Last week was a slow week for blogging. I had several things pulling me in several directions. But today I want to get back to business. We have not been in James for a while, and it is time to continue our study. With the Christmas, the celebration of the incarnate Son, coming up James 4:8 is especially important. In vv. 7-10 James gives 10 commands that are all centered around repentance. Here in 4:8a James’ command is to draw near to God. Draw Near to God and He will Draw Near to You…
As we follow James’ thought process from the previous command to this command we see that we are to resist the devil and the entire demonic world-system that he represents, and replace it with devotion to God. In other words, James commanded his readers to do the exact opposite of what they were doing. In v. 4 we saw that there was a group among his readers who desired the things of this world above God. By this attitude these people set themselves up as God’s enemies. Here in v. 8 the command is to draw near to God. If we can pull ourselves away from devotion to this world and draw near to God then He will draw near to us.
The advantages of drawing near to God, rather than being His enemy, should be clear to us. Surley any reasonable person would rather be God’s friend than His enemy! The question is, how do we draw near to God? From Scripture it is clear that before we can draw near to God God must do a work in our lives. This is precisely what Jesus meant in John 6:44 when he said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day.” Truly it is only by God’s grace that we can draw near to Him; but do not think that we have no responsibility in drawing near to God. God’s grace will result in outward actions that will match our calling, and must be done in order to draw near to God. Scripture calls these actions that result from God’s grace repentance. 2 Timothy 2:25-26 teaches this very truth when it says, “… if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive to him to do his will.” From this we see that in order to “draw near to God” and “resist the devil” we need the grace of God that leads to repentance. A repentance that is primarily a change. It is a change in authority in your life. When you repent you are admitting that your way (authority) is deficient, and God’s way (authority) is superior. By doing this your are humbling yourself before God (v. 10), and you are submitting to Him (v. 7). Repentance must involve these two elements of humility and submission.
To answer the question how do we draw near to God, it is through grace that we submit to God and humble ourselves before Him. When we do this we can be assured that God will draw near to us. Do not forget, “God jealously desires the spirit which He has made to dwell in us (v. 5).”