. And Jesus links it with the war that we are waging not in Iraq but in our
hearts. And the issue is sexual desire and what we do with it.
Everywhere you look in the world, it seems, there are reminders that life is
war. We are not playing games this weekend. Heaven and hell, Jesus says, are in
Two Simple, Weighty Points
I have two simple and weighty points to make. I think everything in this
conference will be the explanation and application of these two points. The
first is that sexuality is designed by God as a way to know God in Christ more
fully. And the second is that knowing God in Christ more fully is designed as a
way of guarding and guiding our sexuality. I use the phrase “God in Christ” to
signal at the outset that I am going to move back and forth because the biblical
assumption of this conference is that Christ is God.
Now to state the two points again, this time negatively, in the first place
all misuses of our sexuality distort the true knowledge of Christ. And, in the
second place, all misuses of our sexuality derive from not having the true
knowledge of Christ.
Or to put it one more way: 1) all sexual corruption serves to conceal the
true knowledge of Christ, but 2) the true knowledge of Christ serves to prevent
1. Sexuality Is Designed by God as a Way to Know God More Fully
God created human beings in his image—male and female he created them, with
capacities for intense sexual pleasure, and with a calling to commitment in
marriage and continence in singleness.1 And his goal in creating human beings with personhood
and passion was to make sure that there would be sexual language and sexual
images that would point to the promises and the pleasures of God’s relationship
to his people and our relationship to him. In other words, the ultimate
reason (not the only one) why we are sexual is to make God more deeply knowable.
The language and imagery of sexuality is the most graphic and most powerful that
the Bible uses to describe the relationship between God and his people—both
positively (when we are faithful) and negatively (when we are not).
Listen, for example, if you can without embarrassment, to both the positive
and the negative in God’s words spoken through the prophet Ezekiel. Keep in mind
that God has chosen Israel from all the peoples on the earth to experience his
special covenant love, until the day when the Jewish Messiah, Jesus Christ,
would come and live and die in the place of sinners, so that the gospel of
Christ would overflow the banks of Israel and flood the nations of the world. So
what we hear God say about his Love for his people Israel in the Old Testament
is all the more true of his relationship to those who believe in his Son, the
Messiah, Jesus Christ. Here is how God describes that relationship with Israel
according to the prophet Ezekiel, chapter 16. He speaks to Jerusalem as the
embodiment of his people and rehearses over a thousand years of history.
Starting at verse 4:
On the day you were born your cord was not cut, nor were you washed with
water to cleanse you, nor rubbed with salt, nor wrapped in swaddling cloths.
5 No eye pitied you, to do any of these things to you out of
compassion for you, but you were cast out on the open field, for you were
abhorred, on the day that you were born. 6 And when I passed by you
and saw you wallowing in your blood, I said to you in your blood, “Live!” I said
to you in your blood, “Live!” 7 I made you flourish like a plant of
the field. And you grew up and became tall and arrived at full adornment. Your
breasts were formed, and your hair had grown; yet you were naked and bare.
8 When I passed by you again and saw you, behold, you were at the age
for love, and I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your
nakedness; I made my vow to you and entered into a covenant with you, declares
the Lord God, and you became mine. 9 Then I bathed you with water and
washed off your blood from you and anointed you with oil. 10 I
clothed you also with embroidered cloth and shod you with fine leather. . .
That’s a picture of God’s utterly free and undeserved mercy. That is how
Israel was chosen. That’s how you were brought from death to life and from
darkness to light and from unbelief to faith, if you are a believer. “I said to
you, ‘Live!’ and made you flourish. I married you. You are mine.” That’s how
Israel began. That’s how the Christian life begins. The Mighty mercy of God.
Then he goes on with the image. Ezekiel 16:13ff.:
Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your clothing was of fine
linen and silk and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flour and honey and oil. You
grew exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty. 14 And your
renown went forth among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect
through the splendor that I had bestowed on you, declares the Lord God.
15 But you trusted in your beauty and played the whorebecause of your
renown and lavished your whoringson any passerby; your beautybecame his.
16 You took some of your garments and made for yourself colorful
shrines, and on them played the whore. The like has never been, nor ever shall
be. . . . 32 Adulterous wife, who receives strangers instead of her
husband! 33 Men give gifts to all prostitutes, but you gave your
gifts to all your lovers, bribing them to come to you from every side with your
whorings. . . .
There’s the picture of the faithless Israel. Her idolatry—her turning from
the Lord God to foreign gods—is pictured as the work of a whore. And I say again
what I said at the beginning: God created us with sexual passion so that there
would be language to describe what it means to cleave to him in love and what it
means to turn away from him to others. Now comes the word of judgment. Ezekiel
35 Therefore, O prostitute, hear the word of the Lord:
36 Thus says the Lord God, Because your lust was poured out and your
nakedness uncovered in your whorings with your lovers, and with all your
abominable idols, and because of the blood of your children that you gave to
them, 37 therefore, behold, I will gather all your lovers with whom
you took pleasure, all those you loved and all those you hated. I will gather
them against you from every side and will uncover your nakedness to them, that
they may see all your nakedness. . . .
It may look as though God was finally finished with Israel. Judgment has
fallen. The wife was put away. But that is not the last word. God hates divorce.
Therefore, though he judge and separate, he will not finally forsake his
covenant people—his wife. He will make with her a new covenant, and bring her
back to himself at the cost of his Son and by the power of his Spirit. Ezekiel
59 For thus says the Lord God: I will deal with you as you have
done, you who have despised the oath in breaking the covenant, 60 yet
I will remember my covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will
establish for you an everlasting covenant. . . . 62 I will establish
my covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the Lord, 63 that
you may remember and be confounded, and never open your mouth again because of
your shame, when I atone for you for all that you have done, declares the Lord
The end of the story is that God, after giving up his faithless wife into the
hands of her brutal lovers, will not only take her back, and not only make with
her a new and everlasting covenant, but will himself pay for all her sins. Are
there debts this prostitute owes? This husband will pay them. “When I atone for
. . . all that you have done, declares the Lord.” Indeed he will pay with the
life of is own Son.
And so in the New Testament, after Jesus Christ has died and risen and is
gathering a people for himself and his heavenly Father, the apostle Paul calls
all husbands to live with their wives like this (Ephesians 5:25-27). Model your
love on this kind of love:
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for
her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the
washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the
church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that
she might be holy and without blemish.
This is the fulfillment of Ezekiel’s vision: “I will remember my covenant
with you . . . and I will establish for you an everlasting covenant. . . . and
you shall know that I am the Lord . . . when I atone . . . for all that you have
done.” Jesus Christ creates and confirms and purchases with his blood the new
covenant and the everlasting joy of our relationship with God. And the Bible
calls it a marriage. And pictures the great day of our final union as “the
marriage supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:9).
Therefore, I say again: God created us in his image, male and female, with
personhood and sexual passions so that when he comes to us in this world there
would be these powerful words and images to describe the promises and the
pleasures of our covenant relationship with him through Christ.
God made us powerfully sexual so that he would be more deeply knowable. We
were given the power to know each other sexually so that we might have some hint
of what it will be like to know Christ supremely.
Therefore, all misuses of our sexuality (adultery, fornication, illicit
fantasies, masturbation, pornography, homosexual behavior, rape, sexual child
abuse, bestiality, exhibitionism, and so on) distort the true knowledge of God.
God means for human sexual life to be a pointer and foretaste of our
relationship with him.
2. Knowing God Is Designed by God as a Way of Guarding and Guiding Our
That’s the first of my two points. Now the second is this: Not only do all
the misuses of our sexuality serve to conceal or distort the true knowledge of
God in Christ, but it also works powerfully the other way around: the true
knowledge of God in Christ serves to prevent the misuses of our sexuality. So,
on the one hand, sexuality is designed by God as a way to know Christ more
fully. And, on the other hand, knowing Christ more fully is designed as a way of
guarding and guiding our sexuality.
Now on the face of it this will seem to many as patently false—that knowing
Christ will guard and guide our sexuality. Because many will list off the
pastors, priests, and theologians who have committed adultery or who have been
found addicted to pornography or who have sexually used little boys or girls.
Surely, then, if pastors, who hold the sacred office of tenderly shepherding
Christ’s flock, can be so sexually corrupt, there can be no correlation between
knowing God and being sexually upright, can there?
I think this question should be answered from Scripture, not experience,
because if the Scripture teaches that truly knowing God guards and guides and
governs our sexuality in purity and love, then we may be sure that a pastor, or
priest, or theologian, or anyone else, whose sexuality is not governed and
guarded and guided in Christ-exalting purity and love does not know God—at least
not as he ought. So what does the Bible teach concerning the knowledge of God
and the guarding of our sexuality?
In answering this question let’s remember that knowing someone in the fullest
biblical sense is defined by sexual imagery. Genesis 4:1, “Now Adam
knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain.” “Knowing” here
refers to sexual intercourse. Or again in Matthew 1:24-25 we read, “When Joseph
woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his
wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a
son. And he called his name Jesus.” He “knew here not” means: he did not have
sexual relations with her.
Now I don’t mean that every time the word “know” is used in the Bible there
are sexual connotations. That’s not true. But what I do mean is that sexual
language in the Bible for our covenant relationship to God does lead us to think
of knowing God on the analogy of sexual intimacy and ecstasy. I don’t mean that
we somehow have sexual relations with God or he with man. That’s a pagan
thought. It’s not Christian. But I do mean that the intimacy and ecstasy of
sexual relations points to what knowing God is meant to be.
One of the books of the Bible that makes this clear is the book of Hosea.
Listen to the way God speaks through Hosea to describe the restoration of his
marriage with faithless Israel. Hosea 2:14-20:
Behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak
tenderly to her. 15 And there I will give her her vineyards and make
the Valley of Achora door of hope. And there she shall answer as in the days of
her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt. 16
“And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no
longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’” 17 For I will remove the names of
the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more. . . .
19 And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in
righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. 20 I
will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the
I think it is virtually impossible to read this and then honestly say that
knowingGod, as God intends to be known by his people in the
new covenant, simply means mental awareness or understanding or acquaintance
with God. Not in a million years is that what “knowing God” means here. This is
the knowing of a lover, not a scholar. A scholar can be a lover. But a
scholar—or a pastor—doesn’t know God until he is a lover. You can know about
God by research; but until the researcher is ravished by what he sees, he
doesn’t know God for who he really is. And that is one great reason why many
pastors can become so impure. They don’t know God—the true, massive, glorious,
gracious, biblical God. The humble intimacy and brokenhearted ecstasy—giving
fire to the facts—is not there.
But I am getting ahead of myself. I haven’t shown this from Scripture yet. I
only said, “If the Scripture teaches that truly knowing God—truly
knowing Christ—guards and guides and governs our sexuality in purity and love,
then we may be sure that a pastor, or anyone else, whose sexuality is not
governed and guarded and guided in purity and love does not know God—at least
not as he ought.
So is this what the Bible teaches: that knowing God—knowing Christ—is the
path to purity? Is it indeed the case that the true knowledge of God promised in
Hosea (and Jeremiah 31:34) brings the powerful passions of the body under the
sway of truth and purity and love?
I think this entire conference will be an answer to that question. But let me
simply point you to some of the texts that provide the answer.2 Each of these texts teaches that knowing
God revealed in Jesus Christ guards our sexuality from misuse, and that not
knowing God leaves us prey to our passions. Romans 1:28:
Since they did not see fit to have God in [their] knowledge God gave them up
to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. (literal
Suppressing the knowledge of God will make you a casualty of corruption. It
is part of God’s judgment. If you trade the treasure of God’s glory for
anything, you will pay the price for that idolatry in the disordering of your
sexual life. That is what Romans 1:23-24 teaches:
They exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man
and birds and animals and reptiles. 24 Therefore God gave them up in
the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among
This is the old way. When we come to Christ, we take it off like an old
garment. Ignorance of God’s wrath and glory does not fit us any more. The new
way is sexual holiness, and Paul contrasts it with not knowing God. 1
This is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual
immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness
and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know
Not knowing God puts you at the mercy of your passions—and they have no mercy
without God. Here’s the way Peter says it in 1 Peter 1:14-15:
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former
ignorance,but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your
The desires that governed you in those days got their power from deceit, not
knowledge. Ephesians 4:22:
Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is
corrupt through deceitful desires.
The desires of the body lie to us. They make deceitful promises—promises
which are half true as in the garden of Eden. And we are powerless to expose and
overcome unless we know God—really know God, his ways and works and words
embraced with growing intimacy and ecstasy.
When Paul describes the new person in Christ, who is putting off the old
practices and the old slaveries, he says in Colossians 3:10 that “the new self .
. . is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” In
other words, “I will betroth you to me forever, and you will know me.” And in
this knowledge you will be renewed—including your sexuality.
Peter’s second letter has one of the clearest passages in the Bible on the
relationship between knowing God and being liberated from corruption. In 2 Peter
1:3-4 he says,
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and
godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his
own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very
great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the
divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because
of sinful desire.
The divine power that leads to godliness comes “through the knowledge of him
who called us to his own glory and excellence.” And we become partakers of his
divine nature—that is, we share in his righteous character—through his precious
and very great promises. In other words, knowing the glorious treasure that God
promises to be for us frees us from the corruption of lust and shapes us after
the image of God.
Or as Jesus said, most simply in John 8:31-32:
If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know
the truth, and the truth will set you free.
Not all truth. The truth that you find in my word. The truth that you find in
relation to me as my disciple. And what is that truth? “I am the way, and
the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”
(John 14:6). “No one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son
chooses to reveal him” (Matthew 11:27).
The Son knows the Father with infinite truth and intimacy and ecstasy. The
joy that the Son has in the Father is unparalleled. His gladness in God the
Father exceeds all gladness (Hebrews 1:9). And this he shares with us who trust
him as Savior and Lord and Treasure of our lives. “These words I speak to you
that my joy might be in you and you might be full” (John 15:11). “No one knows
the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” And
if he chooses, we will know the Father. And if we know the Father the way Christ
knows the Father, we will be free.
Therefore I say again my two points that fly as a double banner over this
conference: 1) sexuality is designed by Christ as a way to know God more fully.
And 2) knowing Christ more fully in all his infinite supremacy is designed as a
way of guarding and guiding our sexuality. All sexual corruption serves to
conceal the true knowledge of Christ, and the true knowledge of Christ serves to
prevent sexual corruption.
I will come back to this on Sunday morning in our final session, and all the
speakers will unfold it. And as they do, let the double banner over this
conference fly with the words of Hosea to the wayward wife of God and to you:
“Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; his going out is sure
as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water
the earth.” Amen.
1 I would argue that when God
wills singleness for any person he designs it as a way of knowing him more
fully. There are unique ways of knowing God through sexual continence in
singleness and unique ways of knowing God through sexual intimacy in
2 See other texts not referred
to in this message: 2 Timothy 2:24-26; Romans 12:2; Philippians 1:9; Romans
10:3; Hosea 4:1, 6; 5:4; 6:3.
Desiring God National Conference
On Friday night I waved a banner over this conference with two convictions
written on it:
The first was that sexuality is designed by God as a way to know Christ
more fully. And the second conviction from Friday night was that knowing
Christ—the supremacy of Christ—more fully is designed by God as a way of
guarding and guiding our sexuality. And when I speak of knowing Christ, I
mean it in the fullest biblical sense of grasping great truth about Christ, and
growing in fellowship with Christ, and being satisfied with the supremacy of
What I would like to do this morning, by God’s grace, is to help you
experience that second conviction. I would like to help you know the supremacy
of Christ more fully and show you a couple ways this will affect your
My conviction is that the better you know the supremacy of Christ the more
sacred and satisfying and Christ-exalting your sexuality will be. I have a
picture in my mind of the majesty of Christ like the sun at the center of the
solar system of your life. The massive sun, 333,000 times the mass of the earth,
holds all the planets in orbit, even little Pluto, 3.6 billion miles away.
So it is with the supremacy of Christ in your life. All the planets of your
life—your sexuality and desires, your commitments and beliefs, your aspirations
and dreams, your attitudes and convictions, your habits and disciplines, your
solitude and relationships, your labor and leisure, your thinking and
feeling—all the planets of your life are held in orbit by the greatness and
gravity and blazing brightness of the supremacy of Jesus Christ at the center of
your life. And if he ceases to be the bright, blazing, satisfying beauty at the
center of your life, the planets will fly into confusion, and a hundred things
will be out of control, and sooner or later they will crash into destruction.
We were made to know Christ as he really is. (Which is why biblical doctrine
is so important.) We were created to comprehend—as much as a creature can—the
supremacy of Christ. And the knowing we were made to experience is not the
knowing of disinterested awareness—like knowing that Caesar crossed the Rubicon,
or ancient Gaul was divided into three parts—but the knowing of admiration and
wonder and awe and intimacy and ecstasy and embrace. Not the knowing of
Hurricane Jeanne by watching TV but by flying in the eye of the storm—sometimes
We were made to see and savor with everlasting satisfaction the supremacy of
Christ. Our sexuality points to this, and our sexuality is purified by this. We
are sexual beings that we may know something more of the supremacy of Christ.
And we must know the supremacy of Christ—we must know him in his
supremacy—in order to experience our sexuality as sacred and sweet and
Christ-exalting—and secondary, quietly, powerfully secondary.
My prayer for this conference, and for all of you one by one, is that you
will see and savor the supremacy of Christ—married or single, male or female,
old or young, devastated by disordered desires or walking in a measure of
holiness—that all of you will behold and embrace the supremacy of Christ as the
blazing sun at the center of your life, and that the planet of your sexuality,
with all its little moons of pleasure, will orbit in its proper place.
There are many practical strategies for being sexually pure in mind and body.
I don’t demean them. I use them! But with all my heart I know, and with the
authority of Scripture I know that the tiny space ships of our moral strategies
will be useless in nudging the planet of sexuality into orbit, unless the sun of
our solar system is the supremacy of Christ.
Oh, that the risen, living Christ, therefore, would come to us (even now) by
his Spirit and through his Word and reveal to us
—the supremacy of his deity, equal with God the Father in all his
attributes—the radiance of his glory and the exact imprint of his nature,
infinite, boundless in all his excellencies;
—the supremacy of his eternality that makes the mind of man explode
with the unsearchable thought that Christ never had a beginning, but simply
always was; sheer, absolute reality while all the universe is fragile,
contingent, like a shadow by comparison to his all-defining, ever-existing
—the supremacy of his never-changing constancy in all his virtues and
all his character and all his commitments—the same yesterday, today, and
—the supremacy of his knowledge that makes the Library of Congress
look like a matchbox, and all the information on the Internet look like a little
1940’s farmers almanac, and quantum physics—and everything Stephen Hawking ever
dreamed—seem like a first-grade reader;
—the supremacy of his wisdom that has never been perplexed by any
complication and can never be counseled the wisest of men;
—the supremacy of his authority over heaven and earth and hell,
without whose permission no man and no demon can move one inch, who changes
times and seasons, removes kings and sets up kings; does according to his will
among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; so none can
stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?”
—the supremacy of his providence without which not a single bird falls
to the ground in the furthest reaches of the Amazon forest, or a single hair of
any head turns black or white;
—the supremacy of his word that moment by moment upholds the universe
and holds in being all the molecules and atoms and subatomic world we have never
yet dreamed of;
—the supremacy of his power to walk on water, cleanse lepers and heal
the lame, open the eyes of the blind, cause the deaf to hear and storms to cease
and the dead to rise, with a single word, or even a thought;
—the supremacy of his purity never to sin, or to have one millisecond
of a bad attitude or an evil, lustful thought;
—the supremacy of his trustworthiness never to break his word or let
one promise fall to the ground;
—the supremacy of his justice to render in due time all moral accounts
in the universe settled either on the cross or in hell;
—the supremacy of his patience to endure our dullness for decade after
decade; and to hold back his final judgment on this land and on the world, that
many might repent;
—the supremacy of his sovereign, servant obedience to keep his
Father’s commandments perfectly and then embrace the excruciating pain of the
—the supremacy of his meekness and lowliness and tenderness that will
not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick;
—the supremacy of his wrath that will one day explode against this
world with such fierceness that people will call out for the rocks and the
mountains to crush them rather than face the wrath of the Lamb;
—the supremacy of his grace that gives life to spiritually dead rebels
and wakens faith in hell-bound haters of God, and justifies the ungodly with his
—the supremacy of his love that willingly dies for us even while we
were sinners and frees us for the ever-increasing joy in making much of him
—the supremacy of his own inexhaustible gladness in the fellowship of
the Trinity, the infinite power and energy that gave rise to all the universe
and will one day be the inheritance of every struggling saint;
And if he would grant us to know him like this, it would be but the outskirts
of his supremacy. Time would fail to speak of the supremacy of his severity, and
invincibility, and dignity, and simplicity, and complexity, and resoluteness,
and calmness, and depth, and courage. If there is anything admirable, if there
is anything worthy of praise anywhere in the universe, it is summed up supremely
in Jesus Christ.
He is supreme in every admirable way over everything:
- over galaxies and endless reaches of space;
- over the earth from the top of Mount Everest 29,000 feet up, to the bottom
of the Pacific Ocean 36,000 feet down into the Mariana Trench;
- He is supreme over all plants and animals, from the peaceful Blue Whale to
the microscopic killer viruses;
- over all weather and movements of the earth: hurricanes, tornadoes,
monsoons, earthquakes, avalanches, floods, snow, rain, sleet;
- over all chemical processes that heal and destroy: cancer, AIDS, malaria,
flu, and all the workings of antibiotics and a thousand healing medicines.
- He is supreme over all countries and all governments and all armies;
- over Al Qaeda and all terrorists and kidnappings and suicide bombings and
- over bin Ladin and al-Zarqawi;
- over all nuclear threats from Iran or Russia or North Korea.
- He is supreme over all politics and elections;
- over all media and news and entertainment and sports and leisure;
- and over all education and universities and scholarship and science and
- and over all business and finance and industry and manufacturing and
- and over all the internet and information systems.
As Abraham Kuyper used to say, “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!’” And rule with absolute supremacy. And
though it may not seem so now, it is only a matter of time until he is revealed
from heaven in flaming fire to give relief to those who trust him and righteous
vengeance on those who don’t.
Oh, that the almighty God would help us see and savor the supremacy of his
Son. Give yourself to this. Study this. Cultivate this passion. Eat and drink
and sleep this quest to know the supremacy of Christ. Pray for God to show you
these things in his Word. Swim in the Bible every day. Use the means of grace.
Like God-centered, Christ-exalting books. Don’t go home without books to help
you in this. Get John Owen on the glories of Christ and the
mortification of sin. Get Mahaney on the Cross and
the glory of God in marriage. Get Powlison and Patterson and Edwards. And with all your
getting—whatever it takes—get the all-satisfying supremacy of Christ at the
center of your life.
This is the blazing sun at the center of your solar system, holding
the planet of sexuality in sacred orbit. This is the ballast at the
bottom of your little boat keeping it from being capsized by the waves of sexual
temptation. This the foundation that holds up the building of your life
so that you can build with strategies of sexual purity. Without this—without
knowing and embracing the supremacy of Christ in all things—the planets fly
apart, the waves overwhelm, and the building will one day fall.
The Main Obstacle to Knowing the Supremacy of Christ
So here we are as sinners. All of us. None is righteous, no, not one. We have
all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We don’t know him, we don’t
trust him and treasure him the way he deserves. So what stands in the way? What
is our main obstacle to knowing the supremacy of Christ, with a deeply
satisfying and sexuality-transforming knowledge?
The biblical answer to that question is: the absolutely just and holy wrath
of God. We cannot know God in our sin because the wrath of God rests on us in
our sin. What we deserve in our sin is not the knowledge of God, but the
judgment of God. And since we are cut off from the knowledge of God by the wrath
of God, we are cut off from sexual purity and holiness. God doesn’t owe us
purity, he owes us punishment. Therefore we are hopelessly depraved and
Except for one thing: the good news that Christ has become for us the curse
to bear God’s wrath and the righteousness to meet God’s demand. This is the
heart of the gospel. And without it, there is no hope to escape God’s wrath, no
hope to know Christ’s supremacy, and there is no hope for sexual purity. But
here it is for everyone who believes: Galatians 3:13, “Christ redeemed us from
the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is
everyone who is hanged on a tree.’” We were under the curse of God’s wrath. But
Christ became a curse for us. And here it is again: Philippians 3:9, Paul’s
testimony that he is “found in [Christ], not having a righteousness of my own
that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the
righteousness from God that depends on faith.” God’s demand was that we be
perfect. We cannot, in our sin, fulfill this demand. But Christ has. And by
faith in him that perfect righteousness is imputed to us.
Therefore, since it is true that Christ has absorbed all the wrath of God
that was aimed at me, and since it is true that Christ has performed the perfect
righteousness that God demands of me, there is now for me no condemnation.
Instead every thought of God and every act of God toward me in Christ Jesus is
mercy. The way is open to know him and all the beautiful supremacy of his Son.
The cross of Christ has made the supremacy of Christ knowable.
The best gift of the gospel is not the forgiveness of sins. The best gift of
the gospel is not the imputed righteousness of Christ. The best gift of the
gospel is not eternal life. The best gift of the gospel is seeing and savoring
the supremacy of Christ himself. The greatest reward of the cross is knowing the
How Then Does the Knowledge of the Supremacy of Christ (Opened to Us by the
Gospel) Guide and Guard and Govern Our Sexual Lives?
How does it make our sexuality sacred, satisfying, and Christ-exalting? Of
all the ways this works, I will only mention two.
First, knowing the supremacy of Christ enlarges the soul so that sex
and its little thrills become as small as they really are.
Little souls make little lusts have great power. The soul, as it were,
expands to encompass the magnitude of its treasure. The human soul was made to
see and savor the supremacy of Christ. Nothing else is big enough to enlarge the
soul as God intended and make little lusts lose their power.
Vast starry skies seen from a mountain in Utah, and four layers of moving
clouds on a seemingly endless plain in Montana, and standing on the edge of a
mile-deep drop in the Grand Canyon can all have a wonderfully supplementary role
in enlarging the soul with beauty. But nothing can take the place of the
supremacy of Christ. As Jonathan Edwards said, if you embrace all creation with
goodwill, but not Christ, you are infinitely parochial. Our hearts were made to
be enlarged by Christ, and all creation cannot replace his supremacy.
My conviction is that one of the main reasons the world and the church are
awash in lust and pornography (by men and women—30% of internet pornography is
now viewed by women) is that our lives are intellectually and emotionally
disconnected from infinite, soul-staggering grandeur for which we were made.
Inside and outside the church western culture is drowning in a sea of
triviality, pettiness, banality, and silliness. Television is trivial. Radio is
trivial. Conversation is trivial. Education is trivial. Christian books are
trivial. Worship styles are trivial. It is inevitable that the human heart,
which was made to be staggered with the supremacy of Christ, but instead is
drowning in a sea of banal entertainment, will reach for the best natural buzz
that life can give: sex.
Therefore, the deepest cure to our pitiful addictions is not any mental
strategies—and I believe in them and have my own (see A N T H E M).
The deepest cure is to be intellectually and emotionally staggered by the
infinite, everlasting, unchanging supremacy of Christ in all things. This is
what it means to know him. Christ has purchased this gift for us at the
cost of his life. Therefore, I say again with Hosea, let us know, let us press
on to know the Lord.
Finally, the only other way I would mention that knowing Christ serves
to save our sexuality from sin is that it empowers us to suffer.
Knowing all that God promises to be for us in Christ both now and for endless
ages to come with ever-increasing joy, frees us from the compulsion that we must
avoid pain and maximize comfort in this world. We need not, and we dare not.
Christ died to make our everlasting future bright with the supremacy of his own
glory. And the effect he means for it to have now is: glad-hearted suffering in
the path of love.
Matthew 5:11-12, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you
and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven.” Yes, namely,
seeing and savoring the supremacy of Christ himself. That’s the reward, and
that’s the power to suffer.
Luke 14:13-14, “When you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the
lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot
repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” Yes,
namely, seeing and savoring the supremacy of Christ himself. That will be your
repayment, and that is the power to do the hard thing and serve the poor.
Hebrews 10:34, “You joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since
you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.” Yes,
namely, seeing and savoring the supremacy of Christ himself. That is the better
and abiding possession, and the power to be plundered with joy in the path of
Hebrews 13:13-14, “Therefore, let us go to him outside the camp and bear the
reproach he endured. 14 For here we have no lasting city, but we seek
the city that is to come.” Yes, the city where “glory of God gives it light, and
its lamp is the Lamb” (Rev. 21:23), and we will live in the light of his
supremacy forever. That is the better city, and that is the power to go outside
the camp and bear reproach.
Therefore, knowing all that God promises to be for us in Christ is the power
to suffer with joy. And here’s the link. We must suffer in order to be sexually
When Jesus says in Matthew 5:28-29, “Everyone who looks at a woman with
lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your
right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better
that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into
hell”—when Jesus says this, he means suffer whatever you must in order to win
the war with lust.
Knowing the supremacy of Christ, being satisfied with all that God is for us
in Jesus, gives us the power to suffer for the sake of loving people and being
Therefore, in conclusion, I say again with Hosea: Let us know, let us press
on to know the Lord. It will not be easy. It may cost you your life. But if you
keep the supremacy of Christ before your eyes as an infinite prize, you will
find the strength to suffer and press on to love and purity, with
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