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8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.


The consequence of a mind governed by the sin capacity is divine disapproval.

8 So then,

“So then” indicates a recapitulation and summary of the argument thus far to emphasize the point that the flesh cannot please God. This verse shows why the non-Christian cannot please God.

those who are in [by nature] the flesh

The use of the word “flesh” here is more than physical flesh. The idea is also more than “human nature.” These are people whose lives revolve around personal desire and not around something truly transcendent and authentic. They only do what they want.

Paul summarized what he said to this point with the flat statement that “those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Those “in the flesh” are those characterized by an earth-bound life apart from Christ. Those who submit to the fundamental belief in human nature are those “in the flesh.” The flesh is the principle behind how they live their lives. It is the pursuit of their lives; they are governed by their fallen natures.

cannot please God.

The true objective of man is to please God; however, man without God pleases himself. He has no desire to please God because he is indifferent to Him. In order to truly please God, we must come to Him on His terms.

He 11:6, But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Non-Christians lack any motive to submit themselves to God or to please Him. The core of their being is self-will; self-will by its very nature cannot submit to another will. No creation of the sin capacity, no matter how good it may be, can please God.


The sin capacity is totally depraved and totally disabled to orient to God.


Enmity between the sin capacity and the Spirit is irreconcilable. People controlled by this capacity cannot please God. Our sin capacity is hopelessly incorrigible and utterly impoverished. There is nothing in man that offers itself to God. Fundamentally our sin capacity is an enemy of God. Man will use religion to displace the work of Christ. It all appears religious but it is deadly. Nothing that the flesh produces pleases God.

There is a major difference between the person being in the flesh and the flesh being in the man. The believer who yields to the sin capacity operates in the sphere of death, and the Christian who yields to being spiritually minded enters dynamic living. The life purpose of the believer is to “please God” (Rom. 12:1, 2; 14:18; I Cor. 7:32; II Cor. 5:9; Eph. 5:10; Phil. 4:18; Col. 3:20; I Thess. 4:1; Heb 11:6; 1 Jn 3:22).

1 Th 2:4, But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts.

1 Th 4:1, Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God;

Co 3:22, Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God.