What is supreme in our life? What takes first place in the priorities of our life? The answer to that question will reveal where we place our hope and determine what or who we worship. In truth, the place of preeminence is reserved for Christ alone, yet because of the Fall, many other things take His place in our life. Three specific places that all people look for fulfillment are money, sex, and power. Put in priority, these there can bring immense joy. It is when they are put in the place of Christ, that they can become a snare that leads to other sins. This is what Dr. John Piper discusses in his new book Living in the Light: Money, Sex, and Power published by the Good Book Company.
In the book, Dr. Piper reveals that money, sex, and power are precious gifts from God in order to bring joy and fulfillment in the lives of His people. As a result of sin, they can be perverted and placed as preeminent in our lives. If we allow one of these to take the first place in our hearts the damage it can have in our lives and others’ lives can be devastating.
First, sex was created by God not only for procreation but bring joy and pleasure for His people. The lie of Satan “was to make the fruit look more desirable than God” (pg. 29). Our first parents “exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man” (Rom. 1:23, ESV). What God intended as enjoyment and pleasure, mankind put in the place of God. In regards to sex, this was done by taking sex out of the bonds of covenant marriage and partaking whenever we see fit. This is seen in our culture with the redefinition of marriage, gender issues, pornography, premarital, and extramarital sex. When enjoying sex takes priority over enjoying God through sex, we have exchanged the glory of God for images.
Second, money was created by God as a way for mankind to flourish. Through money, we can give and receive material goods and services. Money helps us meet our most basic needs and allows us to enjoy the world around us. Since we sin, we pursue the gift rather than the Giver with the result that money can become our primary goal in life. This can happen through seeking a lucrative career path or being stingy with what God has given us by placing it in savings accounts. Money was not meant to be pursued above God. When we pursue God first he will graciously give us all things. This does not mean that we will become wealthy, but it means that he will meet our needs and provide for us.
Third, power was created by God as a way for us to pursue pleasure through Him. Power can easily become distorted in our lives when we pursue it above all things. Through power, we can exalt ourselves and hurt others. This is most commonly seen through “climbing the corporate latter” where we step on others in an effort to get to the top. Power was not meant to be pursued above all else, but as a way to pursue please through God.
Application for the Christian Life
The remedy, as Dr. Piper puts it, is to put the Son back at the center of the solar system of our lives. When the money, sex, and power get out of “orbit” it causes many problems. When Christ is preeminent in our lives he graciously gives us all things as good gifts to enjoy him.
Sex was given as a gracious gift to glorify God by enjoying the pleasure that only he can give. When it is enjoyed within the bounds of covenant marriage, sex can bring immense pleasure and ecstasy. God has given us freedom within those bounds to explore and enjoy the spouse he has given us for his glory. Yet, even marital sex cannot completely satisfy, only Jesus can. Marital sex is intended to point us to the only one who can satisfy and complete us in the covenant community we have in Christ. In marriage, we must give God the glory for the good gift of sex that points us back to him!
Money was given as a gracious gift from God as a means to provide for us and to bring us pleasure. When it is enjoyed as a means of enjoying God, money can bring enjoyment and pleasure in this life. God has given us the freedom to enjoy his created world through money. To some he has given much and other he has given little, but he has graciously given to all. Whether he has given you much or little, we are tasked with the responsibility of being good stewards of what he has given. Each of us must trust God to provide no matter how much money we have in the bank.
Power was given as a gracious gift from God to pursue pleasure through him. When it is enjoyed as a means for enjoying God for the good of others, power can bring us immense joy. It is only when we abuse the power we have been given for selfish gain that we distort the gift of God. God has given some people places of power in order for them to fight for justice. This is one way that we can exercise our God-given power, no matter how much we have been allotted.
Ultimately, all three of these gifts have been given to us, in one degree or another, are a means by which we can pursue and enjoy God. We would be wise, by God’s grace, to steward them well.
I highly recommend this resource to anyone struggling with placing money, sex, or power as preeminent in their lives. Dr. John Piper uses his gift of writing to point the people of God back to Christ. It is only when seeking Christ above all else that all these things are added to us (Matt. 6:33-34). This short book would be excellent for personal or group study. What a blessing Dr. Piper is to the church!