Is God pleased or displeased by our actions once we are in Christ? Answered by Jon Moffitt
Hi, this is Jon, and I’m going to be answering Andrew’s question. He asked, “Is God pleased or displeased by our actions once we are in Christ?”
That’s a good question and I know there are many people who wonder, “When I sin, is God disappointed in me? When I do acts of kindness and love, is God pleased with me?” You can fall into a really deep pit of despair when you start looking at how often you do sin compared to how much you do works of righteousness or love and kindness. If you live in that constant comparative state, you’ll forever wonder if God is ever pleased with you at any moment in your life because you won’t ever feel like you do enough to outweigh your sinful nature. A lot of people struggle with this.
This is where our identity in Christ becomes very important to us. God does not look favorably upon you because of what you have done. That would mean somehow that your actions manipulate God in some way, whether negatively or positively. We are told that when we are in Christ, we are clothed with Christ’s righteousness, and that when God looks at us, he sees the obedience of Christ. We wear the sonship of Christ upon us, and when the Father looks at us, he sees his Son, he doesn’t see us.
That’s really hard for us to identify with because we don’t feel the way in which God sees us. We don’t see ourselves through the eyes of God. We can only see what we feel and see. I would even go farther to say, if someone has entered into this relationship where they assume that God is pleased or displeased with them based upon their doing, I would challenge them that they don’t even understand how sinful they truly are, that they offend God in ways that they aren’t even aware of.
If you don’t love God with everything that you are, your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and if you don’t love your neighbor as much as you love yourself, you’re not living up to the two greatest commands that have been given to you. Most likely, if you’re going to live a balance scale life where you think your good is outweighing your bad, not in regards to salvation, but in regards to pleasing God, I don’t know if you’ll ever please him enough to outweigh the way in which you displease him.
So I think we need to understand our identity and the way in which God interacts with us. He interacts with us based upon our status, not based upon our obedience. That being said, it doesn’t mean your obedience is useless or it’s of no value or you shouldn’t focus on it. As a matter of fact, Paul and Peter both used this language of being ineffective or useless for the sake of the ministry and the gospel. So in regards to our obedience, the people who need it are our neighbors and our church members, our family members around us. They need us to be kind and gracious and loving and to consider how to build them up, and to love and to care for them and to sacrifice for them, and to share the gospel with the lost. So this is where your good works are needed.
We get so twisted with the understanding of good works as if God needs our good works to verify us before he blesses us or before he saves us, he needs to see them, he needs to see we mean business. He needs to know that when we claim his name, we’re also going to then claim him as Lord, and that’s just not how it’s seen in scripture.
We walk by faith. We look to Christ. We find our identity there. We find our security there. We find our hope there, and that’s where we find our motivation. I would just look at things like Ephesians four, one and following, where he says, if you have been called, a worthy way of walking in your calling is to love your brothers, but he gives you that firm identity and foundation in Ephesians one through three. In Second Peter one and the first 12 verses there, he starts by saying that it’s God’s power that comes in and transforms us and brings us to life, and it’s looking at the promises of God that transforms us into the image of Christ. Then he says, now, if these are true of you, add to them love and kindness and meekness and mercy, and he says if these are not yours and increasing, he doesn’t give you fear or judgment, he says you’ve forgotten that you’ve been cleansed from your former ways. So he points back to the gospel.
I’d say the gospel is the way in which we should find our identity. We are in Christ by faith alone in Christ alone. It is there we then move forward and love others because we don’t want to be ineffective for the gospel. Because we love the Father, we want to see the message of the gospel go forward. So I don’t think we should look at it as God is pleased or displeased with us. We are in Christ, so therefore, he’s always pleased with us, but our actions can be ineffective and not helpful as it is to the accomplishment of his will here on the Earth.
So hopefully that was helpful. Thanks Andrew, for sending it in, please keep sending in your questions.