From the previous part of this article, we have established that Sinners cannot DWELL in the presence of the all-consuming fire, the presence of the Lord! It is a holy place, it is a holy ground. This is evidenced in verse 14 of Isaiah 33 thus:
“The sinners in Jerusalem shake with fear. Terror seizes the godless. “Who can live with this devouring fire?” they cry.“Who can survive this all-consuming fire?”
Sin is an abomination to God – he hates sin, because He is a righteous God. God is light; and darkness (representing sin) cannot overcome light, darkness cannot withstand light. So, sinners tremble – they fear when they consider the presence of God where all there is, is an illumination of things as they are. They fear the exposure that light brings, and since in the Presence of the Lord, the consuming (devouring) fire exposes sin, this is then not their abode.
As we have seen already, the Presence of the Lord is holy. It is characterized by God and His attributes – love, joy, peace, goodness, serenity – an environment of Godliness. It is God’s shelter; it is His secret place. It is where God lives. It is His glorious habitation. King David, noted this about the presence of the Lord, “You will show me the path of life; In Your Presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)
For one to live in the Presence of the Lord, they have to be vulnerable. They have to acknowledge that the presence of God is a better place than any other that they know, can think of or even imagine. A place that cannot be traded with any other. They have to relinquish their own will and surrender to the will of another – the Lord God – hence making Him the Lord of their lives.
When God created man – Adam and Eve, He placed them in the Garden of Eden – in His Presence. Here, Adam and Eve would experience God’s goodness through a great relationship that knew no sin – no disobedience, nor other Lord, other than the Lord God. But what do we see after Adam and Eve disobeyed; after they allowed the lordship of the serpent by obeying him instead of God? “… God banished Adam and his wife from the Garden of Eden….” (Genesis 3:23).
The Presence of the Lord is Holy! It knows no Sin. It is righteous. It is just. It is Godly.
Adam and his wife’s case above is similar to Cain’s (their son) in Genesis 4. When Cain’s sacrifice was rejected by God, Cain became angry and dejected. However, God warned him against his anger, noting that sin was waiting to attack and destroy him, and that he must subdue it. He did not. Instead he schemed to kill his brother, Abel. Thereafter, God banished Cain from His Presence (verse 14).
So then, who can DWELL in the Presence of the Lord?
“The sinners in Jerusalem shake with fear. ‘Which one of us’, they cry, ‘can live here In the Presence of this all-consuming fire?’ “Who can live with this devouring fire?” they cry. “Who can survive this all-consuming fire?”” Isaiah 33:14 (New Living Translation).
“Lord, who may abide in your tabernacle? Who may dwell in your holy hill?” (Psalm 15:1 (New King James Version).
“Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord? Who may enter Your Presence on your holy hill?” Psalm 15:1 (New Living Translation).
Isaiah 33:14 is a proclamation that the sinners cannot dwell in the presence of the Lord. It is too hot for them! Who is this then that can dwell in the presence of the Lord? It is not left for us to prescribe the attributes of this person, nor do we have to imagine what he looks like – the bible, thankfully presents to us such a person – HE WHO THAT DWELLS IN THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD. What does he look like? Here is he:
- “Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right,speaking the truth from sincere hearts. Those who refuse to gossip or harm their neighbors or speak evil of their friends. Those who despise flagrant sinners, and honor the faithful followers of the Lord, and keep their promises even when it hurts. Those who lend money without charging interest, and who cannot be bribed to lie about the innocent. Such people will stand firm forever.” (Psalm 15:2-5)
- “ Those who are honest and fair, who refuse to profit by fraud, who stay far away from bribes, who refuse to listen to those who plot murder, who shut their eyes to all enticement to do wrong—these are the ones who will DWELL on high. (Isaiah 33:15-16)
- The Godly – “Surely the godly are praising your name, for they live in your Presence.” (Psalm 140:13. The same verse in the Amplified version reads, “Surely the (uncompromisingly) righteous shall give thanks to your name; the upright shall dwell In Your Presence (before your very face).
- “…those who do not follow the advice of the wicked,or stand around with sinners or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night.” (Psalm 1:1-2)
Just looking at the above scriptures, we see, and really confirm that the presence of God is founded on RIGHTEOUSNESS, which essentially is, having a right standing with God.
Many people have been kept away from the righteousness of God because they have approached it from their “own righteousness” perspective, yet the bible tell us clearly that our own righteousness is as filthy rags – it can’t get us to heaven, it can’t give us a right standing with God. It focuses on self – that is it! I know I can do this; I am well able; I have what it takes; (the skills, the connections, the money etc.). It is dependent on one’s reliance on themselves, as opposed to reliance (surrender and yielding) to God and His word. Self-righteousness is a great limitation to God’s access to us. Yet, it is God’s righteousness that provides a platform, an avenue; a pathway for one to be able to:
- Exchange their will for God’s will
- Shun wickedness
- Embrace the truth
- Be renewed in light of the word of God
Thankfully, we don’t work to get God’s righteousness; we just acknowledge him and allow a renewal and a turnaround of our way of life.
The initial step in dwelling in the presence of the Lord is allowing the Lordship of Christ Jesus in one’s life. That way, He overrules the self as his Lordship takes over.
“That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10)
Acceptance of Christ and confession of His Lordship facilitates the process of one becoming a new creation altogether, and thus attaining the righteousness of God. This is evidenced in 2 Corinthians 5:17 and 21 here below:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new; For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
And voila, there we go – We have the ticket, the title deed to enable us access and DWELL IN THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD. We can now dwell, we can abide in the presence of the Lord.
You might be a believer; or maybe you have not yet made up your mind to believe in the Lord Jesus. The pathway is open to us all! Thank God. It is not for a few of us! It is for everyone who is willing to hearken to the voice of God and become vulnerable to him.
King David, even after having a wonderful relationship with God, got to a time when he sinned before God. He did not only commit adultery with Bathsheba, but he went ahead and organized for her husband’s death. But these very acts and the responses thereof reveal to us his heart; and really, the kind of a heart that can dwell in the God’s presence, as revealed in this excerpt from Psalm 51.
“Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in your sight… Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me hear joy and gladness… Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. DO NOT CAST ME AWAY FROM YOUR PRESENCE, and do not take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me by your generous Spirit”.
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart—These, O God, You will not despise.”
An open heart to God, a heart that is willing not to cling to “self’ or hide from the presence of God – a heart that will surrender to God in worship, in repentance and in total reliance on Him – will dwell in His presence. Sin casts one away from the presence of God.
So, you might identify with David, either before the sin with Bathsheba or after he sinned with her. Will you be vulnerable today – open yourself to God, with a contrite heart and dwell in His presence? This, he will not despise. His hands are outstretched to receive you.
And, yes, oh yes; there are benefits! Great benefits of dwelling in the presence of the Lord!
Look out for Part 3 of this article: “Dwelling in the Presence of the Lord – Are there Benefits?”