The believer’s new sense and love of the beauty of God’s holiness produces a desire for more love to God, more regret that we do not love Him more, greater grief over sin, and more longing for personal holiness. Indeed, the more we grow in Christ, the more we seek to grow in Christ. The true believer never rests satisfied in deliverance from condemnation with no further desire to grow in the love and knowledge of God. On the contrary, knowing something of God’s infinite excellence, we continually seek to know and love Him more. By contrast, “false affections rest satisfied in themselves.” 
Saints have been born again. And as “newborn babes” adopted into God’s family, we “desire the sincere milk of the word” that we might grow (1 Pet. 2:2). And as we develop and mature in Christ, our desire increases all the more. The greater our maturity and holiness, the greater will be our “spiritual appetite” for holiness, and the higher will be our “holy affections” toward God.  With the Apostle Paul, we say,
I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude (Phil. 3:13-15 NAS).
Growth in spiritual maturity neither removes or reduces the desire for spiritual growth, but nurtures and increases it. We have been given “but a taste” in this world, a down payment of our inheritance and the fullness of glory that awaits us in the next. God has “sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge” (2 Cor. 1:22 NAS). Having savored but a portion, we hunger for the entire feast. 
The greater our holy affections toward God, the more we perceive the beauty of God’s holiness and how far we fall short. Greater grace gives greater sight of God’s excellence and a better view of our “imperfection and emptiness” by comparison. As a result, we desire to grow. Grace and faith cry, “Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief” (Mark 9:24). “The greater spiritual discoveries and affections that a true Christian has, the more does he become an earnest beggar for grace and spiritual food, that he may grow.” 
At first glance, an ever-increasing appetite for God might seem contrary to the soul-satisfying nature of God’s spiritual blessings. But, relative to the things of the world, God’s spiritual blessings satisfy the deepest needs of the soul, whereas the things of the world do not.
First, God has given us that which is “fully adapted to the nature, capacity, and need of the soul of man.” The solution matches the need, while the believer knows that seeking for true happiness elsewhere is futile. 
Second, God’s spiritual blessings do not disappoint, but “fully answer and satisfy” the believer’s expectation of spiritual satisfaction, something the things of the world cannot do.  Wayward quests for fulfillment apart from God leave us high and dry.
Third, not only do the world’s delights fail to meet our spiritual needs, the shallow satisfaction they provide soon disappears. Like a good meal, pleasure recedes with each bite, while hunger returns in the morning. God’s spiritual blessings, however, last forever. 
And fourth, while we do not fully experience the joy of God’s blessings this side of glory, they remain sufficient to satisfy to an infinite degree and, someday, they will. God’s blessings are an “infinite ocean,” hindered only by our own limitations and imperfections. “If men be not satisfied here as to degree of happiness, the cause is with themselves; it is because they do not open their mouths wide enough.” We look forward to the day when our defects disappear forever and our happiness is full to overflowing. 
Therefore, God’s spiritual blessings satisfy the soul, but imperfectly in this life. “The more a man experiences and knows this excellent, unparalleled, exquisite, and satisfying sweetness, the more earnestly will he hunger and thirst for more, until he comes to perfection.” 
Unlike true affections, false affections rest satisfied in their supposed religious attainments. If an unbeliever seeks God’s grace to remove the fear of hell and God’s condemnation, and then feels joy by assuming the danger has been removed by trust in an experience or anything short of saving faith in Christ, seeking God will disappear. Once the reason to seek God has been satisfied in the mind of the unbeliever, no reason remains to continue seeking His grace.
Believers, however, persist. Not that we are insecure of our salvation, or continue seeking God to be saved. Rather, we know His infinite excellence and grace and seek for more. Thus, “Seeking God is spoken of as one of the distinguishing characters of the saints, and ‘Seekers after God’ is one of the names by which the godly are called in Scripture.”  “Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: and let such as love thy salvation say continually, Let God be magnified” (Ps. 70:4). Not so with false affections.
When false affections are raised very high, they put an end to longings after grace and holiness. The man now is far from appearing to himself a poor empty creature; on the contrary he is rich, and increased with goods, and hardly conceives of anything more excellent than what he has already attained to. 
Delivered from condemnation and guaranteed a heavenly home, what’s left to pursue? Lacking a true love of God’s infinite excellence and holy character, the unbeliever deceived into thinking he is right with God has no need to seek Him further.
Nonetheless, false affections may accompany an apparent seeking after God, such as the pursuit of temporal benefits. For example, during the Great Awakening, those testifying of extraordinary experiences were sometimes viewed as spiritually superior to others. Thus, some would continue “seeking God” and uncommon experiences to reinforce their elevated position as a spiritual leader and to maintain the approval of others. Such seeking, however, came not from a love of God’s holiness or a desire to be holy, but for blessings. One can love blessings without loving God. Some also sought greater experiences and “discoveries” that they might reinforce the false assurance built on them. 
The new sense of the beauty of God’s holiness that captivates the believer’s heart drives an enduring pursuit after God. “The same sweetness that is the chief object of a spiritual taste, is also the chief object of a spiritual appetite.” 
Neither a longing after great discoveries or after great tastes of the love of God, nor a longing to be in heaven, nor a longing to die, are in any measure so distinguishing marks of trues saints as longing after a more holy heart, and after living a more holy life. 
Of course, believers long for all these things, but the desire for holiness more clearly displays a new heart that sees and loves the beauty of God’s holiness.
Next up: Gracious affections produce Christian practice.
Scriptures marked NAS are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, copyright© 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
 BT, 303; Yale, 376-7.
 BT, 303, Yale, 377.
 BT, 304; Yale, 378.
 BT, 304-5; Yale, 378-9.
 BT, 305; Yale, 379.
 BT, 306; Yale, 381.
 BT, 306; Yale, 380.
 BT, 307; Yale, 382.
 BT, 308; Yale, 383.
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