If He’s everywhere all the time, is He also “in” or “with” sinners in their unrepentant sin?
A friend of mine texted me the question above to which I had to reply in an email. My reply is below. If you have any comments, questions, or challenging push-back I would love to receive it.
First, we must acknowledge that there is no “spirit of God” that is not the Holy Spirit. In Scripture, the Spirit of God = the Spirit of Christ = the Holy Spirit. He is a Person who is in distinction of Personhood from the Father and the Son, but is of ONE ESSENCE with the Father and the Son in the single Godhead.
There IS a place in Scripture where God is not – unholiness/sin. Holy God cannot be in the presence of that which is not holy. Perhaps, rather, that which is not holy cannot be in the presence of holy God. Reference the Holy of Holies in the Temple and look at all the regulations of that setup. It was crazy strict and specific as to who could enter when and how.
Third, we must not be in the business of protecting the “omni’s” (my language). We grow up hearing that God is omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, omni-everything! But, this is a simplification for our own understanding in an attempt not to LIMIT this God of ours. Because we think, of course, that would be blasphemous! He does not need our protection and we will never do justice to ALL that He is. Instead of beginning our theology from the “omni’s,” we must begin it with Scripture and move outward.
Does it really limit a holy God to say that His Spirit is not in the presence of an unholy sinner or further yet, within him/her? Isn’t this just consistent with His character and His holiness?
Last, it is important to note that though holy God cannot be in the presence of the unholy, Christ a) cameand b) died for all. This shows my theological bias as a Wesleyan. God extended grace FIRST through Christ. Christ did not only die for those He foreknew would accept Him. Grace preceded our response. Thus, Christ is the Mediator/Advocate Who died for all and is currently seated at the right hand of the Father interceding for us and our lost world. So, even though holy God cannot be in the presence of the unholy, in the Incarnation, HE CAME to that which was unholy to extend grace that ALL might have the opportunity to enter into the Holy of Holies, the presence of God, and remember, the veil was torn.
In short, the answer to your question is, “No,” the Holy Spirit is not “everywhere,” including the heart of an unrepentant sinner.
I found my friend’s reply wonderfully encouraging and wanted to include it as well:
Thank you Jonathan
I appreciate you taking the time to write such an in depth answer to my questions. It means a lot. It is so true that we can’t do God, Jesus, or the Spirit of God justice in how act, and especially not in words. That’s why He is Holy and perfect, and indescribably great. I’m thankful that God knows this and has shown His grace for us, through the sending of His only begotten Son Jesus, who died that we may have life in Him and be saved by His grace through faith in Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 2:8).
It is amazing to think that the Holy God of the universe has compassion on us, and He and His Son Jesus who are One, want to have a relationship with us. I’m thankful that like you said, God’s grace that leads us to repentance came first in Jesus Christ the Son of God and bridged the separation between man and God. I’m also thankful that it is God’s grace through Jesus that picks us up every time we fall down, and is continually growing and perfecting us and our love for God, Jesus, and people, and faith in Jesus Christ and God the Father. I realize more and more everyday and when I fall down that I am continually being molded to be like Christ and that this work inside me and transformation will only be complete when we get to heaven. Praise the Lord that God’s grace and faithfulness sees us through in His love back to Him our Father in Heaven.
It makes sense that a Holy God can’t be in the presence of unholiness. Praise the Lord that because of God’s grace extended through Jesus imperfect man can now enter into a relationship with God through Jesus and be continually sanctified and perfected, and saved as His child. (THE VEIL WAS TORN). Your point number five is awesome. Because of sin we were separated by God, but Jesus became our way to the Father and our Salvation, extending the grace of God to us and saving us from sin and certain death. So, even though holy God cannot be in the presence of the unholy, in the Incarnation, HE CAME to that which was unholy to extend grace that ALL might have the opportunity to enter into the Holy of Holies, the presence of God, and remember, the veil was torn – I completely agree!
Me again: I pray we would be edified in conversation about such things as God transforms us. Blessings!