@Brian_Weeks Thank you for your post! Certainly John Piper is a great Bible teacher and I have always admired him for his boldness to speak truth. On this particular issue, I would personally take issue with a few of his definitions.
Trust (or Faith) Vs Desire
I am not sure I agree that the essence of sin is desiring something more than God if we defined desire as a feeling. Instead I would say that sin is trusting anyone or anything more than God. Faith is what God requires and ultimately faith is trust.
Abraham trusted God to take care of Isaac - even to resurrect him if necessary. Abraham did not desire to sacrifice his son, but he did trust God. Nothing in the story indicates Abraham was overflowing with the feeling of joy as he raised his knife.
In the midst of temptation I think our feelings often deceive us and we do feel like we desire something more than God. But if we are wise, we trust that obedience will lead to joy unspeakable in God as we are faithful to Him through the trial.
In the same way - the first sin was not desiring the fruit - it was not trusting God’s Word. Doubt and faith do not coexist. When we trust our own desires or the lies of the enemy more than God’s Word we endanger our souls.
Consider the order in which the serpent attacked Eve - he did not begin with her desires, but instead by attacking God’s Word and her trust in it. First God’s Word was questioned by making the prohibition seem overly restrictive (so Eve would question God’s character or intentions), then the consequences of sin were questioned and then her desire was engaged because she allowed herself to drop her guard. I think this is how temptation works - when we start to doubt God’s character and question the goodness of His commands we then are in a position of weakness where our own desires can lead us astray.
- Did God really say not to eat from any tree?
- You will not surely die…
- Then Eve saw the tree that it was good to eat…
Perhaps Piper meant something slightly different by desire? I have never really studied his teaching on this deeply.
God’s Commands Are Grounded in His Goodness
In complete honesty, the idea that God’s commands our rooted in His supremacy actually bothers me on the surface. God is love. And whatever He does is good not just because He does it and He is supreme, but because He is in fact the very definition of goodness.
Sin is not wrong or destructive because God is supreme. It is destructive because God is love and if He commands it it is for our good. When we go against God’s commands we experience corruption and decay because we are defying the essence of what is good and true and beautiful and pure.
I agree with Piper that God must be our greatest treasure - 100%. But I think if we just say that without rooting it in the fact that God is love - pure and undefiled, we risk portraying God as being arbitrary.
It begins to sound like divine command theory - which says that something is right or wrong just because God says it is so. Well, that’s kind of right - but also kind of wrong. Everything God commands is right - because He is goodness itself. If we separate divine command theory from God’s character I think we risk distorting our view of God.
Is this a fair critique or am I misrepresenting Piper in some way?
Thank you for raising these very interesting points.