Topical - Pleasing God (Part 3)
In the past 2 times I have had the privilege of teaching for Pastor Bryan on Sunday, I have taught on pleasing God, Pt1 & 2. Today I would like to continue the study of Pleasing God with Part 3. What we have seen so far in our studies on Pleasing God the following points:
In our first study we looked at:
A. Those Who Have Faith In God (Hebrews 10:38).
1. To please God we must trust God (Hebrews 11:5-6).
2. To please God we must walk in faith (Hebrews 11:5-6).
B. Those Who Desire the Right Heart (1 Kings 3:5-10).
C. Our Sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:1-5).
1. “How you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk)…” (v.1 NASB).
2. Keep your life pleasing to God (v.1-2).
3. Keeping your lust under control (1Thess.4:3-8).
D. Those Who Walk In the Light (Ephesians 5:8-10).
1. The contrast of the believer before salvation and after salvation.
In our second study we looked at:
A. Those Who Have A Worthy Walk (Col.1:10-11).
1. Having an unceasing or recurring prayer life (v.9a).
2. Having a knowledge filled with His will, wisdom and understanding (v.9b).
3. Having a walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him (v.10a).
B. Those Who Are Unashamed About the Gospel of Christ (1 Thessalonians 2:1-4).
1. Having boldness in God… not as pleasing men, but God…” (v.2b, 4b).
C. Those Who Praise God Through Trials (Psalm 69:29-31).
1. Those who have the praise of repentance (2 Samuel 12:20)
2. Those who have the praise of submission (Job 1:21-22).
3. Those who have the sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 13:15-16).
Today we will look at the following:
D. Those With a Broken Spirit and a Contrite Heart (Psalm 51:16-17, 19).
1. The negative… what God is not pleased with (v.16).
2. The positive… what God is pleased with (v.17, 19).
E. Those Who Are Giving (Philippians 4:18-19).
F. Cooperating With God (Philippians 2:12-13).
!! G. Those With a Broken Spirit and a Contrite Heart (Psalm 51:16-17, 19).
1. The negative… what God is not pleased with (v.16).
a) Forget religion (Isaiah 1:11-17; Amos 5:21-24)!
(1) Why would David say that about sacrifices and offerings, when God was the one who commanded that they be given?
(2) Or maybe more to the point, why would God repeatedly say the same thing Himself?
(a) Because devoid of the right inward attitude these sacrifices are simply ‘religion’ and God can’t stand it.
(b) When we have lost the heart attitude towards God and merely carry on performing a religious duty then it becomes exactly that – a performance.
(3) What are some of the sacrifices and offerings that God has commanded for today?
(a) Can’t say I’ve slaughtered any bulls lately but the New Testament does speak of other offerings such as our time, praise, money, prayer etc.
(b) All these things he has commanded, yet any, and all, of these things can become a routine in which God takes no pleasure.
(4) The Pharisees (John 5:39-40) – The Pharisees looked good didn’t they?
(a) With their grand announcements when they gave to the poor, and their pious prayers on the street corners so everyone could hear them… Or even their gloomy unkempt faces so that everyone would know when they are fasting (a nice touch!).
(b) Surely they were the definition of ‘godly’ and exactly what God was looking for right? Don’t just think it happened back then.
(c) There is a Pharisee in every one of us that desires to be seen by men.
(i) Get real. Be normal. Be honest! Be real with God! Be real about your condition. Be real with other Christians.
(ii) God is pleased with honesty and a heart that is humble and contrite before Him.
(iii) Through the Lord’s grace we have been given a gift of righteousness so that the theatre masks of religion and performance can come off!
At the end of his life, David uttered these words, which still ring true today, 1 Chronicles 29:17 ‘I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things have I given willingly and with honest intent.’
(5) Let me ask you a couple of questions:
(a) When was the last time you sat in a home group setting and felt you just had to pray because everyone else was and if you didn’t, people would think you are ‘un-spiritual’?
(b) Ever worried that if you’re the last to pray, all the best ‘Christian’ lines and phrases would be gone!
(c) What about worship in Church? When was the last time you lifted your hands in worship to God while all the time you were just thinking of what’s for lunch, or maybe even, who was looking at you?
(d) Should we not rather remember the words of David that the Lord ‘tests the heart and is pleased with integrity’?
!!! 2. The positive… what God is pleased with (v.17, 19).
a) Be real with God.
(1) What do you think God would think if David went in to offer up burnt offerings to the Lord but continued in adultery with Bathsheba or any other woman? God would not accept it!
Samuel said to King Saul after Saul had disobeyed the Lord, "Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams." (1 Samuel 15:22, NASB95)
(2) David understood this: David confessed his sin, repented of it, was forgiven and moved on. But in order to have a true confession of his sin required a broken spirit & contrite heart (v.17).
Then (v.19) of Psalm 51 comes true, "Then You will delight in righteous sacrifices, In burnt offering and whole burnt offering; Then young bulls will be offered on Your altar.” It is all a matter of the heart (Psalm 51:19)
b) Be destitute in your inner being (Matthew 5:3).
(1) Christians live from the inside out – God deals with the inside.
(a) That doesn’t mean there’s no commitment to the outside. But when the inside is right, the outside is right.
(b) Faith without works is dead. You are created in Christ Jesus for good works. The real outside can only be produced only by the real inside.
(c) That’s why poor spirit has to be at the very beginning.
(2) What kind of poverty is this?
(a) The word poor in the Greek means poor in this world’s goods, you have no resource in yourself even to live. You’re totally dependent on somebody else.
(b) This is a person who is begging on the inside, and these are the kind of people that God identifies with.
God puts it this way: “But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word” (Isaiah 66:2).
Psalm 34:18 says, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
Psalm 51:17 says, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”
(3) The Pharisee who was proud (Luke 18:9-14).
c) How the humble become useful to God.
(1) Jacob had to face the poverty of spirit before God could use him. He fought God all night, and finally God dislocated Jacob’s hip (Genesis 32). He put him flat on his back. Then, the Bible says in Genesis 32:29, “And he [God] blessed him there.” I love that. God made him happy in his humility.
(2) Isaiah could not be used before he was poor in spirit. The Lord showed him Himself high and lifted up in a vision, and Isaiah said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips … for my eyes have seen the King” (Isaiah 6:5). At that point, God blessed him.
(3) Gideon became aware of his inadequacy. He said, “Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? Behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house” (Judges 6:15). God had said, “The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour” (v. 12). You know who the mightiest man of valor is? The man who knows that in himself he is powerless.
(4) Peter who was aggressive, self-assertive, confident by nature. Yet he said, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” (Luke 5:8).
(5) Paul recognized that in his flesh dwelt no good thing. He was the chief of sinners, a blasphemer, a persecutor. Everything he had was garbage. All things he counted loss. He was sufficient for nothing. His strength was made perfect, then, in his weakness.
!! H. Those Who Are Giving (Philippians 4:15-19).
1. A fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God.
a) Three sacrificial offerings that are a fragrant aroma to God (v.18).
(1) First – the Old Testament sacrifice of a ram as a burnt offering (Ex 29:18).
Exodus 29:18 says "And you shall burn the whole ram on the altar. It is a burnt offering to the Lord; it is a sweet aroma, an offering made by fire to the Lord.” (Exodus 29:18, NKJV)
(2) Second – the death of Jesus Himself on our behalf. (Eph 5:2).
Paul says in Ephesians to "Walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma." (Ephesians 5:2, NKJV)
(a) So when we offer all of ourselves (like the burnt offering) to God, walk in love, loving others as Christ has loved us, this is a sweet aroma, well pleasing to God.
Paul put it this way, " I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service" (Romans 12:1).
The writer of Hebrews exhorts, “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased” (Heb. 13:15–16).
Peter reminds believers that they are “a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5).
(3) Lastly – here, where gifts, or money, are given to help Paul in his work of preaching the gospel. They are said to be well pleasing to God! This gives us a glimpse of the importance of giving to missions.
(a) Paul knew that the Philippians would not only receive spiritual blessing but also that God would supply all their physical needs in this life.
(b) The Philippians had sacrificially given of their earthly possessions to support God’s servant, Paul, and because of this they would soon discover that you can not out give God.
Proverbs 3:9-10 says "Honor the Lord with your possessions, And with the firstfruits of all your increase; So your barns will be filled with plenty, And your vats will overflow with new wine." (Proverbs 3:9-10, NKJV)
(c) So, what kind of aroma are you giving to God? What kind of aroma are you leaving behind for others to smell?
2. Giving increases your spiritual account (v.17).
a) The spiritual benefit (Matthew 6:19-20).
(1) The Philippians supported Paul during his ministry. Their generosity, along with Paul’s own hard work, allowed him to minister free of charge in Thessalonica and Corinth.
(2) Their gift brought Paul joy not because of its personal material benefit to him, but because of its spiritual benefit to them. The principle that those who give generously will be blessed is taught repeatedly in Scripture.
Solomon wrote, “There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more, and there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want. The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered” (Prov.11:24–25).
Later in Proverbs he added, “One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the Lord, and He will repay him for his good deed” (Prov.19:17), “He who is generous will be blessed” (Prov.22:9), and “He who gives to the poor will never want” (Prov.28:27).
In Luke 6:38 Jesus said, “Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.”
To the Corinthians Paul wrote, “Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Cor. 9:6).
Paul himself was an example of one who generously gave to the poor, as he reminded the Ephesian elders: “In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’ ” (Acts 20:35).
(3) So, I believe that being a giver is definitely WELL PLEASING TO GOD!
I. Those Who Cooperate With God – Believers Role in Sanctification (Philippians 2:12).
1. God’s Gym vs. the Worlds Gym.
a) You must have a membership card!
(1) The worlds gym focuses on the outward, the flesh
(2) God’s gym focuses on the inward, the spirit
(3) The worlds gym will reap temporal things that will fade away
(4) God’s gym will reap eternal benefits that will never fade away
(a) No pain, no gain—growing muscles vs. growing spirits
(b) Spotter when working out—Jesus is our spotter
(c) Push the wait upward
2. “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling…” (v.12b).
a) Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.
(1) What comes to mind when you think of the word work? What comes to my mind initially is effort, time, labour, and energy.
(2) It doesn’t matter what the subject is, the word work implies putting time and energy into a task.
(a) You may ‘work on your tennis game’, or ‘work at your marriage.’ The thought implies spending time and effort to improve or perfect something.
(b) In its context here, the object of our work is our salvation. It is speaking of putting time and energy into your relationship with God.
(c) For a married couple, ‘working at their marriage’ involves spending time together, communicating effectively, being open, and sharing their whole lives with one another. So it is with our relationship with God.
(3) It is easy to put little effort in and build our house upon the sand, but Jesus spoke of the wise man, who put more effort in and built his house on a rock:
I like the way The Message translates these verses, Jesus said "These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock. “But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.” (Matthew 7:24-26, The Message)
!!!! b) Work out your salvation with fear and trembling (v.12b).
(1) How is working out your salvation different from working for it?
(a) We are saved by grace not by works. Works are proof of our salvation; we must be “doers of the word and not hearers only deceiving ourselves”.
(b) Faith alone saves, but the faith that saves is not alone, (Jam.2:17-18). Only God can see the heart and truly knows if you or I have a saving faith. But the people around us cannot see into our hearts all they can see is the “works of faith.”
(c) True faith will “work itself out”
(2) Definition: To work on to the finish, to completion, to perfection, to complete the effort & the work begun
(a) Working out was used for working a mine getting out of the mine all the valuable ore possible; or working a field, getting the greatest harvest possible
(b) The verb indicates that Paul is saying to “continue to work out.” Are salvation is a process, that is sanctification, it is a pursuit, a following after, a pressing on, a contest, fight, race (Phil 3:12; Rom. 14:19; 1 Cor. 9:24-27; 1 Tim. 6:12.)
(c) Our enemy: the world, the flesh, and the devil. It is one thing to pray “as we forgive our debtors” but it is another to carry this out in practice. It is one thing to shout, “do all things to the glory of God” but another to carry this out in practice.
(3) So, allow that which has happened within you, be manifested outwardly.
c) Work out your salvation with fear and trembling (v.12b).
(1) The principle of working out salvation has two aspects:
(a) Personal conduct, faithful, obedient living – in other words, believers must make a personal and active commitment to put off sin and replace it by righteous thinking.
Believers are to cleanse themselves “from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1), setting their minds “on the things above, not on the things that are on earth,” because they have died to sin and their lives are now “hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:2–3).
Just as they once “presented [their] members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness,” they should “now present [their] members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification” (Rom. 6:19), walking “in a manner worthy of the calling with which [they] have been called” (Eph. 4:1).
The apostle exhorted the Corinthians to strenuous effort in living the Christian life: Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. (1 Cor. 9:24–27)
His words later in the present letter also demand aggressive Christian living: Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained. (Phil. 3:12–16)
He exhorted Timothy: “Flee from these [evil] things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (1 Tim. 6:11–12; cf. 4:15–16; Heb. 12:1–3).
(i) Believers must choose to live righteously, to work out their salvation in daily living, while at the same time realizing that all the power for that obedience comes from God’s Spirit.
(b) Perseverance, of faithful obedience to the end – in other words, we need to understand that salvation has three time dimensions: past, present, and future.
(i) The past dimension is that of justification, when believers placed their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and were redeemed.
(ii) The present dimension is sanctification, the time between a believer’s justification and his death or the Rapture.
(iii) The future aspect is glorification, when salvation is completed and believers receive their glorified bodies. Believers therefore have been saved, are being saved, and will be saved. They are to pursue sanctification in this life to the time of glorification.
In that glorious moment believers will see the Lord “face to face” and come to know fully even as they are fully known (1 Cor. 13:12).
They “will be like Him, because [they] will see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2).
In the Olivet Discourse, Jesus declared, “The one who endures to the end, he will be saved” (Matt. 24:13).
Paul and Barnabas urged new believers in Pisidian Antioch “to continue in the grace of God” (Acts 13:43) and encouraged “them to continue in the faith” (14:22).
In his letter to the church at Rome, Paul declared that God will give eternal life “to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality” (Rom. 2:7; cf. 11:22).
He promised the Colossians that Christ would present them before God the Father “blameless and beyond reproach—if indeed [they] continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that [they] have heard” (Col. 1:22–23).
He admonished Timothy: “Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you” (1 Tim. 4:16).
The writer of Hebrews notes, “We have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end” (Heb. 3:14; cf. 8:9; 10:38–39; cf. James 1:22–25).
(2) Believers will persevere because God’s power keeps their salvation secure.
To the multitudes at Capernaum, Jesus declared emphatically that “all that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day” (John 6:37, 39).
Later, in Jerusalem, He declared, “I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:28–29; cf. 17:2, 12, 24; 18:9).
Earlier in Philippians, Paul wrote that he was “confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (1:6).
Peter gave believers a similar assurance, saying that they “are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5).
To the Ephesians he wrote, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Eph. 2:8–10).
(3) So the call for believers to work out their salvation is found all through the New Testament.
!! J. Those Who Cooperate With God – God’s Role in Sanctification (Philippians 2:13)
1. “For it is God who is at work in you…” (v.13a).
a) The energy of God.
(1) God energizes His children to obey and serve Him; His power enables their sanctification.
(2) Just as no one can be justified by the work of the flesh (Rom. 3:20), so no one can be “perfected [sanctified] by the flesh” (Gal. 3:3).
He confessed that “by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me” (1 Cor. 15:10).
Paul knew that all acceptable service is the gracious power of God. It is “not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves,” he wrote, “but our adequacy is from God” (2 Cor. 3:5).
He reminded the Ephesians that he “was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to [him] according to the working of His power,” and rejoiced, “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen” (Eph. 3:7, 20–21).
Paul summed it up in Colossians 1:29 when he said, “I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.”
2. “Both to will and to work…” (v.13b).
a) A godly will produces godly work.
(1) The will to do what is right before God must precede any effective work that is done toward that end.
(2) A genuine desire to do God’s will, as well as the power to obey it, originates with Him.
It is what the psalmist had in mind when he prayed, “Incline my heart to Your testimonies” (Ps. 119:36; cf. 110:3)
And what Ezra spoke of when he reported that “the heads of fathers’ households of Judah and Benjamin and the priests and the Levites arose, even everyone whose spirit God had stirred to go up and rebuild the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem” (Ezra 1:5; cf. 7:27).
Proverbs declares that “the king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes” (Prov.21:1).
3. “Both to will and to do for His good pleasure…” (v.13b).
a) God’s will is that believers think and do what pleases Him.
(1) His will for believers is that they think and do what pleases Him and when believers seek His will and do His work it brings Him great pleasure.
(2) It is hard for me to imagine how anyone or anything, especially a sinful human being, could add to God’s satisfaction. Yet that clearly is what Paul is saying.
Even when they were weak and fearful, Jesus assured the disciples, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).
(3) Giving a place in His kingdom to His children brings God great pleasure.
(4) Even when they rebel against Him, God still desires to bless His people if they turn and obey.
Isaiah addressed these encouraging words to wayward Israel: “Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (Isa. 55:6–7).