Summary: 36th in a series from Ephesians addressing what pleases God.
I. Our Wealth and Worth In Christ 1-3
II. Our Worthy Walk in Christ 4-6
A. Live in Unity 4:1-16
B. Live in Newness of life 4:17-24
C. Live in Love 4:17-24
1. Speak truth not falsehood 4:25
2. Be angry without sinning 4:26-27
3. Stop stealing but work with your hands to give 4:28
4. Speak with your mouth to encourage and energize 4:29
5. Stop grieving the Holy Spirit 4:30
Last week we focused on living so as not to grieve the Holy Spirit. Paul did not include a two-sided instruction in this verse. Perhaps the flip side of grieving the Holy Spirit comes later when he tells us to “be continually filled with the Holy Spirit.”
What is pleasure and what does it feel like?
Pleasure is one of those things we think we know it is until we are forced to try to explain it.
Most would describe it as an emotion but it is inseparably linked to both our mental capacity and our physical capacity. Those who have studied pleasure for a good many years now I can't even agree. Experiments were done by just electrically stimulating certain portions of the brain thought to be the source of pleasure. Some felt that the chemical dopamine was responsible for pleasure feelings. Yet experiments with rats demonstrated that they felt certain pleasure in spite of chemically blocked dopamine production. Why do certain things cause a pleasurable feeling in some but not others? Why do some go into a rapturous state of euphoria with a good cup of coffee or espresso while others, like me, have no interest whatsoever and are in fact repulsed by it? Some pleasure seems physically based such as a good back massage, certain smells, sexual intimacy, a good workout or savoring our favorite meal. Other pleasures come from such things as listening to good music, art, good news, personal achievement or social interaction. I guess most would describe good feelings as pleasure and bad feelings as pain.
What does pleasure feel like?
The feelings on your wedding day
The warm surge of feelings at the birth of your children or grandchildren
Watching a beautiful sunset
A warm embrace by someone you love
A sense of accomplishment
The realization of forgiveness by God
The anticipation of eternity in a pain-free world
We use words like enjoy, like, relish, delight, adore. You get the idea.
Pleasure is whatever makes us feel good. Ever since Adam sinned and his sinful nature was passed on to everyone since, our capacity to experience pleasure has been distorted.
The masochist finds pleasure in pain. The rapist finds pleasure in dominating women.
People experience pleasure outside the boundaries of God's design for marriage. People seek pleasure in chemicals and activities.
But to the wicked God says, "What right have you to tell of My statutes and to take My covenant in your mouth? For you hate discipline, and you cast My words behind you. When you see a thief, you are pleased with him, and you associate with adulterers. You let your mouth loose in evil and your tongue frames deceit. You sit and speak against your brother; you slander your own mother's son. These things you have done and I kept silence; you thought that I was just like you; I will reprove you and state the case in order before your eyes. Psalms 50:16-21
Isaiah spoke of those whose soul delighted in their abominations. (Isa 66:3-5)
It was Paul’s ultimate objective to focus his attention on bringing God pleasure through all aspects of his life. The ability to feel good is intricately connected to being made in the image of God. What gives God pleasure? What puts a smile on God's face? What causes pleasurable emotions to affect God’s heart?
The Gospels record a whole range of emotions in Jesus from pleasure to pain, from joy to sorrow, from delight to distress and everything in between. Paul told us to stop grieving the Holy Spirit which goes for not grieving the Father or the Son. How do we do the flip side?
Later in this letter Paul talks about "trying to learn what's pleasing to the Lord".
What pleases God?
One thing is sure; God takes not pleasure in wickedness.
For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness; no evil dwells with You. Psalms 5:4
The pleasure that God feels in connection with His relationship with us is not unlike the pleasure parents derive from their interaction with their children.
It starts with their birth. They are just part of us. They haven’t even done anything. They are connected. There is a natural parent child love bond. We derive joy out of the littlest things at that age; drooling, eating, sleeping, sucking on their toes, smiling and giggling.