“For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.” (Colossians 1:9, 10).
It is the first impulse of love to desire to be well pleasing to the one loved. Every true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ must have some measure of love for Him, and must therefore have some degree of desire to please Him. A mere desire to please Him is not sufficient; nor is any amount of sincere energy expended in that which may be contrary to His will able to please Him. If we are to walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, it will be because we are filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.
Since this article may fall into the hands of some unsaved person, let us begin by calling attention to the fact that “without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Hebrews 11:6), and also that “they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:8). Millions of religious, unsaved sinners are striving to make themselves pleasing unto God, but their labor is all in vain. Being ignorant, and many of them willingly ignorant, of His will, they suppose that by religious works, morality, and philanthropy God will be pleased or obligated to finally receive them into heaven. Every man is by nature in the flesh, and thus unable to please God because he is under the condemnation of the law of sin and death, but every one who through faith is in Christ Jesus is able to please Him, because he has been set free from that condemnation. When the sinner realizes that the only way he can please God is to be well pleased with God’s Son and His sacrificial death with whom and with which God was well pleased, he will enter into the joyous experience of salvation and find himself upon the only basis of being well pleasing unto the Lord.
It goes without saying that believers ought to be well pleasing unto God, but it is equally as evident that the majority are not. It is significant that the Apostle Paul beseeches believers so many times to be well pleasing to the Lord, and the reason he can do so is because we are supposed to have the mind of Christ. That mind can be seen when Jesus, in speaking about the Father, said: “I do always those things that please Him” (John 8:29); and five times it is recorded that the Father said: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Paul tells us that “even Christ pleased not Himself” (Romans 15:3).
There are two reasons why believers are not well pleasing to God. They live either to please self, or to please men. “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let everyone of us please his neighbor for his good to edification. For even Christ pleased not Himself.” (Romans 15:1 to 3). “But as we, were allowed of God to be put in trust with the Gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.” (I Thessalonians 2:4). “Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God.” (Colossians 3:22) “Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men.” (Ephesians 6:6 and 7). “For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10).
Christians who live to please themselves usually evidence little outward service for the Lord, but instead spend their time and money in such pursuits as will add to their pleasure; whereas those who live to please men are usually those who are very busy in what appears to be the Lord’s service, doing what they do to make a name or to gain popularity for themselves, or to escape the hardships and persecutions which come from standing for the truth. No doubt we are all tainted to some degree with one or the other of these ailments, but it should be our desire to have a testimony such as Enoch had: “He pleased God.”
It should be evident that we will be well pleasing to God when we are doing those things which please Him. We can discover what things please Him only as we discover His will for us as revealed in His Word. We must first understand that no desires motivated by the “flesh” can ever please God. Instead we are told: “it is God which worketh in you, both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). God Himself must do the willing and working, in order that the work please Him, and we provide merely the instrumentality through which He works. This is true because “we died” (our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, Romans 6:6; “ye did put off the old man with his deeds.” (Colossians 3:9), and “our life is hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). It is a denial of this basic fact of our salvation when we allow ourselves to be energized by the “old man”; for that was put to death with Christ, and thus rendered inoperative. If God was pleased to put an end to the “flesh” in the death of Christ, He is surely displeased when we revive it. Since no good thing dwells in the flesh (Romans 7:18), and since they that are in the flesh cannot please God (Romans 8:8), God must put the flesh to death. The one great difference between believers and unbelievers today is that the believer has already been put to death (in the person of a Substitute, of course) and the unbeliever is yet awaiting that experience (not in a substitute, but in himself). Thus, as believers, we have been delivered from the power of darkness, and have been actually translated into the kingdom of the Son of His love (Colossians 1:13). In order to walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, we must seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God, and set our affections on things above, not on things on the earth (Colossians 3:1 and 2). In so doing, we will be obeying Romans 12:1 and, 2: “Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable (translated elsewhere ‘well-pleasing’) unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world (age);but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable (well pleasing), and perfect will of God.” Now since it pleased the Lord to bruise Him (Isaiah 53:10), and since it also pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe (I Corinthians 1:21), we must conclude that the kind of service which pleases Him, is that which makes known to a lost world as an allsufficient Saviour this crucified and resurrected Christ. God is not only displeased, but His anathema rests upon all who preach any thing today but the Gospel of the Grace of God. No believer can be pleasing to God who does not share this great burden of His heart, and who is not actively engaged in spreading abroad this Gospel of the glory. The responsibility rests upon all who are not actively engaged in preaching, to make the preaching possible by their financial aid, and this is “an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice wellpleasing to God” (Philippians 4:18).
God is pleased not only in the salvation of the sinner, but also in the edification of the saint. He wants us to “come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ; that we be no more children; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, who is the Head, even Christ” (Ephesians 4:13 to 15). “He is the Head of the body, the church; who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him should all the fulness dwell” (Colossians 1:18, 19). May we, therefore, seek to walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing.