Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. This is James 4:8a and what we’ve been looking at together over the last couple of posts. In this final post, we want to look at how to obey this verse and what we are doing when we don’t obey this verse.
How to obey this verse
I’ve been exhorting you in these posts to draw near to God. How exactly do we do that? Do we go somewhere to get to God? Not exactly. This is not about a location as much as it is a condition. We see some information in the context of James 4:8 that helps understand this condition. Primarily, it is a condition of humility. This involves:
Forsaking sin and self
That is, we must turn from our sins and turn to God. We must submit to God and see that His way is right and ours is wrong.
Resisting the devil
James 4:7 could be a post in and of itself but I will sum it up to say that resisting the devil is to stop listening to his lies. He is a liar and a rebel. This isn’t about you “binding” Satan or something crazy. This is simply about resisting his influence. He twists God’s Word, calls God a liar, and makes sin seem enticing. Resist those influences by submitting to God and His Word.
Leaving the world
James says in James 4:4 that whoever is a friend of the world is an enemy of God. You can’t draw near to God and the world at the same time. This doesn’t mean we have to physically leave the world, but it does mean giving up the world’s values and wicked system.
And it’s interesting to note here that James brings up “the world, the flesh, and the devil” in his own way in James 4. These are the three enemies of a person’s drawing near to God. One cannot have it both ways. He must either choose the world or God, sin or God, the devil or God. To draw near to God, we must abandon these other things.
Drawing near to God
Okay, I get it. You asked “How do you draw near to God” and I’m saying now “By drawing near to God!” But I must reiterate that this is not about a location but a condition. Draw near to God in your heart, not merely with your lips (Matthew 15:8). Do you want this? Then your heart must cry out to the living God. Perhaps it’s like the father in the New Testament who said “I believe! Help my unbelief!”
Drawing near to God is a spiritual condition, not a physical location. Therefore, draw near to Him right now. Do not be satisfied with your current level of nearness and draw nigh unto God right now. Let your heart cry out to Him confessing what must be confessed, forsaking sin and self, resisting the Evil One, and drawing near to God in faith.
The danger of neglecting this verse
Perhaps this is the first post you’ve read in this series or maybe you’ve read all three and you don’t really care. You’re just killing time on the internet. You’ve got better things to do than draw near to God.
What if you try to continue to be double-minded and attempt to serve God and the world? Let me warn you what you are doing:
Mocking the Cross
Christ’s flesh was torn on Calvary as your way to God. The Son of God humbled Himself by becoming man and was obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. If you do not draw near to God you mock this. You are saying that your sin and your way and your priorities are more important than the crux of human history.
You look at the cross and you despise it. It is an offense and stumbling block to you. I implore you not to mock the cross. Draw near to God through the new and living way. Let us with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy. Jesus paid it all.
If you neglect James 4:8 you mock the cross. Secondly, you are:
Magnifying your Corruption
Unbelievers are condemned for rejecting God. This includes cannibals on a remote island or the well-to-do businessman on Staten Island. Any person who has never heard the gospel is still justly condemned for rejecting God (Romans 1:18-23).
But those who reject the Cross only magnify their corruption. Christ is set before us as our only suitable and all-sufficient Savior. If you refuse Him, you only magnify your rebellion against Him. If you hear the gospel as you’ve seen in these posts, and refuse to draw near to God through faith in Christ, you magnify your corruption.
How will you escape if you neglect so great a salvation?
If you neglect James 4:8 you mock the cross and magnify your corruption. Thirdly, you are:
Missing the core of Christianity
This is the core of Christianity: Reconciliation with God. God saves sinners by the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. God brings us who were far off, near in Christ.
Believer: Why would you let your passions rage within you and miss the point of Christianity?
Humble yourselves before our holy and awesome God. Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you! He is delighted to draw near to you in Christ! He made you for Himself! He sings over you in Christ!
I don’t know what Christianity has become for you recently. Has it become about keeping up with the rat race? Has it been about hiding your sins and failures from God? I’m inviting you to let those notions go and refresh yourself in the living God who gave Himself up for You. Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you! Repent of your sins and cling to Christ.
Unbeliever: Your sins are many. You deserve death and hell. You’ve rebelled against a holy God.
And yet, the core of Christianity is this: Come to God in Christ. Come to Jesus today. He will cleanse you in Christ. He will forgive you in Jesus. The blood of His Son is enough. Draw near to God.
Oh that every reader would obey this verse by grace and cling to its blessed promise: Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
(If you want to listen to the sermon from James 4:8, you can click here).