“Wrestling With Romans”
Pleasing to God (Chapter 8 Verses 1-17)
The mind-set of verse seven is totally unable to please God (v8). It is the Christian, the one who has been justified (v1), who is pleasing to God, because of their resultant free and willing service of the obedience of faith to God. Their great motive is to please the one who has justified them. They are submitted to God’s value-system, their life-style is a pleasure, a delight to God. Those spoken of previously (v7), that are not and cannot submit themselves to God not only do not do but are not willing to do so. There is no motivation, no desire to please God, the only person the sinful nature seeks to please is self, and of course conversely the spiritually minded person’s desire is to please God. Now all this may give the impression that this inability to please God is an excuse, an extenuating circumstance, no it is not, no way. The inability is far from the whole story. The Spirit is given to set us free from the sinful nature, to make us spiritual, to erase the sinful mind, it must die (v13), it must be crucified (Galatians 5.24), and we must be filled with a new spiritual mindedness. That is, the opposite to that enmity (v7), to love God, obey God, and walk with God. With all Paul says regarding the sinful condition, this surely rules out any thought of any cooperation on the part of humanity in the work of conversion. It is the gracious work of God, through his gracious word and by the power of his gracious Spirit (Titus 3.4-8).
But this brings us back to faith (Hebrews 11.6). You cannot please God with the life of sense, the life of reason, only the life of faith pleases God. Until you reach the heights of faith, you will never move in the orbit of God’s love and favour. I mean, in all honesty, how can you please God, or expect to, when you live a life that denies his very existence? Even if you do not deny his being in word, if you live as if there were no God, just pleasing your sinful old self? Well how do I please God? I will tell you. Your mind and heart must be in harmony with him. In faith, though perhaps very small, leaning upon the sacrifice of Jesus, with knowledge, though limited, that it was for sinfully minded people Jesus died for. This is acceptable to God, pleases him, delights him no end (Ephesians 1.6 AV). It is logical is it not, if God is pleased, delighted with his Son (Matthew 3.17), and if you are in his Son, by faith (Romans 8.1), how can you be anything but pleasing to God?
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)