One thing I love about the Word of God is its wonderful balance. The Bible never tells us to give up or avoid something wrong without replacing it with something positive that honors God.
The balance and the wisdom of scripture really shine through as we move on from God’s call to avoid worldliness and its devastating effects on Christian lives. If our goal is to be like Jesus, to be perfect Christians we definitely need to flee from a worldly selfish spirit that causes us to look and act like the world and at worst like the devil.
But God doesn’t just want us to run away from something wrong. He wants us to run toward something right – intimacy with Himself. The Christian who is focused on drawing closer to God won’t have to worry too much about leaving worldliness behind. You can’t go in both directions at once!
Now some people think the best way to avoid worldliness is to literally flee from the world by taking refuge in a monastery or convent. Sincere Christians have been doing that for centuries.
But God does not intend for us to lock ourselves in the church and hide from the world .In fact ,the night before his death , Jesus prayed for us specifically , “I do not ask Thee to take them out of the world ,but to keep them from the evil one ( John 17 :16).God wants us to go into the world to serve him and to live for him without becoming worldly ,without letting the worlds value system capture us .The challenge of the Christian life ,then ,is to pursue a deeper , more intimate relationship with God right where he has put you .Let’s talk about six ways the Bible says you can do this .
SUBMIT TO GOD
The first step you need to take in your pursuit of God is to submit to His authority in your life as Jesus Christ our commander, stated very plainly in scripture: “Submit therefore to God” (James 4 :7). That’s about as clear as it gets. But what does the “therefore” point back to? The value God places on humanity before Him. An attitude of humility is the key to submitting ourselves to God. A person with an ignorant spirit is not about to submit to anyone-not even to Lord God almighty.
Submission has never been a popular concept, even in the Christian circles .But you can’t skip it if you want to walk the road of sanctification and become more like Jesus .A mature and ,yes, perfect Christian is a submissive Christian .Besides ,we are going to see that God has a lot of benefits and blessings in store for the believer who is fully submitted to him . The principle of submission appears throughout the Bible.
We are commanded to submit to duly constituted government (Romans 13 :1) A wife must summit herself to the authority of her husband (Ephesians 5 :20) and children are instructed to obey their parents (Ephesians 6 :1).There are times that there are expectations, as when an authority may tell us do something directly contrary to God’s word but submission to authority is a rule.
Submission is a military term meaning placing yourself in proper rank. It means to place yourself under authorities God has placed over you and ultimately for you to place yourself under his authority.
GET IN ALIGNMENT
We would say then that submission to God requires a new alignment for our lives. When your tyres are out of alignment, you may feel your car pull to one side or the other. At other times, you can’t detect the problem but one way you can know your car needs an alignment is when the front tires become uneven or sways to one side.
Some Christians look at their lives and see the uneven ware or the swaying. They may even feel themselves being pulled to one side or the other by the world by the flesh or the devil. They may be experiencing more defeats then victories. They find themselves unable to cope with the constant battle with sin that Christians may fight every day.
They know there is a problem, so they keep changing tyres hoping to solve the problem. Let me explain. Christians who don’t feel fully aligned with the Lord may keep changing churches, hoping to find something that can pull them back into proper alignment with God or they may go after certain spiritual experiences that promises something new. They run from this conference to that seminar in search of help.
But in the front end of the car the alignment is out and changing tyres won’t fix it because the new tyres will simply begin to wear out like the old ones. The same applies towards spirituality. You can change spiritual tyres every week, but that won’t help unless you submit your life to God on a daily basis, until you bring your heart into its proper alignment under God’s authority. You are still going to be a worn-out believer. Many marriages and personal lives are being worn down by the world, and we think the answer is to change our spiritual tyres. We want to change churches, change environments, or even change mates.
If this is your current situation then check your alignment, more specifically if you want to prevent the kinds of problems that come when our lives are not improper relationship with God, check to see if you are in alignment with the Lord and submit to His authority.
Submission to God means saying to Him on a daily basis not “My will but Your will be done” I subject my desires to Your desires , My purposes and plans to Your purposes and plans .What I’m talking about is utterly abandoning yourself to God’s control .Not if you are being lined up with the world ,taking orders from the culture and from your old sinful nature ,you will find it tough to get yourself back in rank under your commander, Jesus Christ.
But this is the necessary first step in experiencing the kind of relationship with God that grows into maturity and Christ likeness.
RESIST THE DEVIL
Like a magnet with positive and negative poles, submission to God also has a negative pole: Resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4:7)
Drawing closer to God will help you resist Satan’s attempts to influence you into sinning.
Remember that Satan has no power over you that you don’t allow him to have. The devil is not invincible. He has been rendered powerless by the death of Jesus Christ (Hebrew 2:14).
Since the devil cannot overcome us by his power, he has to attack us with deception and temptation. Satan can make you want to sin, but if you are a believer, Satan can no longer make you sin. He simply makes sin look attractive and easy for you to commit.
The devil is smart. As I said before, he doesn’t waste his time tempting you and me in areas where we are not vulnerable. He is a student of our lives. He has a game plan for us and he studies us like a football coach watches his players and all his opponents, so that he knows the opponent’s habits, tendencies, weaknesses and preferences.
Satan wants your life to go back to the way it was when you were a sinner. He and his demons have studied you for so long that they know you. They know what you like and the places you like to go, and the people who like to hang around with you.
Knowing all of this, the Devil’s strategy is to put before you circumstances and people that will bring out the sinful tendencies you have. In simple terms Satan will cause people to make sin. Then you see what the devil has lined up against you and what his plans for you are.
It’s time to draw on the power of Jesus Christ. You can change the game and the devil’s knowledge of your tendencies and weak spots. Don’t give him the power to control your thoughts and actions.
The greatest example of resisting the devil is Jesus Christ. In Satan’s temptation of Jesus, we find the keys of resisting Satan in our lives. We first read “Jesus was led up by the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Matthew 4:1).
Notice that this temptation was on God’s terms, not the Devils, God opened the door to this opportunity, and Jesus Christ confronted the devil head on. Now we aren’t to go looking for the devil, but we need to remember that Satan can only attack us on God’s terms. The devil cannot go further than what God allows him.
PLAN FOR CLOSENESS
But you don’t draw close to somebody by chance or by accident. You have to plan for closeness. Intention is necessary to achieve intimacy .It doesn’t just happen .If you are married ,chances are that you and your mate did not simply drift to the altar .You drew near to one another as you got acquainted and began to spend time together .You talked on the phone .You went out on dates and when you went on the phone or weren’t together you wished you were there with them .
You begin thinking about each other all the time. Your investment in nearness produced an intense relationship, which led to the marriage altar. Most marriages start off with a passionate intimacy, but what often happens as years go by? It’s easy for a couple to drift apart emotionally because now they find themselves dealing with other agendas and looking after their children. If a married couple have no ongoing plan to continue drawing near to one another, they can drift dangerously apart. Then one day they will look up and the relationship of marriage will be weak and in trouble.
Your relationship with God is a lot like a marriage relationship. Intimacy with God won’t happen by chance. You need to make an intentional commitment to pursue God and to seek intimacy with Him so that you can grow into a greater likeness of Jesus Christ.
When we make that commitment, we have a tremendous promise that he will draw near to us. Just as in a good marriage the commitment is not one sided, God is eager to bring us near. Now someone might say, “If God wants me closer, why doesn’t he draw near to me and then I’ll draw near to him? Why do I have to initiate this process? The answer is simple. He is not the one who has pulled back. He is not the one who left. That brings us to the cause of separation from God. Let us deal with the issue of sin.
DEAL SERIOUSLY WITH YOUR SIN
Suppose a man walks out on his family, gets his own apartment, establishes a separate life, and then says, “If my family will draw near to me, I will draw near to them.” That is not right. He has it backwards. He is the one who left home; it is his job to repent, return, and draw near to his family. It’s the same in our relationship with God.
Sin breaks our fellowship with Him and puts distance between us. When we return to God in repentance and are willing to change our ways, we will find that He never left us in the first place.
So, what exactly does it take to draw near to God? The Bible answers in no uncertain terms: “Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double minded (James 4:8). Clearly, James is talking to the Christians here because non-Christians cannot cleanse their hands and be clean. The first thing we need to do is be cleansed by the blood of Christ. These words are addressed to Christians who living like sinners. Why does James tell us to wash our hands? Hand washing was part of the cleansing ceremony that the Old Testament priests performed before they could offer sacrifices to God. The ceremony symbolises the getting rid of the defilement of sin.
Hands represent our external actions just as the heart represents our internal attitudes. Cleansing of hands means that we say to God, “I know this is sin.” I know it is defining me, and I’m going to stop it. God wants us to make that kind of decision to change any of our actions that are sinful. But one reason we don’t get near to God is that we are reluctant to change our ways. We call it everything else besides, a weakness, a problem, a mistake, a bad choice or an issue. God will deal with you if you are ready to deal openly and directly with your sin.
Dealing with sin means being cleansed and purified. It also means being focused on the Lord and His ways. The opposite of that is being double minded ,being unable to make up your mind whether you want to line up with God or line up with the world .It means wanting to be a Saint and a Sinner at the same time. God wants you to know that this kind of spiritual indecision is lethal, because he pulls back when he sees a believer who swings back and forth between commitment and compromise.
HUMBLE YOURSELF BEFORE GOD
The formula for seeking God is found in his command: ‘humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord and he will exalt you (James 4:10). Here is yet another great promise from the word. If we are busy lifting ourselves up, how is God going to lift us up? Humility means you go low so God can lift you high. Remove all pride. We know true humility when God has removed all fragments of pride from our lives’. As we see in the Bible the people who God lifted up we’re always taken down first.
Joseph was taken down to Egypt to become a slave and to do time in prison before he became the Prime Minister of the land. Moses was sent out into the desert for 40 years before he was ready to lead Israel David had to hang out with the sheep and spend years running for his life before he could become King. These men like many others had to learn humility before God trusted them with great positions and responsibilities.
If you want God to raise you up to be useful, empowered and victorious. The you instantly have to take a lower place before God. Why? Because there is no room for two Gods in this universe. You see, if you are able to raise yourself up, to be God over your life, then the true God will have no room to work in your life. When you need mercy, you say please, when you need grace, you ask humbly.
Then you will know sweet intimacy with your Lord. Ignorant people don’t know such intimacy or how to get near to God. God does not invite the proud to draw close to Him so you must let go of all your pride if you want to reach God’s heart. The elevator to the top always starts by going down.
“Do not speak against one another, brethren 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.” (James 4:11).
Humbling yourself before God means, in part, realizing that you should not use your tongue to hurt other people and drag them down. This realization comes more easily when you are able to acknowledge your own sin and shortcomings. Since that’s the case, attacks on a follow believer have no place in the life of a Christian who is pursuing intimacy with God.