Have you ever felt far away from God and wonder what in the world happened? As most of us have heard, God has not gone anywhere, its us who have moved. Moved in what way? The one thing that gets in our way that we never see coming. It happens when we least expect it. It happens inside the church and outside the church. In a culture where we are encouraged to stand up and fend for ourselves. What we are talking about is “Pride”. First of all, if you think you have never struggled with this, you are just too proud to admit it. We all struggle with pride in one form or another. The key verse in James 4:6 says that “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble”. Pride is actually one of the things that God hates. I am not just making that up. Check out Proverbs 6:16-19. The Bible shows us here that there are 6 things God hates and 7 that are detestable to him. The first one is “haughty eyes” or pride. Pride says that we are really fine without God. We don’t need him for our life and can fully take care of things ourselves. No thanks God. Pride keeps us away from God. So, how can we come near to God?
I would like to give you 5 ways that the brother of Jesus, James, gives us to bring us closer to God.
1. Submit to God. (NIV) Humble yourselves to God (NLT) Verse 7 “So humble yourselves before God.” Whichever version you like its pretty clear what we are to do. By nature, we don’t want to submit to anyone, especially someone we can’t see. So to submit or humble ourselves to God is an active step of action. When we are submitting to Him we are giving up our control over our lives and asking God to take over. Take the reigns Lord, sit in the drivers seat, I will be the passenger.
2. Resist the Devil Verse 7 “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Notice we are submit to God first, then we are able to resist the devil. There is an order to this for a reason. We don’t have enough strength or power to do this on our own. The devil has been doing this for much longer than we have. He is a master liar and hates us and any plans God has for us. All the more reason we should allow God to fight the battle for us.
3. Wash your hands & purify your hearts Verse 8 “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.” We are to be cleansed from our sin. Ask God to forgive your sins and wash you clean from the guilt and condemnation that can stain your heart. Just as we shower to clean our physical body, we need to cleanse ourselves spiritually come into his presence.
4. Grieve, Mourn & Wail. Verse 9 “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.” Don’t be afraid to go have a good cry. We are allowed to express real grief for the past sins we have committed. In fact, God’s Word wants us to do that with a freedom that your creator gave us.
5. Humble yourselves before the Lord. Verse 10 “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.” When we take the posture in our heart of humbling ourselves before God, he lifts us up. He brings us to a new place with him. He knows our heart and the true cry of our heart. Either we can humble ourselves or we can wait until our circumstances humble us, pick one. Remember, we were created by a God who wants us to have a real love affair with him. To put him first in our thoughts, ways, actions and life choices. He wants to spend time with him as a father loves spending time with his children. When we practice these 5 things, we are assured to discover a deeper relationship with Him.