In the last post (linked below), I started looking at the concept of drawing near to Jesus. Hebrews 10:22 calls us to “draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith,” and one way we do that is by fixing our eyes upon Jesus. Now drawing near has several other aspects, and we’ll look at the next one this week.
As we fix our eyes upon Jesus, we are going to see His cross. You can’t look to Jesus—truly look—without seeing Him in connection to the gospel. Yes, He is our “Advocate with the Father” (1 John 2:1). But the second part of that statement is that “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins,” meaning He satisfied the Father’s just wrath against us (1 John 2:2). He is “the way,” but He prepared that “new and living way” by what He suffered in “His flesh” (John 14:6; Hebrews 10:20). There are various aspects to Jesus’ nature, character, and ministry, but they are all rooted in the gospel.
Consequently, as we fix our spiritual eyes upon Him and “consider Jesus,” we cannot ignore sin (Hebrews 3:1). As Peter said, “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24). Jesus did “come to seek and to save that which was lost,” but that salvation is only “through His blood” (Luke 19:10; Ephesians 1:7). He died to free us from sin—that was the reason He came to earth.
Now let’s bring this to bare on how we draw near. God cannot bare sin (Habakkuk 1:13). the Psalmist poses the question, “Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord, and who may stand in His holy place?” (Psalm 24:3). He answers the question by saying, “He who has clean hands and a pure heart” (Psalm 24:4). Sin cannot be in God’s presence, and Jesus took our sins upon Himself so that we might be accepted by the Father (2 Corinthians 5:21). Because of His voluntary death in our place, our sins are covered and we are now able to be in relationship with the Father.
Because of these truths, part of drawing near to God is turning away from sin. Yes, we are accepted by the Father because of Jesus’ sacrifice. Absolutely. Yet the fellowship we have with God can be broken because of unrepentant sin in our lives. James states the promise, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8). Yet that promise is couched between the commands to “resist the devil” and “cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:7, 8). The implication is clear: we must turn away from sin as we draw near to God.
The covering we have of grace is not license to go out and live however we please. Paul emphatically cries out “may it never be” to counteract that idea (Romans 6:2, 15). We belong to God, and thus ought to serve Him with our whole “body” (Romans 6:13, 16; 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20). If we want to have ever deeper fellowship with God, we must turn away from sin.
This is not in anyway to promote a “law” type atmosphere. Trusting in a law or anything we do is “of no value against fleshly indulgence” (Colossians 2:23). The whole point is to move us to Jesus. He died to free us from sin, and we should not flippantly disregard that. Struggling against sin is a battle, but there is hope. God has promised to always “provide the way of escape” from “temptation” (1 Corinthians 10:13). There is victory through Jesus over sin (Romans 7:24, 25; 2 Corinthians 2:14). We do have to fight, but “the Lord” will give us “the strength” if we look to Him (Ephesians 6:10-18).
Jesus has already paid the penalty for our sins. He took that debt out of the way so that we could have a relationship with the Father. Because of God’s holiness, that fellowship—not salvation—can be broken because of sin in our own lives. There is grace and forgiveness offered, but we have to fight against our own flesh and temptation. As we do this, as we strive against sin and cry out to Jesus for strength, we will draw near. James 4:8 tells us so. Simply reflecting upon Jesus is only part of our calling. We need to go forth and live in the freedom He purchased for us.
Here is the first article in this series: