Spiritual Renewal: Renewal Means Rediscovering God's Glory

(This is a continuation of our study on spiritual renewal. You can find all of the posts here.)

“What is sin?
It is the glory of God not honored.
The holiness of God not reverenced.
The greatness of God not admired.
The power of God not praised.
The truth of God not sought.
The wisdom of God not esteemed.
The beauty of God not treasured.
The goodness of God not savored.
The faithfulness of God not trusted.
The commandments of God not obeyed.
The justice of God not respected.
The wrath of God not feared.
The grace of God not cherished.
The presence of God not prized.
The person of God not loved.
That is sin.”
-John Piper

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 42:5-13

Lesson: It is tempting, when we consider the process of spiritual renewal, to focus on ourselves. We think of spiritual renewal in terms of “getting saved” or “recommitting your life to Christ.” We think of it in terms of moral reform. We think of it in terms of activities we might be inspired to undertake or friends we might reach with the gospel. All of these things come later, but first and foremost, true renewal starts with a rediscovery of the doctrine of God.

In the book of Isaiah, the first 39 chapters declare God’s judgment against Israel and her coming exile. Starting in chapter 40, the prophet begins to speak to that community in exile. He promises God’s salvation and their own revival and restoration to the land. However, he starts that discussion with several chapters declaring the greatness of God.

The Lord makes clear in our reading that He is the supreme being in the universe and that everything else ultimately exists because of His supremacy. “I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.” Indeed, it was Israel’s loss of this vision of God’s glory and their resulting turn to idolatry that caused their spiritual deadness. Renewal means a rediscovered vision of the supremacy of God. “Let them give glory to the Lord, and declare his praise in the coastlands.”

We need to be renewed because we operate with a deeply diminished sense of God’s glory. We think that He exists to serve us. We make His love about how great we are, His kindness about our lives becoming easy, and His provision about securing blessings for ourselves.

The starting place of renewal is in acknowledging that God alone is holy and good. We exist on this earth in order to magnify His name. He saves us in order to make a people that show forth His glory. The universe is not about us; it is about Him. We will begin to flourish only when we diminish. We will come alive only when we die to ourselves and begin to make much of God.

Prayer: Glorious Lord, You are the one to whom belongs all glory, honor and praise. Everything was made by You. Everything was made for You. That includes us and all that we are. Humble us. Turn us from our idols. Fix our eyes on the burning majesty of Yourself, and so let our hearts and lives be renewed. All of this we pray in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. AMEN.