“Until God awakens us from spiritual death and gives us the life that finds joy in killing sin and being holy, we are slaves and cannot get free. That’s why the new birth is necessary.”
“finally alive” “john piper” “count it all joy”
So says John Piper in his new book Finally Alive, which I just finished reading this week. I heard many of the sermons that Pastor John preached on the new birth last year, and a good deal of the material from those sermons find their way into this book. I wanted to comment on one section of the book that I found helpful to me personally.
The book is broken down into five sections – 1) What Is The New Birth ?, 2) Why Must We Be Born Again ?, 3) How Does The New Birth Come About ? 4) What Are The Effects of the New Birth ?, and 5) How Can We Help Others Be Born Again ? There is a chapter in section 4 called “Freedom from the Practice of Sinning” and in it, Pastor John discusses how to deal with ongoing sin. Using Scripture as he always does, Piper points his readers to 1 John and outlines the balance between being presumptuous and thinking carelessly about our sin, and on the other hand, being despondent over it. I find myself leaning more towards the latter most days, but there are two verses in particular that he highlights that deal with both sides of the issue.
If you find yourself lax towards your sin, Piper suggests 1 John 3:9 – “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.”
If you find yourself in despair over sin, Piper offers 1 John 2:1 – “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
I have probably read 1 John more than any book in the Bible, but could not see this connection until Pastor John explained it in this way. He also carefully notes that having an Advocate doesn’t give us free reign to keep on sinning, nor should the danger outlined in 1 John 3:9 cause us to sink into despair over it. I found his explanation so helpful for me in my own daily struggles, and appreciated Pastor John’s warm words to close this chapter (p. 151):
“May the Lord confirm your new birth as you experience both of these responses to the word of God. May he grant you to embrace both the warning and the comfort. May you hear the word of God as God means it to be heard, and may God’s all-sufficient word preserve the full assurance of your salvation.”
This is the third John Piper book I have read. My favorite so far is still Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ, which I’ve read twice now, but Finally Alive is well worth adding to your list. Desiring God has now made it available as a PDF to download on their website, as they do with many other books. Check it out !