When you approach God, what demeanor do you typically have? What attitude is forefront in your mind when you draw near to Him? For many people, it’s still an attitude of unworthiness, and a mixture of guilt and shame, sometimes under a cloak of religiosity.
Others approach him trying to stand on their own merit, relying on their own works, and sacrifices that they have made, thinking that such things earn spiritual points with God, and favor with Him based on their performance.
And these may seem as though they are on opposite ends of the spectrum, but they are both actually rooted in the exact same error: approaching God on the basis of yourself, and your own performance. It’s a very easy trap to fall into; we naturally want to stand in our own performance – and the world we live in generally promotes this idea of self-reliance, self-work, earning your own way. However when it comes to God, and spiritual identity, standing in yourself is not only wrong, it is deadly!
Today we will be examining what it means to approach God properly, and how it has a profound impact on your relationship, your union with Christ.
So as we begin today, let’s begin by reading Psalms 100:4-5:
“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful to him, and bless his name.
For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endures to all generations.”
Verse 4 here is fairly well known, there is even a popular praise song fashioned after this verse – however take notice of what it is saying: Enter His [that’s God] gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
Now if we are being truly honest, down to the very root of it all, we must admit that many people are not approaching God this way. Oh sure, most church serving sings a few songs before the sermon, and they think that doing such things is fulfilling this verse, but it is not. Those things are mostly external in nature – whereas this verse is speaking of the internal.
Notice that the tail end of the verse says to be thankful to Him, and bless His name. It says to be thankful. Not just “do thankful”, or “act thankful.” but to be thankful. It’s telling you what to be. Those who have ears let them hear this.
It says specifically to bless His name. And as we’ve studied previously, to “bless” means to speak well of… (and if you’re wondering, to “curse” means to speak negatively of…)
In this particular case, we are told to bless – that is, to speak well of His name. That is speaking of Jesus Christ; but it doesn’t end there, because the next verse (verse 5) gives us precisely the reason why in which we can be truly thankful, and truly give genuine praise to God, and why we can truly speak well of Him:
“For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endures to all generations.”
Now I want you to take a moment and notice what the focus is, here in this verse. It’s not us, it’s not our works, it’s not our wisdom, our knowledge, our merit or our sacrifices.
It’s all on His goodness, His everlasting mercy, His ever-enduring truth. (Which again are all wrapped-up in Jesus).
That is the focus, that is why you can be truly happy and thankful, and that is why you can honestly speak well of Him, because of the amazing mercy and grace and eternal truth of Jesus Christ, and what He has accomplished for you.
There are many instances in the scriptures where those who approached God on their own merit, were always brought to the point of seeing that in-reality they have no merit of their own. In-fact we see it in every recorded generation; and we see the same thing happening even now.
Yet in-contrast, those who approach God, not in their own merit, but rather in Christ and His merit, then they are accepted in the Beloved, as Ephesians 1:6 tells us.
To solidify this, and the Grace of Christ, and how it is absolutely essential, consider Hebrews 11:6:
“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
The details here are very important. Without faith, without the Gospel truth of what Christ has done for you, and knowing your identity in Christ, it is impossible (not unlikely, or difficult, but impossible) to please God.
Because the person that comes to God, must believe that He is.
Now this almost seems to be self-evident at first, I mean, who would come to God without believing that He is? But remember, that this is all from the perspective of approaching God properly.
There are actually quite a number of people who approach God without truly believing that He is – many deny the miracle working power of the Holy Spirit today (or deny that there even is a Holy Spirit at all).
They actually believe that God was, rather than is.
There are also those who are still working to please God, still clinging to Old Covenant rules and regulations. They believe that He has yet to come, rather than He is.
You see, believing that God is (present-tense, right now), carries with it many implications for life, and belief, and your identity in Christ… much of which is actually rejected in modern Christian circles, but it is essential to proper spiritual identity in the New Covenant.
Notice also the second-half of the verse, You must believe and God is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. God is a rewarder, of those who diligently seek Him. Not those who diligently work for Him! You diligently seek Him, and you find Him, and He rewards you on-top of it as a free gift!
Don’t believe that God is that good? It’s Romans 8:32:
“He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”
How shall he not with Him also freely give us all things? Those words leave nothing up to guesswork; they leave no room for doubt. All things (and remember, “all” means literally “all” as in, everything!) – all things are given freely with Christ Jesus.
So as is usual for our studies, it all comes back to your identity in Christ. Whether you see yourself as righteous in Him, or trying to earn righteousness and strive for it within yourself.
I encourage you today, to accept the sacrifice and finished work of Christ Jesus for you… lay down the burden of carrying an impossible weight, and approach God in the perfect righteousness of Christ, as He has always desired you to. And live the identity which He has paid for you to have.