“And he that sent me is with me: the Father has not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him” (John 8:29).
Here is the one true sacrifice of the broken man; to always do the things that please Him. This cannot happen because of my efforts; it must be the work of the Holy Spirit. It cannot be the work of the old man; strive as he might, he cannot please the Father, for the old man must die and be replaced by the new man; the “one being created according to God in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Ephesians 4:24).
The old man is Adam; and Adam did not do the one thing that was pleasing to the Father at all; instead he pleased himself. The old man will always do that which pleases himself; that is the human condition, the Adamic nature with which we are contaminated at birth.
This old man may become born again; he may have a fervent desire to serve Christ; he may become a missionary; he may preach great sermons; He may say, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have cast out devils and in thy name done many wonderful works?” (Matthew 7:22). Yet will the Lord say to him, “I never knew you. Depart from Me you who bring about lawlessness” (Matthew 7:23).
For it is the old man doing these things; they are works of the fleshly nature and, as such, are repulsive to God.
The only things that can please the Father are those that are done in the Son, through His Spirit. Jesus glorified the Father by doing the things that pleased Him; we glorify the Son by doing the things that please the Father. These things, though, we do not do; rather they are done by us without any consciousness or intention on our part; they can only be done as we fix in our hearts, our minds and our souls the one object; to please the Father. All else follows automatically; we become empty vessels for the Spirit to occupy and direct as He desires.
Generally, we Christians spend our lives pleasing ourselves essentially; we read the Word and strive to carry out what we find there; we have our “quiet times” that are allocated to God, making room for Him in our lives, rather than giving our lives up altogether; we accommodate Him, fitting Him in to our busy lives, instead of giving up everything else but the one thing He wants; to please Him.
But this is to cling to our life rather than letting it go and it must always lead to frustration and disappointment, for the old man cannot please God; he cannot do the things that God desires. God has no truck with the old man except to “redeem him from the authority of darkness and transfer him into the kingdom of His Beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13).
When we do the things that are pleasing to Him, all our prayers are answered (1 John 3:22).
The only worthwhile fruit is that which comes from a walk pleasing to Him (Colossians 1:10).
We are entrusted with the gospel to be pleasing to God (1 Thessalonians 2:4).
Doing the things that are pleasing to God is the path to true peace; we no longer have to strive to “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ”; “loving one another” or “walking in a manner worthy of the calling with which we have been called” requires no effort on our part; following all the commandments of Christ falls into place automatically; for they are the fruit of the one thing that we alone must do; that which is pleasing to Him.
When this thought becomes in the forefront of our hearts, minds and souls, we have finally taken up our cross to follow Him, and we find indeed, that His yoke is easy and His burden light.