I spent my whole life trying desperately to please God. It was my only goal, my every intention, and my greatest fear was that I would fail. And I did.
Romans 8:8 says, “those who are in the flesh cannot please God,” and I spent my whole life incapable of pleasing Him.
But it’s still my biggest fear, that I’ll somehow fail. Romans is contrasting those who are in the flesh with those who are in the Spirit. The Spirit brings life, the flesh brings death. The Spirit submits to God’s law, the flesh is not even able to do so, and according to verse 9, I am “not in the flesh but in the Spirit.” So would it also be fair to say, “those who are in the Spirit cannot displease God”?
Sounds preposterous, I know, but consider this: what does God look at when deciding what pleases Him? Before Christ, He looked at my record, my past accomplishments and sins and failures and successes, all of which amounted to filthy rags and worse. But when Jesus died for me, He left me with His record. So what does God look at now?
If God looks only at Jesus to decide if He’s pleased, then I’m golden. God already looked at His Son at His baptism and said He was well pleased with what He saw (Matthew 3:17). No less when He looks at me. So what do I have to fear? What do I have to try desperately to do? The fear has been taken away, nailed to the cross with my old record (see Colossians 2:14, 1 John 4:18), and the goal has been reached, completed by Christ who is perfect. If God looks at me and sees nothing but His Son, then by His grace He is well pleased, and I am safe.