The Heavenly Guest

Unless you are a spiritual orphan, the Holy Spirit has taken up a permanent abode in your heart. On the night preceding His crucifixion Jesus told His disciples that He would send them ‘another Comforter.” In the original Greek one of His promises in regard to this Comforter reads: “I will not leave you orphans, I will come to you.” John 14:18. He wanted His disciples to know that the Comforter would replace His personal presence. Even though He knew they would be slow to comprehend, Jesus told them that God would give to them His Spirit, the very same Spirit that had accompanied Him throughout His earthy sojourn. As ‘another comforter, the Holy Spirit would stand in Christ’s stead and provide for them the same inner assurance that Christ’s personal presence had provided.

Strange, eventful happenings faced the disciples, the meaning of which they would not immediately understand. They would see the earth mantled with darkness, feel the solid ground quake beneath their feet, and hear Christ’s last piercing cry from the cross. They were to carry His lifeless form to Joseph’s new tomb. Then they were to experience a painful loneliness-they would feel like orphans. However, Jesus did not intend that they should be orphans. At His very first meeting with them after His resurrection, “he breathed on them,” saying, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost.” John 20:22

In Old English the word ghost had a more personal connotation than the word spirit. In effect, Jesus invited His disciples to receive a person. No one knows the indwelling presence of the divine Guest will ever feel alone. The action of receiving is vital, however. The heavenly guest offers companionship only to those who invite Him into their lives.


Jesus admonishes today, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost.” God as never forced any to be a spiritual orphan, an outcast, or a derelict. He never abandons any man. Rather, man forsakes God. “Your iniquities have separated between you and your God.” Isaiah 59:2. Through disobedience, man has made himself a stranger, an alien-a spiritual vagabond.


God longs to dwell with every one of His children. That, indeed, is the meaning of Christ’s Incarnation and the ultimate purpose of the cross. However, in the natural man-that is, the unconverted person-the place that God has made for Himself to occupy is filled with an impostor. Nevertheless, God is not deterred in His desire to dwell in man because of an impostor’s presence. He freely offers liberation to all who will choose Christ. If a man desires, Jesus will evict the deceiver and send the Holy Spirit to indwell the soul.


To believe in Christ is to receive the Holy Ghost into our hearts. This is to be a permanent relationship. To underscore this Jesus told of a certain man whose house or soul had been swept and garnished, his sins forgiven, and the evil spirit driven out. However, this man, like many others, failed to continue welcoming the Holy Spirit into his heart. Later the evil spirit returned, and, finding the house empty, he recruited seven other evil spirits, and eight of them invaded the old premises to set up a new tyranny far worse than the first. (Matthew 12:43-45.) The soul will not remain unoccupied. It will be indwelt by either unholy spirits or by the heavenly Guest.


The tragic story of Saul, Israel’s first king, illustrates how a man may lose God’s Spirit. God gave young Saul His Spirit. (1 Samuel 10:6.) Saul gladly obeyed at first. However, later, when reproved for disobedience, Saul became moody, dissident, and disagreeable. He wanted to be a part-time believer, a partway follower. Affable one moment, he would indulge a violent temper tantrum the next. Thus, he developed a split personality. However, God never works in partnership with Satan. Christ said, “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Matthew 6:24. The heavenly Guest left Saul, and an evil spirit possessed him. (1 Samuel 16:14.) Eventually life itself became so intolerable to Saul that during a battle with the Philistines, Saul asked his armor bearer to kill him, the servant refused and Saul fell on his own sword and died.


Saul’s successor, King David, also faltered in obedience and became a prodigal son in Heaven’s sight. Sin made David’s devotions meaningless. He sang the songs of Zion, bowed his head in worship, went through the other emotions of religion, but existed as only a wooden man, an actor, not a worshiper. The heavenly Guest could not continue to dwell within while he refused to confess the sin of his heart.


Months went by. Then God sent Nathan the prophet to expose to David the guilt that plagued his soul. With the dreadful history of Saul before him, he saw the Holy Spirit soon would give up striving with him and leave him forever to that merciless spirit that had plagued his predecessor. In desperation David prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God.” He realized that heart cleansing preceded Spirit indwelling.


David’s prayer continued: “Renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10. Realizing that without the Holy Spirit he would be a spiritual castaway and banished forever from God’s presence, David implored, “Take not thy holy spirit from me.”


As assurance of forgiveness came, David pledged himself to become a missionary witness: “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit, then I will teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.” Psalm 51:10-13


Today we have the same merciful God, and we need the indwelling of the heavenly Guest just as urgently as did David. There may be no active hostility toward the heavenly Guest in our soul, but there may not be any genuine hospitality offered Him either. Satan overcomes many by little sins, mere trivia. They love the things of this life, its pleasures, and its sweet nothings. For many, life’s little goings and comings crowd out the fellowship of the Spirit just as effectively as would some great sin.


We must recognize that activity, busyness-even in the Lord’s work-cannot substitute for the presence of the Holy Guest.



Memory Verse:

Psalm 51   “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.  Behold, ‘I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.  Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee. Deliver me form bloodguiltness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise. For thou desirest not sacrifice, else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem. Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.


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