“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6
Maybe we’ve focussed on this verse before, Lord, but I can’t help wanting to focus on it again. Maybe we’ve even written on it together before. But I can’t help thinking that any time you take us back to something, You are taking us deeper, or maybe You are engraving it deeper in our hearts and minds. So, I’m anxious to see what You have for me today about faith.
We are taught at an early age to never say, “I can’t.” Look at Bob the Builder, “I can do it!” But the truth is, I can’t do everything. And I can’t do anything pleasing to You, Lord, without first surrendering to You. Without first acknowledging who You are, not just in the world as a God who exists, but as a God who is in control and intimately united in my life, there is no way I can.
What does it mean to please You, Lord? Does it mean what I think? The Greek word is “euaresteo” and it means “to gratify, to satisfy entirely.” It’s an action also and it’s something I do, or at least that I am supposed to do. I’m supposed to gratify You. That means I’m supposed to please You, to give You pleasure, to indulge You, all of You. I’m supposed to delight You, humor You, soothe You, satisfy You. Yep, I’m supposed to indulge You to satisfaction. I’m actually supposed to requite You. That means I’m supposed to “pay You back” with the good You’ve given me. I’m supposed to reward You in kind.
Now, let me think about this pleasing You a little more. I’m supposed to satisfy You entirely. That means I’m supposed to gratify Your wants, wishes and desires to the full extent. I’m supposed to supply You until no more is desired. I’m supposed to supply fully what Your law demands. I’m supposed to pay You until You are content, everything I owe, even if that means to appease You by my punishment. And I could go on. But I think I get the point.
Pleasing You is impossible to do without Your enabling me to do it. I mean what sacrifice could I give that would meet Your expectations of a perfect sacrifice, a pure and holy sacrifice? I’m not pure and holy, and nothing I do on my own is pure and holy in itself. I can’t do it. It’s impossible. And when I realize that this pleasing You, this gratifying You and satisfying You, is not something that I can do on my own and in my own power, that I need You, and I need You desperately, then it opens the door to my having faith.
Apart from believing, apart from trusting, apart from placing all my weight, all my being, in what You have done for me through Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection, it is impossible to please You. Romans 3:23 is true, “For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Well, this is depressing. Are You telling me that I can’t meet the mark? Well, naturally, on my own, I can’t, because I’m a sinner. I start out with this problem called “hamartano” or “hatah” in Hebrew. I miss the mark. I can’t do it, not on my own.
But that’s where the Good News comes in. That’s where faith comes in and rescues me. That’s where Jesus stepped in, where He came to earth, where He lived for me, where He died on the cross for my sin, for my problem called “hamartano” or “hatah.” This is where Jesus died and rose again three days later demonstrating that He had power over my problem and that If I’m in Him, I have His power over my problem, and it’s not my problem any more. Yes, I was a sinner, but faith in Christ, which is continual, not a one time deal, renamed me, remade me. I’m not a sinner any more; I’m a child of God. I’ve been clothed in Your righteousness. Now, I can do it! Now, it’s not impossible! Now, it’s more than possible. I am an overcomer!
What I believe about Your power over sin, and Your power over sin in my life, matters. It will make every difference in me. My faith matters. John was trying to tell me and every believer that when he said, “My little children, I am writing these things to you that you may not sin. And if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;” (1 John 2:1) See, I’m not a sinner any more. A sinner has to sin. I don’t have to. I can not sin. All I have to do is keep pleasing You and in You, I have the power to please You. You give me everything in word and deed and power that I need to please You, instead of sinning. But if I make a wrong choice, and sin, I still have You as my Advocate because I’m Yours and I’m not a sinner any more. My father is not the father of lies; my Father is the One Who is Powerful enough and more than Able to make me holy and Scripture tells me He has and is continually making me holy.
John wasn’t the only one who knew we could do it in You. I can go back to the Old Testament and find Moses encouraging the Israelites that they could please You too. He said that they could obey Your commandments. Here’s what he said, “For this commandment that I command You today IS NOT TOO HARD FOR YOU…” He also says (in Deuteronomy 30) that it’s not too far off either. It’s as near as in my mouth and in my heart, so I CAN do it. Because, if the Israelites or I turn to You, Lord, as our God with all our heart and with all our soul, and we place ourself in faith in You, then You make us able. Moses did it. John did it. Paul did it. Even though they still struggled with choosing it all the time, they did it, but not by their own power. They did it in and with You. And that’s the only way I can do it.
On my own, it is impossible. It’s “adunatos” and I have absolutely no power to do it. I’m impotent on my own. But impotence never stopped You, Lord. How many examples of impotent people just in Scripture alone have You given us that were raised to walk, or to life, or to new purpose? But I must not forget that the only way I get to reach my ultimate possibilities, is to believe that You exist. And that doesn’t just mean to believe that You are there. It means that I acknowledge You as the Ever Existent One, the One who Was and Is and Always Will Be. It means that I know You for who You are and that I place all my trust in You as You. I can’t draw near to You if I don’t even know You. But the more I draw near, the more truly I get to know You and see You and experience You.
So I must believe You, trust in You, place my being in You, for who You really are and not just acknowledge that You are there. The demons acknowledge that, but they don’t draw near to You. “Believing that God exists is the equivalent of acknowledging, honoring, and submitting to His sovereignty.” (Skip Moen) So, faith is just that. It’s acknowledging, honoring, and submitting to Your sovereignty in my life. That’s how I satisfy You. You make me able to satisfy You in Christ.
But I also believe that You are a “rewarder” of those who seek You diligently. And that’s not about You giving me things. Because it’s not about me seeking things. What is Paul saying I’m seeking here? I’m diligently, with all my life and effort and being, seeking YOU. What is my reward? Am I going to get good stuff? I wasn’t looking for stuff. I’m not looking for anything else but YOU. I want YOU. No other reward will satisfy! YOU ARE MY REWARD. It’s only YOU and always YOU. I’m drawing near to YOU. I’m seeking YOU. YOU are what I want and what I need. When I am satisfied in You, You will be satisfied in me. When You are what entirely satisfies me, then You will be entirely satisfied in me. And that’s what Paul and John and Moses are telling us and me. It can happen. This is the way. You are the Way, the Truth, and the Life. It is possible with God–WITH GOD!
“Just as the wages of sin is death, so the wages of intimacy with God is life.” (Skip Moen) Remember, that definition of “pleasing”? We owe God. But Paul says that the gift of God is eternal life—in Jesus. Jesus paid the price for me. He paid my wages. But Jesus is generosity Himself, just like His Father, God. And what I could not pay, He paid for me, and offers me the gift of intimacy in Him. But there is a debt I must pay. And that is what I do with what You have given me. I must act in like fashion as You have to me. What You have given me, I must now give to others. It’s my turn to reciprocate, because I intimately know You.
Lord, I am so grateful for how You actually demonstrated faith for me. You lived it out and died it out and rose it out for me to get it, not just intellectually, but intimately, really. Everything You ask of me, You give me the power to do, in You. What was too much for me, You sent Jesus to do for me. And in Your abundant generosity You lavish me with You, with intimacy in You. You give me Your power and Your strength to not only please You and turn away from sin, but to know You more and more every day, and to satisfy and delight You, the God of Angel Armies! That’s a tremendously comforting thought, because some days, I just can’t seem to be a delight to anyone even when I’m doing my best. Sometimes it’s harder to please people than it is to please You. Maybe that’s because Your grace is amazing! Well, all I know is that I want You and more of You every day. And I want to be all about satisfying You entirely. So, increase my faith and I will deliberately walk in Your ways no matter the cost. Because You are worth everything. Hmmm. I’m thinking that I might want to spend even more time in Hebrews looking at Your examples. What if Your adding to Hebrews 11 in Your heavenly version. One day, I’d like to see my name there. Imagine that. By faith, Sharon….But, all I know is, I want You to be able to say that by faith, I pleased You. Thanks for making me able.