October 16, 2019

What Brings God Close

“Come close to God and God will come close to you….” James 4:8a (NLT)

Do you feel close to God or far away? The Bible gives clear instruction on what brings God close to us. 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? What is it that brings God’s nearness?

In James 4:7-10, the Bible gives us five steps if we want to come close to God, with the promise that He would come close to us. 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 close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up in honor.” (NIV/NLT)

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 in verse six 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.

  1. “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. The New Century Version puts it like this: “So give yourself completely to God.” God comes close to those who give themselves completely to Him.
  2. “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!
  3. “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 ask Him to purify our hearts, willing to turn from our sin to God. 
  4. “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.” Worldly sorrow is sorry I got caught vs. Godly sorrow over what I’ve done. Godly sorrow results in changed behavior.
  5. “Humble yourselves before the Lord” Being humble doesn’t mean bowed head and folded hands 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! Begin by giving yourself completely to Him.