What hinders us from drawing closer to God? This goes back the fall of man. Sin separates us from God. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23), “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23), and “death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12). This death is a separation from God and something will carry over into “everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thess. 1:7-9). James 2:26 reveals that death is the separation of the spirit from the body, so is spiritual death separation of one’s spirit from God. Death is not the state of non-existence. The Spirit spoke through Isaiah 59:1-3 saying,
“Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood, And your fingers with iniquity; Your lips have spoken lies, Your tongue has muttered perversity.”
The Spirit of Christ says in Ephesians 4:18-19,
“having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.”
The Spirit also said in Colossians 1:21, “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled”. Our own righteousness does not reconcile us, but Christ being sinless and perfected in death.
To be with God, we must be reconciled and we are only reconciled in Christ. Being reconciled means that are brought together again with God in Christ. Romans 5:10 affirms, “For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” To be reconciled to God and saved from death, we must come to Him by humbly submitting to Christ, taking up our cross daily, and learning from Him. Now, what obstacles keep us from submitting to Christ and taking up our cross daily?
As we draw near to God, God draws near to us, and James 1:14 presents, “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.” This is just as Jesus said in John 3:20, “For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.” As with all false teaching in this world, we find the motivation to worship our desires other than God. Romans 1:28 describes that those worshiping their own inventions “did not like to retain God in their knowledge”, and rather than give themselves to God these do as Ephesians 4:19 says have “given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.” Such souls show that they love the world and would rather worship the world than their Creator. The Spirit of Christ said in 1 John 2:15-17,
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”
It is inevitable that one will either serve God or mammon (Matt. 6:24). You must worship God or your worldly desires. For many worship their flesh, their eyes, and their pride in this life. “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?” (Romans 6:16). All lies are the worship of selfish desires, and these lies are the very root of all false beliefs from paganism and atheism unto every deviation from the Way.
Yet, some try to retain “a form of godliness” (2 Tim. 3:5), so these draw near to God in a vain way. These wonder why they are not close to God and they wander why they do not feel connected to God. They say one thing and stand away from God with another life. Jesus quoted Isaiah in Matthew 15:8-9,
“These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”
Do not try to draw near to God only with your lips, but do so with your heart. There is no such way to draw near to God while neglecting worship, avoiding gatherings of prayer and study, forsaking the Assembly, and neglecting communing with Christ in the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 10:16-17, 21).
Not only do lies worship our desires, our excuses worship our flesh, eyes, and our pride, and these keep us from drawing near to God. Remember the excuses from Jesus’ parable of the Great Supper (Luke 14:15-24). The excuses to not come to the Feast were for work and for family. Excuses haven’t changed. Yet, these things are the pride of life. Jesus commanded to “Seek first the kingdom of God” and then all your needs will be given to you (Matt. 6:33). Some worship more than their work, but their family and friends. They worship their social life. Jesus said in Mathew 10:34-38,
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’;and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.”
Yet we have no greater friend and beloved one than Jesus. Christ said in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends”. You have no greater friend than Christ.