The following is an adaptation of the sermon ‘God Is Pleased With You’ preached by Pastor Michael White on Sunday, 12/2/2018, at CityLight Church. To listen to the full podcast please click the play arrow above.
God Is Pleased With You
In order to share the Gospel effectively, we must have the proper motivation. Being an effective witness does not make God love you any more; He already loves you more than you could ever imagine, whether you share the Gospel with one person,or with 1,000,001 people! Becoming an evangelism machine doesn’t give you some kind of inside access to God; you already have access to boldly approach God’s throne whenever you want (Heb 4:16)!
So before we dive into evangelism, I want to establish something: God is well pleased with you. Whether you do everything right or everything wrong for the rest of your life; as long as you believe in Jesus, God is well pleased.
I know, I know! That sounds absolutely blasphemous. You’re telling me that even if I mess up, again and again, God will still love me and is pleased with me?
Here’s what you have to understand: if you do all the right things, but don’t understand that God loves you, it will all be for nothing (see 1 Cor 13). If you try to impress God without understanding that He is already pleased, anything you try and do to impress Him is nothing more than a “filth yrag” (Is 64:6).
If, however, you understand that He loves you first, before you go out and do good things, there will be fruit attached to the active expression of your love forGod. You won’t have to try to makeGod love you any more; the Holy Spirit will simply work through you because you already understand He does.
You Are My Beloved Son
God loved Jesus before He did anything deserving of love. How do I know this? In Matthew 3, we read about Jesus’ baptism:
ThenJesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?” But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him. WhenHe had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This isMy beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” – Matt 3:13-17
Jesus didn’t have to get baptized; but He chose to. John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance; he was encouraging men and women everywhere to, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt 3:2)! Jesus didn’t have any sin to repent of; but out of obedience, He got baptized anyway.
As Jesus came up out of the water, the Holy Spirit descended“like a dove” and alighted upon Him. And then, His Father spoke: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (v 17).
Now, here is my question for you: why was God pleased? Was it because of something Jesus had done? I don’t think so! Up until that point in Jesus’ life, He hadn’t done anything. Zero miracles. No signs!No wonders. He hadn’t preached the Gospel. He hadn’t raised anyone from the dead! Yet here is God, His Father, making a declaration over Jesus for all the world to hear: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
What this tells me is that God loves Jesus: not because of what Jesus did, but because of who He was. God loves you, apart from your performance! Up until that point in His life, Jesus had done nothing supernatural. Yet God still wanted the world to know: This is My beloved Son, and I love Him!
In the same way, God loves you. He loves you: not because of what you’ve done (or haven’t done!); but because of who you are. You are a son! You are a daughter! You are a child ofGod, and He made you to love you.
But I’m Not Jesus!
You might be thinking to yourself, Well of course God loved Jesus! He was perfect! But me…not so much. But here is who Scripture says you are:
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. – Gal 3:26
You are a son of God. You are a daughter of God! Not because of your works, but because of your faith.
God is pleased with you: no matter who you are, where you’re from, or what you’ve done. He’s not pleased with you because of the works attached to your life, or because of your spotless testimony! He’s pleased with you because, just like Jesus, you are His.
For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. – Gal 3:27-29
You were “baptized into Christ” (v 27) when you gave your life to Jesus. God no longer draws a line in the sand between you and the rest of His children based on your genetic makeup or your life experience. “If you are Christ’s…” (v 29), then you are an heir to the promise of God. You are His child. He loves you infinitely! And you will be with Him – face to face – for the rest of time.
You Are the Righteousness of Christ
When Jesus died on the Cross, a great exchange took place:
ForHe made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. – 2 Cor 5:21
Jesus didn’t just die with your sin, He died as your sin.God made Jesus – who knew no sin – to become sin. He did it for you! Why? That you might become the righteousness ofGod in Christ.
Two thousand years ago, Jesus died as our sin on the Cross.He took on your sin, and gave you His righteousness. When you made a decision to believe in Jesus, you activated that divine exchange in your life. You are no longer sin! You are now righteousness: spotless and blameless before God. Nothing can ever separate you from His love again!
I love that 2 Cor 5:21 says we have “become” the righteousness of God in Christ. Scripture doesn’t just say that we “have” the righteousness of God. If we just had His righteousness, we could lose it. We could leave the house without it and have abad day! If we just had it, someone could take it.
But if we are the righteousness of God in Christ, it’s no longer something we simply have as a personality trait or a possession; it is now an inseparable part of our identity! Do you realize what that means? On your best day – you do everything right, read your Bible, spend time in prayer, pray for your co-workers, and tell people about Jesus –you are the righteousness of Christ. But do you know what else? On your worst day – you wake up too late to pray, skip your Bible reading, cuss at your neighbor, tell off one of your friends,and forget to even think about Jesus– you still are the righteousness ofChrist.
That’s right! On your best day, you are the righteousness of Christ! But even on your worst day, you are still the righteousness of Christ!
Do you know what God sees when He looks at you? Jesus.
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is our life appears,then you also will appear with Him in glory. – Col 3:1-4
Your life is “hidden with Christ in God” (v 3). When God looks at you, He doesn’t see your sin; He sees His Son! That means you get to “boldly approach” God (Heb 4:16), and never have to fear He will reject you. You always get to know He will love you – without fail, and more than you could ever imagine.
Working Towards Evangelism
Remember, we are working towards being supernatural evangelists:bold messengers of our faith in everyday life. But before we even talk about sharing the Gospel, you have to know how much God loves you! If you try to show the world His love without first receiving it, you will be justas lost as the people you are trying to reach! But if you simply take time to receive His love – before you do anything else – your entire life and eternal future will change for the better.
What Makes You Righteous?
Your righteousness does not depend on what you do. It depends on who you are.
You were saved, not because of what you did; but because of He in whom you believed:
Forby grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. – Eph 2:8-9
You might read that and say, Aha! See?! I am saved because I believed! I did something to make it happen! But who do you think changed your heart and made you ready to believe?Whose Holy Spirit gave you the strength to give your life to Jesus? You are saved by the grace of God, through faith in Jesus Christ. It has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with Him!
Yes, God has a job for you. We – the church – have work todo! But a relationship with God has to come first. If you do the works to try and gain God’s favor, they will all be worthless (Isaiah 64:6); but if you do the works from a place of knowing you already have God’s love, there will be eternal significance attached to everything you do.
Some Common Questions in Response to Grace
Does This Mean My Works Don’t Matter?
Does the fact that God is already pleased with me mean I shouldn’t do good things? Absolutely not. Scripture says we will be rewarded for our works:
Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.– 2 Cor 5:9-11
“And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. – Rev 22:12
We will be rewarded for our works. God already loves us infinitely; but what you will step into inHeaven, depends on what you allow God to do through you here on earth.
Isn’t This An Excuse to Sin?
Does the fact that God is already pleased with me mean I can do whatever I want, since I already know God will forgive me? After all, what incentive do I have to do the “right thing,” if I know God will forgive me,even if I do the “wrong thing?” Paul addresses this issue explicitly in Romans 6:
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? – Rom 6:1-2
You are dead to sin. Jesus died as your sin on the Cross; and you died in Him! That means you no longer have to struggle with the same lust and desire with which you struggled before you gave your life to Him. Grace – knowing God already loves you – is not an excuse to sin; it is an empowerment against sin.
How Do I Do the Right Thing?
If you’re in a place where you’re struggling to do what God asks you to do, here is what you need to know: God already loves you. He forgives you. And you need to remind yourself that God forgives you until you start to see the fruit of His forgiveness in your life.
Here is how the Apostle Peter explains it:
But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. – 2 Pet 1:5-9
We should all see spiritual fruit in our lives (vv 5-7). If, however, we’re missing the fruit,the answer is not to try harder; it is to remind ourselves that we are forgiven: that God loves us already, even before we get our stuff together.Scripture says that anyone whose life doesn’t bear fruit is not wicked, but rather “shortsighted” (v 9).You don’t have a character deficiency; you just need to be reminded of your identity! When our life doesn’t bear fruit, it simply means we have forgotten that we have already been cleansed from our old sins. And what is the solution, other than reminding ourselves that we have already been forgiven!
So, when you mess up: don’t beat yourself up! Don’t resolve to try harder. Simply remind yourself that you have been forgiven, and let the Holy Spirit do His work through you, like never before.
©Michael D. White, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Michael D. White with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.