Pleasing God, REAL Transformation, and Steps of Faith
By Stephen L France
There are so many occasions when I’ve heard church leaders and Christian speakers present the perception that, “we cannot please God.”
Yet, there are multiple verses where we clearly see that God can be pleased with us.
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. – Romans 12:1
for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. – Ephesians 5:8-10
Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord. – Colossians 3:20
And of course, the renowned verse:
and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased." – Matthew 3:17
When we put on Christ, we assume everything that Christ is, including this verse.
What I believe these preachers and speakers mean when saying “we cannot please God,” is that we’re unable to earn God’s love; that our life with Christ isn’t a question of performance.
The aspect of our life that pleases God is a transformed heart that parallels His own.
This is NOT God’s domination, coercion, or manipulation of us, but about our wilful surrender to Him, fully conscious that our Lord knows what’s best for us even if we don’t agree with the decisions He places before us.
Since He is our creator and sovereign, He knows the perfect path for each of us, and He’s also aware that when we possess a heart like His, we will be brought to a place of joy, peace, and righteousness.
Therefore, the only way we can please God is through transformation of our hearts;
1. a renewed mind that works by faith not attempts to control life,
2. Spirit-filled vision not what is right before us in the flesh,
3. and works of selfless intention as opposed to selfish desire and self-protection.
In this journey, our true identity and purpose are founded in a transformed heart that cheerfully seeks to do what God wants.
But how do we engage this transformation?
Taking Steps of Faith
When I read the Word fully for the first time and engaged in prayer three years ago, I relished the spirit-filled connection that profoundly told me I had reviewed the complete truth.
Simultaneously, I realised that the character Jesus seeks for us to become is impossible. Looking to a future ‘self’ that adhered to Jesus’ teaching provoked anxiety because the traits God sought in me appeared incredulous to reach.
I was left with a very stark choice. Do I trust the Lord God as described in the Word and who I’ve felt in Spirit to take the steps of faith He asks? Or do I continue my life as the world dictates, trying to live by my own controlled methods?
God makes it very clear that His journey for us must be taken one day at a time—no looking to the future and no assessing things by ‘past’ experiences. It’s one step of faith at a time. [Matt. 6.34]
As we a take these steps, although some can seem unrelated to what God wants us to be like, He does a work in us without us even knowing or having to understand.
To give one major example from my own life, a massive life-changer for me was joining a Purity Group back in June 2016.
Now a ‘purity walk’ is actually an extravagant name for ‘walking with God.’ It’s not some special, unique part of our walk with Christ; it’s walking with Christ in its entirety.
The reason it’s called a purity walk is because it distinguishes those who have taken on the challenge of conquering sexual immorality in all its forms.
We’re not just talking about celibacy before marriage, or no adultery during marriage. We are talking about all sexual immorality including the most prevalent form within the church that goes undetected; use of pornography, masturbation, and the overwhelming general concept of fantasy/lusting after women.
It’s the subject that the vast majority of the church are uncomfortable with discussing, which gives it incredible strength over Christ’s bride (us the church). The secrecy, shame, guilt, and isolation produced by sexual immorality erodes the seams of us believers and our relationships with others, subtly destroying the foundation of our Kingdom by creating holes in our spiritual life that the enemy can use.
When taking a step of faith like a purity walk, God forges work in our hearts that one could never anticipate. He does the impossible and all the doubts we had about the possibility of being Christ-like don’t seem so unbelievable anymore. The transformation is engaged and we begin to see with a Godly perspective.
Change of Desires (REAL TRANSFORMATION)
Real life transformation (Romans 12:1 – 2) begins with us learning to love and desire what God wants. It starts with our heart’s intention matching the Lord’s, which is pleasing to Him. When we begin to seek after that change in ourselves with the aforementioned step-by-step faith motions, we witness real change in our souls, making us better disciples.
One of my favourite moments in our Kingdom history is when Abraham ‘negotiated’ with God about the salvation of the people of Sodom.
What I love most about this moment, is that God wanted to see His heart exhibited in a human being, demonstrating the same love that He has for us.
God’s overall wish is for all to come to repentance [2 Peter 3:9] and when He sees that same desire in one of His children, He is very pleased.
God wants to see a man after His own heart.
31 Abraham said, “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?”
He said, “For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it.”
32 Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?”
He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”
When I took on the purity walk with our Lord’s grace as my strength, my perceptions were changed in ways I could not have planned or crafted. My sight was made clearer on the nature of the Kingdom and a more powerful desire toward seeking out the lost and wounded grew inside me.
This transformation was not my planning. My goal was to rid myself of pornography, but our Lord took my step of faith and turned it into much more.
Training and Edification
In August 2017, I recommitted my life to Christ. I saw clearly that the only thing of importance in this world is being dedicated to Kingdom Works. All else is vanity.
14 I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind. – Ecclesiastes 1
In realising this, I said to God—with some mild trepidation at the severity and sincerity of my words—that “I wanted my entire life to be devoted to Him.” I added “that I would follow Him wherever He needed me.”
Out of hurricane (literally), God directed me where to go, responding to my declaration only a few days later.
He decided that I had to be extracted completely out of my comfort zone if I was going to serve Him in such fullness.
Now, I find myself on a YWAM DTS in Oregon, US feeling a mixture of the surreal and familiar—a bizarre sense of déjà vu.
I have a few ideas of how God can use this time, but no real knowledge of what will actually happen. Anything can happen and so I’m in a true moment of trust and faith…I look forward to the next steps in this walk.