…let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith…Hebrews 10:22
Is it inconsistent for the Bible to teach us that God “dwells in unapproachable light” (1 Tim. 6:16), while at the same time exhort us to draw near to him? If God dwells in the white-hot light of his holiness, how can sinners like you and me ever hope to take even one baby step toward him? If God is so pure, so completely undefiled, so sharply separate from sin, how can we approach him? Indeed, it seems, he is unapproachable.
Yet the author of Hebrews strongly encourages believers to not only approach God, but to do so with “full assurance.” How can this be? Is it not contradictory? It would be if it were not for one word, used twice, “since.” Read the following verse in its context; that is, considering its surroundings.
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.(Heb. 10:19-22, emphasis added)
There are two reasons you can enter God’s presence directly.
Jesus Paved the Way to God
The first reason you can approach the unapproachable God is because Jesus paved the way to God with his blood. As a result, “we have confidence to enter the holy places.” Jesus paved a “new and living way” into God’s presence. How did he do this? “Through the curtain, that is, his flesh.” When the Son of God became man, he voluntarily veiled the fullness of his divine glory within the humility of human flesh. By offering the veil of his flesh to be torn, while enduring the wrath of God for three long hours of darkness (Luke 23:44-45), he met the righteous demands of the holy God, and ripped the curtain of the temple in two. By paying the death penalty for sin he threw open the door to God’s presence.
Jesus Is Greater than All Human Priests
The second reason you can approach the unapproachable God, which is directly tied to the first reason, is because Jesus is greater than all human priests. The author calls Jesus a “great priest” because he offered himself, instead of bringing a lesser sacrifice to God. Jesus is the only priest who ever became the sacrifice as well, he “appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Heb. 9:26). Only sinless flesh could satisfy God’s justice and mediate for sinners; only absolute purity would do. As High Priest, Christ entered the holy place not made with hands to offer one sacrifice, one time, for all people. As a result, God’s holiness, righteousness, and wrath were satisfied. Three days later, God sealed and advertised this new access by raising him from the dead (Rom. 4:25). Forty days later Jesus ascended to God’s right hand, where he now sits. “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession” (Heb. 4:14). Jesus alone is the “one mediator between God and men” (1 Tim. 2:5), who “always lives to make intercession” for us (Heb. 7:25). Now, all who come to Christ by faith can approach God with confidence because they do so through the Son’s merit alone.
Therefore, it is consistent for the Bible to compel us to draw near to God provided it is “in full assurance of faith.” Faith has no power or value unless its object is perfect. The only faith that brings full assurance to your heart is faith in Jesus, “the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2). Why did Jesus sit down? Because his sin-atoning work was complete. The road was paved. The door is wide open. Hallelujah!
In Christ, you have immediate and direct access to God. What burdens do you need to bring to his throne of grace right now?