The Bondage of the Will, the Sovereignty of Grace and the Glory of God

2. The bondage of love for the darkness of self-glorification

Jesus said in John 3.19–20″>John 3:19–20,

This is the judgment: The light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. (John 3.19–20″>John 3:19–20)

The bondage of the human heart that keeps it from coming to Christ is not that light is lacking, but that darkness is loved, and light is hated. This is a real bondage. You cannot embrace as bright and beautiful what you hate. You cannot. And you cannot repudiate as dark and ugly what you love. You cannot. And hate and love are not decisions. They are profound controlling preferences of the palate of the soul. Darkness tastes good. Light tastes bitter. You cannot enjoy as sweet what tastes bitter. And you cannot have a distaste for what tastes good to you. This is a real bondage. These are real cannots, and they are the kind of cannots—the kind of inabilities—that are blameworthy, culpable. Because they are not things we are forced to do against our will; they are our will.

And what is it about the darkness that is so enthralling as to hold us in such bondage? Jesus gives us a window into this bondage-making love of darkness. He says to those who would not come to him in John 5.43–44″>John 5:43–44,

I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?

That’s a rhetorical question. It contains its own answer. He expects us to know the answer and restate the question so that it contains the answer: How can you? You cannot believe when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from God. Cannot. Why not? Why pronounce over them such bondage? Because their love for self-exaltation makes love for Jesus impossible.

Jesus is the light that ends the darkness of all human self-exaltation. But you love the glory of man more than the glory of God. Therefore, you cannot face his light. It is too threatening to what you love. You “love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi” (Matt 23.6–7″>Matthew 23:6–7). But he is the light that ends all that. In his light, that craving is ugly and tastes wretched. So as long as you love the exaltation of self more than the exaltation of God, you cannot taste and see that Jesus is good. Cannot. You are in bondage to the love for the darkness of self-glorification.

3. The bondage of hatred for the the supremacy of God

This is the flip side of bondage to the love of self-exaltation. But it gets its own special attention by the apostle Paul. He said in Romans 8:6-8,

The mindset of the flesh is death [my translation: the Greek fronema is more than thinking; it is an orientation, disposition, set course of attitude], but the mindset of the Spirit is life and peace. For the mindset of the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

These are very weighty cannots. This is a real bondage. To what? The bent, the disposition, the mindset of the flesh is “hostile to God.” Why? That’s insane! “It does not submit to God’s law. Indeed it cannot.” There’s the answer. The mindset of the flesh hates to submit. God is the king. His law is absolute. And the flesh hates God’s absolute supremacy.

Paul is saying there are two kinds of people in the world. Those with the mindset of the flesh and those in whom the Spirit of God dwells. Verse 9: “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.”

Every person by nature, apart from the work of God’s Spirit, has the mindset of the flesh. We are hostile to God. And you cannot submit to a law whose first command is to love the God that you hate. You cannot love what you hate. And apart from sovereign grace, all of us hate being under authority. And we are hostile to being under God’s authority. We are in the bondage of hatred for the the supremacy of God.

1
2
3
4
5
Previous article5 Ways Morning People Really DO Have a Leadership Advantage
Next articleTeach Your Children About the Happy God
John Piper
John Piper is the Pastor for Preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. John is the author of more than 30 books and more than 25 years of his preaching and teaching is available free at DesiringGod.org. © Desiring God.

Get the ChurchLeaders Daily Sent to Your Inbox