A main point in the sanctification conversation surrounds the question: Can we please God? The answer prior to regeneration is an emphatic no. The natural man, dead in his sin cannot please God. If that were the final state of all men then the conversation would stop there.
But we must not. God has set his eyes on his bride redeeming her. Giving her the perfect righteousness of his Son. We are changed from slaves to the body of sin to sons and fellow hears in Christ. Pauls says “we speak . . . to please God” (1 Thessalonians 2:3-5) and later in that same letter “Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more” (4:1). The writer of Hebrews says Enoch pleased God through his faith and then concludes “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:5-6).
Because we have received the “well pleased” (Matthew 3:17) of Jesus Christ in our justification, we can now please God when we honor and obey him now. Saying that we can please the Father doesn’t mean our obedience is perfect now. It’s not. It’s riddled with strains of rubbish.
Honestly, it reminds me of my own children. I’m blessed with two beautiful girls. One who’s five and another who’s just turned two. I frequently receive original artwork from both. The artwork from my youngest is mostly scribbles. A cacophony of colors. A postmodern manifesto of abstract art. The artwork from my oldest is slightly better. She can draw people, animals, and nature. You can get the gist from looking at it but it’s still not the Sistine Chapel. Most of colors find there way in-between the lines but others are more adventurous.
This last weekend was my thirtieth birthday. My oldest excitedly prepared me a gift bag full of treats--artwork, candy from her Valentines booty, and an assortment of odds and ends. She gleefully held the bag up and exclaimed, “Daddy, promise you will not open this before the right time? I’m putting it in mom’s closet. Don’t go snooping around.” I promised.
However, my youngest daughter didn’t make that promise. She found a bag full of tissue paper and goodies and thought it looked like a good time. I’m not sure she knew it was for my birthday. Somehow she nabbed the artwork, made her way to the table, and scribbled on the back of it.
Claire angrily proclaimed, “Daddy look what Maddy did! She’s ruined your present.” I told her Maddy isn’t old enough to make her own present and she wanted to contribute. I explained I loved Maddy’s scribbles as much as her picture and having them both on the same sheet was special.
Claire with a lack of perception that was surprising, “Daddy her’s are only scribbles.” I chuckled inside because my mind immediately went to our relationship with the Father. How often do Christians come off as lacking perspective to our heavenly Father? How often do we complain about other Christians’s lack of righteousness? How often do we feel our scribbles are more pleasing to God then others’s? And true enough. One may be better than another but doesn’t it look silly to make a fuss about it when we compare any of it to the excellency of Christ?
Why not say with Paul, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8)?