The pleasure of salvation
We are called to ‘please God’ (1 Thessalonians 4v1esv) but how are we meant to do this? What is it that God finds pleasing?
Jesus tells us the greatest commandment is ‘love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ (Matthew 22v37esv). Loving God with our all, above anything else declares him to be of supreme satisfaction and worth. Loving or cherishing, taking delight, joy & pleasure in God recognises him for whom he is, and is to relate to him as he is. In other words we please God by taking pleasure in him.
Unfortunately, this is the very thing we don’t do. The essence of our sin is that we prefer to take pleasure in almost anything above God. In so doing declaring it to be of more value and interest than the Almighty and so turning our backs on him.
The good news is that this is why Jesus came. He lived, died, rose again and ascended back to heaven, so that through faith in him we can be totally forgiven of all our sinful displeasure & dishonouring lack of joy in God, and be given Jesus’ righteousness as our own.
‘not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God’ (Philippians 3v9esv).
To be given Jesus’ righteousness, is to be given his record of rightly relating to, or correctly valuing God. That is, we are given Jesus’ perfect record of total pleasure in God, and so declared 100% pleasing to God 100% of the time, just as Jesus himself is! Therefore we are brought back to God, enabled to come into his presence and to take pleasure in him, to the honour of his name and delight of his heart.
This is wonderful news; you will not hear better. But at this point confusion can set in. We can think ‘how do I please him who is already totally pleased with me?’ And in our attempts to do so, fall back into trying to make God pleased with us; trying to win his approval.
The problem is that often we can confuse ‘God being pleased with us’ and ‘us pleasing God’. They are not the same thing. The first is justification (how God feels towards us; totally pleased, he enjoys our company), the second is sanctification (how we feel towards God; increasingly pleased, we learn to enjoy his company).
Once we put our trust in Jesus we are pleasing to God, how he thinks and feels towards us does not and cannot change, as it is set in Jesus Christ (justification).
Once this is the case we can please God, day by day, moment by moment, because he is already totally pleased with us. We please him by allowing him to have what he finds pleasing, namely ourselves in Christ & Christ in us. That is, we please God, by being pleased with/enjoying the fact, that he is pleased with us in Christ. Thrilling his heart, in turning to & walking with him, by trusting & delighting in him & all he is for us (sanctification).
This is just another way of saying we glorify God by knowing him. Through faith in Jesus, God is totally pleased with us, so we can please him, by taking pleasure in/being with him! So, salvation is a pleasure for all involved; God and the believer.