Is it good news that God delights in obedience? I think it is good news. And there are at least six reasons why I do.
1. It Means God Is Praiseworthy and Reliable
God’s delight in obedience is good news because it means he is praiseworthy and reliable. If he did not delight in obedience, he would be a living contradiction: loving his glory above all things and yet not pleased by the acts that make his glory known. He would be two-faced and double-tongued. His beauty would vanish and with it all our delight! And he would be unreliable because you can’t trust a God whose values are so fickle that he exalts himself one minute and approves of insults the next.
2. It Guarantees the Spread of God’s Glory
God’s delight in obedience is good news because it guarantees the promise that someday the glory of God will indeed fill the earth the way the waters cover the sea. If God were indifferent to disobedience, there would be no certainty that the age to come would be rid of all God-dishonoring behavior. But because he hates disobedience and loves obedience, we can be sure that our longing for a world full of God’s glory will surely come to pass.
3. It Shows That God’s Grace Is a Glorious Power
God’s delight in obedience is good news because it shows that God’s grace is a glorious power and not just a flimsy tolerance of sin. The glory of God’s grace is seen not just in the fact that God overlooks the sins of believers but also in the fact that it gradually and finally and victoriously eradicates those sins. If God did not delight in obedience, the glory of sovereign grace might never be seen in its sin-conquering power.
4. God’s Commandments Are Not Too Hard
God’s delight in obedience is good news because his commandments are not too hard. They are only as hard to obey as his glory is hard to cherish and his promises are hard to believe. Deuteronomy 30:11 says, “This commandment which I command you this day is not too hard for you.” And 1 John 5:3 says, “This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.”
5. Everything God Commands Us Is for Our Good
God’s delight in obedience is good news because everything God commands us is for our good. And so what God is really delighting in when he delights in our obedience is our deep and lasting joy. Deuteronomy 10:12–13 says,
And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord which I command you this day for your good.
6. The Obedience God Loves Is the Obedience of Faith
And finally, God’s delight in obedience is good news because the obedience he loves is the obedience of faith. And faith means banking our hope on the mercy of God. And mercy means that our obedience does not have to be perfect; it only has to be penitent. “If you confess your sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive your sins and cleanse you from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
God is still a mountain spring and not a watering trough. Obedience is not a bucket brigade to fill his need. Obedience is the irrepressible “public relations” efforts of those who have tasted and seen that the Lord is good.
Excerpted from “The Pleasure of God in Obedience” by John Piper. © Desiring God Foundation.