"These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me." ~ Mark 7:6 (NIV)
Jesus spoke against the traditions of the temple elders that denied His Father's commands in their worship. Their unrepentant hearts were prophesied in Isaiah 29 and resulted in consequences of judgment upon them.
Moses experienced a similar confrontation in Numbers 16 with appointed councilmen, who were deceived in their minds and hearts, convinced they were holy among themselves. In verses 31-35, we see God do a bit of house cleaning among this relentless leadership, as each one instantly perished in an earthquake.
God's truth is that we can only come close to Him by being chosen by Him. Jeremiah 30:21 says that God causes us to draw near. The councilmen were not chosen by God to have the same anointing or assignment as Moses. It was not their place to elevate themselves above the role in which God had placed them. Likewise, we are not worthy to come close to God except through His covenant with His Son, Jesus Christ.
In Romans 7:7-25 the Apostle Paul explains this principle in painstaking detail, confessing in verse 24, "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord."
When we obediently choose to draw near to God through Jesus, we receive life, rewards and blessings in great abundance. We thrive! We move toward our divine destiny. And a surrendered heart opens the door.
David understood this. He declared to God in Psalm 50:6, "Behold, You desire truth in the inner being; make me therefore to know wisdom in my inmost heart." Later in verse 10 he boldly beseeches God by saying, "Create in me a clean heart, Oh God, and renew a right, persevering, and steadfast spirit within me."
When we come close to God through Jesus, He will make known to us His mysteries through revelation (Eph. 3:3). What better place to be than understanding the wisdom of God that He longs to give us and to know His love that surpasses knowledge (Eph. 3:19).
Not surprising, the word intimacy is from the Latin words "intimare," which means "to make known" (as in reveal Himself) and from "intimus," which means "innermost" (as in holy of holies, heart).
To be intimate means to have a close personal relationship, to be thorough as in having an extensive knowledge or experience, to be connected through influence (of God), involving the innermost nature (spirit, soul, heart). It means having a quiet or private atmosphere and a personal or private utterance (prayer) or action (praise, worship).
Where there is intimacy, there is power; there is grace; there is peace. To get in position to receive God's fullness of power, we must exercise faith, respect, reverence, communication and honor. When we love God, we listen to Him. We care what He has to say. His heart is important to us, much more than our own. We regard Him as higher than ourselves. And life becomes all about Him.
Psalm 73:28 assures us it is good to draw near to God. Isaiah 58:2 confirms it is a delight to draw near to God. As we choose to do this through Jesus, we can lay claim to the truth of John 7:38, which says, "He who believes in Me [who cleaves to and trusts in and relies on Me] as in the Scripture has said, From his innermost being shall flow [continuously] springs and rivers of living water."
Margaret D. Mitchell is the Founder of God's Love at Work, a marketplace outreach purposed to share God's greatest power source - the love of Christ. This devotional was adapted from Margaret's forthcoming book, Enduring Grace. All rights reserved.
Originally published Sunday, 24 February 2019.