This month we have been recognizing the 500 year anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. The Reformation was a time where central truths from Scripture were being rediscovered and held up against errors and abuses in the Catholic Church. It was a revolution, not merely just an institutional revolt, but a revolution on our very thoughts on who we are and who God is, and it cost people their freedom and their lives. These truths, that men and women were willing to die for, are known today as the 5 Solas. This morning’s exhortation is on Soli Deo Gloria, “to God be the glory alone.”
And so I want to ask, what are you living for? What motivates the decisions you make? I think we can all admit that throughout our day we have a mixture of good, bad, and superficial motivations.
We can live for and be motivated by so many different things but at the foundation of every good motivation is the glory of God. You were actually created for this. Isaiah 43:7, God says “everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory...” You are breathing and alive today so you can give glory to God. You exist for God’s glory.
Soli Deo Gloria was a burden that was recaptured from Scripture that teaches that only God should be receiving the glory from our salvation. At its essence the glory of our salvation was being divided between God, ourselves, and the church. But there is no mere person that can take even an ounce of credit for the salvation of their own soul. There is no religious ceremony in any institution on this earth that can cause a person’s dead spirit to come alive. It is only God who can do that. And that is why he get’s all the glory. In Isaiah 42, God says “I am Yahweh; that is my name; my glory I give to no other…”
Giving God glory is giving him the credit, the honor, and praise, for our salvation but not just for our salvation but for everything we do. In 1 Corinthians it says “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” We live for the glory of God in and through all things.
So what if we don’t live for God’s glory? This is important because our actions and what we do or don't do, does not affect God's character and who he is. God is glorious, people not living for God's glory doesn't make God have less glory.
God didn’t create us because he needed glory. He already had it before anything was ever created between the unique relationships within the Trinity. Whether we give him glory or not the heavens will keep declaring the glory of God, it’s like what Jesus told the Pharisees in Luke 19 when they were mad that people were praising him and giving him glory, Jesus told them that if the people kept silent, the very rocks on the ground would cry out.
God will not lack glory. He will get his glory. But will we live for his glory? Will we even see his glory? Even in this dark and broken world there are rays of glory for us to see that light up creation. Any glory that comes from anything beautiful, creative, and good is a reflection of God’s glory. He created us knowing that when we see his glory and give him glory in the midst of our everyday life, through the good and through the difficult, it is in that place where we will find our deepest joy.
And yet we struggle with this. We have exchanged God’s glory for lesser glories. We put things above their rightful place and make them more important than God. There is a battle in our hearts for worship and glory and a lot of times we’re like a starving kid that trades a full delicious meal for the emptiness of something sweet that isn’t filling. Sin is like trading a full plate at thanksgiving for a stick of cotton candy. We might taste sweetness for a moment but it dissolves before we even have a chance to swallow. That’s what sin is like. The problem isn’t mainly outside of us but in here in our heart. Don’t satisfy yourself in what Hebrews 11:25 calls “the fleeting pleasure of sin” and be like the people in John 12 who believed in Jesus but they liked their status and their position in society more than being identified with him. In John 12:42-43 it says, “many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.”
If you struggle to see God’s glory, or love God’s glory, as I so often do, look with me to the clearest manifestation of God’s glory that this world has ever known and that is in the person of Jesus Christ and his work on the cross. He is the one who is worthy of all praise and honor and glory and who by his blood and through receiving the wrath we deserved is able to forgive us and cleanse us from all sin.