“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”
Verse 8 continues ten commands to believers. The first two commands are related to God and the devil: 1) submit to God and 2) resist the devil. We hold to both commands simultaneously. The two belief systems of God and the devil are mutually exclusive.
Draw near to God
The third command is “draw near to God.” The words “draw near” mean to approach. James challenges his readers to pursue fellowship with the Lord. The Levitical priests drew near the altar with humility (Ex. 19:22; 24:2; Lev. 10:3). If we come to God in prayer with humility, He will answer our prayers. However, there are two qualifications in this verse – 1) cleanse your hands and 2) purify your hearts.
Ps. 73:28 “But it is good for me to draw near to God;
I have put my trust in the Lord God,
That I may declare all Your works.”
He 7:19 “‘for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.”
and He will draw near to you.
When we draw near to God, God will draw near to us. God requires that we exercise our volition toward Him first. God will embrace any believer no matter how long or to what extent he went away from Him. God stands ready to accept us with open arms.
Ps.145:18 “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him,
To all who call upon Him in truth.”
God grants us the privilege of entering into the majesty of His presence.
It is not enough to resist the devil (4:7); we must draw near to God in prayer and fellowship. We draw near to God by faith. We believe He is accessible and available to us. The reason for this is that Jesus made it possible. Only the blood of Christ can cleanse us from sin and allow for a fellowship with God.
1 Pe 3:18 “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit’”
It is amazing that God who transcends the universe allows us to enter into fellowship with Him through prayer and fellowship. We neither earn nor deserve this yet the Father delights in fellowship with us. He welcomes our voice and takes pleasure in answering our prayers.
He. 4:16 “Let us therefore come boldly [confidently] to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
He 10:19-22 “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and having a High Priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”
God does not answer the prayer of those out of fellowship.
Ps 66:18 “If I regard iniquity in my heart,
The Lord will not hear.”
Mt. 15:8 “These people draw near to Me with their mouth,
And honor Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.”
God promises us that He will answer prayer if we draw near to Him. We have God’s guarantee of that – “‘and He will draw near to us.”