Can We Please God?
Why are we here? What is our purpose? 2 Corinthians
5:9 says, "So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home
in the body or away from it." A Christian's ambition should indeed be
to please God.
1 Corinthians 10:31 says, "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you
do, do it all for the glory of God." We are to honor Him, and give Him
our thanks in order to glorify Him.
How do we please and glorify God? First of all, we must have faith in
order to please God. Hebrews 11:6 says, "Without faith, it is
impossible to please God."
We must have and understand grace
in order to please God.
2 Peter 3:18 says, "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and
Savior Jesus Christ."
It pleases God for us to grow in faith and grace. When we're properly
oriented toward the concepts of grace and faith, we will want to please
Him. Our obedience pleases God. John 14:15 says, "If you love me, you
will obey what I command."
Righteous behavior pleases God. Hebrews 13:16 says, "And do not forget
to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is
Doing good and sharing pleases God. Colossians 1:10 says, "And we pray
this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may
please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in
the knowledge of God."
Believers are to please God by bearing fruit for Him through their good
works, and through increasing in the knowledge of His word. After all,
we recognize a fruit tree by the type of fruit it bears.
We cannot please God if we are proud. Proverbs 3:34 says, "He mocks
proud mockers but gives grace to the humble.
Pride is the insolent
attitude that causes us to be haughty, and boastful. Are you proud of
your work, your friends, or your children? We tend to think that God
excuses this pride from condemnation. However, pride is never treated
as a positive attribute in the Bible, except for boasting in Jesus.
Pride in any form is just as displeasing to God as any other sin.
If we're going to please God, we cannot covet. Hebrews 13:5 says, "Keep
your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you
have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I
forsake you.'" Coveting is wanting what other people have, often to the
extent that we want to take their possessions from them. Coveting is a
common sin today, and it has always been prevalent. It is condemned in
the Ten Commandments, and it is condemned in the epistles. We are to be
satisfied with what we have. What good is money, compared to the
promise that God will never leave us? Philippians 4:19 says, "And my
God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ
We please God when we believe that He will generously provide for us.
begins with envy, which is condemned in Romans 1:29.
We become envious of the possessions, status, or position that others
have. Then we become jealous, which is condemned in Galatians 5:20, and
we lose our love for others by harboring ill will against them. Our
coveting often includes greed, which is also condemned in Romans 1:29.
We want what others have even when we already have more. Coveting
material possessions is somewhat obvious, but this subtle sin can crop
up under any set of circumstances. Coveting is particularly displeasing
when we covet the position, recognition, or authority of others,
especially in a church environment where Christians are jealous of
Our verbal sins seem to hold a special status of contempt in the Bible,
and they're particularly displeasing to God. Proverbs 6:16-19 tells us
seven things that God hates, and most of them are due to sins of
speech. James 3:5-9 says that the tongue can be a devastating weapon.
With it, we can gossip, slander, and defame through abusive language.
We've all felt the pain of an insult from the lips of others. It
displeases God when we damage the reputations of others or sow discord
through our speech.
If we're going to please God, we must learn His Word. How can we obey
Him if we don't know His commandments? We must study
the Bible in order
to find out how to please Him. It is each believer's primary
responsibility to study the Bible regularly, and to teach it to others.
It is through the learning of Bible doctrine that we can achieve the
peace that God intends for us as he sheds his grace upon us. The truly
peaceful man may not be able to explain every small detail about the
Bible, but he will surely be able to satisfy his conscience concerning
major controversies, by regular study of the Word of God. The Christian
who is forever questioning various aspects of his faith, due to
Biblical ignorance, will never experience real peace. 1 Timothy 1:7
says, "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of
power, love and of self-discipline.
We are not born with a working knowledge of the Bible. God doesn't
supernaturally transform our brains with the information he wishes to
reveal to us. Instead, He transforms us by the renewing of our minds
(Romans 12:1-2). We please God by having our minds set on the Spirit
8:6). We are to learn what is pleasing to the Lord (Ephesians 5:17). He
holds us responsible for knowing His wisdom and understanding what His
will is. It is the inner self that matters most, which Paul described
as the circumcision of the heart (Romans 2:29). Of ultimate importance
is what's written in the heart (Romans 2:15). Then these inward
thoughts produce our outward actions, which are pleasing to God.
In Colossians 1:9-10, Paul asks God to fill the Colossians Christians
with ". . . the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and
understanding," so that they can "...live a life worthy of the Lord and
may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing
in the knowledge of God."
2 Timothy 3:15 says it was wisdom that originally led to our salvation
through faith in Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to please God by
thought captive, because the mind is more important than the flesh. 1
Corinthians 14:15 calls us to pray
and sing with our minds. Proverbs
4:7 tells us that wisdom is the most important thing.
It is through the training of the mind that Christians become mature
believers, such that they can continuously please God. Indeed,
Ephesians 4 tells us that the whole purpose of the
church is for believers to encourage each other into spiritual
maturity. We are to "grow up" and mature (Ephesians 4:15), We are to
"know Christ" (Ephesians 4:20), and we are to "be made new in the
attitude of (our) minds" (Ephesians 4:23).
In 1 Corinthians 14:20, Paul warns us not to be like children in our
thinking, but to be mature in our minds. In fact, Romans 1:31 says that
being without understanding is a serious sin.
We must also please and glorify God by teaching His word to others. In
1:16-18, we see that Paul himself studied for three years
before he came out of the wilderness to teach God's Word. In
Philippians 1:9, he prayed that the love of the Philippian Christians
would "abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight." In
Colossians 1:28, he was "teaching everyone with all wisdom" In
Colossians 2:7, this established firm roots in the faith.
It built up "as (they) were taught." Colossians 3:16 tells us to let
the word of Christ richly dwell within us, and to teach and admonish
each other. We should develop the wisdom and discernment which is
required to enable us to confidently reject new and false doctrines (2
We are to please God by admonishing one another (Romans 15:14) and
turning people back to the truth when they stray from it (James
Paul dwells on this concept of teaching and learning because it is not
simply for temporal purposes alone. Don't be deceived into thinking
that God will give each Christian omniscience or complete spiritual
maturity when his body is glorified and ". . . changed--in a
flash, in the twinkling of an eye" (1 Corinthians 15:51-52). Only God
is omniscient. His system of rewards precludes any thought of
systematic equality in heaven. We will carry our spiritual maturity
into heaven with us, and it will weigh heavily at the Judgment Seat of
Christ. Through that maturity comes the divinely good works for which
we will receive eternal rewards. God in His grace has chosen to give us
our temporal lives on earth.
During this time, we are to please God by building our spiritual
maturity, and sharing it
Evangelism pleases and glorifies God. One of the things that we should
teach others is the gospel message, of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on
the cross for the sins of the world, and belief in His sacrifice for
securing eternal life (John 3:16). In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus said,
"Therefore go and make disciples
...teaching them..." Obviously, the first step toward Christian
maturity is understanding and believing the gospel.
2 Corinthians 4:13 says, "I believe, therefore I have spoken.
What we believe, we pass on to others. 1 Peter 3:15 says, "Always be
prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason
for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.
How can we prepare our defense except by absorbing God's
Word? Just remember that witnessing is simply telling and
explaining the truth. Witnessing does not include pressing for a
So who should we teach? 2 Timothy 3:14 says that we're more confident
if we learn from those we know and trust. Obviously we're entrusted to
teach all who are willing to hear (2 Corinthians 4:13), but what better
place to start than in our own homes,
in God's institution of the family? Since the man is the head of his
family, just as Christ is the head of the Church
5:22-24), husbands are charged by God to love, lead, and teach their
wives (1 Corinthians 14:35). Women are charged by God to work in their
homes (1 Timothy 5:14), to raise their children (1 Timothy 5:10), to be
quiet in church (1 Timothy 2:11, Titus 2:5),
and to be submissive to their husbands (Ephesians 5:22-24).
Women are to learn from their husbands at home, and they're not to have
authority over men (1 Timothy 2:12).
Deuteronomy 6:6-7 says, "These commandments that I give you today are
to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children.
Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road,
when you lie down and when you get up." Just as God told the Jews to
teach their new generations, we are challenged to teach ours. The
primary responsibility again falling on the man of the household.
Fathers are to please God by bringing up their children in the
instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).
This admonition applies to the family environment, which is the
ultimate place for education, as well as to "formal" schooling.
When the parents delegate their teaching authority to public or private
schools, the parents still hold the ultimate responsibility
for the education of their own children. Parents are accountable for
their children as well as themselves. Even when the children
are in a good school, the Bible calls for continued teaching of the
children at home by the parents. Colossians 3:20 tells us how children
please God: "Children, obey
your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord."
Children are to obey their parents, and learn from them. If spiritual
truths are not taught, they are lost. No wonder the epistles are filled
with the kinds of words that involve mental activities, such as mind,
heart, know, understand, think, repent, believe, faith, love, and
glorify. Each of these words refers to our mentality, such as Romans
10:10 where we believe with our hearts, our minds. These
words alone are used more than 1000 times in the epistles. Let us not
therefore underestimate the importance of renewing our minds through
the learning of Bible truths. Indeed, before we can please and love
God, we must
obey His commandments, and before we can obey Him, we must learn His
Our purpose is to please and glorify God. To do this, we must exercise
faith and grace. We must be righteous and obedient.
We must learn and teach God's Word.
Owen Weber 2008