James 4:8-10 is often called the New Testament “2 Chronicles 7:14 promise for the church,” because it echoes the Old Testament promise that God revives believers who come to Him in humility, prayer, and repentance.
James precedes this promise by describing something we all know too well—the predictable outcomes of life dominated by sinful desires and governed by the world’s system: pride and arrogance leading to conflict, frustration, quarrels, fights, and destructiveness (vv. 1-3). But he follows up this reality-based analysis by offering two antidotes that lead to revival: There is hope in the form of a wake-up call (vv. 4-6) and an invitation (vv. 7-10).
God’s Wake-Up Call
James says that these believers had settled for what they thought was a happy medium between sold-out commitment to God and a worldly lifestyle. In reality, they had become adulterous, arrogant enemies of God.
Talk about a wake-up call! James makes the choice clear: Believers who have traded their closeness to God for camaraderie with the world must lay aside their sin and humbly plead for grace. The Spirit of God jealously desires our deepest affections. Our wicked ways must be completely abandoned in order for Him to bless with revival.
The incredible news is that despite our unfaithfulness, God is willing to take us back! James unpacks this gracious invitation and shows us the way. God wants us to experience His grace, and He wants the relationship restored. God actually yearns to revive His children!
This invitation involves six actions that are key to revival: submit, resist, draw near, wash, grieve, humble. Much could be written on any of these, but let’s focus on what it means to “draw near” to God and believe His promise to reciprocate.
Drawing near to God involves coming close—just the way you wish to be with those you love.Seeking expresses the action, while drawing near expresses the heart attitude.
Isaiah proclaimed, “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon” (Isaiah 55:6-7 NIV). God called out, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you” (Jeremiah 29:13-14).
Jesus taught that coming close to God is life’s top priority—the one thing that undergirds everything else: “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).
Like the father in the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), God yearns to be reunited with His wayward children.
God loves us beyond description, and He wants our relationship to be restored. The Scriptures teach that this is why God the Father waits so patiently for our response—why He doesn’t just bring about the conclusion of humanity’s discouraging history today (2 Peter 3:9). He does not want anyone to perish, so instead He waits for more of us to draw near!
In fact, God has always wanted His children to draw near to Him with all their hearts. Not surprisingly, then, drawing near is a major theme of redemption history. God created us to walk with Him in fellowship and experience the joy and fullness of life (1 John 1:1-5; 3:1-3; John 10:10). God planted a garden to be near His children. Adam and Eve drew near in the Garden to walk and talk with God.
Sadly, the first couple was deceived by the lies and worldview of Satan (just like the church James was addressing), and they chose to sin against God. As a result, they were separated from God.
But God graciously provided a plan of forgiveness and restoration through the promised Messiah, making it possible for sinful men to draw near again to God (Genesis 3:15). Adam and Eve, Seth, and Enoch were some of the first to take advantage of this offer (Genesis 3:21; 4:26; 5:24).
Moving across history’s timeline, we see God proposing the tabernacle (Exodus 35–40) and eventually the temple (2 Chronicles 7:14-16) to be near His people. Yet as close as the Israelites came to God in this context, they were still separated by the unfulfilled demands of the Law. The Law could not restore, but instead magnified their sinfulness and increased their fear.
But in the fullness of time, God Himself took on the form of a man. Jesus Christ came near to the world through the incarnation in order to die for the sin of humanity and to rescue them from death with an offer of eternal life. Thus the message of Jesus to the Judean villages was simple: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matthew 4:17).
Because Jesus became flesh and dwelled among us—because Christ went to the cross and then rose gloriously from the dead—we can draw near to God!
Not surprisingly, then, all of history culminates in the awesome day when a voice from the throne will boom across a renewed heaven and earth: “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them” (Revelation 21:3)! The culmination of history is in the fulfillment of this divine hope: that God would be close to us, and we would be close to God. Every revival approximates this ultimate goal.
Where Do We Begin?
James 4 suggests that God is ready to open His arms and restore those who return to Him.Drawing near is the decision to come back into the life of God. It is a restoration of what we were designed to enjoy forever.
Even now, despite the darkness of human sin all around us, God is never far away. And the experience of God’s nearness is not out of reach. He is present right here and now, ready to revive us again. Our responsibility is to draw near to Him in humility, prayer, and repentance … and God will reciprocate.
What hope this brings! Even when evil is destroying life and relationships, James wants believers everywhere to know that there is a clear pathway to revival.
Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.
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Thank you I know God is near in my life sometimes I feel like I don’t do enough I try to share God’s holiness righteousness and morality with my family I know God is near with me you are right we are so full of the world things I will continue to call out to him it is so hard I pray to continue calling out to the Lord for the people in my family for others and myself he is near he is right there. Thank you so much for this godly advice.
Issac, thanks for writing. There is a sense in which we may always feel like we haven’t done enough — there is more to do for Christ, more to learn from the Bible, etc. But I’d encourage you to celebrate what God has done in your life thus far, and to ask Him to help you determine the next step. Sometimes it is easy to think about all things in front of us that still need to be done — and God can help us through that. But “a journey of a thousand miles starts with a first step.” So, what step would that be for you?
I hope you are encouraged. God cares about the details of your life and He will guide you forward, if you are ready to obey Him. It sounds like you are – and that is a reason to be excited about the future.
When we forget who we are in Christ we are blinded by worldly views and our image of ourselves become distorted. Sin does divide us from God but He is faithful and we are not. We tend to go back and forth till we finally wrestle with God to the point that we know we must bend to His will or we will never know the fullness of God. We begin to yearn for His best for us. There is comparison to God’s Love for us because He is LOVE.
that was a good comment
I came to this article looking for specific application about how to draw near to God but feel that I did not receive any. In the article the closest we came to application was when it said “submit, resist, draw near, wash, grieve, humble.” A list of verbs. Now how do I apply these in daily life?
Agreed. Sounds like a lot of sermons… Alot of thoughts about a topic but no application. And this coming from a preacher! Your statement has challenged me to do better. Try this for starters – find a quiet place every day and spend some time reading the Bible, asking the Holy Spirit to reveal God to you. But, don’t just blitz through it, ask questions as you go (who, what, why, how). Then write down anything that jumps out at you. It might take some time but that’s ok. God says he rewards those who EARNESTLY seek him! Hope that helps
Thank you. Yes, I had the same question of what are the practical steps to draw near? Ok I agree, read the word daily…linger and ask questions, talk to God about what I have read…wait patiently for answers…journal. But I was also seeking clarification on whether we can draw near to God if He does not draw us first. As I understand now, No One comes to God unless God draws him. John 6:44. No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’[e] Therefore everyone who has heard and learned[f] from the Father comes to Me.” God, omnipotent, knows who would draw near if He calls. So God draws people in this world by the preaching of the Gospel. Once we hear we need to do what the word says. Pray and seek God, draw near to HIM. The Goodness of God leads us to Repentance, a change of MIND. Romans 2:4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
Submit and Obey Acts 2:38
That is the Fulfillment of St John chapter 3 verse 5
I came here looking for the same as you. But I did receive the answer to my question. See the preacher said something wonderful that you overlooked. God has made himself man to be with us. That is it!!! God has decided to join us in this ugly world.Imagine or rather understand that it was difficult to reach him with the law. But through Jesus it is now possible to reach, ask and receive. See the God so far away now close to you at the market, at church, at work etc. You can talk to him like you talk to your spouse or fiance, your colleague, your family and friends. About anything with all kind of prayers and supplications. This IS your priority on this earth, like your meals.This is making him a VIP in your life like you would do with a Lover! The bible is the way to know what to ask or thank for; anything that could honor the kingdom he brought with him. When you pray do not forget to invite the Holy spirit to pray with you and you will be two to pray.God is with you tell him in your prayers that you wish to drow close to him.Incist until you are!!!
Submit to Acts 2:38
Yes I agree with you Gary Howel, how do I apply comming nearer to God on my daily life.
I asked this same question … How do I draw near to God…and was surprised to see an explaination of James 4:8-10, a passage of scripture that I recently had difficulty understanding. I think this was an example of how God works to let us know that while we wonder how to draw near to Him, He is already near to us. Paul prayed in Ephesians that believers would realize the rich inheritance that they have received. Paul says that God has already given us the power to perform the tasks that He sets before us. Perhaps just sharing our desire to draw closer to God with Him will open our hearts to a realization that we are already there.
Read some comments on how to draw near to God. When it says humble yourself it means we know nothing. Since we know nothing in the spiritual or physical realm, we start by asking our Lord Jesus how to do these things. Lord Jesus how do I submit to God? How do I draw near to You? What does it mean and how do I cleanse my hands and purify my heart? Lord, teach me how to lament and mourn and weep. Point is when we don’t know we ask our Creator Jesus Christ and he will show us. He will show you what you need to repent of, where you are not walking in Him, and so forth. Always remember the Devil is ready to make war with us to stop all this.
Amen! I found myself in a struggle with life, getting caught back up into my worldly modes, getting depressed, crying over man and all the hurt and pain that was bestowed upon me through man! I was asking God to fix It and all without realizing that God was getting jealous over my weeping over man and problems so hard! I almost forgot who my real father was, my healer, my hope was! But I thank God that he helped me to restore my soul and remember that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! Now I am back and put ALL my trust, my hope, my belief in Christ! I draw nearer to him because he will protect me from anything! I love the lord!
Yes precious one My approval from man leads to a dead end.
Our Holy Lords Love is Eternal !
The LORD never leaves, nor does He forsake us! Amen
Many of the respondents above talk about getting nearer to God by praying and petitioning him to do for us. The first time I heard a Pastor preach on this verse he said and I quote “We draw nearer to God by Worshiping him”. Because he is God. Reading the bible and praying, spending time with God is drawing nearer to God – but if you really want to experience his closeness we must Worship him. Worshiping God will guarantee us the promise in this verse which says that he will not only draw closer to you but he will raise you up as well.
The author did answer the question, he said we draw near to God the same way we draw near to those we love, in relationship. As we can draw near to God in relationship. Spending time with God, as you would someone you love. Nurturing that relationship, by talking, praying, worshiping. Studying God’s word obering God’s word. It is a relationship that is valued from a heart of Love, As you spend time with God, it draws you near to God and you fall deeper and deeper in love with Him.
In addition to a weekly sermon at church, you need to be constantly fed the Word. Try not to rely on others to feed you, this is something that you need to seek for yourself. You can do this by joining a small group, participating in a Bible study, watching sermons online, visiting cool Christian websites like Draw For God.com, listening to Christian podcasts, and even reading daily devotionals. This also goes back to what I mentioned in #3 which is regarding reading your Bible every day. So don’t settle for just a small portion once a week. Seek to know the Lord on a much deeper level and this will bring you much closer to Him.