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May 29, 1998

Returning to God (Part One)

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Submit yourselves, then, to God . . . and he will lift you up. JAMES 4:7, 10
It may seem a bit odd for a follower of Christ to talk about returning to God. After all, aren’t we supposed to be walking with Him on a daily basis?
Yes, but it’s also a fact that most repentance occurs after Christian conversion, not at the time of our conversion. Even after we become believers in Jesus, it doesn’t take much for us to move away from intimate lives with God. When that happens, we often respond by denying that the alienation has occurred. Or we put up a front and pretend that nothing is wrong. Occasionally we admit it and either try to change ourselves, or we just give up.
None of these responses will work. The only thing we can do when we lose our intimacy with God is admit it and return to Him. In other words, we must repent from whatever caused us to break fellowship with God in the first place.
The pathway back to God is not a complicated one, but it is one that demands a bending of the human will. In James 4:7-10, we find eight steps that help us in that process.
First, we must submit ourselves to God, which involves arranging of every area of our lives under His control (v. 7). This is not a subtle, casual drifting back to God. It is the decisive, urgent, clearly focused act of arranging our lives under God in every particular area.
Next, we must resist the devil (v. 7). This is literally the idea of standing in full battle array. We must come to fight. We must think back with vivid imagery to the experience that Jesus had in the desert. Satan will flee from us if we resist him.
We’ll address the remaining six steps tomorrow. In the meantime, evaluate yourself in two areas: Are you intentionally focusing every aspect of your life—from your work to your thought life to your relationships—under God’s control? And are you actively engaged in resisting the devil, no matter what kind of temptation he throws at you?

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