…let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts
sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
This summer we are exploring intimacy with God – what it means, and how we can enjoy it on our personal spiritual ‘walk’ with God. While we may, in our deepest spiritual reflection, see intimacy with God as something to pursue, it is also something God desires: Draw near to Me, and I will draw near to you (James 4.8), he calls to us.
What an amazing – dare I say incomprehensible – truth this is: God wants not just a ‘religious’ connection with us; He wants to be close, to share our deepest needs, comfort us in times of trouble, guide us when we have lost our way. This desire is for all mankind: Remember, it was after Adam and Eve had fallen into sin that God came to stroll with them in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3.8). God knew they had sinned…but He was pursuing them. That pursuit continues today.
For the unbeliever who does not know God, our unchanging message is this: God loves you. We wrap the gospel message in this truth: God so loved the world! This is the ‘opening invitation’ to every person – God wants to restore the relationship that sin has broken, with the subsequent goal of having an ‘intimate walk’ with each one of us.
For we who believe in Jesus as personal Savior, and have forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life, the goal of Satan is to hinder us enjoying intimacy with God by any means he can. Through the centuries he has aroused violence and persecution of Christians, only to discover that such trials make us stronger! Paradoxically, the most effective schemes of Satan to keep believers from intimacy with God come from within the church.
One ‘tried-and-true’ method is to lure Christians into complacency – lull them to sleep with the comforts of the world. This is one tactic Christians living in affluent countries must intentionally oppose. But another even more insidious way in which our enemy weakens our intimacy with God is by stealing our assurance. Sadly, here his most loyal ‘foot-soldiers’ are often theologians or Christian leaders who have lost sight of God’s love and grace.
What more effective way to keep sincere Christians from ‘drawing near to God’ than to make them doubt whether they are really saved?! Make them constantly examine their own lives to see if they are measuring up to some standard of behavior – and when they falter, drive them into the quicksand of guilt and uncertainty: Does God really love me? Am I destined for hell? Why do I still struggle with sin? I must not be saved!
If you’ve ‘heard’ the enemy whispering those poisonous messages to you, remember: God wants to have intimacy with you! Do you believe that Jesus died for your sins and rose from the dead? Then you are saved! Tell Satan to take his ugly lies somewhere else!
And then, as Hebrews 10.22 says, “draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith.” Do not let Satan destroy you with doubts. With the ‘full assurance’ of God’s fatherly love, bring all your struggles and weaknesses and failures to Him, and let Him cleanse you from the inside out (see 1 John 1.9). Then…go for ‘a stroll’ with Him in the cool of your day, and enjoy intimacy like He’s longing to have with you.