How Can We Please God?

Hebrews 11:5,6

By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): The beginning of a good and upright life is to know what is pleasing to God―if we wish to please God, we must see what He requires from us.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Faith is the beginning, that’s essential―Without faith, you can’t begin.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): Everything is wrong where this principle is wanting.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): The way to please God, then, is to believe in Him.

JOHN CALVIN: Men toil to no purpose, when they endeavour to please God without faith, because, by running, as it were, out of the course, they do not advance towards the goal―though men torment themselves wretchedly throughout their whole life, still they lose their pains, if they have not faith in Christ as the rule of their life.

ALEXANDER MacLAREN (1826-1910): Faith, and not a multitude of separate acts, is what pleases God.

CHARLES SIMEON (1759-1836): Enoch did please God: therefore it is clear that Enoch believed; and that his works, whatever they were, were the fruits of faith.

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): Faith is the mother of obedience.

JOHN OWEN (1616-1683): Faith is the spring and cause of all obedience, and the obedience that is accepted with Him is the “obedience of faith,” Romans 16:26.

CHARLES SIMEON: It implies a desire and intention to please God. There is one canon, one universal rule of action, prescribed to us in the Scriptures―namely, that “whether we eat or drink, or whatever we do, we should do all to the glory of God,” 1 Corinthians 10:31. Whatever therefore springs from other motives and principles, must argue a want of sincerity, in proportion as God’s honour is superseded by any selfish considerations. When Jehu, in compliance with God’s command, extirpated the family of Ahab, his obedience was not considered as sincere, because he was actuated rather by vainglory, than by a real desire to please God, 2 Kings 9:6,7; 2 Kings 10:16; and the blood that he shed in executing the divine command, was on that very account avenged by God himself upon his posterity, Hosea 1:4.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Not one that hath given up his name to Christ is allowedly a self-seeker; it is contrary to the foundation of true Christianity…We are not our own masters, nor our own proprietors—we are not at our own disposal. The business of our lives is not to please ourselves, but to please God.

CHARLES SIMEON: All, even the most refined hypocrites, are under the influence of self-seeking and self-complacency. But the true Christian endeavours to consult the glory of his God. He is as jealous of his motives, as of his actions. He knows that self is but too apt to mix with what we do; and therefore he labours to counteract its influence, and to do his most common actions to the glory of his God. To please God, to serve God, to honour God, these are the ends which he proposes to himself; nor is he ever satisfied with any one action which has not these objects as their true and ultimate scope.

JOHN CALVIN: Learn that whenever we ask what pleases God, we should bring a pure and sincere heart, so that nothing may prevent or hinder us immediately to embrace whatever God may command us.

THOMAS BROOKS (1608-1680): He who obeys sincerely endeavours to obey thoroughly.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): We must be entirely willing in all things to please God, or we utterly displease Him. Herod did many things, and was not a button the better. Jehu’s golden calves made an end of him, though he made an end of Baal’s worship. He that doth some, and not “all God’s will,” with David, Acts 13:22, in desire and affection at least, does but as Benhadad, recover of one disease, and die of another: yea, if he take not a better course for himself, he does but take pains to go to hell. Then shall we not be ashamed, when we have respect, at least, to all God’s commandments, Psalm 119:6.

THOMAS MANTON: Partial obedience is an argument of insincerity―obedience is counterfeit when it is not uniform.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Not only does God require obedience, but an obedience which issues from―is animated by―and is, an expression of love.

JOHN CALVIN: No man will actually obey God but he who loves Him.

ADAM CLARKE: Without love it will be impossible to obey. Faith and love are essentially necessary to holiness and sobriety.

THOMAS MANTON: Now in this pleasing of God there must be an avoiding of whatever is grievous and displeasing to Him…Secondly, there must be a constant care of those things God likes of, not only a declining of evil, but a doing of good.

CHARLES SIMEON: A desire to please God cannot but be associated with a fear of His Divine majesty.

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): The more I love God, the more I shall fear Him, the more I shall dread to offend Him, the more I shall study to please Him, the more I shall ask, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?

ALEXANDER MacLAREN: But there has to be something more. There has to be a firm resolve―and effort, without which the firmest resolve will all come to nothing, and be one more paving stone for the road that is “paved with good intentions.”

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Enoch “walked with God,” Genesis 5:22―You see, the full life of faith is described here; you get the whole basis in faith, you get this devotional aspect, this experimental aspect in experience―experiential aspect I should call it―and then, thirdly, you get this practical outworking.

EDWARD PAYSON (1783-1827): It is the natural tendency of the fear of God to preserve those who feel its influence from apostacy and declension. It leads them like Enoch to walk with God; to keep near to Him, to wait upon Him in the diligent use of all the appointed means of grace, and to guard against the first symptoms of declension―such, my friends, are the principal effects of the fear of God; and if we would walk in His fear, we must feel and exhibit these effects, not only occasionally, but habitually, and like David have respect to all God’s commandments, and be in the fear of God all the day long.

THOMAS MANTON: Elsewhere in Scripture the phrases of pleasing God and walking with God are joined, as Colossians 1:10—“That you may walk worthy of the Lord unto all well-pleasing.” Walking notes the fixing and the holding of a settled course in our lives, that our intention and main scope must be to please God, so 1 Thessalonians 4:1—“We beseech you,” saith the apostle, “as ye have received of us how you ought to walk, and to please God, so you would abound more and more.

CHARLES SIMEON: There will, it is true, be still “a law in their members warring against the law in their minds,” Romans 6:22,23. But the deliberate purpose of their hearts must be to please God; God only, God universally, God always.


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