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Between gods and God

Choosing God, and not gods

Over the past few weeks at our youth ministry, we’ve been preaching through a series called Smashing Idols. Our aim was to help our teens identify and dethrone those idols that so easily gain preeminence: romantic relationships, entertainment, self, money, etc.

This past week, we looked at Psalm 16:11, in which David says,

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11, ESV)

In this verse, David gives three critical differences between our idols, and the one true God.

  1. First, God makes known the path of life. Without overstating the point, I think it’s significant that there a singular path to having life in its fullness, namely by faith in Christ.
  2. Second, not only does God promise us joy, but fullness of joy. Complete joy. Satisfying joy. And where is it found, but in his presence.
  3. Finally, David says that God has forever pleasures for us. Compared to the imperfect, often illicit pleasures this world offers, God promises a legitimate fulfillment without end.

Only in God and through Christ is there endless life, joy, and pleasure. It makes more sense to me why David would be so concerned with “beholding God’s face” (Psalm 8:7); In God’s presence, my joy is made complete, and so beholding his face becomes the driving motivation of his holiness and obedience.

Implications

So endless life, joy, and pleasure are only found in God. How should that shape the way I live?

  1. My pursuit of joy is a pursuit of more of God in my life. This means coming to know him more intimately through the Scriptures, prayer, and other believers. Reading the Bible is more than a Christian duty; it is a fight for my ultimate joy.

  2. My battles with sin are battles against all those self-destructive impulses within me that would try to rob me of ultimate joy and pleasure. If sin separates us from God, then it also separates us from the opportunity to experience joy fully.

  3. If life, joy, and pleasure are solely found in Christ, then if I have Christ, I can lose all else in this world. I’ll admit, this one is more of a theoretical application in my life, but one that will be foundational for life in a broken, fallen world.

I’m sure I’m not saying anything new and that the great minds of John Piper, Jonathan Edwards, and others have said the above in a more comprehensive manner. But it is helpful to think it out and reflect on this in my own words.