Read Hebrews 10:22. What conditions for approaching God in the heavenly sanctuary are laid down in this verse?
According to this verse, worshipers should meet four conditions when they draw near to God:
1. Come with a sincere heart. The heart is our inner being, our thoughts, our motivations, our emotions, our will, and our character. God wants us to be sincere. However, the heart can become sincere only if it is cleansed. This doesn’t mean that we are perfect, just that we are striving toward revealing the character of Christ.
2. Come in full assurance of faith. As we saw in yesterday’s study, there is no more reason to doubt that we will gain access to God.
3. Come with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience. The sprinkling of the heart is sanctuary language that refers back to the blood sprinkled upon the people at the wilderness tabernacle (Exod. 24:8; Lev. 8:23-24, which made them ritually clean but could not cleanse their conscience (Heb. 9:9, Heb 9:13). The cleansing in the true tabernacle in heaven, however, is a cleansing of the conscience, brought about by the blood of Christ (Heb. 9:14). The justification of the repentant sinner is symbolized by this cleansing. We can have a clear conscience because we have been forgiven.
4. Come with our bodies washed with pure water. This sounds like an allusion to Christian baptism but we can also understand it in a more spiritual sense as the “washing of water with the word” (Eph. 5:26, NASB), reading the Bible and applying its principles to our lives.
In James 4:7-8, James struggles with the “double-minded” attitude of his readers. They have apparently lost their single-mindedness toward God. They have compromised and are in immediate danger. He uses language associated with purity at the sanctuary. It is truly a sanctuary concept that approaching God is possible only if purification takes place.
It should be clear that only God can cleanse our hearts. The question is: what painful choices do we make that allow Him to do this work of grace in our lives?