Praying to the Father, through Jesus Christ, brings us into the presence of the most holy, positive, righteous, peaceful, serving, giving, humble, merciful, and unchanging attitudes and character that exist in the entire universe! The notes at Psalm 16:11 demonstrate a simplified effect of this in how the attitudes of people we spend time with affect us. Whether that person's attitude is positive or negative, unless we resist or our attitude is strong, our attitude tends to echo the strength of the other's attitudes. If the other is personally close to us—especially if we deem the relationship important to us—the effect of the transfer of attitudes intensifies. Similarly, physical nearness also intensifies the effect.
This is why men reflect Satan's spirit. Satan "broadcasts" it over our entire environment here on earth, thus, we are always "near" it. In fact, God has willed that at this time it will have no strong competition among the unconverted. Even we cannot entirely escape its influence; even when in God's presence, we can bring that spirit with us.
Notice that Hebrews 10:22 says, "[L]et us draw near. . . ." Nearness enhances the transfer of the qualities of God's Spirit, and He greatly desires we have these qualities because they will make us like Him. Being in His presence is a primary way this is accomplished. This is why a person can leave God's presence in prayer at peace, full of joy, or filled with confidence—or on the other hand, chastened, having been led to remorse and repentance. Drawing near to God has little to do with distance and everything to do with deepening our relationship with Him. As this occurs, prayer begins to change things—us.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sovereignty of God: Part Nine
Justification, by grace through faith in Christ's blood, secures for us access into the very presence of God and more of God's grace. The emphasis here is upon the word "access." The Israelites' relationship with the Tabernacle and the Temple pictured this: They were denied access to the Holy of Holies. In fact, the law also forbade them entry into the Holy Place, the first room inside the Tabernacle and the Temple. Only the priests could go into the Holy Place, and they could enter it only in performing their duties. Whenever David organized them into courses, the ordinary priests could only enter it a few times during the year.
So what about ordinary Israelites? They never got in there—not at all. So, no sacrifice (no single sacrifice or multitude of sacrifices)—no quantity of good works of the law or of any kind—gained them entrance into where God lived, into His presence. God completely shut them off from any direct access to Him. Only the high priest—once a year, on the Day of Atonement—was allowed in, but only after he offered a sacrifice for sin, underwent ritual purification through washing, and donned special clothing.
God is illustrating for us that we are not righteous enough to be in His presence. (Nowhere does the Bible say that justification does away with the law. It is not a property of justification to do so.) Justification brings us into alignment with a standard. With God, justification is a gift; on our part, it is unearned. We cannot earn it because our works are flawed and thus unacceptable. We are unacceptable. Justification—by God's grace, through faith in Christ's blood—brings us into alignment with God's standard and therefore into the status of "righteous" in His eyes. Then we have access to God.
In principle, this does not differ from breaking a law of man (committing a crime) and going to jail. Once the penalty has been paid, and we are squared away with the law we have broken, we are released from prison. Once again, we have free access to the public. But the major difference between that scenario and what God does is that we cannot pay the penalty and still have His purpose continue in our lives because we would be dead.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part Four)
The purpose of Christ's death was not merely to pay for sins but also to provide the means for a relationship with God. If we are at all mindful of salvation, we need to be concerned about such a relationship because that is the means of overcoming and growing toward the Kingdom of God. It is the relationship with God that counts, not merely that we are forgiven.
Would a woman like it if, instead of spending time with her and giving his attention to the things of common interest to their relationship, the man she is intended to marry paid attention to everything else? Perhaps he gives his attention to his work, working all hours of the day and maybe of the night. By the time he came home, he is so tired or there are so many other things he had to do that he cannot give her any time - and so she never has much of a relationship with him. Or maybe he spends his time on entertainment, hobbies, sports. If a woman intended to marry such a person and began noticing this in him, it would not be long before she moved on with her life. She could only conclude, "This guy is a loser." She could not expect any kind of healthy relationship with him.
Inserting God in the woman's place in such a relationship, would He be kindly disposed and eager to help the person who is ignoring Him, neglecting Him? God is no sap.
Let's turn this around. Would a man be inclined to help his fiancée if she were giving her attentions to every man who came along? The Bible frequently describes Israel in this way in the context of her relationship with God. All the woman wants to do is to party, drink, play games, and be frivolous and silly, while flirting indiscriminately with each man who caught her eye. How much and for how long would her intended be willing to help her? How soon would he break off the relationship?
God gives powers to those who involve their lives within the framework of His concerns - and His chief concern is to reproduce Himself (Genesis 1:26). To those people, God gives strength and benefits. Once we understand what makes a successful relationship with God, we must make every effort to harmonize with that process through prayer, Bible study, meditation, fasting, submission, and obedience. God gives His Spirit and its gifts to those who obey Him (Acts 5:32), who submit to Him, communicate with Him, and allow Him to communicate with them.
With such people, He has a real relationship. God will bend over backward for them, which He has already showed He will do by giving His Son, as He could give nothing more valuable.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Hebrews 10:19 begins the verbal bridge that transitions from the doctrinal material to its practical application. This latter section contains arguably the most powerful exhortations in the entire Bible for us to get up and get going. If these Hebrews were not Laodicean as a whole, they were very close to it.
Overall, God is saying through the apostle, "Don't you realize your danger? Being justified and sanctified, you absolutely cannot allow yourselves to continue in your neglectful ways. You have powerful help available through Christ, yet you are drifting away! Don't you realize what you are giving up by your slow but steady drift into apostasy?" He had already warned them as chapter 2 opened that their neglect of their privileges and responsibilities was allowing this great salvation to slip away.
In Hebrews 10:19, He reminds them that they already have access to God, so they should come before Him with eager boldness. This is one of our great privileges. Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden and God's presence, but through Christ, God's regenerated children are now invited into His presence in spirit. Because the way has been prepared for us to do this, we are able to come to know God up close and personal. This is among the greatest of all blessings afforded to everyone who makes the New Covenant.
In other words, He meets with us, not outside the back or front door, but inside the house! And not merely inside the house but inside the second room beyond the veil—the Holy of Holies—where formerly only the High Priest was welcome once a year! The veil separating the rooms in the Temple was torn asunder at Christ's death (Matthew 27:51). Nothing hinders our liberty to go boldly into God's very throne room.
Jesus Christ Himself is "the Way" to the Father (John 14:6). As High Priest, Jesus has dedicated Himself to intercede on behalf of us sinners in our relations with God. In John 17:19, in His prayer the night before His crucifixion, He says, ". . . for their [His disciples'] sakes, I sanctify Myself." He set Himself apart to the shedding of His blood for us and to His position as our High Priest.
The phrase in Hebrews 10:20, "through the veil, that is, His flesh," refers to what He did as a human to make this access to God possible. When He was flesh and blood, He died for us so that we, like Him, could go directly into the Holy of Holies. Spiritually, His death pierced the veil.
John W. Ritenbaugh
God's Power: Our Shield Against Apostasy