7 You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: 8 ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far away from Me. 9 ‘But in vain do they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’” Matthew 15:7-9 (NASB)
What does it mean biblically to draw near to God? Obviously, the Jews our Lord confronted as Matthew recorded in the passage above were not doing so. However Hebrews 10:22 says to those who are truly born again:
22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:22 (NASB)
The words “let us draw near” translates the verb προσερχώμεθα, which is the Present tense, Subjunctive mood, Middle voice, 1st person, plural of προσέρχομαι or proserchomai, “to approach, accede to.” This verb structure refers to continuous or repeated action, regardless of when the action took place. The subjunctive mood suggests that the action is subject so some condition and the present subjunctive can be used to give exhortation, which is exactly what the writer of Hebrews is doing here.
Why do Christians have this desire to draw near to God? The regenerate heart has a sincere desire for truth. We are to draw near, προσέρχομαι, to God with a ἀληθινῆς καρδίας, a true heart. The word ἀληθινῆς speaks of that which is absolute, incontrovertible, irrefutable, incontestable, unarguable, and unchanging…that is, the truth. This is God’s absolute truth with no concept of “all things are relative” here. The word καρδίας is the heart of a person, which in this text is referring to the reason and the faculty of intelligence, not just the emotional nature. Therefore, the command is for us to draw near unto God with a heart that is truly set to obey Him, to worship Him, to line up its will with His.
Mike Ratliff’s title: What does it mean biblically to draw near to God?