A few days ago, we learned from this passage that the living God wants his people to live in close fellowship with him. (I deliberately use the word “learn”, because one of the ways believers are referred to is as disciples or “learners”.) Nearness and boldness to God our Father is encouraged in this new covenant age. God welcomes us heartily into his presence. Coldness, a careless attitude, a lukewarm desire, and fear are all out of place. Instead, we are to have a proper approach to God: “with a sincere [true] heart”. So then, let us learn some more!
We ought to begin with an explanation of terms. The “heart” refers to the whole inner person: mind, emotions, will, etc. The “heart” is in contrast to the outer person (2 Corinthians 5:12; 1 Peter 3:4). Don’t restrict “heart” to the emotions. What is the nature of the Christian’s heart? To help understand it, let’s contrast it with a non-Christian’s heart. The unregenerate heart is a heart where sin reigns (Romans 1:21, 24; 2:5; Ephesians 4:18; Hebrews 3:12). But the regenerate heart is a heart where God’s reign has been established (Hebrews 8:10; 10:16).
To approach God with a true heart is to draw near to him with a heart and life in conformity with the truth of God having been written in one’s heart. Remember the article about the belt of truth? We have been taught the truth in Jesus, and daily we need to apply his truth to the way we live. For example, the apostle said (Galatians 2:20), “I have been crucified with Christ.” This is a great truth of Christian experience. In our standing before God, he looks at us as crucified. Since that is true, observe how Paul follows up: “and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” He knew what was true and he sought to live out that truth in practical ways. In the same way, the ground or basis of approach is your union with Christ, but the manner of your approach must be with “a sincere heart”. This sincere heart requires us to draw near to God with reliance on, joy in, and a desire to conform to our Lord and Savior.
For this reason, we know the following. Merely religious persons seem to draw near to God, but they don’t come with a sincere heart. There are those who perform duties that God has commanded, but who do them in a formal manner and with the outward person only (Isaiah 1:10ff; the Holy Spirit is very emphatic in this passage!) There are also those who worship God by formal, manmade inventions (Matthew 15:7-9; the Lord Jesus is very emphatic in this passage!) God is not indifferent about how we approach him. God desires our heart. He wants our inner person fully involved in a godly manner when we come to him (Mark 12:28-30; Ephesians 5:19).
Are you making use of your privileges? God wants you to draw near to him. I’m sure you have a heating system in your house or apartment. Did you have it on when the days were cool? You probably have a bed with a comfortable mattress. Did you sleep on it or on the floor last night? Every Christian should be concerned that all believers in their local fellowship are drawing near to God. Notice the words of the text – “let us….” This ought to be one of our real and constant concerns for one another. “Father in heaven work in my brother or sister’s heart. May you give them grace so that they draw near to you. I want them to enjoy you and to know you and peace, as they trust in you. O Lord, please fill them with confidence to draw near to you.”
Grace and peace, David