When Faith Flickers, Stoke the Fire
No one sins out of duty. We sin because it offers some promise of happiness. That promise enslaves us-until we believe that God is more desirable than life itself (Psalm 63:3). Only the power of God's superior promises in the gospel can emancipate our hearts from servitude to the shallow promises and fleeting pleasures of sin.
Pastor John Piper shows how to sever the clinging roots of sin that ensnare us, including anxiety, pride, shame, impatience, covetousness, bitterness, despondency, and lust.
Delighting in the bounty of God's glorious gospel promises will free us for a less sin-encumbered life, to the glory of Christ. Rooted in solid biblical reflection, this book aims to help guide you through the battles to the joys of victory by the power of the gospel and its superior pleasure.
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February 19, 2007
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Excerpt from Battling Unbelief by John Piper
BATTLI NG ANXIETY A Personal Triumph Through Future Grace When I was in junior and senior high school, I could not speak in front of a group. I became so nervous that my voice would completely choke up. It was not the common butterflies that most people deal with. It was a horrible and humiliating disability. It brought immense anxiety into my life. I could not give oral book reports in school. I couldn’t run for any class offices at school, because I would have had to make campaign speeches. I could only give very short–several word–answers to the questions teachers would ask in class. In algebra class I was ashamed of how my hands shook when doing a problem on the blackboard. I couldn’t lead out on the Sundays when our church gave the service over to the youth. There were many tears. My mother struggled with me through it all, supporting me and encouraging me. We were sustained by God’s grace, even though the “thorn” in my flesh was not removed. I managed to make it to college without any significant public speaking. But the battle with anxiety was intense. I knew that my life would be incredibly limited if there were no breakthrough. And I suspected that I would not be able to get through college without public speaking. In fact, Wheaton College required a speech class in those days. It loomed in front of me like a horrible concrete barricade. In all these years, the grace of God had driven me deeper into God in desperation, rather than driving me away from God in anger. I thank God for that, with all my heart. Out of that maturing relationship came the sense that there just had to be a breakthrough. One crucial opportunity came in Spanish class my freshman year. All of us had to give a short speech in Spanish in front of the rest of the class. There was no way around it. I felt like this was a make-or-break situation. Even as I write about it now, I don’t laugh. I memorized the speech cold. I thought that memorizing would mean that I wouldn’t have to look down at notes, and possibly lose my place, and have one of those horrible, paralyzing pauses. I also arranged to speak from behind a large tree-stump lectern that I could hold onto so that my shaking might be better controlled. But the main thing I did was cry out to God and lay hold on his promises of future grace. Even now the tears come to my eyes as I recall walking back and forth on Wheaton’s front campus, pleading with God for a breakthrough in my life. I don’t remember those three moments of Spanish very clearly. I only remember that I made it through. Everyone knew I was nervous. There was that terrible silence that falls when people feel bad for you and don’t know how to respond. But they didn’t snicker, as so many kids had done in previous years. And the teacher was kind with his comments. But the overwhelming thing was that I got through it. Later I poured out my thanks to God in the autumn sunshine. Even now I feel deep gratitude for the grace God gave me that day. Perhaps the most decisive event of the breakthrough came over a year later. I was staying at college for summer school. Chaplain Evan Welch invited me to pray in the summer school chapel. Several hundred students and faculty would be present. My first reaction was immediate rejection of the idea. But before I could turn it down, something stopped me. I found myself asking, “How long does the prayer have to be?” He said it didn’t matter. It should just be from my heart. Now this I had never even tried–to speak to God in front of hundreds of people. I amazed myself by saying I would do it. This prayer, I believe, proved to be a decisive turning point in my life. For the first time, I made a vow to God. I said, “Lord, if you will bring me through this without letting my