The message of Jesus Christ is clear. The light has been turned on and we can look with an unobstructed view right at the glory of God revealed in the face of Jesus Christ. And as we look at the glory of God and focus on the glory of God revealed in Christ, we are moved from one level of glory to the next by the Holy Spirit who is moving us into the image of the very glory we behold. Welcome to Grace to You with John MacArthur.
I'm your host, Phil Johnson. What should be your goal every second of every day? What's your ultimate purpose? Well, the simple answer is to glorify God.
But exactly how simple is that to do? Consider that today as John opens the book of 2 Corinthians and shows you how to live for God's glory. That's the title of his series here on Grace to You. Now, John, Charles Spurgeon said, you're not acting as you ought to do when you're moved by any other motive than the one motive of your Lord's glory. So, John, the study you're about to begin takes dead aim at that primary motive, the glory of God. Yeah, the apostle Paul said, whatever you do, and then went to the most mundane thing you do, whether you eat or drink, do all to the glory of God. From that which is the most mundane to that which is the most exalted form of worship, everything is for the glory of God.
And this takes me back, Phil, as you would know. Really, the first book I ever wrote was featuring the study of the glory of God, because once I got a grip on that, it had such a profound and lifelong effect on me that it was kind of where I started my ministry just as a kid in seminary. Coming to grips with that, and here we are all these many, many decades later, and it still shines maybe brighter than any of the elements of Scripture. Everything ultimately is for the glory of God, and it's so often overlooked. So this is going to be a really powerful and important series, How to Live for God's Glory.
That is the issue. Glorifying God is the ultimate purpose for everything, for everyone, and for your life, for your living. It's the top, and it's sweeping in its scope.
It covers absolutely everything. We're going to kind of condense it. The short series takes the guesswork and the mystery out of what it means to glorify God. And along the way, we're going to make it practical. In fact, you're going to learn seven practical steps to living a life that glorifies God. So many things these days conspire to distract us from our chief end to glorify the Lord. This is going to be a very, very important reminder, and I hope it's as life-changing for you as it was for me when I first began to discover these truths. So stay with us. Focus on how to live for God's glory great days ahead.
Right, and I can't wait for it. If you're a Christian, you know you're supposed to glorify God. But exactly what does that look like when you're at church on Sunday or at work on Monday, whether you're a student, a great-grandparent, or somewhere in between? Find out now as John MacArthur begins his study, How to Live for God's Glory. I want you to turn in your Bible this morning to 2 Corinthians chapter 3. Look at that 18th verse that ends that great chapter on the superiority of the New Covenant, and let me remind you what it says by reading it, 2 Corinthians 3.18, but we all with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord the Spirit.
The culminating reality of the New Covenant is that it is a transforming covenant. But in the New Covenant, we look at the glory of the Lord revealed in the face of Jesus Christ unobstructed. We see Christ in all His wonder and all His beauty and all His glory as described down in chapter 4, verse 6, light shines out of darkness. The one who has shone in our hearts gives us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. So as we look at the face of Christ, we see the glory of God revealed. Nothing obscures us. We don't have a veil over our face like Moses did.
There's nothing oblique or obscure. There's nothing hidden or dark or shadowy. The New Covenant, the gospel, the message of Jesus Christ is clear. The light has been turned on, and we can look with an unobstructed view right at the glory of God revealed in the face of Jesus Christ. And as we look at the glory of God and focus on the glory of God revealed in Christ, we are moved from one level of glory to the next by the Holy Spirit, who is moving us into the image of the very glory we behold.
This is what progressive sanctification is all about. This is Christian growth. This is the process of becoming like Christ, moving from one level of glory to the next as we gaze at the glory of the Lord. We as believers who have come to participate by faith and by grace in the New Covenant have been put into a relationship with God by which we can see His glory radiated through Jesus Christ as we look at Him unobstructed on the pages of Scripture and in so looking can literally be transformed into His image from one level of glory to the next. All of that simply to say we are to live to the glory of God. We are to live to move from one level of glory to the next level to the next level to the next level ever more and more like Jesus Christ, increasingly devoted to the glory of God, increasingly manifesting the glory of God.
Now that poses, at least for me and I trust for you, a very practical question. If we say we are going to glorify God, we are going to aim at the glory of God, we are going to focus on the glory of God, we are going to gaze on the glory of God, we are going to glorify God with our lives. How do we do that? How do we really move from one level of glory to the next?
What is specifically and practically involved in that? Well I want to give you some very clear things that the Bible teaches about glorifying the Lord, how to move from glory to glory to glory to glory in your life. But let's begin at a very obvious point.
Nobody hit a target without aiming at it. You're not going to get there if you're not moving in that direction. So point number one is, if you want to glorify God, you have to aim your life at that purpose. You have to aim your life at that purpose. In other words, the very goal of your life is the glory of God.
That's the focal point, that's what you are about, that's what you direct your life toward. Jesus certainly did that, and according to John 8.50, He said, I came not for My own glory, but the Father's. He didn't live for His own glory, He didn't live to fulfill His own agenda, but rather that which honored and exalted and pleased and lifted up God. Even if lifting up God meant humbling Himself, even if exalting God meant abasing Himself, even if setting God in the place of worship meant putting Himself in the place of cursing, He was willing to do that because He was always focused on the glory of God.
God being glorified was His purpose. And so it is in our lives that we must live to glorify God. Stating that in very simple terms, we read 1 Corinthians chapter 10, verse 31, and you perhaps know this verse, but let me put it to you and maybe give it some richer context. In 1 Corinthians 10, 31, we read this, whether then you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. It's a very simple verse. Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God.
In other words, it's a life focus. It isn't so much talking about eating and drinking, it's talking about all of life going down even to that which is as mundane as eating and drinking. I mean, that's about the commonest thing we do.
You would think that might get left out. I mean, glorify God when you speak. Glorify God when you act and behave. Glorify God when you do ministry. Glorify God when you worship. Glorify God when you meet people's needs. Glorify God in spiritual and religious ways and ways of behavior. But eating and drinking?
That's pretty mundane stuff. And that's the whole point. At the very basest point of human existence, eating and drinking, when you're just meeting biological need, do it to the glory of God. That becomes the focal point of everything you do in your life.
That's the focus. You ask yourself, as I have for many, many years, does it glorify God? Will it glorify God? Will it bring honor to His name?
Will it exalt Him? Whatever it is, no matter how apparently or superficially mundane, it has inherent in it a capacity for you to honor God, even the simplest behavior like eating and drinking. Now, you have to aim your life at that. That has to be the all-consuming purpose of your life, the all-consuming direction of your life that you're never going to do anything willfully and knowingly that does not bring honor, that does not bring glory to God. You want to honor Him with every single thing you do. You want to exalt Him, praise Him, lift Him up, worship Him, glorify Him. But let me take that a little deeper, because that's pretty general.
How does that sort of flesh out? Well, let me give you some things you can look at, okay? Do a little inventory in your life, and you can ask yourself a few questions that will help you know whether you're aimed at that purpose. If you want to find out where you're aimed, these questions will answer that for you. Number one, do I prefer the glory of God above everything else? Do I prefer the glory of God above everything else? And that's a very simple question, and yet it has profound implications. Is the very purpose of my life to bring glory to God so much that His glory transcends any of my own personal desires, relationships, goals, dreams, ambitions? It can be very costly to aim your whole life at glorifying God.
Let me give you some illustrations. Go back to Exodus chapter 32. This is a pricey commitment. And if you go back to Exodus 32, you get a little bit of an idea of just how pricey it is. When you make the commitment to glorify God as a way of life, there may be some serious ramifications. Moses, in Exodus 32, had come down to find the people of Israel worshipping a golden calf. He had been up getting the law of God. He came down and found that they were worshipping a golden calf. Not only were they worshipping a golden calf, but they were engaged in horrific iniquities, sins, gross sins.
And he had to confront this. I guess the saddest point of all was that his own brother Aaron, who was supposed to be in charge of spiritual leadership, was leading the people in this lascivious, lewd, immoral idolatry. In fact, what was going on was a violation of the first half of the decalogue that was being given on the mountain. It was very defiant, happening at the very time God was giving His law.
His law was being violated. Verse 25 of Exodus 32 brings us into a most fascinating incident when Moses saw that the people were out of control or literally cut loose. For Aaron had cut them loose or let them get out of control to be a derision among their enemies. You see, it was a terrible dishonor to the God they claimed was their God for them to behave in such a terrible way. What glory did it bring to God for them to be acting like that?
None. It detracted from His glory, for here they were worshipping and conducting themselves in immoral ways, which was blasphemy against His holiness. And so they were causing themselves and God to be derided or mocked among their enemies, and Aaron had led them into this out of control behavior.
So Moses stood in the gate of the camp, verse 26, and he said, Whoever is for the Lord, come to me. Now the issue here is the honor of God. The issue here is the glory of God. The issue here is to exalt the character of God as over against this debauchery. So who is on the Lord's side?
It would be another way to say this. Who wants to glorify God? And all the sons of Levi gathered together.
To him the priestly tribe came, those who were responsible for the spiritual side of things, the worship. They came over and said, We're with you. We're willing to glorify God.
We're going to take our stand, an unpopular stand, because all the rest of the people were happy to be doing what they were doing. Believe me, sin has its pleasure. But the people from Levi came and said, We'll stand with the Lord. Then verse 27, a most incredible thing is asked of them. Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, says Moses to them, Every one of you put his sword upon his thigh. Go back and forth from gate to gate in the camp and kill every man his brother, every man his friend, and every man his neighbor. You say you want to glorify God?
Good. Put your sword on and go kill everybody. Go kill your brother, go kill your friend, go kill your neighbor. He's not asking him to go kill some enemy. He's not even asking him to go kill strangers. He's saying, Go ram a sword through the heart of your friend.
Go slit the jugular of your friend to your neighbor or your brother. Are you really devoted to the glory of God, so much so that you will take this kind of action against those who are closely related to you? God's glory is at stake here. His name is being dishonored. This is a very pivotal moment in redemptive history.
A lot is at stake. You've been led out of captivity. You're now in the wilderness. God is giving you His law. He is reconstituting you as His people. He is for the first time ever in history giving you the Deca Law, giving you the Mosaic Law. You're coming into a new relationship with God based upon that. This is a new day, and God wants to make something very clear.
Disobedience is intolerable. This is a pivotal moment, and God wants to lay down the message that He doesn't tolerate disobedience just like He laid it down with Ananias and Sapphira in the early days of the church. And so God wants these people killed, a representative number of them slaughtered. God is gracious and He doesn't always do this, and even in this case He didn't kill everybody. In the midst of His wrath, there is always mercy. But He wanted a very clear lesson given to people that there is a blessing and a cursing tied with this law, and if you disobey it, there's going to be a high price. If you obey it, you'll be blessed. So this is really putting it on the line, folks. You want to glorify God?
Do you? Put on your sword and go kill your family, friends, and acquaintances. And verse 28, amazingly, shows you the level of devotion of these Levites. The sons of Levi did as Moses instructed, and about 3,000 men of the people fell that day. Now you know those guys didn't just roll over and let their head get chopped off. You know they didn't just lie there while somebody ran a sword through them.
You can't even imagine the chaos and the debacle. You can't imagine what was going on in the camp as these people were trying to escape from Levites who were trying to carry out the will of God by slaughtering them. By the time 3,000 were dead, killed in hand-to-hand combat, God said, that's enough.
I've made my point. Sin is a very serious thing. Then, verse 29, Moses said, dedicate yourselves today to the Lord, for every man has been against his son and against his brother in order that he may bestow a blessing upon you today.
Dedicate yourself to the Lord now so that He can bless you. With obedience comes what? Blessing. This is a graphic, early on demonstration of blessing and cursing coming with obedience or disobedience. And it came about the next day that Moses said to the people, you yourselves have committed a great sin. These people had worshiped an idol.
The price for that is high. For some of them, death. But the issue here that I want you to focus on is the people who were willing to glorify God, even if it meant a severing in their family, a severing in their friendships, a severing among their neighbors.
That's how it is. Oh, I don't think God is asking us to do this. But I do believe that if you say I am going to live my life to the glory of God, there may be a price to pay in your family, there may be a price to pay among your friends, and there may be a price to pay among your neighbors. You may generate a great hostility. And I'm not just talking about non-Christians here.
Let me tell you something. There's enough carnality and enough compromise in the Christian church that if people decide they're going to live solely and only to the glory of God, they might find themselves losing Christian friends who are willing to live at a compromising level. They might find themselves being severed from acquaintances that have been long-time acquaintances who aren't willing to live at that level of spiritual devotion. They might even find that they become the oddity in their own Christian family because they are so totally devoted to the glory of God. I mean, if you're in your family of sort of lethargic, compromising, or apathetic Christians and you decide to live to the highest level of spiritual devotion, you're going to become a rebuke to that whole environment even though it's nominally Christian or even though it's really Christian. But if you aim your life at the glory of God and you're going to live that way, then you will prefer Him above everything and everyone no matter what. Even if it costs you a family, Jesus said it, didn't He? I came to bring a sword to divide families. Even if it costs you a friendship, even if it costs you alienation from your neighbors, it can do that.
It will do that. It's sort of like taking a Nazarite vow. You just stick out. You're just kind of odd. Look at John 21.
Let's see how it might even go further than that. In John 21, Jesus meets the disciples in Galilee in a post-resurrection appearance. He has told them to stay in the mountain and wait for Him, but the Lord comes and asks Him three times if He loves Him. It's a fair question because Jesus had taught Peter, if you love Me, you'll keep My commandments. And here Peter had disobeyed and therefore his love could rightly be questioned.
And Peter replied three times, you know I love you. And then at the end of this little dialogue about love, we come to verse 18. And Jesus responding to the affirmation of Peter's love says, truly, truly I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished. In other words, you controlled your own life, you called your own shots, you did what you wanted to do, put on your own clothes, pulled on your own sash and determined the day's agenda. I mean, you were in charge, but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you and bring you where you do not wish to go.
You've been in control of your life and you've called the shots and you've had a great amount of independence. The day is coming in your old age, Peter, when somebody's going to tie you up and haul you off where you don't want to go. What's he talking about? Verse 19, he said this, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. He's saying to him, Peter, you're going to glorify me in death. You're going to die because you're so focused on glorifying me.
You're going to honor me to the point of death. Now that must have been good news to Peter because every other time he faced death, he chickened out. Every other time life was at stake, he vacillated, right?
When confronted even by a little girl and asked if he knew the person from Galilee named Jesus, he denied it. Peter had been a classic coward and I think the Lord told him that the day would come when he'd be a hero just to sustain him through life with the confidence that in the end he wouldn't fail. The day would come when somebody would say to Peter, look Peter, either you deny Jesus Christ or we're going to kill you. And Peter would say, kill me. I will glorify Him at any cost. That's new for Peter. He hasn't been like that in the past.
It must have been wonderful to know he'd be like that in the future. Tradition tells us they crucified him and that he didn't want to be crucified like Jesus. He didn't think he was worthy, so he asked to be crucified upside down, which they did.
But that's how he glorified God. It cost him his life. It could cost you your life. It could cost you your neighbors. It could cost you your friends. It could cost you your family.
I mean, just to aim your life at that purpose is definitely going to isolate you from the crowd. But if you are a person who is completely committed to the glory of God, there's a price to pay. It was Peter who by the wonderful grace and power of God was willing to pay that price who wrote this in 1 Peter 4, if anyone suffers as a Christian, verse 16, let him not feel ashamed but in that name let him glorify God. If you have to suffer to glorify God, suffer. The Spirit of grace and glory rests on you.
What a great promise. So what does it mean to aim your life at that purpose? It means to be consumed with the glory of God so that you prefer it above all else.
It really doesn't matter to you what the consequences are at all. You know, it's a lot like those people in Hebrews 11 who verse 37 and following says were, well verse 36, experienced mocking, scourgings, chains, imprisonment, were stoned, sawn in half, tempted, put to death with the sword, went about in sheepskins, goatskins, destitute, afflicted, ill-treated, wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. Why did they do it?
Because they cared more about the glory of God than anything else. What makes the apostle Paul hear people say to him, you go to Jerusalem and you know what's going to happen to you? You're going to be put in prison.
You could die. And he says none of these things move me because I don't count my life dear to myself. I just want to finish the ministry Christ has given me.
That's the compelling issue. When you live your life to the glory of God, you really are willing to sacrifice family, friends, neighbors, your own life, your own life. Well, you're not liable to die. You're not liable to get martyred in this culture, but you are liable to have to give up your ambitions. You may be asked by God to give up your goals, your dreams, your plans, your possessions. Therein lies a grave measure of self-sacrifice. You want to move from level of glory to level of glory and become more and more like Christ. You want to become all that God wants you to be.
Then aim your life at glorifying God and confess your sin. Let's bow in prayer. Father, again, this is so practical and so basic and helpful for our lives. We pray that You'll apply it to us. Lord, we pray that You'll grant us grace to be the kind of people You want us to be, to live to Your glory, to ask that ubiquitous question, that constant ever-present query, will this bring You glory?
May it be the controlling question in our hearts. We know, Lord, one other thing, too, that no one gives You glory who doesn't confess Jesus as Lord to the glory of God. Confessing You as Lord to the glory of God is where it all starts. If we don't confess Jesus as Lord, then there can be nothing else we could do to glorify You. You've said, this is my beloved Son.
Listen to Him. If we don't do that, we dishonor You from the start. I pray, Lord, for those here who have not glorified You by confessing Jesus as Lord, who have not accepted Your testimony concerning Christ, who have not accepted His sacrifice on their behalf, who have rejected Your Son and thus spurned Your grace and spurned Your love and mercy, I pray that this may be the day that they would confess Jesus as Lord and thus bring You honor and bring You glory for the gift of Christ on their behalf.
Amen. That's John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary, showing you how to live for God's glory. That's the focus of the Christian life, and it's the title of John's study here on Grace to You. And friend, to help you more fully understand all that God has revealed about Himself, let me recommend John's book called Our Awesome God. It's an attribute-by-attribute encounter with the reality of who God is and what He is like. It's great for your own personal devotions or to read with a small group. The title again, Our Awesome God.
Order yours today. You can call 800-55-GRACE or go to gty.org. God's holiness, sovereignty, goodness and wrath are just a few of His characteristics that you'll learn about in this book. It will give you a passion for God, perhaps like nothing you've ever read.
Again, our order number is 800-55-GRACE or you can place your order online at gty.org. And if you're benefitting from these lessons, know that's happening across the globe. People are benefitting because friends like you support us financially. We're connecting people of all ages and in countless circumstances with verse-by-verse Bible teaching that changes lives. Dads, moms, pastors, Sunday school teachers, students of all ages, and even men and women in prison. To express your support, write to Grace to You, Box 4000, Panorama City, CA 91412, or make a donation at our website, gty.org, or when you call us 800-55-GRACE. Now for John MacArthur and the entire Grace to You staff, I'm Phil Johnson with an important question for you. What is the most effective way to get rid of pride? Find out tomorrow when another half hour of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time comes your way on Grace to You.
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