Delight in God, evidenced by joyful submission to his commandments, can put an end to the attraction of sin, particularly “pleasurable” sins and addictions that appear initially pleasurable. All regenerate delights are renewed to enjoy God in Christ, and everything that flows from his blessed face, while sharing in his grief, disgust and hatred of all that doesn’t share his likeness.

Consider one example that the world exalts as delightful, but often without delight that returns to God’s himself as the giver of these marital intimacy delights. Regenerate marital sexual intimacy (one man, one woman for life as defined in the 7th commandment) reflects greater likenesses to Christ’s eight derivative attributes than all lesser sexual substitutes: total life intimacy combined with naked presence to bless, holiness of mind and bodily rights given only to each another, created complementary provision for mutual, simultaneous sexual climax, using knowledge of sexual preferences to serve and give greater pleasure to spouse, unity in established roles of a husband’s authority that sacrifices and a wife’s submission that honors, created complementary creation rule by procreation, being fruitful and multiplying, and use of all resources, powers and gifts to bless and prosper one another in the family and the world, faithfulness to each other’s marital vows, and theosynchrony of a lifetime shared and invested in each other in synchrony with God’s view and use of time for work, rest and leisure-fun together, together with setting apart the time needed for mutually enjoyable sexual intimacy [1]  

All lesser substitutes offered by the world, the devil or the left-over sinful delights of the unregenerate heart fail to reach the full delights of God-reflective intimacy. C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce has a wonderfully creative illustration of this principle. The last scenario is about an angel spirit persuading a gray wisp of a human spirit to let it kill the lust lizard on its shoulder. The wisp human spirit cringes before the angelic spirit in anticipation of pain, while the lust lizard promises more satisfaction and more ability to be contained and quiet, so as not to cause future disturbances. Then with final permission, the angelic spirit crushes the lust lizard and throws it to the ground. Quite unexpectedly, the lizard turns into a beautiful horse upon whom the wisp human spirit rides into heavenly glory. Lewis has captured in imaginary story form what is true in life: sexual lust is a puny and slimy imaginary pleasure compared to the power and beauty of marital sexual pleasure, the latter of which is an aid to reaching heavenly glory, since in healthy marriages, sex reveals so much of God’s reflective glory.

Consider how a lust pleasures outside of God’s design fail to reach full delight and fail to enjoy the “way of peace” (Isa. 59:3-9; Rom.3:17; 8:6; 14:17-19; Luke 1:79). Intimate naked presence with a prostitute exchanges the life-enriching theosyncronic holiness and faithfulness to lifelong promises for life-destroying commodity transactions, offering a pimp money for physical sex with an enslaved woman’s body, with high probability of sexually transmitted diseases, exchanges mutually shared unity of sacrifice and honor that properly uses sexual knowledge to give mutual pleasure for dominance of the client over the pretending prostitute, exchanges the creation order of one man-one woman sexual ethic and of possible offspring from the union for enslaved, manipulated, abused and wasted resources used in destruction of relational unity and any resulting offspring (abortion). Ironically, committed homosexual relationships (in some countries, now called marriage) must exchange created complementary sexual climax and procreation for substitutes of God’s design for genitalia and artificial conception. These relationships also exchange God’s design for different gender, male-female unity for mimicry of authority-submission roles in same gender relationships. Pornography used for masturbation may avoid dangers of sexually transmitted diseases by intimate naked presence, but exchanges mutually enjoyable rights to a spouse’s real body for digital imagery mimicking physical presence, exchanges knowledgeable intimacy between sacrificing and honoring partners with the purpose of procreation to extend the creation mandate for self-stimulation with imaginary possession of a sex object or slave, and exchanges times shared and invested in real relationships for interruptive, lonely diversion.        

Of course, like God, God’s people will learn to love those who are still sinners (Rom. 5:8; Matt. 5:44-45), but will not experience attractive delight when observing moral failure. Every Christian parent regenerated to God-delight will know this! When children reflect more of the likeness of Christ, the parent experiences more delight in that child, but when the child rebels against Christ and reflects the world, the flesh and the devil’s likenesses, the parent experiences more grief and sadness (Prov. 17:25). Every minister, in the same way, will share delight when his disciples reflect more of Christ, and experiences grief and sorrow when disciples sin (Phil. 2:20-23; 2 Cor. 11:28-29). If the Spirit “rejoices with the truth,” so his people will share this delight (1 Cor. 13:6). If the Spirit is grieved by sin and wrong-doing, so will his regenerate people share in his sin-grief (Eph. 4:30; 1 Cor. 13:6). In some cases, separation is necessary to maintain peace between fighting people (1 Cor. 7:15).

Another kind of delight that reflects God in the world is delight in discipline for sharing in greater likeness to God (Heb. 12:6-14). We engage the created world by discipling people and creatures into the likeness of the derivative attributes, by designing all inanimate objects into the likeness of the derivative attributes, designating them for uses that further show his derivative attributes, and displaying or declaring these objects so that God can be seen and glorified in those things. These themes hold true for all vocations, from the minister preparing a sermon to the carpenter building a tiny house.

All these moral works, when applied through the Gospel and saving faith, bring peace to men (Rom. 2:10; Ps. 1:1-3). Resisting their degradation and displacement in the assembly and in the public culture will help preserve peace among men (Heb 12:14-15).  

[1] For other related themes about how sex is a way to know God better, see John Piper and Justin Taylor, Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, chapters 1-2 written by Piper. There is even a kind of intimacy preserved when the married couple must separate or cease mutual sexual intimacy by mutual agreement for a time (injury, medical problems, sexual performance problems, sickness, work, travel, and similar types of hindrances to intimacy) to give themselves to prayer, with delight in their remembered sexual intimacies shared, longing after and preparing for future sexual intimacies (1 Cor. 7:3-5).