August 10, 2023
Every follower of Christ has seasons where they drift from God. The allurement of the world, the weakness of our flesh, and the enemy's attack regularly pull us. We are not instantly delivered from a hostile world when we come to Christ in faith and the matter of nearness to God must be cultivated.
So, how do we come back to the intimacy we once knew? How do we experience personal revival? James 4 gives us an extremely clear progression.
ADMIT YOUR NEED
But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (Vs. 6)
If you are oblivious to your spiritual dehydration, you will never come and receive the grace you need to return. Humbly, fully admit your need. God always gives enabling grace to those who admit their need and acknowledge their sin.
SUBMIT TO GOD
Submit therefore to God. (Vs. 7)
If you’re proud you will never do this. But if you are longing for a return, you will come to the Lord and gladly surrender your will to the will of the Father. Yield back to Christ every area that you have taken from Him.
RESIST THE DEVIL
Resist the devil and he will flee from you. (Vs. 7)
When we are drifting, we have yielded to the devil’s temptations and given him part of the ground in our lives. It could be our affections, mind, time, or possessions. This ground was bought and paid for by Christ and rightfully belongs to Him. As you surrender to God, you must let Him flood each of these areas. Remind the Enemy that he has no legal right to this ground. He will fight this repossession by Christ.
Remember, Ephesians 6 tells us we are in a battle with the Enemies of God until we die. A fully surrendered, Spirit-controlled believer is his greatest threat. We must learn the habit of continually resistance. But God’s wonderful promise is this: every time you resist the devil, he MUST flee! Come in Christ’s name and stand against him.
DRAW NEAR TO GOD
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. (Vs. 8)
Because of Christ’s work, we have the privilege of being welcome in the throne room of God! We can come “boldly to the throne of grace to find mercy and receive help” (Hebrews 4:16). We can enjoy the intimacy of His presence and the power of His indwelling relationship at any time, but we must CONSCIOUSLY draw near.
God has given us tools to help us draw near (and stay near) which we must utilize. Daily engagement with the Word of God, prayer, and other believers is essential for us to draw near.
CLEANSE YOUR HANDS
Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. (Vs. 8-9)
As you draw near, you will begin to see your sins. Immediately and humbly agree about these before God. Let the thought of this defilement break your heart and bring genuine repentance (a profound change of mind that leads to repentance without regrets.) Don’t deal with your sins flippantly, for they put Christ on the cross.
Lay aside all doubtful habits and anything causing you to be double-minded in your love for Christ. Become self-aware of those things that are drawing you away and lay them down.
Humble yourself in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you. (vs. 10)
As you are humbling yourself in His presence, realize the blessed promise that He will “exalt you” in due time. Your life will be lifted up, and you will enjoy the sweet joy of ministry and usefulness.
WATCH YOUR TONGUE
Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor? (Vs. 11-12)
One of the quickest ways to lose your intimacy is to look at those around you and compare, judge, and speak against them. James says much about this in his book.
Only God is in the position to make such judgments. Remember how easily you have wandered from Christ (repeatedly!) Pray for those who are around you and heed Paul’s admonitions:
We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. (1 Thessalonians 5:14)
OBEY CHRIST INSTANTLY
Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin. (Vs. 17)
The quickest way to quench the movement of God’s Spirit in your life and destroy intimacy with Him is to resist His promptings to obey. He will lead you in all the right paths for His name’s sake if you stay near to Him. But if He prompts you to do something and you resist and take an alternate route, this is sin. Delayed obedience is no obedience at all. As you delay or resist obedience, you will feel your intimacy with Christ waning.
God loves you and has everything to gain by your nearness. “In His presence is fullness of joy, and at His right hand are pleasures forevermore,” David said (Psalm 16:11). He longs for you to come close. It is made possible by His grace, but in the end, it is your choice.
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