The Scripture teaches us that under the New Covenant the Spirit of the Living Christ is placed within each believer at the time we give our life to Him (John 17;21). The Scripture also teaches in John 16 that the Holy Spirit resides within us to teach, guide and lead us into all righteousness. Therefore, God can give us the promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us.
Since we have the promise of God’s omnipresence in our life, we can live with the assurance that wherever we go, God is there. He fully understands the gravity of our situation. This distinguishes our Lord from all the false gods of the world. Our God is a personal god. He knows us by name, He knows all about our life and He allows us to commune with Him. What a wonderful privilege to be a child of the living God.
God wants to move us to the next level by growing in our degree of intimacy. I don’t think there is a theological word that adequately describes this level, but I like to refer to it as “Maintaining the Sense of His Presence.” Some may refer to this as Abiding.
As mentioned above, God is always with us and dwells in us, and He has promised to never leave nor forsake us. That’s a great truth that brings us comfort. However, beyond that knowledge, there is personal intimacy with the Father. We should always seek to maintain and enhance that personal intimacy.
This personal intimacy is not gotten by good works or acting more spiritual. Nor is it obtained by good works. It is realized by a deep longing to “know Him.” When we seek personal intimacy we turn our affections toward the Jesus within us, and have a deep longing to know and commune with Him. We begin to pass into another spiritual dimension. We are immediately challenged to have a fresh look at our sinfulness and examine our motives. We develop a longing for a deeper level of holiness. It’s like a thawing of our spiritually cold heart. We may even acknowledge that our outward spiritual activity has masked the inward coldness of our heart.
Madame Guyon says it best in her book Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ, where she comments on intimacy; “(For a believer) The Lord is found only within your spirit, in the recesses of your being, in the Holy of Holies; this is where He dwells. The Lord once promised to come and make His home within you. (John 14:23). He promised to there meet those who worship Him and who do His will. The Lord will meet you in your spirit. It was St Augustine who once said that he had lost much time in the beginning of the Christian experience by trying to find the Lord outwardly rather than by turning inwardly.”
All true believers have been to the place where they sense His abiding presence, but they have a difficult time staying there. In the busyness of life we let little things creep in that slowly hardens our sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s promptings. When we lose this sensitivity our speech resembles the world’s language, our attitude reflects our culture and we slowly begin to lose the sense of the Lord’s presence. We become satisfied just to know that He will never forsake us, but give no thought to the fact we have lost the sense of His abiding presence.
Maintaining a sense of His presence is a deliberate and willful act of our will. It is an act of surrender and abandonment. Surrender is the willingness to surrender all those things that drive away the sense of God’s presence. It’s surrendering our worry, doubt and fear as well as those things that we know grieves the heart of God. It’s surrendering not only what the Lord allows to come your way but it’s also surrendering your reaction to what He allows to come your way.
Abandonment is forgetting your past and leaving the future in His hands. It is being satisfied with the present moment and laying all your concerns at Jesus’ feet. It is being fully immersed in His presence.
Are you like me? I have a problem staying in that sense of His abiding presence. I know I am not there when my behavior and my thought life is inconsistent with my identity. I know that I have stepped out of that fellowship when I am full of fear, or when I snap back with cutting words to someone who was rude to me. Sometimes I quickly repent but sometimes, I’m sorry to admit, I enjoy my moment in the flesh too much to immediately confess my sin. But my desire is to live every moment guided by a sense of His daily presence. I think this is God’s intention for us, to continually dwell and live with a sense of imminent presence.
Do you long for a daily sense of His abiding presence? If so, make a deliberate turn toward the inward Savior. Ask Him to show you what is hindering you from having that daily sense of His abiding presence.
I am reminded of a gospel chorus that was written in 1972 by Stephen Adams, Where the Spirit of the Lord Is. It speaks to the subject of experiencing His presence. Perhaps you remember the little chorus.
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is peace
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is love.
there is comfort in life’s darkest hour,
there is light and life,
there is help and power
in the spirit, in the spirit of the Lord.
“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” 2 Corinthians 3:17