Come near to God and he will come near to you…. James 4:8 (NIV)
The Bible gives us clear instruction on how to come close to God. It’s the fundamental need of every person. God designed us for Himself! Our lives are empty and aimless apart from Him. But, how do we come close to God when we feel so far away?
In James 4:7-10, the Bible gives us five steps if we want to come close to God. If you and I take these steps we will come close to Him and experience His grace in ways we’ve never known. See if you can identify them as you read this section of Scripture.
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.
James is describing the kind of brokenness that God accepts. He is pure holiness, and we are sinful through and through. This section of scripture is prefaced with the reality that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. God resists the proud heart. It will never come close to Him. In fact, it was pride that got Satan kicked out of heaven. Pride always goes before a fall! The good news is that, even if we’ve fallen as result of pride, we can take these steps to come close to God and experience His grace. James tells us how.
- “Resist the devil” Avoid areas where you know you’re weak and temptation is strong. It’s not a sin to be tempted. Concerning temptation, Martin Luther once wrote, “You can’t stop the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.” If we will resist the devil, the Bible says, he will flee!
- “Submit yourself to God” Yield your life to God. You can’t control your life, but you can put your life under His care and control by submitting yourself to Him and being willing to follow Him daily.
- “Wash your hands … and purify your hearts” You wouldn’t think of eating without washing your hands. 1 John 1:9 promises,
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
He cleanses us when we acknowledge our sin and turn from our sin to God.
- “Grieve, mourn and wail” The New Living Translation puts it like this, “Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief.” This is good grief! It is healing to weep over our own sinfulness. Never be afraid to express deep heartfelt sorrow for what you have done. 2 Corinthians 7:10 (NIV) says
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.
- Humble yourselves before the Lord” Being humble doesn’t mean bowed head saying, “Excuse me for living.” No, true humility before God means recognizing that our value and worth come from Him alone. It means leaning on His power, seeking His counsel, and refusing to go our own way independent of Him. If we humble ourselves before God, He promises to lift us up! God lavishes grace on the humble!
Are you ready to come close to God? If you are, He promises to come close to you!