Saturday, February 2, 2013

Conquered by Sovereign Joy: Augustine's Conversion

Who is Augustine?
Augustine was born in 355 AD in what today is Algeria in North Africa.  His early years were full of vanity, sexual sin, and godlessness.
After being saved he became a bishop in the North African church, preaching, teaching, and writing books that have shaped Christian thought for centuries.

Conquered by Sovereign Joy
Here’s how Augustine described his conversion –
How sweet all at once it was for me to be rid of those fruitless joys which I had once feared to lose …
You drove them from me, you who are the true, the sovereign joy.
You drove them from me and took their place, you who are sweeter than all pleasure, though not to flesh and blood,
you who outshine all light, yet are hidden deeper than any secret in our hearts,
you who surpass all honor, thought not in the eyes of men who see all honor in themselves …
O Lord my God, my Light, my Wealth, and my Salvation.
(St. Augustine, Confessions, IX, 1; quoted in John Piper’s The Legacy of Sovereign Joy, p.40)

  • Before God saved us we had only fruitless joys which, even though they were fruitless, we feared losing (Jer 2:13; Isa 55:2).  Fruitless joys are better than no joys, we thought.
  • But then a miracle happened.  Sovereign Joy revealed himself to us in Jesus Christ as the One who surpasses all honor, outshines all light, and is sweeter than all pleasure (2Cor 3:18; 2Cor 4:6).
  • When we saw and tasted the One who is sweeter than all pleasure, we gladly turned from those fruitless joys we had feared losing (Matt 13:44; Phil 3:8).
  • So being a Christian does not mean squelching our desire for pleasure – it means satisfying our desire for pleasure in trusting, worshiping, obeying, and glorifying the One who is the sweetest of all pleasures (Psa 4:6-7; Psa 16:11; Psa 43:4; Psa 73:25-26).
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