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Moving From Liking Jesus to Intimacy With Him

Moving From Liking Jesus to Intimacy With Him

Deep intimacy with God results in revelation and humility. We must humble ourselves before the Lord and ask Him to give us understanding. At some point, to cultivate true intimacy, we must ask Him to show us what parts of our hearts have or are continuing to come into agreement with what is unclean within us. We must hold fast to humility in the process of being made holy, and we must allow His Holy Spirit to shine His light in the darkness and drive out sin from our lives that we may be sanctified and pure of heart before the Lord.

Otherwise, we’re asking Jesus to simply help us with the symptoms of our sin rather than allowing Him to break the power of our sin and deliver us from the perverse darkness in our hearts.

We must take personal accountability for the filth we have spiritually come into agreement with and the fact that we are professing Christ as Lord with our lips while still sinning. It should break our hearts as we grasp the degree to which we are blaspheming the God who loves us so.

We must ask God to reveal what is at the core of our struggles so He can shine His glorious light into the dark corners of our hearts and drive out what is detestable. And that hurts. It’s hard. But if we are willing to believe He can do it, this wrestling proves profound in our spiritual life.

It’s not always pretty — sanctifying love. The degree of humility required in true, vulnerable engagement with God is more than we can even know to ask and pray for apart from the intercession of His Spirit. Yada intimacy with God is truly intense and all-consuming.

We cannot resolve to be like Ahab who, in 1 Kings 21–22, lived in wickedness, then grasped repentance, but ultimately ran from the continued work of sanctification due to his pride. He lived in antithesis to the Word and heart of God, which compels us to not despise the words of prophets or seek only what makes us feel good about ourselves. Ahab sought only what edified him and assured him the outcome his prideful flesh desired. Though familiar with repentance, when purification and instruction came, he rejected the pain of continued correction and lived cursed in consequence.

Repentance is not a one-time thing; it is a humbling rhythm in the life of a Christ-follower. We must continually lay ourselves bare before the Lord so He can reveal to us the deep, hidden, entrenched sins that rob us of so much spiritual life.

If we disengage just as things are escalating in intimacy, we’ll ultimately crawl out of the holy marriage bed before any breakthrough comes. And we’ll live stuck in a cycle that wrongly perceives intimacy with God as something that only strips us down and leaves us empty.

That only requires death and never sees the nail-pierced, talking, miracle-moving Christ who guarantees powerful, resurrected life.

No, the giving and receiving are a mutual exchange. God is working to achieve internal sanctification in our lives. When we humbly receive what the Holy Spirit is ministering to us, acknowledge it, and give it over to Him, He takes the ground that darkness and sin inhabited in us and occupies it with His marvelous light. He leads us to give up what is not of Him so we can receive what is of Him: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Wisdom, knowledge, discernment, healing, wholeness, encouragement, assignment and destiny. Righteousness, humility, courage and resolve. We are to be known so He can give us more of Himself that we might know Him more in return.

There is suffering in this process, and it is humbling, but under the shadow of His wing and surrounded by His great love, His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matt. 11:30). He invites us to give up what was never for our best so He in turn can sow His seed of life.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful.

Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Pet. 5:6–11)

The Lord presses us to extract what is vile and promises to restore what is good. He does not leave us empty or exhausted; He is the giver of good gifts. He wants to give us more of Himself.

We cannot conduct ourselves like those in Matthew 12:43–45:

When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, “I will return to my house from which I came.” And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first.

So also will it be with this evil generation.

No, when we yield to Him, recognize, and repent, we must remember the great love of God and not simply leave our temple clean, swept and empty, but invite an inhabitation of the Holy Spirit! Of the goodness, gifts, nature and truth of our God. Though there may be pain in the cleaning process, we can remember the instruction to invite in the Spirit to fill us in response.

Just as Jesus instructed us to pray, we are to exalt the holiness of our Father in heaven and immediately declare His kingdom come and His will be done. In the same way, we can also declare the coming and inhabitation of His kingdom by His Spirit in our hearts.

When He points out our greed and we hand it over, we must also pray to be filled with generosity.

When He points out our pride and we hand it over, we must also pray to be filled with humility.

When He points out our anger and we hand it over, we must also pray to be filled with patience.

When He points out how we lie and deceive and we hand it over, we must also pray to be filled with truth and honesty.

When He points out our hate and we hand it over, we must also pray to be filled with compassion and love.

When He points out our anxiety and we hand it over, we must also pray to be filled with peace.

When He points out our depression and we hand it over, we must also pray to be filled with joy.

In recognizing what needs to go and inviting in what needs to come, our mutual giving and receiving creates intimacy with God that leads us in love and holy delight. He is not just stripping us, leaving us vulnerable and exposed to the elements. Rather, He is drawing out what is not of Him to clothe us in the full armor of God (Eph. 6:10–18).

We give of ourselves, naked and bare before Him. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander and obscene talk from your mouth. (Col. 3:5–8)

So, He can re-dress us by His redeeming and edifying love.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put-on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
(Col. 3:12-17)

And in this dynamic exchange, we find that we are known and come to know the One whom we love. “Put on your new nature and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.”

When we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, all these things are added to us. Our intimate engagement with our Lord builds to a breakthrough. Our submission makes way for His sending. Humility precedes boldness, as spiritual perseverance leads us into the revelation of experiencing His powerful glory!

Excerpted from Fully Known: An Invitation to True Intimacy with God by Mo Aiken (Baker Books, April 2021)

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