I. “Chief end” means man’s primary or overarching purpose.
A. Negatively: man’s chief end does not mean that his life is segmented or that there are not other goals, aims, or purposes (e.g., Gen. 1:26, 28).
B. Positively: man’s chief end does mean that at all times, and in all activities, one’s life is to be lived to God’s honor (1 Cor. 10:31; Col. 3:23). See J. R. Miller’s comment on this.
C. Man is created for a purpose (Isa. 43:7; Rom. 11:36; Rev. 4:11).
II. God’s glory defined and revealed.
A. Defining the glory of God is difficult due to it being multi-faceted. Ezekiel illustrates this difficulty by the distance that he keeps while describing it (Ezek. 1:26-28).
B. Definitions of God’s glory:
1. “The inescapable weight of His sheer ‘Godness’ inherent in the attributes essential to Him as Deity.”
2. “A quality belonging to God which suggests something that radiates from Him, and leaves behind an impression: the luminous manifestation of His Being.”
3. “His reputation for ‘greatness’ and the very reality of His presence.”
C. Definitions of the Hebrew word for “glory” and its uses.
1. Kabod (root) means “heavy” (great quantity), “weighty” (noteworthy, impressive): hence metaphorically “worthiness.”
a. “Glory” used pertaining to that which is created: “honor” (Isa. 5:13); “no end,” i.e. great quantity (Nah. 2:9); “their glory” suggesting large population (Hos. 9:11); “wealth” (Gen. 31:1); “splendor” (Isa. 10:18-19); “reputation” (Gen. 45:13).
b. “Glory” used pertaining to God: the revelation of His person, nature, and presence to mankind, sometimes with visible phenomena.
(1). God proclaimed to Moses His “name,” something of His nature, character, power (Ex. 33:18-19; 34:5-8).
(a). A name bears the nature of the person (1 Sam. 25:25).
(2). God manifests His glory by visible manifestations: cloud, consuming fire (Ex. 24:17; cf. also 19:16-20; 20:18-20).
(a). Purpose of visible manifestations to produce reverence, deterring sin (Ex. 20:18-20).
c. God’s glory (reputation) revealed in acts of salvation as they reveal His condescension, love, power (Jon. 2:9; Pss. 24:7-10; 50:15; 79:9).
d. Glory is often a synonym for an attribute that context determines: strength; truthful and faithful (1 Sam. 15:29); majesty, wisdom, power, order (Ps. 19:1-3); majestic holiness (Isa. 6:3).
e. Glory of God is manifested by demonstrations of His sovereignty over history and people (Ex. 16:1-7; Isa. 40:15).
f. Glory of God manifested in nature, which presents in tangible form a demonstration of His power, beauty, goodness, and order (Ps. 19:1-3; cf. Rom. 1:20; Ps. 29; Amos 4:6-13).
D. Definition of Greek word for “glory” and its uses.
a. Glory, as a metonymy, denotes His perfect standard of righteousness (Rom. 3:23).
b. God’s glory now revealed in Christ (Jn. 1:14-18; 17:1-5).
(1). The reality and splendor of His presence and character seen in His Son (Heb. 1:3). Here the near-blinding quality of His glory is portrayed.
c. God’s glory revealed in punishment of wicked (Rom. 9:22).
III. How man glorifies God.
A. Negatively: not by adding to His glory, for God is eternally perfect (Matt. 5:48).
B. Positively: by recognizing and declaring His worth and significance.
1. Achan was told to “give God glory” (Josh. 6:18-19; 7:19; cf. Jn. 9:1-7, 24).
a. Giving glory to God is ascribing to Him His full recognition.
C. By means of: praise (Ps. 50:23); bearing fruit (Matt. 5:16; Jn. 15:8); acts of service (2 Cor. 9:10-13; 1Pet. 4:11); suffering (1 Pet. 4:14, 16); sanctification (Phil. 1:11); evangelism (2 Cor. 4:15); in the heart (1 Cor. 6:20).
IV. Man enjoys God by glorifying Him; the two are tied.
A. To enjoy God is to: rest in Him with pleasure (Ps. 116:7); delight in Him (Ps. 37:4); hold fast to Him (Josh. 23:8); consider Him our reward (Gen. 15:1) and portion (Ps. 73:25-26).
1. There is a two-fold enjoyment of God: imperfect and perfect.
a. Imperfectly man in this life enjoys God in two ways: through union with Him—having that saving interest with Him—whereby he participates in its benefits; as the soul makes return to the Lord in the exercise of faith and love.
b. Perfectly man enjoys God in heaven forever (Matt. 25:21) in three ways: an intimate presence with Him in glory (Ps. 16:11); the beatific vision (1 Jn. 3:2); perfect union (Rev. 21:3).
A. Use, of knowledge.
1. It is man’s duty to have at the end of every action, thought, and word, God’s glory.
2. Man, as a creature with an immortal soul that desires happiness, can only find true happiness in the immortal and chief Good (Matt. 19:17; Ja. 1:17).
3. Note how sin perverts man by turning him away from his chief end to make self the chief end (Phil. 3:19).
B. Use, of testing.
1. This rule is a test for both doctrine and practice. Whatever tends to glorify God and promote His honor is to be embraced or imitated; whatever dishonors God is to be rejected and not followed.
C. Use, of exhortation: sinners and saints.
1. Sinners. See your need of Christ, for one cannot glorify the Father without the Son (1 Jn. 2:23), and there is no enjoying Him but through Christ.
2. Saints. Let this be your main work in life, to glorify God and thereby enjoy Him, in all aspects of life. When the creature is chiefly sought (or any created thing) we deny the truth that God is the chief good and say that the creature is better than God.