Close

May 13, 1998

Returning to God (Part Two)

Share With Friends

Submit yourselves, then, to God . . . and he will lift you up. JAMES 4:7, 10
As we learned yesterday, the first two steps we must take to return to God involve submitting to Him and resisting the devil. Neither is easy, but both are necessary. The same is true for the remaining six steps.
Third, we must focus on moving near to God (v. 8). We often have difficulty distinguishing between the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the condemnation of Satan. But with God’s help, we can tell the difference. The conviction of the Holy Spirit is full of hope, whereas the condemnation of Satan is a downward pull of hopelessness. As James 4:8 reveals, God will move toward us when we focus on moving toward Him.
Next, we must cleanse our hands (v. 8). To cleanse our hands literally means to wash ourselves and become pure. This is an outward purging. We must eliminate any specific outward and external sins or sin patterns.
Fifth, we must purify our hearts, or make an inward examination of our attitudes (v. 8). This involves looking intently at ourselves and eradicating all the junk. Only by purifying our hearts will we be able to stand in the presence of God (Psalm 24:3-4).
Sixth, we must feel sorrowful for our sins (v. 9). James is calling for honest, vulnerable confrontation with sin. This is often overlooked. Many times, repentance is merely a mental assent that we did something wrong. But there’s huge difference between repentance and remorse. Remorse is feeling sorry that we got caught; repentance is coming to grips with reality of our sins and expressing authentic sorrow over it.
Seventh, we must respond with visible signs of repentance (v. 9). We must grieve, to be sure, but we also must change our actions and our attitudes. If we say we’re sorry yet continue to do wrong, we may as well have never said anything in the first place.
Finally, we must reverse our response to our circumstances and to God (v. 9). Rather than engage in shallow laughter when confronted with sin or wrongdoing, we must respond how God would respond, with mourning.
By walking through these steps, our actions show God what He already knows to be in our hearts: humility. And when we humble ourselves before the Lord, He will lift us up. When we return to Him, He welcomes us with open arms.

Share With Friends