All the threats and warnings
of the Bible declare with one voice:
sin is an effort to feel secure in
anything other than God.
One of the great obstacles to the enjoyment of this security is the apparent contradiction found in so many New Testament scriptures. Just when we start to feel that we are eternally secure in his love, along comes a passage of scripture that threatens us and seems to rob us of security. And I don’t think there will be any deep, abiding sense of security in God until we own up to these passages of scripture and see how they relate to the assurance of God’s love and power.
For example, take this sampling from nine New Testament books. Romans 11:20- 21, “Unbelieving Israelites were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast only through faith. So do not become proud but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you.” 1 Corinthians 10:12, “Let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” Also 15:2, “I preached to you the gospel by which you are saved if you hold it fast — unless you believed in vain.” 2 Corinthians 13:5, “Examine yourself to see whether you are holding to your faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you — unless you fail to meet the test!” Galatians 6:9, “Let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart.” Philippians 2:12, “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” Colossians 1:21-23, “You who were estranged Christ has reconciled in order to present you holy and blameless provided that you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel.” Hebrews 12:14, “Strive for peace and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” 1 Peter 1:17, “If you invoke as Father him who judges each one impartially according to his deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile.” Revelation 2:10, “Be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life.”
All of these passages teach that the test of genuineness for the Christian is perseverance in faith and holiness of life. They warn us that the attempt to offer security apart from lasting faith and loving lives is perilous. We might succeed and give someone security at the price of destruction.
But it would be a terrible misunderstanding if we thought that these scriptures were written to threaten our security in God. Exactly the opposite is the case. They are written to threaten our security in everything but God. If you find your security in health, the Bible is a threat to you. If you find your security in your family or job or money or education, the Bible is a threat to you. And in threatening all these utterly inadequate foundations of security, the Bible drives us relentlessly and lovingly back to the one and only eternal and unshakable foundation for security — God.
All the threats and warnings of the Bible declare with one voice: sin is an effort to feel secure in anything other than God.Therefore, when God demands on the one hand, “Turn from sinning or you will die,” and on the other hand, “Feel eternally secure in my love, and you will live,” he is not demanding two different things. Sin is what you do when you replace security in God with the other things. So when God threatens our feelings of security in the world, it’s because he wants us to feel secure in his love and power. The threats and promises of Scripture have one message: seek your security in God alone.
Please note: The above content is but a small portion of a larger sermon manuscript.
The complete Text and Audio is available at Desiring God
About John Piper
John Piper is pastor for preaching and vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. He grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and studied at Wheaton College, Fuller Theological Seminary (B.D.), and the University of Munich (D.theol.). For six years he taught Biblical Studies at Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and in 1980 accepted the call to serve as pastor at Bethlehem. John is the author of more than 40 books and more than 30 years of his preaching and teaching is available free at desiringGod.org. John and his wife, Noel, have four sons, one daughter, and twelve grandchildren.