Living in the Light: Money, Sex and Power by John Piper. The Good Book Company. 144 pages. 2016
This book was birthed from conference messages that the author delivered in 2015. Piper states that the main thesis of this book is that money, sex, and power, which began as God’s good gifts to humanity, have become dangerous because all human beings have exchanged the glory of God for images. In addition, money, sex, and power will be restored to their God-glorifying place by the redemption that God brought into the world through Jesus Christ. He approaches his subject with a strategy to define, defeat and deploy. He gives us definitions and foundations, dangers and how to defeat them, potentials and how to deploy them.
In defining money, he tells us that money is the symbolic representation of quantities of value. It becomes a moral issue because of the rightness or wrongness of what we pursue with this gift God has given us. We can pursue good, and we can pursue evil. We can use it to show that we value money more than Christ; or we can use it to show that we value Christ more than money. He tells us that there is no link between having much money and knowing much happiness in this life—or the next.
In defining “sex” he means experiencing erotic stimulation; seeking to get the experience, or seeking to give the experience. He tells us that sex is a good gift from God in all those ways. He writes that our sexual sinning is rooted in the fact that we don’t treasure the glory of God as supremely desirable over all things. Jesus, Peter, Paul, John and the writer to the Hebrews all sound the note of danger that lies ahead for those who do not repent of sexual sin. He tells us that when it comes to our sex lives, the issue is this: Do we see the glory of God? Do we treasure the glory? Are we deeply content?
In defining power, he writes that it is the capacity to get what we want. How we use our power shows where our heart is, what we love, what we treasure most—what we worship. The greatest danger of power is craving it in order to exalt ourselves. He writes that the reason we abuse power is because we do not delight in the glory of God’s right to all power.
Piper tells us that money, sex, and power are three good gifts of God. He also shows that we can use them to reveal a heart of darkness, or reveal a heart of light. He writes that “Living in the light is seeing God as supremely glorious, supremely beautiful, supremely desirable, and supremely satisfying.”
He describes the doctrine of justification, stating that by Christ’s death he took the punishment we deserved, and His perfect life was credited to our account. All the legal barriers between us and God were removed and we now have peace with Him. Hallelujah!
He concludes the book by looking at some examples of what happens to money, sex, and power when we live as those whose sins are forgiven and who live in the light; when we are born again, and the glory of God in Christ has been restored as the greatest treasure and sweetest pleasure of our lives.
There is much of value in this short read from one of our most respected theologians. Highly recommended.
You can watch the original conference messages that were the foundation of the book here.
20 Great Quotes from Living in the Light: Money, Sex and Power by John Piper
- Everything hangs on what we value as supreme. What is our highest treasure? What is our greatest satisfaction?
- Money is one cultural symbol that we use to show what we value. It is a means by which we show where our treasure is; who our treasure is. The use of money is an act of worship—either of Christ, or of something else.
- The way you think and feel and act about money, sex, and power puts your heart’s treasure on display—either God, or something he made.
- Power, money and sex are all God-given means of showing what you value.
- Sin is the deepest, strongest and most pervasive problem of the human race.
- These are the two great heart-conditions in human life: the heart that values God over all, or values something else more.
- We must lay to rest forever the notion that our sin is mainly what we do. It’s not: it is mainly who we are—until we are a new creature in Christ.
- Living in darkness means seeing God as minimally desirable, and seeing his creation as maximally desirable.
- Same-sex relationships stand as a vivid, enacted parable of the disordered sexuality that stems from a disordered relationship with God—specifically, a relationship in which the glories of creation are preferred to the glory of God.
- Fight sexual sin (and every other sin) with the same seriousness as tearing out an eye and cutting off a hand. Your life depends on it. Eternally.
- Handling money is like handling a live wire that can electrocute you.
- Money is a great deceiver (Mark 4 v 19). It can deceive us into thinking and feeling that what we can buy is more satisfying than God.
- Jesus is telling the disciples that power is given for serving others. The greatest power is in humility and service. Power comes from God by renouncing power in ourselves, and praise comes from God as we renounce the pursuit of praise from others.
- It is absolute folly to claim a power for ourselves that belongs only to God. It is, strictly speaking, treason. And that is a capital offense.
- As fallen sinners, we do not see God as glorious, and we do not treasure God above all things. This is why money, sex, and power are so dangerous. They look more attractive than God, because we are spiritually blind to the all-satisfying beauty of God.
- Treasuring God above all things turns money into the currency of worship and love.
- Sex is made for the glory of Christ—for the Christ-exalting glory of covenant-keeping faithfulness in marriage, and for the glory of Christ-exalting chastity in singleness.
- When God grants us power—and he does in many ways—his aim is that he will be glorified by the way that power is used.
- Money exists so that it will be plain by the way we use it that God is more to be desired than money, while sex exists so that it will be plain that God is more to be desired than sex. Power exists so that it will be plain that admiring and depending on his power is more to be desired than exalting our own.
- As fallen sinners, money, sex and power are so dangerous because we don’t see God as glorious, and we do not treasure God above all things.