Drawing Near to God

Drawing Near to God March 18, 2018

Texts, NIV (1999): James 4.8; Isaiah 29.13; Matthew 15.7-9; James 4.8-9

James 4.8: Come near to God and he will come near to you.  Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Video: Drawing Near to God

We are commanded.  James is using the imperative tense.

This is a command from the Holy Spirit to “Come near to God,” or to “Draw near to God” (NASB).

James is hinting at a couple of other predominant passages.  Isaiah prophecies as the Lord’s mouthpiece:

Isaiah 29.13The Lord says:
“These people come near to me with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship of me
is made up only of rules taught by men.

Now go down the timeline a little bit in Israel’s history.  A young preacher stands up who’s drawing crowds in the thousands, and many are wondering if He’s the Messiah.  He quotes Isaiah in Matthew 15: 

7: You hypocrites!  Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:
8: “These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
9: They worship me in vain;
their teachings are but rules taught by men.”

It is believed that James is referring to both Isaiah and Jesus.  The issue is that double-mindedness gets in to the way we do life.  Double-minded people can worship with their lips, but never draw near.  Their worship is nothing more than a show.

So what’s the solution?  Isaiah and Jesus really state the solution, but it’s in the negative form.  James states it in the positive form.  James is saying, be free of duplicity, be free of hypocrisy in your worship and in your Christian life!  Bring it together under the Lordship of Christ and draw near to God!

How do we draw near to Him?

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The focus isn’t on a formula for approaching God.  James is not giving us a D-I-Y Manual.

James 4  8: Come near to God and he will come near to you.  Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  9: Grieve, mourn and wail.  Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.

We like following instructions don’t we?  Put in a little bit of effort, follow the instructions, and results just magically appear.  In the Christian life it doesn’t work that way.  Otherwise we would find ourselves attaching our affections to the formula instead of to God.  We would rely on our own effort instead of on the grace of God.  James is not saying, follow this formula step by step.

James is saying, do whatever it takes to get to God!

Change your lifestyle!  If the work of your hands has become evil, cleanse your ways!  If your heart has become divided, purify it with a single intent to serve God!  If you are caught up in sinful pleasures, repent and cry out for forgiveness!

Draw near to God, at any cost!  Draw near to God!

When the desires of this world divide you . . . Draw near to God!

When the wisdom of this world ensnares you . . . Draw near to God!

When the love of this world entices you . . . Draw near to God!

And when you draw near . . . He will draw near to you!

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*adapted from JVI, Simplicity of Lifestyle, 10.09.14


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