Pleasing God is, or should be, the goal of all believers—all who call upon the name of Christ for salvation. The requirements for all who want to please God are that they must seek God by faith, walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh, and walk worthy of our calling in obedience and submission to the will of God. These things may seem impossible to do, but God wants us to please Him, and He makes it possible for us to please Him. We do these things by the power of His Spirit who lives in our hearts.
Paul reminds the believers in Rome that “they who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:8). So the first step in pleasing God is to accept the sacrifice for sin that He provided in the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. Only then are we “in the Spirit” and not “in the flesh.” We do this by faith because “without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).
In Romans 8, Paul explains the difference between the sinful nature and the nature of those regenerated by the Spirit. Those who are still in their sin have their minds set on sinful desires, whereas the ones regenerated by Christ have a completely new mind that is controlled by the Spirit and desire to live in accordance with Him. “The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so” (Romans 8:6-7). So the first step for believers in pleasing God is to be sure we are walking in the Spirit, not in the flesh.
Furthermore, we must live by faith (Hebrews 10:38). God cannot be pleased with those who “shrink back” from Him because they have no confidence in Him or they doubt the truth of His declarations and promises, or who do not believe that His ways are right and holy and perfect. The requirement of faith and confidence in God is not unreasonable; it is just what we require of our children and spouses, and it is an indispensable condition of our being pleased with them. So it is with God.
Therefore, pleasing God is a matter of living according to His precepts, commandments, and doing so in love. We always want to please those we love, and the New Testament is full of exhortations to righteous living and loving Christ by obeying His commandments. Jesus made this very plain: “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15). The Epistles are God’s plan for believers and are filled with exhortations to display throughout our lives the behavior that is pleasing to God: “For the rest, then, my brothers, we beseech you and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that, as you have received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, so you would abound more and more” (1Thessalonians 4:1).