Do you annoy God? Do I annoy God? We have kids that we love, but they often annoy us too. So, do we annoy God? And do we annoy him to the point that he regrets ever having made us from the beginning? Or does he have a low-grade regret that we exist?
A podcast listener named Chad just read Genesis 6:6 and writes in with the question: “Hello, Pastor John! In Genesis 6:6, the Bible says, ‘And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.’ I know that you’ve already done a podcast similar to this in APJ 1053 (“I Know God Loves Me, but Does He Like Me?”). But there you didn’t answer the big question that plagues my own life: Does God regret making me? The devil often hits me hard with this. And I know that we’re all sinful and deserve eternal death. But is God, deep down, actually remorseful and resentful of his children? Does he still wish that he had never made me? I understand that we get to heaven not by works but through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. But still, I want to please God. I want to make God proud, and I hope that he doesn’t regret me, even if he’s saved me.” What would you say to Chad?
There are two things that I want you, Chad, to meditate on when we are finished with this Ask Pastor John. I’m going to come at this a little differently, perhaps, than you had thought. And maybe you’ll first think, “He didn’t address the question quite directly.” No, I didn’t, because I think there’s a deeper issue. You can come back later if you want, and we can try to work on it more specifically, but I’ve got a burden — a real strong sense — that if you’ll take these two things that I’m going to try to unpack, and meditate on them, it might change everything.
A People for His Pleasure
The first thing I’d love you to take away and meditate about is the unspeakably great truth that God predestined and created a people to be his children (this includes you) in order that he might enjoy the beauty of their enjoyment of him forever and ever. I’ll come back and unpack that. Secondly — this one may be perhaps the most challenging — I want you to meditate long and deep on the fact that God does not stand by watching to see if you will disappoint him or annoy him, but is omnipotently at work to make you, and the rest of the church, worthy of his enjoyment by beautifying you in holiness.
“God does not stand by, watching to see if you will disappoint him or annoy him.”
Now, I stress both of these because both of them seem to be missing from your assumptions. It seems to me that you do not have a very good hold on God’s purpose for why he created you and predestined you to be his child. And you don’t seem to have a very good hold on the way sanctification works — that is, the way God is beautifying his people for his enjoyment — namely, by God’s sovereign work within us, not just his passively watching us become annoying or pleasing.
Your whole vision of God and life seems to be — now I could be wrong, Chad; if I’m wrong, sorry. This is what it seems is mistaken in your perception of things: that you are independent and autonomous, and that God is passive while he watches you make whatever you’re going to make of yourself, so that he can then be either annoyed, or frustrated, or regretful, or disappointed, or pleased, and it’s all up to you which way it goes. That whole picture, Chad, is a distortion of reality; it’s not what the Bible teaches about God’s people and his relation to them.
So here we go. This is really, really good news, and I hope that you will spend a lot of time recalibrating, if necessary, your mind around these two truths.
God Sings and Rejoices over You
Back to number one: the unspeakably great truth that God predestined and created a people to be his children in order that he might enjoy the beauty of their enjoyment of him in holiness forever and ever.
Predestined to Praise
Let’s start with Ephesians 1:5–6, “He predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace.” God desires and intends to have a family for himself — children who would live for the praise of the glory of his grace.
Now, let that sink in: you and I, as believers in Christ, were predestined by God to be God’s loved children for the ultimate purpose of enjoying — because I assume that praising is a joyful act — his grace, the glory of his grace. So, what does he ultimately want children for? He wants them to receive his grace, and enjoy it in praise to it, in a way that shows how great he and his grace are. We get the joy of the receiving; he gets the glory of the giving.
Which leads then to Ephesians 2:5, 7: “When we were dead in our trespasses, [God] made us alive together with Christ . . . [and this is why he predestined us, why he created us, why he made us alive] so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” He predestined us, created us, made us spiritually alive — that’s what we call the new birth, conversion, new creation, coming to faith — so that he might spend an eternity of ages pouring grace in kindness over us, with the result that we enjoy praising his grace, and he enjoys our enjoyment of him.
“We get the joy of the receiving; God gets the glory of the giving.”
Here’s the way God puts it in Jeremiah 32:40–41: “I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me.” He doesn’t turn from us; he doesn’t let us turn from him. “I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul.”
Exulted over with Joy
God intends to have a people to love, to enjoy, to rejoice over. He will see to it that they are never able to turn from him. He will see to it that he never turns from them. He will always do them good, and he will do it with all his heart and with all his soul, which according to Zephaniah 3:17 means that God will actually sing over us.
The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you [Chad] with loud singing.
Chad, my first point for you to meditate on is this: God’s ultimate purpose in choosing you, predestining you, making you alive, giving you faith, adopting you, keeping you infallibly for himself, is that as his loved son, he might enjoy the beauty of your enjoyment of him forever and ever. You need to think on that; that’s why he made you.
God Purifies and Beautifies You
Now, here’s the second point to meditate on, which follows from and completes the first. God does not stand by, watching to see if you will disappoint him or annoy him, but is omnipotently at work to make you, and the rest of the church, worthy of his enjoyment, by beautifying you in holiness.
Sanctified for His Sake
Here’s another glorious way that the new-covenant promise was expressed. This is where I get this point (along with many other texts). Ezekiel 36:26–28:
I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. . . . You shall be my people, and I will be your God.
Oh, glory! God is not passively watching to see if you mess up so that he can respond with approval or annoyance or disappointment or regret. What does he say? “I’ll put my Spirit within you and cause you, Chad — I’m going to cause you — to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.”
“God will keep us until there is a splendid, beautiful family whose greatest joy is God himself.”
In Hebrews 13:20–21 the writer says, “Now may the God of peace . . . equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” Indeed, glory to him forever and ever because he works in us what is pleasing in his sight. He doesn’t just watch, wait, and see if we’re going to mess up and annoy him or disappoint him; he works in us to do his will.
Paul says in Ephesians 2:10 that we are his workmanship, not ours: “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” His — not ours. What is God doing with you, Chad, and with the church? What’s he doing? Answer: he is beautifying us for his enjoyment.
Saved to Sin No More
Listen to Ephesians 5:25–27. This is staggeringly amazing:
Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her . . . so that he might present the church to himself in splendor [that is, beauty], without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
That’s why Jesus died: to make us enjoyable in holiness, as we enjoy God above all things. God intends to have a family, a bride, for his Son, and a family for himself, whom he himself will make beautiful for his own enjoyment of our enjoyment of him in holiness. To this end, he chose us. He predestined us. He created us. He called us. He made us alive. He gave us faith. He adopted us. He is at work in us. He will keep us until there is a splendid, beautiful family whose greatest joy is God himself, so that God can rejoice in our holy joy in him.
Chad, meditate on these two unspeakably great acts of God on your behalf. If you see this, and embrace this, and rejoice in this, I think everything will change.