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Book Review: Spectacular Sins

Spectacular Sins is book written by John Piper in 2008. I got a little bit behind in my Piper reading so that is why I’m getting to this one now instead of when the book was first published.

Like every other book Mr. Piper has written, this too was outstanding. It’s a small text (only 110 pages) that deals with the most spectacular sins in human history and their effect globally.

As you can guess because it’s John Piper, that purpose is the glorification of Jesus Christ. The spectacular sins Piper examines are the fall of Satan, the disobedience of Adam, the attempt at building the tower of Babel, the sale of Joseph, the people of Israel desiring a man King to rule over them, and finally the betrayal of Judas Iscariot and by proxy the suicide of Satan himself.

The aim of the book to quote Piper is “to show that over and over in the history of the world, the epoch-making sins that changed the course of history never nullified but only fulfilled the global purposes of God to glorify his Son and save his people.” (Pg. 97).

Piper also refers over an over again to Genesis 50:20 which describes the true purpose behind the selling of Joseph by his brothers, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.”

My favorite chapters were the ones that dealt with the selling of Joseph and the sin of the Israelites wanting a man-King over them instead of God himself. Piper is obviously a Calvinist (I am too) so the way he presents the material makes a great deal of sense to me. If you’ve read Piper before then you know he’s all about the Lord being sovereign and he’s not recanting in that at all. Everything that happens the Lord ordains, but Piper makes a distinction when it comes to sin in the world. He believes that God permits sin to be in the world but is not the direct cause of it, because that would nullify the attributes of God. This of course is a considerable hang up when it comes to the whole free well v. election debate. I’m not sure how anyone can deny election and predestination. Especially when Piper is doing the teaching as he shows over and over and over again that the only way to read the Bible is through the lens of this way of thought which emphasizes the grace of God. That’s the story of the Bible right there!

In the case of the Israelites wanting a king over themselves, Piper does an incredible job noting that it was always in God’s plan for man to sin and want a man-King instead of God himself so they could be like other nations. God had to have it this way because there had to be a man-King in the form of Jesus for grace and salvation to be executed. It is definitely interesting to see how Piper goes through all the Old Testament generations and back it up biblically that God’s plan all along was for the Israelites to demand a man-King which they got in the form of Saul.

The chapter on Joseph to me was really interesting because Piper really hits home with a message that he really likes to hammer home, that being the message that Christianity isn’t meant to be filled with roses and candy, but rather with pain & suffering. He uses the example of Joseph and notes that he was hated by his brothers who then sold him. He was accused by Potipher’s wife despite not doing anything which landed him in jail. Once in jail he served faithfully but when someone promised to intercede on his behalf after Joseph interpreted a dream, nothing came of it and Joseph languished more in prison, but did so steadfastly without complaint, doing his duties with the utmost diligence. To me this really spoke of hard work and dedication through trails and tribulations which I think was the point Piper was trying to make.

The chapter on Judas Iscariot was pretty cool in that Piper answers the questions of whether or not Satan already inhabited Judas Iscariot and why Satan would hasten Christ’s death on the cross which was the definitive act that would account for the death of Satan. The best part of the chapter was Piper detailing Judas’ love of money and he goes over the “prosperity gospel” preachers of today stating:

“When it says in Luke 22:3 that “Satan entered into Judas,” how are we to think about the will of Judas and the power of Satan? Judas was not an innocent bystander when Satan entered into him. The apostle John tells us in John 12:6 that he was a “thief.” When Judas complained that Mary had wasted money in anointing Jesus, John comments, “He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it.” If that sounds incredible, just think of the scandalous behavior of so-called Christian leaders today who use ministry gifts to buy $40,000 worth of clothes at one store in a year, and send their kids on a $30,000 trip to the Bahamas, and drive a white Lexus and a red Mercedes.” (Pg. 99).

As always an incredible read when Piper is scribbling. I think on the whole however it’s meant as a book to exalt and glorify Christ through divine reasoning when it appears that everything around you is full of trials and tribulations. God is sovereign over all things. Despite people meaning it for evil against you, God means it for good. That’s the takeaway message, and a completely comforting message at that!

No go read it yourself! There are tons of things I left out that are definitely worth reading.


March 9, 2010 - Posted by | Book Review, Christianity, John Piper

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