Apr 10, 2024

Is God Always Pleased with Christians?

4 Min Read

To answer this question properly, we need to lay a firm foundation which begins by putting grace before works.

1. Outside of Christ, we cannot please God by our own morality, effort, or merit.

Unregenerate souls are unwilling and unable to please God and oppose His commands (Rom. 8:5–8). Sinful self-interest, rooted in the flesh, dominates their lives (2 Tim. 3:1–5). Only by faith could Enoch walk with God (Heb. 11:5–6). Only when radical, gracious, renewal of mind, will, and heart occur do we see our hopeless plight, acknowledge God is just, and cast ourselves on Christ. The Holy Spirit must first inscribe God’s Law upon our heart and incline us to it before we truly seek to please Him in grateful, God-glorifying ways. 

2. Never for a moment, from all eternity, did God regret His sovereign choice.

Before creation, it seemed good to God to predestine His bride, the church, to be His prized possession and apple of His eye, to joyfully serenade and quiet her with love (Zeph. 3:11–17). It pleased God, generally speaking, with notable exceptions, to choose the base, unlearned, and weak to put to shame noble, brainy, powerbrokers (1 Cor. 1:20–29). To hide the light of revelation from the wise and shine it upon fools was the Father’s good pleasure (Matt. 11:25–27; Luke 2:14; 12:32). Judging by examples of hasty fishermen, murderous scribes, dying terrorists, notorious harlots, chaotic demoniacs, and corrupt tax collectors, God selected the unlikeliest and the worst to turn the tables on human pride and get more glory for Himself. If God is satisfied with His choice, then in this electing sense, the Christian is pleasing God.

3. While God is well-doing (beneficent) to all, and well-willing (benevolent) to saints, only one human being, in Himself, is always fully well-pleasing to the Father (John 8:29).

God delights in Christ’s messianic messages, miracles, law-keeping, and sufferings. His glowing acceptance speech echoed in the skies: “This is my Son with whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:16–17; 17:5). If, as eternal Son and covenant Mediator, Jesus eternally pleases God, then those united to Him are washed in His blood, robed in His righteousness, accepted in the Beloved (Eph. 1:3–6), and pleasing to God.

4. Secure choice and status moves grateful disciples to increasingly God-pleasing obedience (Eph. 5:1–10; Col. 1:9–14), that does not ignore or neglect a summons to the pre-prepared good works (Eph. 2:5–10).

Instead, we resolve to find out how to please the Lord. We do this as soldiers, like Timothy, as we make it our chief goal to please our commanding officer, Jesus (2 Tim. 2:1–4). We do this like servants, in the pattern of Christ, who humbled Himself to the cross. We no longer crave human praise, but set aside our own selfish aims and prefer the needs of brothers and others, to avoid all offence, edify the weak, and spread the Word.

5. Scripture often specifies how to please God.

God is pleased when employees work hard, children obey parents, marriages are sound, citizens honor rulers, members heed elders, and fidelity replaces adultery (1 Thess. 4:1–8). God approves of our conduct when peace quells strife, churches are Word-filled, and sheep are fed (not wounded or starved). Christian service is commended when inward reality replaces empty ritual, guilty sinners are broken-hearted (Ps. 51:16–17; Mic. 6:6–8), forgiven saints offer sacrificial service, sprinkled with generous gifts (Phil. 4:18; Heb. 13:16), and we are saturated in prayer (1 Tim. 2:1–4).

6. Two truths aid pursuit of a God-pleasing course.

One is that none of the drive and desire to seek the approval of God is self-generated, but the result and effect of Christ’s powerful gospel Word, applied by the Spirit, at work in our hearts, to move us to think and act in ways God accepts (Phil. 2:12–13; Heb. 13:20–21).

The other is that when we stop craving human applause, starve selfishness, offer ourselves to God, and give others preference, we discover that the humble way of the cross is the road to true liberty and life (Rom. 14:1–15:33; 1 Cor. 10:31–33). As Scripture says, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). God is pleased that we find delight in Him.

7. The Bible undoubtedly teaches that God disapproves of sin in our lives.

When David took Bathsheba and proudly ordered a census, Yahweh was displeased (2 Sam. 11:27; 1 Chron. 21:1–7). Unkind acts cause Holy Spirit grief (Eph. 4:25–32). For the everlasting good of His saints, our Father lovingly disciplines His children (Heb. 12:5–11), even seriously for gross offences (1 Cor. 11:28–34). If Christ found fault with six-out-of-seven Asian churches (Rev. 2:1–3:22), grace always has the last word. The Lord knows we are dust and cannot pay what sin earns, but when we err, God patiently pardons and pities us (Ps. 103:8–18).

In Conclusion

With regard to His purpose, God is always pleased with saints. With respect to believers’ position in Christ, God’s pleasure is assured. But in relation to our performance, God disapproves of sin but approves of obedience that He energizes in us. If we wonder why God was pleased to rescue us despite our grievous sin and faults, it was so that He might be glorified and enjoyed. In stooping to our depths and raising us to His heights, He reveals His patient, pitying, pardoning heart, so that His own eternal life might be displayed in us, to the praise of His glorious grace.