我们为何无需在福乐与圣洁之间做抉择?(Why We Don't Need to Choose Between Happiness and Holiness)

“神呼召我们成为圣洁,而不是享受福乐”——在做牧师的早年生涯中,我也像今天许多人一样如此宣讲。这话只对了一半。我见过基督徒追求他们眼中的快乐,一头栽进淫乱、酗酒、唯物主义以及对属世成功的痴迷。
 
我试图抵制这种人性倾向:把个人的喜好和安舒看得重于对基督的顺服。这听上去相当属灵。持这种立场的作家和传道人也多得很。
 
现在我深信,我们大错特错。
 
这种思维模式有几个错误,包括与个人的经验相抵触。我曾在基督里寻见的丰厚福乐,难道不是从神而来的吗?再者,号召人们弃福乐求圣洁,是起不到什么实质作用的,有作用也只是暂时的。
 
托尼•冉克(Tony Reinke)说的对:“罪是下了毒的喜乐,圣洁是迟来的喜乐、心所追寻的喜乐。”
有信徒视福乐与圣洁为对立体。但这不合圣经。
思想这句经文:“有火从耶和华面前出來,在坛上烧尽燔祭和脂油。众民一见,就都欢呼,俯伏在地” (利9:24)。圣神降火,百姓如何? 他们俯伏在地,齐声“欢呼”!是无条件顺服神——圣洁,和无条件称颂神——福乐,让以色列民有这不同寻常的反应。
 
又有经文说,“愿你的圣民蒙福欢乐” (代下6:41)。成为圣洁,意味着按照神之所是来看待祂,意味着与神相像,披戴基督的义。 既然福乐出自上帝的本性,当成圣中的我们越来越像上帝,我们也变得越来越欢乐。
 
在《以西结书》一章26至28节和《以赛亚书》六章1至4节中,上帝的形象是崇高和无限圣洁的;在《启示录》一章中,基督的形象是大能、荣耀的;任何与之不相容的见解,皆属全然错误。上帝断然反对罪恶,但祂绝不反对福乐。圣洁反倒是获取福乐的保障,诚然如此。
 
道德影响幸福
 
西方世界普遍认为高道德标准是人类设计的产物,它愚蠢、狭隘、有损人格,不可能维持、与幸福对立。这个谎言相当奏效。似乎我们只能二选一:要么藉着犯罪获得幸福,要么因着正直和自我约束禁戒福乐。
你若信从谎言,以为拒绝罪恶等于拒绝幸福,那么再多的自我克制,都无法阻止人从根本上寻求罪中之乐。约翰·派博(John Piper)写道:“要享受上乘的满足,培养以基督为乐的能力……你受造,是为用整颗心宝爱基督——胜过你对性、对金钱、对文体娱乐和消费主义的推崇。哪怕你对耶稣只有丁点喜爱,都能胜过与之相对的世俗之乐。”
 
圣洁不代表禁戒享乐,而是意味着,将耶稣视为生命至上喜乐的源头。
 
司布真说:“圣洁是通往幸福的最高道路。治死罪,生命才有喜乐。”
 
一个推崇圣洁过于推崇幸福的福音,不算是什么好消息。
 
我们传给世人的信息,往往沦为一种冒牌福音,把不可能背起的担子加在人们身上:要做基督徒,你必须放弃追求幸福和快乐,选择成为圣洁。 “放弃幸福,选择圣洁”,这在任何意义上都不是好消息,因而也不是真正的福音!它更像是耶稣谴责的法利赛人的律法主义世界观(参看太23:2-4)。
神学院教授、神学家布鲁斯·韦尔(Bruce Ware)对我说:“在我们的高举圣经的教会里长大的八十个孩子中间,到现在仍与耶稣同行的,我和我妹妹用一个手都能数得过来。”
 
如果给福音派教会出身的人自由选择的机会,他们大概会舍弃履行教会的圣洁义务,奔向世上的欢愉快乐吧。撒但在背后操控一场把戏,诱使我们相信幸福与圣洁不能同时拥有。叫人在饥渴和温饱之间做选择,结果是显而易见的,哪怕摆在面前的食物被下了毒。一边是幸福——不论是圣洁的幸福,或是不圣洁的幸福,一边是没有幸福的圣洁,人们总是会选择前者,抛弃后者。
 
鲁益师写信给一位美国朋友说:“那些把圣洁看为无趣的人,其眼界何其狭隘。当一个人遇见真正的圣洁……便无法抵挡它。世上若有十分之一的圣洁之人,整个世界难道不会以摧枯拉朽之势全部归正、获得幸福吗?”
 
圣洁和幸福如同属灵世界的DNA。
 
在人类生命的核心处,这条DNA的双股螺旋取得完美平衡。两条长链互相环绕,形成一个对称轴,实现完美的交互。
 
圣洁和幸福在上帝手中有着类似关系:一个造就另一个。我们这些追随基督的信徒,理当活出漫溢着圣洁和幸福的生命。单是任何一个都不足够,两个一起方为真基督徒生命的本质。
 
当耶稣说:“你们要完全”(太5:48),我们就知道,主耶稣希望我们在祂里面寻着真幸福。当我们切身体会到神的路为什么最美善,我们就赢得了喜乐。越是认识神的道路,经历神的美善圣洁,就越不会试图在神以外寻找幸福。

Why We Don't Need to Choose Between Holiness and Happiness

As a young pastor, I preached, as others still do, “God calls us to holiness, not happiness.” There’s a half-truth in this. I saw Christians pursue what they thought would make them happy, falling headlong into sexual immorality, alcoholism, materialism, and obsession with success.

I was attempting to oppose our human tendency to put preferences and convenience before obedience to Christ. It all sounded so spiritual, and I could quote countless authors and preachers who agreed with me.

I’m now convinced we were all dead wrong.

There were several flaws in my thinking, including inconsistency with my own experience. I’d found profound happiness in Christ; wasn’t that from God? Furthermore, calling people to reject happiness in favor of holiness was ineffective. It might work for a while but not in the long run.

Tony Reinke gets it right: “Sin is joy poisoned. Holiness is joy postponed and pursued.”

Some Christians see happiness as the opposite of holiness. But Scripture says otherwise.

Consider Leviticus 9:24: “Fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed the burnt offering . . . on the altar. And when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell facedown” (NIV). The radically holy God sent down fire, and they did what? They fell facedown . . . and “shouted for joy”! This remarkable response flows from the utter holiness of submission combined with the utter happiness of praise.

Second Chronicles 6:41 says, “May your holy people be happy because of your goodness” (NCV). To be holy is to see God as he is and to become like him, covered in Christ’s righteousness. And since God’s nature is to be happy (as we saw in part 2), the more like him we become in our sanctification, the happier we become.

Any understanding of God that’s incompatible with the lofty and infinitely holy view of God in Ezekiel 1:26-28 and Isaiah 6:1-4, along with the powerful view of the glorified Christ in Revelation 1, is utterly false. God is decidedly and unapologetically anti-sin, but in no sense anti-happiness. Indeed, holiness is what secures our happiness.

What makes us better makes us happier.

In Western nations, popular opinion holds that high moral standards are foolish, demeaning, and narrow-minded human constructs—impossible to maintain and contrary to happiness. This lie has been remarkably effective. We seem to have to choose between sinning to be happy and abstaining from happiness through righteous self-deprivation.

If we believe the lie that saying no to sin means saying no to happiness, then no amount of self-restraint will keep us from ultimately seeking happiness in sin. John Piper writes, “Enjoy a superior satisfaction. Cultivate capacities for pleasure in Christ. . . . You were created to treasure Christ with all your heart—more than you treasure sex or sugar or sports or shopping. If you have little taste for Jesus, competing pleasures will triumph.”

Holiness doesn’t mean abstaining from pleasure; holiness means recognizing Jesus as the source of life’s greatest pleasure.

Spurgeon said, “Holiness is the royal road to happiness. The death of sin is the life of joy.”

A gospel that promotes holiness over happiness isn’t good news.

Too often our message to the world becomes a false gospel that lays upon people an impossible burden: to be a Christian, you must give up wanting to be happy and instead choose to be holy. “Give up happiness; choose holiness instead” is not good news in any sense, and therefore it is not the true gospel! It bears more resemblance to the legalistic worldview of the Pharisees Jesus condemned (see Matthew 23:2-4).

Theologian and seminary professor Bruce Ware told me, “Of the eighty kids who grew up in our Bible-believing church, my sister and I can count on one hand those now walking with Jesus.”

If given a choice, people who grow up in evangelical churches will predictably choose what appears to be the delightful happiness of the world over the dutiful holiness of church. Satan tries to rig the game by leading us to believe we can’t have both happiness and holiness. Offer people a choice between being hungry and thirsty or having food and drink, and their choice is obvious. Never mind that the meal may be laced with cyanide or the drink injected with arsenic. Any offer of happiness, with or without holiness, will always win over an offer of holiness devoid of happiness.

C. S. Lewis wrote to an American friend, “How little people know who think that holiness is dull. When one meets the real thing . . . it is irresistible. If even 10% of the world’s population had it, would not the whole world be converted and happy before a year’s end?”

Holiness and happiness are like spiritual DNA.

DNA’s double helix is perfectly balanced at the core of human life. Two strands wrap around each other, forming an axis of symmetry and providing a perfect complement for each other.

God has made holiness and happiness to enjoy a similar relationship: each benefits from the other. For those of us who are Christ-centered believers, our lives should overflow with both. Neither alone will suffice; both together are essential for the truly Christ-centered life.

When Jesus says, “Be perfect” (Matthew 5:48), we should recognize that true happiness in him is part of what he intends. Our pleasure is won in the “Aha!” moments of discovering firsthand why God’s ways really are best. The more we discover God’s ways and experience the goodness of his holiness, the less we try to find happiness apart from him.

Learn more in Randy's book Happiness

Photo Credit: MI PHAM

Randy Alcorn, founder of EPM

Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over fifty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries