Do you ever find it hard to believe that God could be pleased with you? If you have never thought deeply about your sin, might not see why he wouldn’t. But if you have ever been truly convicted of your failings—or if you have reflected deeply on what the Bible says about human sinfulness—then you will have seen the problem. How can God be pleased with me when “there is none who does good, not even one” (Ps 14:3); when “nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. (Rom 7:18)?

Yet Christians can please God. The sheer grace that saves hopeless sinners also enables those sinners to live lives that please their Father. In this post, Peter Adam offers a survey of what the Bible tells us about this astonishing truth.

1. God is pleased with you if you live and do ministry to please him!

If we do what pleases God, then God is pleased with us. If we do what is pleasing to him, then God is pleased with us.

a. We should live to please God.

  • We make it our goal to please him. (2 Cor 5:9)
  • Those who are not married should live to ‘please the Lord’ Those who are married should both please the Lord and also please husband or wife. (1Cor 7:32-34)
  • We are called to ‘offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.’ (Rom 12:1)

b. We can please God:

  • Songs and thanksgivings please God:

I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving. This will please the LORD more than an ox, more than a bull with its horns and hooves. (Ps 69: 30,31)

  • Prayers please God: ‘the prayer of the upright pleases him’ (Prov 15:8).
  • God blesses those who please him, through human agents: ‘In the LORD’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water that he channels toward all who please him’ (Prov 21:1)
  • The Thessalonians know ‘how to live to please God, as in fact you are doing … do so more and more’ 1 Thess 4:1
  • Enoch ‘was commended as one who pleased God’ Heb 13:5
  • The money the Philippians sent to Paul was ‘a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God’ Phil 4:18
  • If children obey their parents in everything, ‘this pleases the Lord’ Col 3:20
  • When children care for their mother ‘this is pleasing to God’ 1 Tim 5:4
  • If we live according to the light, we then find out ‘what pleases the Lord’ Ephes 5:10
  • When we pray for all people, and for rulers and those in authority, this ‘pleases God our Saviour’ 1 Tim 2:3
  • We can keep God’s commands, ‘and do what pleases him’ 1 Jn 3:22
  • Praise and generosity please God: ‘Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased’ Heb 13:15,16
  • Paul prays for the Colossians:

We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God Col 1:9,10

  • And the author of Hebrews prays:

Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Heb 13:20,21

2. God is pleased with you if you live and do ministry to please him … But make sure you receive this message in the right way!

If you think of yourself as a sinner, and not also a saint, then you need to revise your thinking..

The doctor may prescribe some ointment, but may damage you if you swallow the tube! Or if the doctor prescribes some medicine to take, rubbing on your head will not help! Please read these three paras carefully.

  1. This is a dangerous message for some. If you automatically assume that God is pleased with you, and as pleased with you as much as you are pleased with yourself, then you might need to repent of this rash assumption, examine your life, repent of your sins, learn to die to sin every day, and live to righteousness every day, and follow Christ’s example of humility.
  2. This is a challenging message for some. If you think of yourself as a sinner, and not also a saint, then you need to revise your thinking. For the New Testament often addresses us as “saints”; see: “called to be saints” (Rom 1:7) … “the saints” (Rom 15:32) … “sanctified … called to be saints” (1Cor 1:2) … “the saints” (2Cor 1:1) … “the saints” (Eph 1:1) … “all the saints” (Phil 1:1) … “the saints” (Col 1:2) — I am grateful to Glenn Davies for this insight.
    If all you see inside yourself is sin, and do not recognise God’s gracious work of transforming you by his Spirit into the image of his Son, then you might have given up any thought of trying to please God, and settled into a spiritual status quo. Start offering your body to God as a living sacrifice every day, an offering pleasing to God.
  3. This is an encouraging message for some. If you are repenting of your sins each day, praying that God would make you holy, pursuing holiness, putting sin to death each day, and living to righteousness each day, and doing the good works that God gives you to do, and loving God and presenting yourself each day to him as a living sacrifice …. Then you are pleasing God, and God is pleased with you!

How God can be pleased with a sinner like you?

God is pleased with you because he is pleased with his own Son and you are in Christ—clothed in his righteousness. John Calvin wrote in his commentary on Psalm 20:3-5:

… our prayers are acceptable to God only in so far as Christ sprinkled and sanctified them with the perfume of his own sacrifice.

And actually, not just our prayers, but also we ourselves, our lives, our deeds, our actions, smell good to God because Christ has sprinkled us with his atoning and cleansing blood. We have been:

… chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood. (1Peter 1:2)

When we please God now, that is just a foretaste of the Lord’s verdict on the last day.

We can please God, because we are forgiven and cleansed by the blood of Christ, and because God’s grace in Christ constantly covers our sinfulness, our sins, our mixed motives, our weaknesses, and our human frailty.

Have you ever noticed this remarkable fact, that in Romans, Paul describes us and our bodies in such negative terms in Romans 3:10-18, using the words of the Psalms about the sinfulness of our throats, our tongues, our lips, our mouths, our feet, our paths and our eyes. And yet, through God’s mercies in Christ, by chapter 12:1, we are called to present our body as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God!

When we please God now, that is just a foretaste of the Lord’s verdict on the last day:

Well done, good and faithful servant … come and share your master’s happiness (Matt 25:21,23).

If you live to please God, God is pleased with you! And so, if you do your ministry to please God, God is pleased with you. Don’t do ministry to please yourself, or to please others, instead of doing your ministry to please God.

One of the great joys of my life is sharing God’s pleasure and enjoyment in the godly lives and godly ministries of good friends and fellow-workers! Thank you so much for this privilege and joy; thank you for enriching my life.