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10. Learning to Please God

The Master's Instructions about the Christian life. Romans 7:21-8:39.


In Romans 8:1 we have assurance of forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ. We also have assurance concerning the future because of His ability to keep hold of us (vv.38-39). However, in verse 8 we must take note of a solemn warning: ‘Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.’


The Christian is in the middle of a battle. His old life will always be wanting him to be his old sinful self. His new life in Christ will be wanting a change. Being a Christian is far from easy! A constant battle faces every Christian and I’m sure you are beginning to know it. You have to

make choices almost every moment of every day. Will you please God or

will you please your old self?


The Apostle Paul knew this battle as well. He writes about it in Romans

7:21-25. If you read carefully you will see three hints on how to please

God.


The battle is between flesh and faith

Paul knew what he should do, but had difficulty proving that he could do

it. It was a frequent battle between his brain and his body! It was a

continual choice between what he used to do when he pleased himself and

what he ought to do now that he lived to please God.


The Holy Spirit faces us with the truth but does not force us to obey

Romans 8:9 tells us that it is at this point of conflict that the Holy Spirit

helps us to choose to obey God. He does not beat us into submission, but

He entreats us to submit to God. He does not push us into God’s will, but

He pleads with us to walk that way. The Holy Spirit’s control of our lives

will please God, but verses 12-14 point out that we can choose to respond

to His control or we can reject it.


Food should be fed to your new life but forbidden to your old life

Most things will not live long unless they are fed. As a Christian you must

seek to starve your old life to death if you possibly can. Avoid worldly

places, pastimes and pleasures. Attend to Bible reading, good teaching,

prayer and personal disciplines. It will be a struggle, but it is a struggle

that the Holy Spirit will help you to win if you really mean to do so.


So, you learn to please God by listening to His voice in the Bible, by

learning what He requires of you in your own life and by looking to the

Holy Spirit to help you in making these changes yourself.


Jesus said that we should be able to show our love for Him by obeying His

teaching. The very fact that He took three-and-a-half years patiently

teaching His own disciples shows us that we are not expected to get it all

right straight away. He says that the Holy Spirit will remind us of what

He wants and then it is up to us to show our love for God by choosing to

please Him.


This learning will take the rest of your life, but the rest of your life

begins now!


Other scriptures to read: Galatians 5:16-26; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12.


Discussion guide on ‘Learning to Please God’

Read Romans 7:31-8:29.

1. Remember the steps of Christian growth (see chapter 4)?

Romans 7:21-25 describe Paul’s own battle to do what was right.

What does he mean when he says: “In my mind I am a slave to God’s

law”, verse25?


2. The Christian’s renewed mind battles against his or her old nature.

How do Christians “renew their minds” in this way? Romans 12:1-2.


3. From Romans 8 what does it mean:

to “live according to the Spirit” verse 4?

to be “controlled by the Spirit” verse 9?

to be “led by the Spirit” verse 14?

How does this work day by day?


4. List the ways you can please God from 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12.

(There are at least eight).


5. If someone were to say to you, “I cannot live up to this high

standard”, what would you say in reply? Use some Bible verses in

your answer.


6. In what practical ways can a Christian feed his or her new life – to

make it stronger – and starve his or her old life – to make it

weaker?


7. In John 15:14 Jesus tells his disciples, “You are my friends if you

do what I command”. How does keeping this text in our minds help

us to please God?

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