“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands you sinners, and purify you hearts, you double-minded. ” James 4:7, 8
It seems in this day and age there are so many Christians (not going to debate whether merely professing or truly regenerate in this article) that are spiritual dry, seemingly without hope, who’s wells are nearly empty. We in the affluent countries who are experiencing very little physical persecution, at least for now, seem to be holding onto a sort of powerless Christianity that seems to be void of victory over sin and left to wallow in the muck of everyday life. We seem to struggle with relatively meaningless issues and pump-up our emotions over the daily work that lies before us. Our eyes (although we make a verbal profession to having our eyes focused on Christ alone) are really filled with our issues, problems, agendas, selfish desires and situations at hand. If we truly were focused on Christ, walking in His rest, He would be walking close to us and His peace and patience would be a persuasive power in our life.
We must ask ourselves, are we drawing close to Him, not providing a quick answer, but in a devoted time, no matter how long or short, with Him? Are we learning to be “shut up” to Him and with Him?
We must be so very careful not to say a quick yes when indeed we are not. Likewise, we must not just simply admit we are not, then follow up our guilt by a quick but… – …but I don’t have time; …but you don’t know my situation; …but I don’t like to read; …but, but, but.
The Lord is not ignorant of our situations, our discomforts and etc, but he says, for us to draw near to Him and He WILL draw near to us. Our problem, I believe, may be found in the words just prior to this promise; it’s in the context that we are being deceived, side-tracked, blinded, tempted by the devil. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
From the time of the fall of man in the garden, the devil and his fallen angels have been bent on a path of destruction against humanity. He desires nothing more than to distract us into a lifestyle of disobedience to God and to live a self-centered, self-feeling life, void of any close contact and walking with God in power, might and in Spirit. Sometimes he (devil) hunts us down as a roaring lion seeking to devour us and at other times as quiet and smooth as a serpent – both lie, both deceive, both are bent on utter destruction and a powerless life of self-pity, reliance on self, excuses, and waywardness of the believer.
When we were born again and saved from our sinfulness, having been regenerated by the atoning work of Jesus Christ in the empowering of grace upon the hill at Calvary, we entered into a lifetime of spiritual battle full of constant choices as to where we will place our attention. Even though we are called to work, work must not be our focus; though we are called to raise and rear children, yet they are not to be our focus; though we are called to be good stewards with our time, attention, resources, money, etc, and yet these things are never to be our focus. For if we desire to walk in grace, we must submit ourselves to the Lord. “But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.'” James 4:6
Therefore, let us submit to the Lord, resist the devil by putting our eyes back on the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross and despised the shame (Hebrews 12:2), and draw near to the Lord, cleanse our hands and purify our minds. With our eyes fixed on ourselves, we will remain blind to our all sufficient Help, namely Christ Jesus. The devil uses our pride to blind us to Christ, deceive us in our sanctification and justify us in our excuses to NOT be with Christ, in private and hidden prayer and study.
Regardless of how much time we have or do not have (which I would argue 99% of us have time, i.e. we could cut out facebook, internet searching, the list goes on), we need to draw our strength, draw our “water”, draw from the Fount of God Himself; and this we will do if we will submit and draw near to Him.
I highly recommend, once you begin to draw near to God for yourself, time to be encouraged by the life of Robert Murray McCheyne.
Be encouraged, dear brothers and sisters, persevere in the faith and set your paths straight towards our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus.
Peace and blessings,