WHO KNOWS WHAT PLEASES GOD BETTER THAN GOD HIMSELF
Each individual knows what pleases him or her better than anyone else. Things which may bring enjoyment to one person may not interest another at all. Since this is true of each human person, surely God knows what pleases Him better than anyone else. The Bible says, “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:11). We human beings cannot know what pleases God, but the Holy Spirit of God knows what pleases Him. The Holy Spirit gave us the Bible. One reason the Bible was given is so that we can know how to please God.
Men often have their own ideas as to what will please another, but are often wrong. You may buy a gift for another person thinking it will please him or her and find out the person did not care for your gift at all. The same thing is true with God: Often men think what they do pleases God when in fact God has never indicated in His Word that we are to do such things. Remember: “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12). Someone may say something like this: ‘I feel in my heart that I am pleasing God when I worship in this way, etc.,’ but God’s Word says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Who would dare trust the feelings of their own heart in the light of this verse?
There are two attitudes we can take regarding obedience to the Bible. We can say something like this: If the Bible does not specifically forbid a thing, we are free to do it. Or we can say that we are to be obedient to the Bible and go no farther than God tells us to do. Consider the following illustration. A young mother is busily preparing a meal for surprise dinner guests. She has several things cooking, but finds herself missing some ingredients needed to prepare her best desert. So she sends her 10 year old boy to the neighborhood store with the following instructions: ‘Go straight to the store and buy a bag of sugar and a package of cocoa.’ He is told that his mother needs these things in order to prepare for the special meal. Let us say that he buys sugar and cocoa and also a coke and candy bar and stops to play with friends in a park on the way home. He enjoys playing so much he remains in the park a long time. While he was not specifically forbidden to buy coke and candy nor was he forbidden to stop and play in the park, he was told to do very specific things. He did not please his mother by coming home too late for her to get the desert made. Had he done no more than his mother had told him to do, she would have been pleased. The principle is that obedience to a command means doing what is commanded and nothing else than what was commanded. So it is with the Bible. We are to do what God has instructed us to do. We are not to add our own ideas or seek to please ourselves in our worship and service to God. We are to seek to please Him
What are some innovations that men have brought into modern religion by which they think to please God? Our list can include, but is not limited to, “mourners benches” or “altars,” giving “invitations” for people to come down front and pray “the sinner’s prayer,” sprinkling babies or children and calling it “baptism,” “dedication” of babies, buildings, pews, stained glass windows, robes, etc., the celebration of pagan holidays like Lent, Easter and Christmas, etc. The list could be larger, but these are things that God never commanded to be done in His congregations. Neither do we find Christ or His apostles doing these things in their worship. They fall into the category of buying a coke and candy and stopping in the park to play with friends. Doing such things was never commanded in the Bible! They may seem good in the eyes of the people doing them, but consider Isaiah 58:8, 9: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” In the light of this last quotation, how dare we human beings think we are qualified to decide what will please God rather than simply doing what He told us to do?
Paul made this position clear in 1 Thessalonians 4:1, 2 where he wrote: “Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus.” Paul and his co-workers had personally taught the people in Christ’s congregation in Thessalonica how they were to walk and “to please God.” Here he exhorts them to abound more and more in obedience to what they had been taught. He states that they knew the commandments they had been given – commandments that came “by the Lord Jesus” though uttered by Paul and those with him. These commandments have been preserved for us in the Bible. Followers of the Lamb are not to obey the voice of another whether it be pastor, deacons, pope, cardinals, convention, or church or associational dictators. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). Either they do or they do not. Jesus said they do! Whose commandments do you follow? Do you follow the commandments of God in the Bible or is yours a home-made religion? Do you follow the Bible or do you go farther and follow men’s ideas in your worship?