Q: “How can I be the woman God created me to be and live a life that pleases him? I am a new Christian, and the more I seek the Lord, the more I realize my inadequacy to please Him because I have a sinful heart.”
A: I can appreciate the tension you clearly express. Most Christians have asked a similar question. God transforms our hearts! The scales fall from our eyes. The words of the Bible come to life. Jesus is our Treasure. Desires change. We love God. We eagerly pray and worship the only One worthy of praise. We want to live for Him, but the closer we grow to Jesus the more sin we see in our life. Will we ever please God?
Perhaps these truths will help you as they have me:
1. God is pleased with us in Christ.
Wrap your mind around this great truth—God sees you in Christ. As His child, He is pleased with you in Christ. Like a new coat covers a stained garment, Jesus’ righteousness covers our sin-stained hearts. We have Christ’s unchangeable righteousness the same on your worst day as on your best. Meditate on Scriptures that assure you of God’s pleasure like Ephesians 1:3–6 and Romans 8:1, 29–30. Yes, we really need to live a godly life. But the goal is as good as done. God really is going to make you like Jesus.
2. Conviction of sin assures us God is at work.
God’s work of making us more like Jesus Christ is gradual and lifelong (1 Thess. 5:23–24). A home may look clean until sunshine streams in, revealing dirt and dust. When the Holy Spirit’s light shines in to show us our sin, God tells us not to be discouraged. The Holy Spirit’s conviction of sin reveals our Father’s love and goodness (Eph. 4:22–24; Heb. 12:5–10). Agree with God that a specific thought, word, or action is wrong. Know that these sins no longer imprison you, for “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). As the Holy Spirit leads you to turn from sin to God, He will fill you with joy and renew your sense of God’s pleasure in you (Heb. 4:14–16; Zeph. 3:14–17).
3. On our own, we cannot please God.
When God saves us, His Spirit comes to live in our hearts forever. He gives every believer new desires to please God and a new ability to obey Him (Ezek. 36:26–27). We long to become more like His Son Jesus (Rom. 8:29). We will fail if we simply try harder or rely on willpower. Here’s good news: the Holy Spirit helps us love God and love what He loves. In this life, God’s children will never be completely sin-free. But the Holy Spirit helps us put on new attitudes and actions and live for God’s pleasure (Heb. 11:6).
4. Depending on God pleases Him.
God gives us opportunities to depend on Him every day. We depend on our Father to help us live as His dearly loved children (Col. 3:12–17). We depend on God to use His Word to transform our thoughts and our desires (Rom. 12:1–2). We depend on God as we ask Him to supply our physical and spiritual needs (Matt. 6:11–13). We depend on God for strength to say “no” to sin (1 Cor. 10:13; Col. 3:5). We depend on God to teach us and lead us in His ways (Ps. 25). We depend on God to help us learn that going our own way hurts us and others (James 1:14–15). Developing habits of Bible study, prayer and worship is also God’s work in us as we depend on Him (Phil. 3:12–14).
5. Talk to God about your desire to please Him.
This sample prayer will get you started:
Loving Father, You have loved me and given me what I never could have earned. You have sought me and made me new in Christ. Help me remember that I am forever Your child, pleasing to You because of Jesus. Because Jesus’ righteousness covers my sin-stained heart, there is no condemnation for me (Rom. 8). I want to know the true joy of living to please You—in love and obedience. Thank you, Jesus for freeing me from sin’s grip. Let me remember to call out for Your help when I am tempted. Give me strength to live as Christ, who calls me to godliness (Col. 3). To Him be the glory forever!
One last word . . .
Keep going! We can’t live and grow without God’s Word! If you haven’t already, find a church. Start reading and studying the Bible regularly. Ask your pastor about a Bible study. Follow a Bible reading plan, such as Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s. Or consider joining a group such as Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) or Community Bible Study (CBS).