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HE WHO OVERCOMES SHALL INHERIT ALL THINGS,

and I will be his God and he shall be My son

PLEASING GOD

Book of ROMANS
A Study of Chapter 8

Part 6

Romans 8:8-11
 

PLEASING GOD

“So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. 10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you
.” – Rom 8:8-11 NKJV

“So then those who are living the life of the flesh [catering to the appetites and impulses of their carnal nature] cannot please or satisfy God, or be acceptable to Him.” – Rom 8:8 AMPC

We’ve been looking at the difference between living by our natural way of thinking, or living in the Spirit by the renewed mind in Christ. The former is how we are born into this world; the way we think and act with our natural senses, according to our passions. The latter can only be done by faith. As the writer of Hebrews teaches us -

"Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." - Heb 11:6 NKJV

As we diligently seek Him, God is pleased with us. The preceding verse to Heb 11:6 above tells us of one who “pleased God” because he walked not in the flesh. He did not cater to the appetites of his carnal nature, even as many of those around him did.

“By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, “and was not found, because God had taken him”; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” – Heb 11:5 NKJV

Twice in Genesis 5 we are told that “Enoch walked with God.” (vs 22,24).

The Hebrew word here for walked is halak, which means "to go, walk, behave."

The verb can be used of one’s behavior, or the way one “walks in life.” So he who “walks” uprightly shall be blessed of God (Is 33:15). The does not refer to walking upright on ones feet but to living a righteous life. (Strong’s 1980)

Noah, as well, “walked with God” (Gen 6:9) and was declared “righteous” by God (Gen 7:1). Therefore, God saved His creation through Noah and his family when He flooded the earth (2Pet 2:5). He is mentioned along with Daniel & Job in the Scripture as three men who pleased God by their righteousness, which He declared would cause such men as them to be spared in time of judgment -

“Son of man, if a country sins against Me by being unfaithful and I stretch out My hand against it…” (bringing harsh judgment against it), 14 even if these three men—Noah, Daniel and Job—were in it, they could save only themselves by their righteousness, declares the Sovereign Lord.” – Eze 14:13-14 NIV

Truly, the fear of many in the modern churches to admit that God does not view our righteous deeds and behavior as “filthy rags” (something He never said), has done great disservice to the people who strive to walk with God as did Enoch, Noah, Daniel, Job & many others. Let us know that God honors our righteous deeds and is actually displeased when we turn back from righteous behavior.

“My righteous people, however, will believe and live; but if any of them turns back, I will not be pleased with them.” – Heb 10:38 GNT

“The one who pursues righteousness and faithful love
will find life, righteousness, and honor.”

-Prov 21:21 HCSB

When God came to Abram to prophesy the coming birth of Isaac, He told the 99-year-old man -

“I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.” – Gen 17:1-2 NKJV

So, Abram chose to believe and walk with God, obey Him as best he could, and so meet the conditions given him, and his name was changed (Gen 17:5). Abraham pleased God by his faith and obedience, and became the father of the nation of Israel. And not only that, but to those who have faith like his, he is the “father of us all” (Rom 4:16)

Like Enoch, Noah and Abraham, as well as all those we read of in Hebrews 11, our faith is proven in our walk. This is the faith that is pleasing to God. Paul consistently exhorted those who came into the churches to walk with the Lord.
His prayer for the Colossian disciples was -
“that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God.” -Col 1:10 HCSB

And to those in Thessalonica -
“that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own Kingdom and glory.” – 1Thess 2:12 NAS

And this we can do… by the Spirit. As Paul began this chapter admonishing us to “walk according to the Spirit”, he writes in another letter -

“I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” – Gal 5:16 NKJV

If we lack faith to know how to walk with God’s Holy Spirit, to hear what He would teach & say to us each day, let us ask, listen and obey. James writes to tell us “You do not have because you do not ask.” (James 4:2). Jesus told us the “Father gives the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.” (Luke 11:13), and His Apostles declared “God gives His Spirit to those who obey Him.” (Acts 5:32). In fact, as we walk in obedience to His commandments, Jesus Himself will ask on our behalf that God grant us more of His Spirit -

“If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of Truth.”
– John 14:15-17a NKJV

I believe these passages shed further light on our opening verses to this chapter, and we can understand how by “walking according to the Spirit” we can be free from “condemnation” and how the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us.” (Rom 8:1,4)
Condemnation comes when we disobey God, when we walk according to the flesh, following the “god of this age.” The Bible speaks of those walking by God’s Spirit, in obedience, now free from condemnation, as those who - “once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience. Among these we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of body and mind, and so we were by nature children of wrath.” – Eph 2:2-3 RSV

The nation of Israel began with Gods call to a man to come out of walking according to the flesh. That calling of Abram, and the great tests that God gave him, were in a sense to bring him to repentance. To renewal of mind, changing his way of thinking with his natural mind to living a life dependent upon hearing, trusting and obeying God.

Remember, as we studied last time in looking at the Mind, that an integral part of repentance means receiving “new knowledge” and changing our way of thinking and our course of action.  When the Lord appeared to Abram, He revealed His plan, and His will for him. It definitely took some faith and trust to receive and believe what God was telling him.

“Now the Lord had said to Abram:
“Get out of your country,
From your family
And from your father’s house,
To a land that I will show you.
I will make you a great nation;
I will bless you and make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

- Gen 12:1-3 NKJV

Abram and his family had dwelt in Ur, a Chaldean city. As we know from Daniel & elsewhere, the Chaldeans were associated with astrologers and mediums. Their contact with the spirit realm was apart from the Creator of heaven & earth. And nothing in the Scripture indicates Abram was committed to the One True God at that time in his life.
Then God called him and set him apart for His own purposes. If Abram would be obedient to God, then these incredible promises would be fulfilled.

He first had to begin a journey without knowing where it would lead. He had to believe this God would “make him a great nation” when as yet he had no children, he was old and his wife was barren. And when he did indeed receive his son Isaac, he was told to sacrifice him. Oh, what great faith and obedience in this man! No wonder the Scripture calls him – “the father of all those who believe” (Rom 4:11). For sure Abraham made mistakes along the way, but when God spoke, he listened and followed God’s commands perfectly. Because God was pleased with him, the promises made to Abraham were passed on to his son Isaac -
“I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because Abraham obeyed Me and did everything I required of him, keeping My commands, My decrees and My instructions.” – Gen 26:4-5 NIV

Now we too who have been called by God will be tested. Where we will not be asked to physically sacrifice our children, we are asked to be “living sacrifices” ourselves and put all on the altar before God, that His will may be done in us, and through us.
In their journey through the wilderness, on their way to the Promised Land, God’s people were tested -
“you shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that He might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments, or not.” - Deut 8:2 RSV

God wants to know what is in our hearts. Do we really believe and trust Him? Are we truly striving to love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength? Will we serve Him with our whole heart, as did Joshua and Caleb in the exodus, as we read in Numbers 32:12? Remember these two men were the only ones over the age of 20 who entered the Promised Land, because only they “followed the Lord wholeheartedly.”

That is what God desires. For us to love Him and walk with Him. To be pleasing to Him. The commandments given to Israel in the wilderness were to show where their hearts were, just as the commands given to Abraham were so God would expose what was truly in his heart. The ultimate test and proof came when Abraham laid Isaac on the altar and raised his knife.
Then God spoke -
“Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” – Gen 22:12 NKJV

It was not the sacrifice of Isaac that God wanted. He was after Abrahams whole heart.

As Joshua led God’s people into the Promised Land, strict obedience to the Law of Moses for the Law’s sake was not what God wanted, but for His people to walk with Him in fellowship.

“With what shall I come before the Lord,
And bow myself before the High God?
Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings,
With calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,

Ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly, To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?”

- Micah 6:6-8 NKJV

If those to whom these words in Micah were written would have done justly, loved mercy, and walked humbly with God, then they would have fulfilled the Law and been pleasing to Him.
If we would love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves, then we will be obeying all the commands of Christ, and be found pleasing in God’s sight.

It is when we, as Christians, make choices based on our human impulses and act according to our passions, that we disappoint God. How can we please Him who "freely gives us all things" and has promised to provide for all that we have need of, if we look not to Him for His guidance and direction? Do we really think we know what is best for us better than He who made us and “planned our days before even one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:16) ?

“For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly…” – Rom 12:3 NKJV

Either we are walking in the dictates of our own hearts, or we are walking by faith.

“Behold the proud,
His soul is not upright in him;
But the just shall live by his faith."
- Hab 2:4 NKJV

“Look at the proud! They trust in themselves, and their lives are crooked. But the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God.” – Hab 2:4 NLT

We know quite well the second half of this verse from Habakkuk, but it is better understood in its original context.
The contrast is between the proud who trust in themselves and their own abilities, and those who trust in the Lord and prove it by their choices. As we read earlier – “those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Rom 8:8). May our example be as Jesus, who said – “I always do what is pleasing to Him.” (John 8:29)

“Who among you fears the Lord
    and obeys the word of His servant?
Let the one who walks in the dark,
    who has no light,
trust in the name of the Lord
    and rely on their God.
11 But now, all you who light fires
    and provide yourselves with flaming torches,
go, walk in the light of your fires
    and of the torches you have set ablaze.
This is what you shall receive from My hand:
    You will lie down in torment.”

- Isaiah 49:10-11 NIV

Will we fear the Lord and trust in Him, even when things are going the opposite of what we would like? Sometimes our Lord will take us to places we would rather avoid. We can resist Him, believing we know better, or we can humbly submit and trust that He knows what He is doing and ultimately has our best in mind.

When Judah had been taken captive by Babylon and a puppet king set up over them, the elders sought to escape to Egypt. They came to Jeremiah and petitioned Him to inquire of God what they should do. How about us today? When God allows some trial in our lives, or brings discipline meant to correct poor choices, do we find ourselves looking back to the world? Remember, for us, Egypt represents the world, the bondage God set us free from through Christ, just as He brought His chosen people out of Egypt.
Back to the elders and Jeremiah -

“Please, let our petition be acceptable to you, and pray for us to the Lord your God, for all this remnant (since we are left but a few of many, as you can see), that the Lord your God may show us the way in which we should walk and the thing we should do.” – Jer 42:2-3 NKJV

Notice that they didn’t come before God themselves. They could have. Perhaps they didn’t feel they were worthy enough to even petition God themselves. As did Abraham’s servant Eliezer, they said “the Lord YOUR God” rather than ‘the Lord OUR God.’ But they did see in Jeremiah one who walked with God, and they did seem genuine in wanting to know His will. But as we will discover later, they were only looking for a confirmation of what they themselves already had a mind to do.

“Then Jeremiah the prophet said to them, “I have heard. Indeed, I will pray to the Lord your God according to your words, and it shall be, that whatever the Lord answers you, I will declare it to you. I will keep nothing back from you.” – Jer 42:4 NKJV

Jeremiah definitely wasn’t a man-pleaser like Ahab’s prophets before him. He was faithful to the Lord, and to speak forth His word regardless of the personal cost.

Now before the answer came, the elders of Judah promised this -

“Let the Lord be a true and faithful witness between us, if we do not do according to everything which the Lord your God sends us by you. Whether it is pleasing or displeasing, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God to whom we send you, that it may be well with us when we obey the voice of the Lord our God.” – Jer 42:5-6 NKJV

Oh, that they would have kept their promise. My prayer is that we would have this mind as we seek the Lord and His will. To desire to have His Spirit “show us the way in which we should walk and the things we should do.”

And He has shown us…
Just as God’s people had received instruction on how to live through the commandments of the Law of Moses, we too are given instruction throughout the New Testament on how to live if we are to enter into the fullness of God’s promises.

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; 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), 10 trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them.”
– Eph 5:1-11 NAS

This has been God’s desire for His people always, since Adam first walked on the earth: that we would resolve to walk in His Light, and declare to live by the words of the Psalmist, whom God said was a “man after My own heart” -

“I will live with a heart of integrity in my house.
I will not set anything worthless before my eyes.
I hate the practice of transgression; it will not cling to me.
A devious heart will be far from me;
I will not be involved with evil.”

- Psalm 101:2b-4 HCSB

In this same letter to the saints, Paul admonishes us to stay away not only from sin, but even from pointless arguments concerning “disputable matters”, such as dietary regulations, observance of special days (including Sabbath), and such ordinances of the Law of Moses that some even today have the impression that we are subject to. We are all still learning what the Lord truly requires and how to be pleasing to Him. Paul writes -
“Welcome those who are weak in faith, but do not argue with them about their personal opinions.” (Rom 14:1 GNT), for truly, “the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 For the one who serves Christ in this way is well-pleasing to God and approved by people.” – Rom 14:17-18 LEB


Paul’s prayer and exhortation was that we, those called by God, would “lead a life worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” (Col 1:10 RSV). May we heed his exhortation, and follow the instruction given by the Spirit through God’s Son, prophets and apostles.
In this we will be pleasing to God.

“whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.”
– Col 3:23-24 NKJV

I’ll finish this section of our study with a verse that I strive to live by. May it be the desire of each of our hearts -
“May the words of my mouth
    and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to You,
    O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

- Psalm 19:14 NLT

Amen.
Michael

Next… CHILDREN OF GOD

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