Draw Close To God And Not To The World

The writers of the New Testament books considered that Jesus’ return could happen anytime. Therefore, James’ epistle emphasized our need to draw close to God.

You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. James 4:4

That need hasn’t changed because Jesus could still come at any time. A big problem we face today stems from the fact that the world has become much more enticing.

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Instead of asking, “How close can I draw to God?” We ask, “How close can I get to the world and still serve God?” In other words, people can’t decide which side of the fence they like best.

That mindset clouds a person’s ability to choose God’s way. They would rather focus more on their own pleasures. Sometimes, it’s not apparent, but according to James, most times it is.

What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? James 4:1

Worldliness cannot supply us with contentment. It actually does the opposite. James didn’t mince any words when he described what happens when discontentment takes over.

You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. James 4:2

That sounds like one country trying to take over another country. But in writing this, James spoke about individuals wanting what someone else has.

Draw Close to God by Depending on Him

He goes on to say that we should instead, draw close to God. The Lord wants us to turn to Him. He wants us to depend on Him as the source of our needs and desires.

Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. James 4:2

But! Don’t you hate it when someone throws in the word but? But, God will not tolerate us giving Him a “shopping list” with the expectation of Him filling it.

Have you noticed how much the Lord doesn’t give us what we ask for? In the next verse, James tells us why.

And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure. James 4:3

Some look at the word pleasure as the keyword in that verse. They consider anything that gives them pleasure as a sin. The Bible, however, differentiates between godly and worldly pleasures.

Many things give God pleasure, and as we draw close to Him, He gives us pleasure.

You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever. Psalm 16:11

Our problem stems not from the pleasures God gives us. No! We get ourselves into trouble when seeking pleasures using the wrong motives. Therefore, the keyword points straight to our motives.

We commit some sins out of ignorance. But we make a conscious choice when we go to God with wrong motives. Thus, He will not oblige us with selfish pleasures.

How Can We Draw Close to God and Not the World?

Maybe we should ask that question another way. How can we be sure our petitions to the Lord aren’t motivated by our selfishness?

First of all, Jesus marveled over people who acted in faith. Not just any faith, though. We can have faith in many things, including ourselves. But God wants our faith focused on Him.

And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. Hebrews 11:6

When you draw close to God by faith, you tell Him you trust Him. Therefore, ask according to His will. This takes our motivation for worldly pleasures out of the equation.

And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for. 1 John 5:14-15

James talked about humility after saying anyone who befriends the world becomes an enemy of God.

And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:6-7

Look how we humans think differently about facing an enemy. We will either proudly stand our ground and fight or find a hiding place. But remember, God’s ways and our ways differ.

We spend a lot of money and time caring for our personal hygiene. After we humbly stand before God, the following verse speaks about caring for our spiritual hygiene.

Draw near to God

Is Your Loyalty Divided?

Draw 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. James 4:8

I have sat in a circus tent when a person began to walk across a tightrope high above me. Have you noticed that not many people walk on those ropes? Do you know why? Because it’s hard.

Most people trying will fall to one side or the other. Often, it doesn’t matter which side the person falls to because they usually land on a safety net.

But when we walk the line between godly and worldly, we will always fall off to the worldly side. When trying to walk on that line, the enemy constantly pushes us toward the world.

The world embraces those who, after straddling the line, fall into its arms. Also, the world accepts them while the person makes them self an enemy of God.

The Lord won’t push us one way or the other. God, however, will continually extend His hand and His grace to draw us close to Him again.

Lord, please convict us when we become too chummy with the world. And oh God, protect us and continually draw us close to you.

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