Chapter 2 of AWE: Why it Matters for Everything We Think, Say, & Do by Paul David Tripp
Updated: Apr 8
A Review by Pastor Aaron Adame
“You could argue that one of the fundamental purposes of the great redemptive story and the person and work of Jesus is to recapture our hearts for the awe of God and God alone” (26).
The Chapter 2 title is War! Essentially, Tripp is making the point that this issue of “awe-wrongedness” that we all struggle with (the desire for things other than God; to view other things as supreme above God; to find them more glorious than God) is not a passive activity but is a spiritual war within us and within our fallen world.
We don’t have to look far to see this war for awe—these battles that rage for a prize that is not money or power or safety but spiritual allegiance. The world is unceasingly sending messages to allure us into the trap of worldliness. It’s telling us we can find life and peace and fulfillment in the things of this world. But it’s a bill of goods! What the world promises as freedom and purpose actually creates bondage and hopelessness. People who chase after money end up spiritually bankrupt. People who lust for power become empty shells. And those who are empty and seek to satisfy that hunger and thirst with relationships or substances become emptier. Again, we don’t have to look far to see this war of awe that wages all around us.
But the Bible tells us the same story, with even greater clarity. In the chapter, Tripp goes all the way to the beginning, when the cunning serpent—like an elusive mercenary—snuck into the garden and waged war against God through deceiving those made in His image. What was the deception? It was that they could become like God. And for some reason, in the purity and perfection of the Garden of Eden, the seductive power of gaining God’s position was enough to make them take and eat the fruit. And in that moment, the enemy of sin captured the heart of man.
Tripp summarizes mankind’s current condition in this way: “in the heart of every sinner, awe of God is very quickly replaced by awe of self. This is the great war of wars” (29).
As I reflected on this chapter, two groups of people came to mind: 1) those who are still on the battlefield, still in captivity to sin’s domain; and 2) those who have been set free by the Savior, yet still struggle with the lingering effects of life in a war-torn world.
I love this image of war in relation to this topic because it provides a word picture of how vast and intense the war of awe really is. With this picture, we can better understand how to be effective, not only in the battle over our own souls, but how to help others in their struggle.
For example, when we see a non-Christian, we shouldn’t see an obstacle in your way, but a prisoner of war— someone whose heart has been captured by the enemy. I am not suggesting that we are all helpless victims, we’ve all contributed to spiritual enslavement at certain points in our lives. But there is a powerful enemy that wants to capture us and claim us as his own. But seeing people in the world serving the master of this world should give us compassion and cause us to move to action. To pray, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do!” And to tell them that they are settling for temporal when God offers the eternal.
Furthermore, when we see fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, we should see people who have been liberated from war and spiritual bondage. These are survivors—by God’s grace! And yet, every believer still struggles with the war of awe. Like those fickle Israelites, we occasionally consider the former days in Egypt as better (easier) than following the Lord in freedom.
This is where the church comes in! Because we have a responsibility to one another to “stir one another up to love and good works.” To admonish one another when needed. And to pray for one another so that we don’t allow sin to once again take any more real estate in our hearts.
Please, don’t minimize the biblical reality that we are all engaged in a war. As Americans, we don’t live in a war-torn country. So, the imagery of war remains far from us. But those who have seen the devastation of war on people groups and land, you know how powerful this image is regarding our spiritual life.
But here is the good news: Our Rescuer came! While we were shackled up in the dark and smelly cell as prisoners of this spiritual war, our Savior came and set us free. He pulled us out of the pit and removed us from the domain of darkness. But the more amazing truth is, He didn’t just remove us, He actually took our place! Justice was fulfilled, but not for those who deserved it, but by the One who didn’t! And He offers us a better meal for the soul than the fruit offered to Adam and Eve, He offers us His very own body, and says, “take and eat.”
I can’t fathom a love or act greater than the person and work of Jesus to recapture our hearts with awe and worship!
Here are a few personal questions to mull over:
What is it in this world that tends to stimulate awe in you above the Lord?
What was the vice (or vices) the Lord saved you from when you first came to faith?
Who do you know who is still captured by the world, and how can you pray for them?
Is there a brother or sister in Christ who you can encourage with the awe of God that they might not be deceived by what this world offers? If so, think of ways to encourage them.