While being made new offers countless benefits to those of us who trust Christ, we must remember that God making us new is not primarily about us. God is bringing glory to Himself. That’s His biggest goal.
One of the ways He chose to do this is to make us new so we can know Him. Christ makes you and I new even though we are full of sinful desires. And not only that, He offers us this relationship with Him. The holy and perfect God, without limit and without need, Who hates our sin infinitely, chose to lavish infinite love on us. He even calls us His children (1 John 3:1).
We Get to Approach God
Through the cross, Jesus made a new way for us to approach God. Look at how the Holy Spirit puts it in Hebrews:
“Therefore, brothers, since we have boldness to enter the sanctuary through the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way He has opened for us through the curtain (that is, His flesh), and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water.” – Hebrews 10:19-22 (HCSB)
Hebrews focuses on how Jesus is better than anything else, and especially how He is superior to the Old Covenant. Hebrews uses imagery from the Old Covenant tabernacle to explain how Jesus made a way for us to draw near to God. Leviticus is the key to understanding Hebrews. It contains God’s commands for how He is to be worshipped. Only the High Priest could enter the part of the tabernacle where God’s presence was focused, and only once a year. On top of that, since mankind is sinful, they must first sacrifice several animals in their place before they would come to God. Jesus changed all of that.
Now we can draw near to God confidently, or in the words of Hebrews, “in full assurance of faith.” See God’s greatness in the reasons we get to approach Him with confidence:
We approach Him by faith in Christ’s works, not our own works. Christ accomplished His task perfectly and ushers us into God’s presence. Hebrews 4:14-16 elaborates on this:
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens—Jesus the Son of God—let us hold fast to the confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time.” (HCSB)
Christ has done the work, and to draw near to God we:
“must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).”
We approach Him righteously. At Christ’s crucifixion He was made:
“to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21 HCSB).
Hebrews 10:22 says our hearts are sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies are washed in pure water. The guilt that prevents us from approaching God is taken away, so that we may boldly come to Him.
We approach Him as Father. Multiple times where scripture teaches about prayer, it refers to God as our Father. I understand that many of you have suffered because your father has been abusive, absent, or simply uninvolved. I do not want to overlook that pain. But I do want you to know this: God is not that kind of father. He is a powerful and good Father, who gives us every good gift (James 1:17). Even His discipline is for our good (Hebrews 12:10).
In Luke 11, Jesus points out that children can ask their parents for good things such as food, and that parents usually want to provide that good thing for their children. If these parents are scarred by sin and their own evil desires, but God is not, then God desires our good so much more than our earthly fathers do. Note again, though, that this is not ultimately about us, but about God’s glory.
Talking about God as our Father not only shows His goodness and our confidence in coming to Him, but it also shows His authority and the humility and reverence we have in His presence. All too often we approach God as if we are the father and He is the child. Hebrews 10:22 tells us to:
“draw near with a true heart.”
While we approach God confidently, we dare not come to Him with an arrogant or insincere heart.
“But He gives greater grace. Therefore He says: ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Therefore, submit to God. … Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, double-minded people! … Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.” – James 4:6-10 (HCSB)
When we approach God with a humble heart, we show that we are beginning to understand and care about Who He is. God is passionate about His glory, and He wants to display His glory through our prayers. We know that we have nothing to be proud of ourselves for. After He has made us new, we begin to understand this better, and no longer pray for things that will glorify us or satisfy our selfish desires, but we pray “Let Your Kingdom come,” and “Let Your will be done, not my own.”
Look again at the passage from James. See how it says that He gives grace to the humble? His grace displays His glory, and throughout history He has always cared about those who have humble hearts. In Isaiah 57:15, God says:
“I live in a high and holy place, and with the oppressed and lowly of spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and revive the heart of the oppressed (HCSB).”
Our humility stems from His grace, knowing that we haven’t earned the right to approach God, but Christ has. It also comes from a proper fear of God. Solomon acknowledged that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding (Proverbs 9:10 HCSB).” When we fear God, we begin to really know Him.
When we start to realize Who this God is that we get to have a relationship with, there is no other response but awe and worship. The Old Testament is full of stories where, after people see God’s glory, they turn from their sin and worship Him. This stays true for us today. As we enjoy being made new and having a relationship with God, we respond with a heart that says He is worth more than anything. And we only ever start to learn Who He is, because there is no limit to His character. We can only pray as Paul did that God will give us:
“strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that [we] may be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:18-19 ESV).”
We could spend hours discussing how we get to approach God. Dig deeper for yourself. This week, set aside a few minutes each day to pray with a humble heart, worshipping God and confidently asking Him to work.