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Pleasing the Lord

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There are many key terms and concepts in Scripture like faith, hope, love, joy, grace, peace, pleasing the Lord, etc. that we come across as we read our Bibles, but often these are just vague concepts for many people. The following study is designed to provide a condensed biblical focus on what it means to please the Lord as it is found in the Word of God. As time allows we will provide other such condensed studies on key terms, especially of the New Testament.

(1) Pleasing the Lord should be the great ambition of every believers’ heart. As you can see, one of the motives is the Bema.

2 Corinthians 5:9-10 Therefore also we have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

1 Thessalonians 4:1 Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that, as you have received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you may excel still more.

(For a study on the Bema see the study entitled, The Doctrine of Rewards located in the “Theology / Eschatology” section on our web site.)

(2) Pleasing the Lord is not only to be a primary aim of every believer, but something at which we should all seek to excel, not to be accepted, but because we love the Lord and because of future rewards.

Hebrews 13:21 equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever.

(3) Ability to please the Lord is ultimately the result of His work in our lives as the Great Shepherd.

Ephesians 5:8-10 For you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light (for the fruit of the light {consists} in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.

1 Thessalonians 4:1 …as you received from us {instruction} as to how you ought to walk and please God …

(4) Pleasing the Lord involves discovering and doing what pleases the Lord through living in the light of the Word. Pleasing the Lord means doing His will.

1 Thessalonians 2:4 But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men but God, who examines our hearts.

Galatians 1:10 For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.

(5) Pleasing the Lord begins in the heart or the inner person.

Colossians 1:9-10 For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;

Colossians 3:22-24 Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men; 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.

(6) Pleasing the Lord rather than men ought to be the motive for ministry, for marriage, and everything we do. Seeking to please men for selfish reasons ruins our capacity to follow the Lord, take a stand for truth or principle, love others unselfishly, and to thus function as God’s servants.

1 Thessalonians 2:15 Who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out. They are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men.

(7) When we fail to please the Lord, we ultimately become hostile or at least useless not only to God, but to men. The only way to meet the needs of men is by first seeking to please the Lord by putting His agenda first (note the carry over in Rom. 14:17-18).

Romans 8:8 “And those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

Romans 14:17-18 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men.

Please note, 1 Thessalonians 4:1 and 4:5 must be linked together. When men do not know God, they will be controlled by their lust patterns without any concern for pleasing God.

1 Thessalonians 4:1, 5 Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that, as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God just as you actually do walk, that you may excel still more.… 5 not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God;

(8) Those who are in the flesh and who do not know God (unbelievers), or those who are walking by the flesh (carnal believers) are incapable of pleasing God. Spirit filled believers are the only ones who have the spiritual capacity to please the Lord. These are those who manifest the fruit of the Spirit.

1 Corinthians 3:3-4 for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? 4 For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men?

Romans 15:1-6 Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not {just} please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached Thee fell upon Me.” For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus; that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 10:33 just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of the many, that they may be saved.

(9) Pleasing God means learning to live for others and not simply to please ourselves. God pleasers are neither men pleasers nor self-pleasers. The only time we should seek to please men is when we seek to benefit them by putting their needs above our own for their edification or salvation. This may mean displeasing them through tough love.

Galatians 5:17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.

(10) The sinful nature or the flesh is a constant threat and antagonist to pleasing the Lord and ministering to others because of its inherent selfishness, whereas the filling of the Spirit is the means by which we are able to please Him.

Colossians 1:9-10 For this reason also, since the day we heard {of it}, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please {Him} in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;

Romans 14:17-18 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men.

(11) Pleasing God is to touch every sphere, area, and aspect of the believers life. The aim of pleasing God should have no restrictions or compartments.

Colossians 3:22-24 Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who {merely} please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men; knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.

(12) Pleasing God reaches into the work place. This illustrates the previous principle. Every believer has the responsibility to honor Christ in his work as a God pleaser, as one who does his work as unto the Lord, and not as a men pleaser. To do so ultimately causes us to please our employers through God honoring performance.

(13) Counting on our future rewards is to be a constant source of motivation.

2 Timothy 2:4 No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs (praagmateia, “activity, occupation, business, affairs”) of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.

Luke 19:13 And he called ten of his slaves, and gave them ten minas, and said to them, “Do business (pragmateuomai, ‘conduct or be engaged in business like a banker or trader’) {with this} until I come {back.}”

1 Corinthians 7:25-35 Now concerning virgins I have no command of the Lord, but I give an opinion as one who by the mercy of the Lord is trustworthy. 26 I think then that this is good in view of the present distress, that it is good for a man to remain as he is. 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released. Are you released from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 28 But if you should marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin should marry, she has not sinned. Yet such will have trouble in this life, and I am trying to spare you. 29 But this I say, brethren, the time has been shortened, so that from now on those who have wives should be as though they had none; 30 and those who weep, as though they did not weep; and those who rejoice, as though they did not rejoice; and those who buy, as though they did not possess; 31 and those who use the world, as though they did not make full use of it; for the form of this world is passing away. 32 But I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; 33 but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided. And the woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband. 35 And this I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is seemly, and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.

2 Corinthians 5:9 Therefore also we have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.

(14) We are warned against entanglements which hinder our capacity to please the Lord in doing His business as His servants and stewards of His grace. This especially true in times of distress. Celebacy gives more time for pleasing the Lord, but this is partly a matter of possessing the spiritual gift of celebacy. Note that Paul does not say that celebacy is better, only that it is good because of the capacity it gives to please the Lord and because of the present distress.

Philippians 1:10 so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ;

1 Corinthians 7:7-8 and 26 Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that. 8 But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I. … 26 I think then that this is good in view of the present distress, that it is good for a man to remain as he is.

Related Topics: Theology Proper (God), Spiritual Life, Rewards