The purpose of life is not your personal, self-centered happiness. Your purpose in life is to glorify God and to find your satisfaction and enjoyment in Him, in who He is, in who Christ is and what He has done for you as a believer.
Many self-improvement seminars suggest you set goals, but they're usually of the material kind. God has set a goal for believers, but it's spiritual and it's laid out for us in Scripture. Pastor Don Green will take us there on this edition of The Truth Pulpit. Hi, I'm Bill Wright. We're continuing our series Deception Close to Home. And Don, what's in store for us next? Well, Bill, we're going to continue our study of moralistic therapeutic deism. And friends, if you're just joining us for this series, it's one of the most important things that we broadcast on The Truth Pulpit in the history of our ministry. We're going to look at one central tenet today that says that the main goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about yourself.
That sounds so good, it's hard to believe, but it's a lie. The chief end of man is something different. We'll see it today from God's Word.
Thanks, Don. And friend, let's join our teacher now in The Truth Pulpit as he continues teaching God's people God's Word. Now last time we looked at two of the moralistic therapeutic deism, fundamental principles, first one being that a God exists who created and orders the world and watches over human life on earth. No, when we talk about God, we need to get specific about who He really is. We must speak of the sovereign, triune God who is revealed uniquely in the 66 books of the Bible and in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. It's not enough to talk simply about a vague higher power and think that we are talking about the true God. We need to be specific.
We need the light to be put onto it. We saw secondly last time that what God wants from man is for people to be good, to be nice, to be fair to each other and that this is the predominant principle taught by all world religions. Scripture says that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, strength and mind. That is not satisfied by simply being a generally good Joe to the people around you.
What I want to do now is to move into some new material. The third principle of moralistic therapeutic deism is this. The author of the book that coined the term moralistic therapeutic deism puts it this way, the central goal of life is to be happy and feel good about yourself. The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about yourself.
Now that's very seductive. This is a spiritual adulteress beckoning you to come into her wilds and it is critical for you to be able to discern that and to realize that that is not the central goal in life and that that is not what Scripture would point us to as the reason for our existence. But what makes it so deceptive and so alluring is that every one of us wants to be happy, right? I mean there's none of us that just actively want to be miserable in life. No one wants to be sad.
No one wants to have a difficult life. We want to have happiness, whatever that means. We want to feel good. And so to have a spiritual philosophy come and say that's the central goal of life, our sinful tendency and our self-centered approach to life leads us in that direction.
We are fish looking for that bait, but we need to let Scripture inform us. We need to turn this light switch on and bring light to this room in the philosophy that has become known as moralistic therapeutic deism. This concept, this central goal of life, the goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about yourself. This highlights the therapeutic aspect of religion. It's not just that we want to feel good, MTD projects that onto God and says that's what God wants for you also, that God wants you to feel good, that God wants you to have self-esteem, that God exists and wants your life to be better physically, materially, or emotionally.
And in this, MTD is not focusing on revealed truth, it's not focusing on teaching doctrine, it's not focusing on teaching Scripture verse by verse, it's not teaching a systematic approach to theology to think rightly about God, about man, about sin, about salvation, about the church, about future things. It's all about what makes you feel good in the moment, about stroking you and helping you. And the emphasis is on good feelings and life advice.
Now, beloved, here's the thing, let's start to unpack this and unravel this a little bit. When you think that happiness is the preeminent goal in life and that that's the purpose of everything is your personal happiness is at the center of your universe, then there is an obvious corollary to that. It means that God exists to make you happy. When your happiness is numero uno, when your happiness is number one in the order of the universe, then God fits under that, God is subordinated to that purpose, and his job is to help you find that fulfillment.
And beloved, take it another little step further. Your personal experience in life with unbelievers will verify this to you. I say these things without any fear of contradiction. When you have the sense, when you think that your happiness is the preeminent goal in life and that God's purpose is to make you happy, then this falls out as a consequence. If you're happy in life, if you're satisfied in life, if you're pleased with your circumstances, then God has no claim on you.
Why would he? The whole purpose of your existence and of God's existence is for you to be happy. Well, if you're happy without him, if you're satisfied without him, he has just been defined out of existence.
There's no reason for him to be around. You're happy enough with life, with your relationships, with whatever other aspect of life that scratches your itch, then God has no purpose, there's no meaning to him under that mindset. Conversely, on the other hand, you are only obligated to seek God if you need him. Again, if the preeminent goal is happiness in life and you're happy, then you're not under any obligation to seek him because that's the only reason he exists is to make you happy. And if you're pleased without him, then there is no purpose for him. And you can go forward in your selfish, autonomous life without having to trouble yourself about who God is or anything that he might say in his word.
That's the reality of it. And beloved, Scripture thoroughly refutes and repudiates that man-centered, selfish approach to life and to thinking about God. Indeed, it's not at all too much to say that biblical theologians have refuted this for centuries, long before it was ever given the name moralistic therapeutic deism. Beloved, the first question, the first question in the famous Westminster Shorter catechism is this, what is the chief end of man? Why does man exist? What is his purpose in life, in other words? What is the chief end of man? And the answer to that first question of that famous catechism is this, and I quote, man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever. The purpose of life is not your personal self-centered happiness, your purpose in life is to glorify God and to find your satisfaction and enjoyment in him, in who he is, in who Christ is and what he has done for you as a believer. And to rejoice in Christ, to rejoice in this God, and to live your life with an eye of bringing honor and pleasure and glory to him.
That's the chief end of man, and that is not the same thing as saying that your primary goal in life is to be happy. There is a vertical dimension to the purpose of man. Let's think about it this way, the creature owes active worship to his creator. It is your obligation as one created by God and created in his image, it is your duty, it is your responsibility, it is your prerogative, it is what you are created to do is to reflect worship and glory and honor back to the one who made you.
That's why you exist, and that's true as a universal principle to all 7 billion people who are walking on the earth today. Everyone exists and has that obligation upon them as a creature, they owe worship to the one who has given them breath and who rules over them. Now as a Christian we have that, but then it is multiplied by infinity for us that as sinners we owe our love and our devotion and our allegiance and our obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ who as our representative head suffered on the cross in order to save us from our sins. The one who shed his blood in order to wash away our sin.
The one who came from heaven and lived in perfect obedience to the law of God that he might clothe us in his righteousness when we put our faith in him. That one is the center of our existence. He is our supreme affection. He is the supreme object of our desires. And so God by right of creation and in Christ by right of redemption has complete claim on all of our thoughts, all of our allegiance, all of our words, and all of our actions. And our chief responsibility is to give glory to the one who has so graciously made us, so graciously redeemed us, so that we bring every thought and desire as Scripture says captive to obedience to Christ. That's why you exist.
Your happiness is a secondary corollary to that at best. And familiar Scripture texts as we'll turn to Scripture now emphasize this overarching purpose of life. Turn to the book of Romans if you would in chapter 11. Romans chapter 11 verse 33 says, oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God.
How unsearchable are his judgments and unfathomable his ways. For who has known the mind of the Lord or who became his counselor or who has first given to him that it might be paid back to him again. Verse 36, for from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever amen. Your life, your thoughts, your affections are all swept up in this comprehensive view that all things are directed toward the glory of God. And anyone who has not processed that central theme of life has not begun to understand the reason for their existence. And someone who is convinced that the reason that they exist and God's whole purpose is just to make life nice and easy and comfortable for them has not begun to understand the first thing about the purpose of God and the purpose of their life under his hand.
They haven't begun to understand the first thing about it. How could you begin to think that you had started to understand the purpose of life if the central direction that all things are moving toward is the glory of God and that's not factored into your world view. And yet, moralistic therapeutic deism, this predominant philosophy simply does this, it goes into the house and it just pulls the blinds over the windows that you would look out to see the glory of God and it just darkens everything so that it's just you alone in the room and you're the focus of your own thoughts and intentions. Well, what we have to do with scripture is pull those blinds up and let the light in and to see that there is a whole world of existence outside that room in which we live and as we look out the windows we see magnificent vistas of the glory of God and we're lifted beyond ourselves into a different realm that compels us to give him glory. Turn to 1 Corinthians chapter 10, next book over from Romans.
1 Corinthians chapter 10, Paul speaking to believers. It says, whether then you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. The most mundane aspects of your existence are to be done with an eye to the glory of God. Eating, drinking, the day to day aspects of life are done with a spirit of gratitude toward the God who has given you such gifts, a recognition that what you have is from his gracious providential hand and you realize that as an unworthy sinner you have no claim on anything from God yet here you are enjoying this life that he has given to you. Very few of us if any in this room miss meals because we don't have means to eat and so we realize that we have been given so much graciously by God just on a day to day human level and then when you add Christ to that, when you remember Christ beyond that, you remember this gracious Lord who has redeemed you from sin and your mind is suddenly exploding with reasons to give thanks to him, to give glory to him in a humble response of gratitude saying I have so much in Christ, I have so much in life I'm just abounding in thankfulness to him so that you're now thinking about life outwardly, you're thinking about it vertically, you're recognizing God for who he is and rather than having an inward subjective view of the purpose of life that you would feel good inside, rather you're now looking out, you're looking up with gratitude and recognizing the glory of God and ascribing glory to his name.
Then and only then are you beginning to fulfill the purpose for which you are created. In John, you don't need to turn here, in John chapter 3 verse 30 it's summed up so well, so simply, he must increase and I must decrease rather than my happiness being the increasing focus of my preoccupations, no rather it must simply be the glory of Christ that is the focus of my preoccupation, of my words, of my energies, of my life purpose while he gives me breath, it is Christ, Christ, Christ, Christ to him be the glory forever and ever, amen. Moralistic Therapeutic, you would never hear that from somebody imbibed with the spirit of moralistic therapeutic deism.
That's a tougher sell to a worldly audience, to tell a worldly audience that your happiness is not the center of life, that Christ deserves your full devotion and allegiance and obedience, you can't sell that in a room next to Costco and so you have to shave some edges off and cut some corners spiritually and you just continue to shape the blob until you're left with a religion that's made in your own image and rather than one that is a reflection of Christ and his great preeminence. Let's look at a second aspect here, we could call it the negative refutation of MTD and the negative refutation of moralistic therapeutic deism can be found in this way, Jesus said that the only ones with true faith are those who know spiritual mourning, spiritual mourning which is the exact opposite of the superficial happiness that is peddled as the religious wares of our day. Look at Matthew chapter 5 verse 3 and 4, he says, blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted. Poor in spirit, those who have declared a spiritual bankruptcy that says I have no good in my spiritual account, if I am to be saved it must be by the work and the actions and the love of another because there is no good within me. Spiritual bankruptcy that leads to a sense of mourning over sin, the true Christian, the one who truly knows God is one who has recognized his sin and it grieves him, he mourns over the way that he falls short of the glory of God, he mourns over his disobedience to the law of God, he detests the fact that he does not give God the love and glory of which he is so preeminently worthy.
He realizes that he falls short and this is not just a superficial reaction, this is at the core of his being. Well, beloved, if personal happiness and feelings of happiness are the preeminent goal of your perspective on religion, what Jesus says is absolutely opposed to that. Spiritual sadness and sorrow don't lend themselves to happiness and as we have said and pointed out many many times here in these verses 3 and 4 when Jesus says blessed are the spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, he is making a statement of exclusivity, it is only those who are poor in spirit who will enter the kingdom of heaven. It is they and they alone that truly know God.
It is they and they alone who mourn that will experience the true comfort of God. And so you cannot run a detour around conviction of sin, of spiritual poverty, you can't go around that and come in the gates of heaven. Jesus said in Matthew chapter 7 verse 13 enter through the narrow gate for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction and there are many who enter through it for the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life and there are few who find it. The fact that this is the prevailing sentiment of our age identifies it as a false philosophy.
The fact that so many people want this and embrace it is evident proof that it is not true. Turn over to the book of James chapter 4 verse 7 he says submit therefore to God resist the devil and he will flee from you. We need to resist the devil with our understanding of scripture and what does he go on to say after he brings the devil to our attention he says this in verse 8 he says draw near to God and he will draw near to you cleanse your hands you sinners and purify your hearts you double-minded be miserable and mourn and weep let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord and he will exalt you. Beloved I ask you where could this mindset of MTD have any place for James chapter 4 and its thinking. Why if happiness immediate happiness was the goal of religion why would anyone turn to a verse that tells them to be miserable and to mourn and to weep and let their laughter be turned into mourning and their joy into gloom. You have to cut that out of the Bible for that to be your worldview. It's easy to see why moralistic therapeutic deism is so attractive.
It requires almost nothing and makes God something like a personal genie. But as you've been reminded today on the truth pulpit what seems attractive on the outside is rat infested in reality. Pastor Don Green will have part 2 of his message moralistic therapeutic deism and the true goal in life on our next broadcast as we continue our series deception close to home be with us then right now though Don's back here in studio with some closing words. You know friend we realize that you may not be close enough to our church to be able to join us as you would like to on any given Sunday. So let me invite you to join us on our live stream that you can find at our website Sundays at 9 a.m. Eastern Time and also we have a midweek service on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. We would love to have you join us in that way.
A lot of people do. You might as well be one more that join us for those special studies of God's Word and our church services on Sundays and Tuesdays. Here's Bill with some final information to help you find us. Just visit the truth pulpit dot com where you can also learn more about podcasts and free CDs of Don's teaching. That's the truth pulpit dot com. I'm Bill Wright and we'll see you next time as Don Green continues teaching God's people God's Word here on the Truth Pulpit.
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