How Can I Be Close to God?
June 29, 2020
by Dr. J. Vernon McGee
When the book of 1 John was written, Jesus had already ascended back to heaven. But we’re told, “Having loved His own, He loved them right on through to the end,” and He wants them to have continued fellowship with Him even though He is now back in heaven and we’re down here on the earth.
John is talking to you and me. He spans the nearly twenty centuries, looks down on us today, and says, “We want you to have fellowship with Him, and this is the way it’s done.”
That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. -1 John 1:3
John tells us we can have fellowship with God! One of the most glorious prospects before us today is that we can have fellowship with the Father, with the Son, and with one another.
But God is holy and I am a sinner, how can I have fellowship with Him?
People have tried to do this in three different ways. Make sure you get to #3.
Method #1: Bring God down to man’s level.
If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. -1 John 1:6
That’s strong language. I’m too polite to say it so bluntly, but John isn’t. If you and I say we have fellowship with God but walk in darkness, we are liars. We must deal with the sin in our lives. My friend, if you are going to walk with God, you are going to walk in light. And if there is sin in your life, you are not walking with Him. You cannot bring Him down to your level.
But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son [keeps on cleansing] us from all sin. -1 John 1:7
He died to save us from the guilt of sin. I have been saved—that’s justification. I am being saved—that is sanctification.
Method #2: Bring man up to God’s level.
The other side says man has reached sinless perfection and is living on the same high plateau as God. John deals with that, too:
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. -1 John 1:8
This is even worse than being a liar; you’re deceiving yourself. My friend, who do you think you deceive when you say you have no sin? You deceive yourself, and I guarantee you are the only one. You don’t deceive God, your neighbors, or your friends. John says the truth is not in a man like that because he can’t see he is a sinner. Yet a great many folk try that route in their effort to bridge the gap between themselves and a holy God.
Method #3: Confess.
Since you cannot bring God down to your level or yourself up to His level, what are you going to do? John gives us the alternative:
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. -1 John 1:9
The word “confess” means “to say the same thing.” This is important. You are to say the same thing God says. When His Word says something you’re doing is sin, you are to get over on God’s side and look at it. And the only acceptable answer is, “You are right, Lord. I say the same thing You do: It is sin.” Rationalizing it isn’t an option, either. If God says it is sin, it is sin, and we must confess the same thing God says about it. That is what it means to confess your sins, and it is one of the greatest needs we have. This is God’s way for a Christian to deal with the sin in his own life.
The Lord Jesus washed the feet of His disciples. Today, even from heaven, He’s still washing feet because “having loved His own, He just keeps on loving them right down to the very end” (see John 13:1). Today He’s girded with a towel of service: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). We have to go to Him for cleansing again and again, saying, “Look, Lord. Here are my feet; please make me clean. I want to walk with You, I want to love You, and I want to enjoy You. I want to have fellowship with You.”
Go to the Lord, my friend, and open your heart and talk to Him as you talk to no one else. Tell Him your problems. Tell Him your sins. Tell Him your weakness. Confess it all to Him. Say to your Father that you want to have fellowship with Him and want to serve Him. He has made a marvelous, wonderful path back to Himself we can walk every day!
Jesus longs for our fellowship.
Download Dr. McGee’s booklet, “How to Have Fellowship with God,” for a deeper discussion of this important topic.
From Dr. J. Vernon McGee
“It’s possible to walk in darkness, and think you are all right.
“I once went squirrel hunting in Tennessee. I was deep in the woods when it started to rain. I crawled into one of the caves in the hillside and sat there in the dark for about 30 minutes. It was cold, so I gathered some leaves and put a match to them. I soon had a small fire going. With this new light, I looked around the cave and discovered I wasn’t alone. I have never been in a place with as many spiders and lizards as were hunkered there around me. Over in one corner was a snake all coiled up, just looking at me. My friend, I got out of there in a hurry.
“When the light of the fire revealed what was in the cave, I could no longer be comfortable there. My friend, the light of God’s Word reveals we are sinners. We can’t have fellowship with God in darkness. Let God’s Word bring you into the light and reveal what sin you need to confess so you can have fellowship with God.”
Are you willing to humble yourself and let Him show you what’s keeping you apart? Tell Him so.