Ask yourself the question, do I feel pain when God is dishonored? If the answer is yes, then you're living to His glory. You say, what do you mean by that? I'm talking about empathy.
I'll tell you one thing for sure, whoever you love the most has the tightest grip on your heart. And if they feel pain, you'll feel it, right? You know that being a Christian means honoring God and giving Him glory. But how do you know if you're hitting the mark, that you're truly glorifying Him in everything you say, think, or do?
Well, John MacArthur is going to lead you through a little self-test today, some questions to ask yourself. The answers can help you know if you're really living for God's glory. How to Live for God's Glory. That's the title of John's study here on Grace To You. It's a step-by-step guide to fulfilling your ultimate purpose.
So follow along, and with a lesson now here is John MacArthur. Well, I want to give you some very clear things that the Bible teaches about glorifying the Lord. 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. Aiming your life at this purpose means that you prefer the glory of God above everything else. But let me give you a second thing that it means. It means you suffer when He suffers. It means you feel pain when He is dishonored. Ask yourself the question, do I feel pain when God is dishonored?
If the answer is yes, then you're living to His glory. You say, what do you mean by that? I'm talking about empathy.
I'll tell you one thing for sure. Whoever you love the most has the tightest grip on your heart. And if they feel pain, you'll feel it, right? You look at that precious little child that God has given you, and anything coming into that life that brings pain to that little life wrenches your heart. Look at that life partner God has given to you.
Whatever comes into his or her life, tear up that life that you love so much, tears your own heart out. Do you feel the same about God? Do you understand empathy toward God, sympathy toward God? Do you have a heart of compassion in terms of feeling the pain that God feels when His name is reproached or dishonored? Psalm 69, 9 is a great illustration of this.
You don't need to look at it. I'll just quote it for you. Psalm 69, 9, David says, zeal for your house has consumed me, or zeal for your house has eaten me up. What does he mean by that? Well, what he means is that I am so passionately consumed with the honor and the glory of God that it consumes me. Zeal is a marvelous word. Zeal is a tremendously rich concept. Zeal is a mixture. It is a mixture of passionate affection and righteous indignation.
Zeal means that there is something I love so much I hate anything that taints it, stains it, injures it, detracts from it, threatens it. It's that mingling of holy affection and righteous wrath. That's what David felt. David said, I look at the temple, I look at your house and I just have such passion, such holy affection for what it stands for and such righteous indignation for anything that threatens its purity. In fact, it goes so far, said David in the same verse, that the reproaches that fall on you are fallen on me.
What do you mean by that? I mean that when you're dishonored I feel the pain, that when your name is shamed I feel the agony, that I hurt when you hurt. Boy, we live in a culture where God's name is dishonored all the time, where God is mocked and scorned and laughed at and things are advocated and espoused and pumped out in every imaginable form of entertainment that are a stench to the nostrils of God and a blasphemy to His name and to shame.
And we can just kind of take them or leave them. When someone takes God's name in vain, which is an act of blasphemy, is your blood curdled? Do you feel empathy? Do you feel the shame, the pain, the reproach falling on you that falls on him? When our society strikes its blows against God in the myriad of ways that it does, do you feel the pain?
Do you feel the shame or are you so insulated that you don't feel anything? If you are really consumed with the glory of God, you're going to feel the pain that God feels when His name is dishonored. And certainly from a personal standpoint, if that's your feeling, you're not going to want to dishonor Him because you're not going to want to add to His pain. If I aim my life at the glory of God, then I'm going to feel the pain that He feels when He's dishonored.
And if I feel it deeply enough, I'm not going to want to dishonor Him. This was very much the attitude of Jesus in John 2. When Jesus began His ministry, He went to the temple. He came as the prophet said He would come to His temple. And in John chapter 2, He went into the temple and He found things He didn't like. And He found money changers and He found ox and sheep and doves and they were all being sold there to be used as sacrifices at exorbitant rates. They were cheating people on the exchange of currency that had to take place because people came from all over the ancient world.
It was a wretched marketplace run by a bunch of hypocrites and sinners. And so He made a whip out of cords which He wove together and He drove them all out of the temple. Now that will tell you something about the formidable character of His humanity. He was some kind of man. He went into the temple, a massive place filled with thousands upon thousands of people and single-handedly tore the place up and sent everybody out.
Incredible. He drove them all out of the temple, all the sheep, all the oxen, poured out the coins of the money changers, overturned their tables. To those who were selling the doves, He said, take these things away and stop making My Father's house a house of merchandise. And His disciples immediately remembered, verse 17, that it was written in Psalm 69, zeal for your house has eaten Me up. Jesus literally put into practice what David felt in Psalm 69. It had that messianic implication. It was the passion for the purity of the worship of God that caused Jesus to do what He did. That's righteous indignation. That's a holy wrath. He felt the pain when God was dishonored. That's the mark of one who lives to the glory of God.
Here's a third little subpoint that I want to mention to you. If you really live to the glory of God, if you really aim your life at that, not only will you prefer Him and His kingdom above everything else and suffer when He suffers, but thirdly, listen to this one, you will be content to be outdone by others as long as He is glorified. You will be content to be outdone by others as long as He is glorified. In other words, your pride will be gone. There's a lot of pride, even among Christians.
It can show up in the church, the wranglings and hassles in the church and people who want credit for this and want credit for that. But if you're aiming only at the glory of God, then it doesn't matter what happens to you. You can humble yourself like Jesus did and take on the form of a servant. You can be mocked and spit on and imprisoned like Paul was, and it really doesn't matter because all you care about is that God be exalted, the Lord be glorified. I think the best and simplest illustration of this is found in Philippians chapter 1.
I would draw you to that. Philippians chapter 1 is such a wonderful passage. In this passage, of course, as Paul writes to the Philippians, he's in his first imprisonment, not the one in which he died. That's a later imprisonment.
This was an earlier one. And of course, once he was put into prison, his envious jealous detractors, the next breed of preachers coming along who had an exalted view of themselves, wanted to use that as a way to push themselves up. And so they were going around saying, well, he's in prison because there's secret sin in his life. You don't know about it, but God knows about it and He had to put him on the shelf. Or he's in prison because he's somehow convoluted the doctrines, he's messed up the truth and God had to take him and put him on the shelf. And they were discrediting Paul and speaking evil against his character. He comments on that in chapter 1 verse 15. He says, some to be sure are preaching Christ even from envy and strife and some from good will. I mean, Paul was either the spiritual father, grandfather, or uncle of Gentile world. I mean, he was the one God used. He was the most beloved.
His shadow was far and wide. It was cast over everything in the church at that time. And there were some guys coming along who were very jealous.
They just couldn't deal with that. Their egos were big and they wanted their moment in the sun and at the expense of Paul, they would take it and now that he was in prison, they would use that as a way to say God had put him on the shelf and it was their day and people should listen to them, not him. And they were preaching from envy and strife. And others from good will, others had a right perspective on Paul.
They knew him for the man that he was and their attitudes were right. Verse 16, he says, the latter, those good will preachers do it out of love knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. They know the reason I'm in jail is not either due to sin or a failure to teach the truth, but because God put me here for the gospel's sake. The former, however, verse 17, envy and strife category, proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives and they're trying to cause me distress in my imprisonment or add pain to my chains. Another way to translate that. So, he says, some preach Christ with good will toward me.
Some are lambasting me, lying about me. Look at verse 18. Here's the real key. So what? That's what what then means.
So what? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed or preached and in this I rejoice, yes and I will rejoice. I don't care what they say about me as long as Christ is preached. This is man consumed with the glory of God.
This is a man consumed with Christ. It doesn't matter to me. It doesn't matter to me whether they accuse me. It doesn't matter whether my reputation survives.
It doesn't matter what people think of me. What matters is that Christ is preached. Let my candle go out if the Son of Righteousness can but rise with healing in His beams.
I'm not the issue. Now there is a life aimed at the glory of God, preferring the glory of God above everything else, feeling the pain when God is dishonored and being content to be outdone by others to do what you do if God is glorified. Now you're not going to be thrown in prison perhaps, but can you rejoice with your whole heart when somebody else does what you do better than you do it? You can if you're consumed with the glory of God. You paint and you want it to be to the honor of Christ. Somebody else paints better to the honor of Christ.
Can you rejoice in that? You sing. Somebody sings better. You teach. Somebody teaches better. You preach. Somebody preaches better. You write. Somebody writes better. You've had an impact on people's lives.
Somebody's had a better impact or a greater or more far-reaching. Is that all right? It is if you're consumed with the glory of God. So the first thing then in glorifying God, moving from one level of glory to the next is to aim your life at that purpose.
Now let me give you the second and just briefly. We glorify God by confessing sin. We glorify God by confessing sin. The thief on the cross is a good illustration of this. He really did glorify God in his death because he had failed to glorify God all his life. But in his death, he glorified God because he said this, Luke 23, 41, looking at the other thief, we indeed suffer justly. What was he saying? We're getting exactly what we deserve.
What is that? That's tantamount to a confession of sin. We're here and being crucified and it's exactly what we deserve. And you see, what that does is glorify God.
How? Because it frees God from any accusation of impunity for being unkind or ungracious or unjust. They're not shaking their fists in the face of God like those in Revelation 16 and saying, What kind of God are you? Why would you let this happen to us? No, the thief said, Hey, we're getting exactly what we deserve. We sinned.
This is what we deserve. Thus, freeing God to do whatever God would justly do without any accusation against Him. You see, one of the reasons you confess sin is just to restore the fellowship with God, but a second reason you confess sin is to free God up to do whatever He wants to do to you. If you confess your sin to God and God chastens you, then you've acknowledged that He has every right to do it, right?
It's a holy reaction against your sin. On the other hand, if you confess your sin and God doesn't chasten you, then you have glorified God also because now you're going to understand the greatness and the magnanimity of His grace, right? But if you don't even acknowledge your sin and don't even confess your sin, then if God chastens you, you're liable to shake your fist at Him and say, Why is this happening in my life?
I don't understand this. Or if God is gracious to you, you're not even going to understand it at all. You're not even going to acknowledge it at all. You're going to think you deserve it because you're such a good person. But when you come to grips with your sin, you've free God up to chasten you and you'll know that He has a right to do it or to be gracious to you and you'll know that you don't deserve it, but He's merciful.
Either case, you're going to glorify Him for His justice or His mercy. But you see, if you won't accept the responsibility for your sin, then He gets no glory either way. And we live in a culture where people don't want to take responsibility for their sin.
Is that not true? They're not responsible for their sin. They're not responsible for anything in their lives. And consequently, they do not glorify God. It does not glorify God when you blame somebody else for sin that is only your problem. Nobody is responsible for your sin but you, not your mother, not your father, not your aunt, your uncle, not your orphanage, not anything. Nobody but you is responsible for your sin. And the sooner you acknowledge that responsibility, then the Lord in chastening you can be glorified because it's a just chastening. And in not chastening you, you can praise Him and thank Him for the grace that He gives you because you know what you really deserve. But men are good at denying sin, right? Adam started it.
The first sinner launched the first dispossession of responsibility and he says in Genesis 3, 12 to God, the woman you gave me. It's not my fault. I went to bed single.
I'll tell you something else. I didn't ask for a wife. I didn't even know what a wife was. There wasn't such a thing.
So this is not an answer to prayer. Furthermore, you could have picked anyone you wanted. Why did you pick her? You didn't give me a choice.
It wasn't like it was a beauty contest and I could pick whatever one I wanted. You're certainly not blaming me for this sin, are you? The woman you gave me, who did he blame? God.
You could have said, what do I know about a woman? You certainly can't hold me responsible. God said, I do hold you responsible. I hold everybody responsible for his or her own sin.
Let me give you an illustration of this. Go to Joshua chapter 7 and we'll kind of wrap our thoughts up around that. Joshua chapter 7, a most fascinating account. You remember when the children of Israel were delivered from Egypt through the power of God and the ten plagues and crossed the Red Sea and it drowned Pharaoh's army. They then were in the wilderness, of course, and they wandered there for 40 years and eventually got into the Promised Land and the first point of entry in the Promised Land was Jericho. They came into Jericho and they won a great battle. You remember they marched around the walls for seven days and seven times the seventh day and the walls fell down and they took the city. God had said to them, now when you take the city of Jericho, don't take any spoil. Remember that?
Don't take anything. But there was one guy who just couldn't resist. In fact, I've always said he was just aching to take something.
That's how I remember his name easily. And he did. And he wasn't alone. There was complicity on the part of his whole family. I mean, after all, he buried the whole pile of treasure in the middle of his tent. You couldn't be digging a hole in the tent your whole family was living in without somebody knowing what was going on. So they were all a part of it.
There was complicity in the whole family. Instead of obeying God, he went in there and just stole everything. And here again is a very crucial point in God's redemptive history.
After the Egyptian experience of several hundred years, they've now wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. Finally, a whole generation died off. Now they go into the Promised Land. It's a brand new day.
It's the dawning of a new era again. And God wants to get across another message. The message is this, obedience brings blessing, disobedience brings cursing.
And at very key points in redemptive history, God punctuated that reality. And here's one of them. He told them, don't take anything.
Don't take anything. And Achan and his family did. And it has to be confronted. So we come to chapter 7 verse 19. Joshua said to Achan, my son, I implore you, give glory to the Lord the God of Israel. Now how's he going to do that? How's he going to give glory to the God of Israel? I'll tell you how. Give praise to Him and tell me now what you have done and do not hide it from me.
What's he saying? Confess your sin. In fact, some of the translations even say that. Confess your sin.
Don't hide it. So he said, look, confess your sin and give glory to God. Now how does that give glory to God? Well, if you'll accept responsibility for your sin, then nobody is going to accuse God of being unholy when He judges you.
That was the point. So he says, confess your sin. Verse 20, Achan answered Joshua and said, truly, I have sinned against the Lord the God of Israel and this is what I did. When I saw among the spoil a beautiful mantle from Shinar and two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold, fifty shekels in weight, that's a fortune, then I coveted them, took them.
Behold, they are concealed in the earth inside my tent with the silver underneath. That's what he did. I like the specificity of his confession, don't you? He didn't say, I demonstrated a moral weakness.
He didn't say, I had a moral failure. He said, I sinned and this is exactly what I did. And he even told him what order the stuff was stacked in. So Joshua sent messengers and they ran to the tent and behold, it was concealed in his tent with the silver underneath it.
He was accurate, just the way he said. And they took them from inside the tent and brought them to Joshua and all the sons of Israel and they poured them out before the Lord. They had them in some containers and just dumped it out. Joshua and all Israel with him took Achan the son of Zerah, the silver, the mantle, the bar of gold, his sons, his daughters, his oxen, his donkeys, his sheep, his tent and all that belonged to him brought him down to the valley of Achor, or the valley of trouble. And Joshua said, why have you troubled us? The Lord will trouble you this day and all Israel stoned them with stones and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones. Whoa, this is a big fire. There's a lot of things burning here, folks, lots of people, lots of animals, lots of stuff. And they raised over him a great heap of stones that stands to this day and the Lord turned from the fierceness of his anger.
Therefore, the name of that place has been called the valley of Achor to this day. Now if I had been in that little deal that day, I would have walked away saying, you know, obedience is better. It's a better choice. Obedience is wiser.
That was the whole message. Every time a person disobeys, God doesn't kill them, but periodically to make His point, He's done that at crucial junctures in Israel's redemptive history and even in the beginning of the church, as I mentioned with Ananias and Sapphira, to remind us that it's all about blessing and cursing, those who obey are blessed, those who disobey are cursed. And you see, if Achan hadn't confessed that sin and God had just wiped out that whole family, somebody might say, well, what kind of a God are you?
Well, why would you do that? And the pagan neighbors might say, boy, you've got a terrifying, fearful God who just wipes out people and families and animals. But when he confessed that he had sinned against God, then what everybody would have to say was, this is a God who is so holy, He will not tolerate sin. And that is the reputation that glorifies God, right? And that, of course, sets up the whole significance of the atoning work of Jesus Christ. You can see that what Jesus Christ did on the cross was appease the wrath of God by satisfying His justice for us. You want to glorify God? Then aim your life at that purpose and confess your sin and confess it specifically so that when God chastens you, He will not be impugned for being unjust, and when He shows you grace, He will not be forgotten for His mercy. Nehemiah vindicated God's righteousness in Nehemiah 9.33 and said, Thou art just in all that is brought upon us. Genesis 44 16, so Judas said, What can we say to my Lord?
What can we speak and how can we justify ourselves? God has found out our sins. Daniel said, I was speaking and praying and confessing my sin. Simon Peter saw Jesus fell down at Jesus' feet, Luke 5 8, and said, Depart from me, I am a sinful man, O Lord.
The publican beating on his breast said, Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner, Luke 18 13. Paul said, 1 Timothy 1, I am the chief of sinners. You see, when we admit our sin, that glorifies God because it puts on display His holy wrath against sin and it puts on display His sweet merciful grace for the sinner. 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. This is Grace to You with John MacArthur.
Thanks for being with us. Today John focused on how to live for God's glory. That's the title of his current series on Grace to You. And now, friend, you heard today that confessing sin goes hand in hand with repentance and obedience. So we glorify God by turning from sin, and that is the ongoing pattern for every Christian. And of course, John, something that all of us as Christians long to see is that pattern becoming less and less necessary in this life, less and less sin, less need to confess.
But we never feel like we're making that kind of progress. Yeah, and there's a reason for that, because the more progress you make, the more you're dealing with the reality of the sin that remains in you. I think it would be obvious to anyone who thought about it that a brand-new Christian, even though he's confessed to sin and embraced Christ, has a rather limited understanding of his sinfulness. Whereas someone who has walked with the Lord for decades and decades and decades has a much greater sense of the remaining sin that is in him, because through all of the years of the experience of battling that sin, he knows it's power that's still retained even in his redeemed nature. So yes, the issue is you sin less, but you feel worse, because you have a deeper and greater sense of the offense that sin is to your own heart and to the Lord, more importantly. So how do you go about sinning less and having to confess less?
And I think it's summed up in what David said when he said, Your word of I hid in my heart that I might not sin against you. So how do you get that started? Well, let me help you with something on that. I want to mention a tool that we have used here for many, many years.
I suppose hundreds of thousands of people have done this. The tool is the MacArthur Daily Bible. It gets you into the word every day. There's no substitute for daily Bible reading. And the Daily Bible has for every day of the year a section from the Old Testament, a section from the New Testament, a section from the Psalms, and a portion of the Proverbs. The good thing about it is you're covering the Scripture in a kind of different way than if you just started reading in Genesis and went through.
You're tapping into all the components of the word of God that relate directly to your life by using the Old Testament, the New Testament, the book of Psalms, and the book of Proverbs. So you can get a copy of the MacArthur Daily Bible from us. I've used it.
Patricia and I have used it often through the years. We still read it even these days. Reading God's word takes discipline, and this is how you can begin to cultivate that discipline.
Now, don't worry that January 1st is still three months away. You don't have to start on page one of the MacArthur Daily Bible. The days of the year are identified, and you can start wherever you are when you receive your copy.
We have leather soft and soft cover versions available reasonably priced, and you can order it today. That's right, and the MacArthur Daily Bible is a great tool to keep you on track with the daily intake of biblical truth. Each day you'll read a portion of the Old Testament and New Testament, taking you through the entire Bible in one year. To place your order, contact us today. Just go to our website, gty.org, or call 800-55-GRACE. The updated MacArthur Daily Bible is available in a durable leather soft cover, and this would be a great resource for any new believer or simply to help you read God's word more consistently. Again, you can purchase the MacArthur Daily Bible when you go to our website, gty.org, or when you call us at 800-55-GRACE. And while you're at the website, spend some time at the Grace To You blog. You'll find practical articles from John and our staff on issues affecting your life and your church, and you can also download any of John's sermons from 53 years of his pulpit ministry. That includes every lesson in his current study, How to Live for God's Glory.
You can take advantage of everything at our website and then come back often to gty.org. Now for John MacArthur and the entire staff, I'm Phil Johnson. Thanks for tuning in today, and make sure you're here tomorrow when John helps you think biblically about trials and shows you how your trials can be used for God's glory. Don't miss the next 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace To You.
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