I Don’t Want God More Than Anything Else


@@If you don't want God more than you want anything else, welcome to the club.@@  This is the essence of what we are guilty of in the first commandment, "You shall have no other gods."  Our affections and desires, our fears and our trust should always be directed at God alone.

But sin, at it's heart, is wanting something else more than God. Anybody who suggests that they truly have no other gods is a liar. The Scriptures call us to love God above all else, to be fully satisfied in Christ alone.  But if you think that you do, you're probably deceiving yourself. 

When Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:17, "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come," we understand that our righteousness comes completely and fully from Christ and it has nothing to do with our own works.  We are made new - which has new desires, new joys, and new satisfactions.  But that fruit isn't the assurance we have nor the assurance we need - the only place of assurance that can give us any hope is the Gospel. Jesus makes you new, you don't make yourself new. 

But here's the tension of the Christian life. Being a Christian isn't about sinning less and wanting God more. Being a Christian is about realizing that sin is an even bigger problem than you thought and that the cross is even more gracious than you dreamed. 

When I don't sin, it is the supernatural work of Christ in me, but when I do sin it's not evidence that I'm not a Christian - it's evidence that my sinful flesh still battles against the new creation. 

In Romans 7, Paul writes:

"For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me." - Romans 7:15-20

Luther used a latin phrase to describe this, simul justus et peccator.  In his commentary on Romans Luther wrote, "Wonderful and sweet is the mercy of God, who at the same time considers us both as sinners and nonsinners." Christians are simultaneously justified and sinner at the same time. Christians are simultaneously new and old at the same time. Christians simultaneously want God above all and chose anything and everything above God. 

This is what Paul understands. Paul is saved. Paul is a new creation. Yet Paul doesn't do the things that he wants to do. Paul doesn't do the things that he knows a new creation should do and he does the things that he knows a new creation shouldn't do.  If Paul were asked the question, "Do you want God more than you want anything else," Romans 7 seems to suggest he'd answer, "No."  

But even in the midst of my failures - the sinful flesh that routinely chooses myself over God - God wants me. This is the Good News. @@If you don't want God above all else, Jesus continues to want you above all else.@@  Despite how routinely you return to the things of the world, despite the weakness of your desires for Jesus, and despite your failure, Jesus treasures you above all else. So much so that you are worth his life. Jesus gives his life so that you might have life. Jesus' desire for you reaches far beyond any wavering desires you have for him. 

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