Have you ever found yourself wondering how to please God? This is an age-old question and I am certainly not the first to ask it. Men have humiliated themselves and cast themselves down in abject misery for this purpose. People of every land have starved themselves, slept on stones, lacerated their flesh and subjected themselves to all forms of torture, thinking that such actions are pleasing to God.
Others attempt to please God through worship, sacrifices, by observing certain feasts and fasts, and elaborate forms of rituals. But even worship becomes monotonous and sacrifices lose their meaning. Yet, according to Paul, man does not please God by physical degradation or ecclesiastical ceremony, or by obeying the Decalogue. There is nothing, he asserts, a man can do to please God. It is impossible. Pleasing the Eternal Father, therefore, is not accomplished even by obedience to the law, but is simply a matter of grace. Paul writes, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1-39 ESV)
When Paul says that Christians are no longer under the law, he means that they are no longer under the law as an external restraint. When he says that the law has passed away, he means that it has passed away as a measure of coercion, but he does not mean that the life of man can ever safely depart from these principles ordained by God. It is no longer an external restraint but an internal constraint, no longer an external compulsion but an internal impulsion that is pleasing to the heart of God.
In our present day, too many people in the church do not understand how to benefit from the grace given them. There is mayhem in the modern church because men misuse grace to please the flesh. Without the internal constraint and guidance of the Holy Spirit, those who profess to be Christians shipwreck their souls on the rocks of their own vanity. No love of Christ constrains them. Their “Cultural Christianity” betrays them.
How do we please God? We trust Jesus Christ for our salvation and receive the Spirit of God who sets us free from the Law by grace. “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17 ESV) We do not conform ourselves to this world, but we are being transformed by the renewing of our minds to know God and please Him. (Romans 12:2) The indwelling Holy Spirit will teach us these things. (John 14:26 ESV) The Psalmist writes, “And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.” (Psalm 9:10 ESV) Therefore, focus your mind on the things of the Spirit and grow in spiritual wisdom and faith if you wish to live a life pleasing to God. (Hebrews 11:6 ESV)
Filed under: Bible, Christianity, God, Gospel, Grace, Holy Spirit, Samuel A. Cain, Samuel at Gilgal | 1 Comment »