Spiritual Intimacy – Where to Begin
By Eric Gondwe
Equipping for every Christian’s calling starts with spiritual intimacy. Spiritual intimacy comes through striving to walk and abide with God in an ever higher level of fellowship and obedience. Lack of proper spiritual intimacy with God puts the believer to confront life’s battles using his/her own strength and “wisdom.” This is a sure guarantee of defeat. Defeat may be spiritual, social, material, physiological and so on. Spiritual defeat is the worst since everything else is meaningless without adequate spiritual health.
Scripture says, “A man’s spirit sustains him in sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?” Proverbs 18:14. A healthy spirit can sustain all problems in life. When it is crushed every even a little problem whether socially, materially and so on is unbearable. We therefore need spiritual health above everything else. Spiritual health comes through spiritual intimacy with God. Spiritual intimacy invites God to be a companion, guide, source of strength and provision in our daily lives. It enables Christ to be the rightful head of our lives.
The power to do God’s will, to live a holy and victorious life is in Christ. Without Christ living and working through us our Christianity is mere religion – powerless. That is why he said, “apart from me you can do nothing,” John 15:5. If we abide in him through prayer, study of God’s Word, occasional fasting, etc, his power flows in us. Christ abides in us and begins to work a holy life in us that’s fit to produce good fruit. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing,” John 15:5. God expects us to do our part of investing more of our time in abiding in Christ for us to grow in obedience.
Sin automatically loses its power over us when our abiding in Christ is strong (1 John 3:9). We should therefore not be surprised when living a righteous life becomes much easier and more pleasant than we thought when a lot of our time is spent on spiritually edifying matters.
On the other hand, we become weaker to do God’s will and in living holy lives if our time is scantly spent with being in Christ, i.e., abiding in him. We should therefore not be surprised when we easily compromise, succumb to certain sins and find ourselves fitting in worldly standards when our abiding is weak.
It’s therefore very important to live a high level of a prayerful, submissive, word hungry and humble lifestyle. Fasting may be required over certain matters – personal or involving the lives of others. It requires being daily filled with the Holy Spirit and being anointed by him to fulfill Christ’s unfolding agenda on earth. “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery (wild living). Instead, be filled with the Spirit,” Ephesians 5:18
The following scriptures show the necessity of being filled with the Holy Spirit:
*“Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God,” Romans 8:14
*“But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control,” Gal 5:18, 22-23
*“The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things,” John 14:26
*“When he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth,” John 16:13.
*“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; without me you can do nothing,” John 15:5 = “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,” Zecharia 4:6
*“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth,” Acts 1:8
*“How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him,” Acts 10:38
*“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed,” Luke 4:18
*“Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father,” John 14:12
*“As the Father has sent me, I am sending you,” John 20:21
*“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit in him and he will bring justice to the nations…I, the Lord, have called you to be my covenant for the people and alight to the Gentiles, to open the eyes of the blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness,” Isaiah 42:1,6-7.
The results of being filled with the Spirit are incalculable for our Christian lives. We cease living by our own strength and are enabled to effectively fulfill our respective callings. Even our submission to God is made possible. Below is a table showing results and signs of the filling of the Holy Spirit from the Book of Acts. It was prepared by New Life in Christ Church.
Receiving of the Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts
What Sign or Result
Wind, fire, tongues, prophecy
Peter & apostles
Salvation & Holy Spirit
Peter & John
Vision of Jesus
Philip, Peter, John
Something? (see v.18)
Salvation & Holy Spirit
Healing of eyes
Salvation & Holy Spirit
Tongues & praising God
Barnabas & Paul
Disciples of John the Baptist
Tongues & prophecy
The above table shows the results and signs of filling of the Holy Spirit from the Book of Acts only. Other instances abound in the Bible. The Life of our Lord is our greatest example. And he said we’ll be enabled to do the same works and even greater ones than his after he ascended to be with the Father.
Please note from the table that speaking in tongues is not the only sign of being filled with the Holy Spirit. It is one of them and it may be argued that it’s not a required sign. Whether or not tongues are necessary in our days where language barriers are at their lowest minimum is quite a controversy in evangelical cycles. Won’t get into that.
One important indicator of being filled with the Holy Spirit is the lifestyle of the believer and how God is working in and through him/her that she knows (and some know) is not within her own power or wisdom. Scripture encourages us to “eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy,” 1 Corinthians 14:1. It is therefore scriptural to desire and ask for more spiritual gifts, particularly prophecy and the ones related to our callings.
Even the Old Testament abounds with examples of people being filled with the Holy Spirit without speaking in tongues: prophesy (Numbers 11:25), leadership (Judges 3:10), and supernatural strength (Judges 14:6) just to name a few.
The greatest of all signs of being filled with the Spirit is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit,” Galatians 5:22-25.
And the greatest of the above fruits is love. “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing,” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3. May we be submissive enough to God for his Spirit to effectively work in and through us in producing the real Christian and love filled lifestyle.
When we are born anew into the new spiritual life God begins to plant his desires in us through his Spirit who comes to live in us. “God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure,” (Philippians 2:13). “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 1:6). He is the one who began this good work in us, in our minds, in our emotions, in our will, in our bodies and in our spirits and he has promised to complete it.
God is committed to leading us to the Truth concerning all things we surrender to him. His Spirit is now living inside us his children and when we submit to his guidance he guides us into God’s plans. “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you in to all truth,” (John 16:13). The Holy Spirit lives inside every one of us born again. “Don’t you know that you yourself are God's temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? ( 1 Corinthians 3: 16). “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” (1 Corinthians 6:19).
Just us we’re able to know more of each other as we spend more time together, we’re also able to know and understand the language of the Holy Spirit the more time we spend with God - in prayer, his Word, evangelism and so on.
The Bible has many examples of people who had a close relationship with God. They illustrate how God leads us on an individual level and on a corporate level. The people spoke to him and heard him speak to them in words and ways they understood it was him speaking. The God’s presence was what characterized used those used by him.
His word promises those who depend on him and allow him to have his way: “How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you… Whether you turn to the right or left, you will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it,’ ” (Isaiah 30:19,21). Submission makes his voice also becomes clearer.
Even in small things he is able to say, “do it this way” “go this way” and so on. I have found that his voice instructs me through the day after submitting myself and into his hands during morning devotions. He has promised us, “I will instruct you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you,” (Psalm 32:8).
His voice of instruction and counsel is not usually an audible voice. As earlier said, God usually speaks to our hearts, the spirit part of us which is made in his image. He lives inside us through his spirit so he speaks from within. Our hearts convey these voices to our minds in form of inspirations, convictions, and impression.
Tom Marshall in his book, Free Indeed, says, “We may not be able to explain or describe how we know but we “just know” in a certain and unshakable way that God has spoken to us, or that God has heard our prayer, or that we are in presence of God. Many times, because we do not understand this, we are not aware that it is God who has been speaking to us”.
The inner witness of God registers in the conscience which is the unseen spiritual part of us. His word says, “The Holy Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children,” (Romans 8:16). When this reliance on God’s Spirit to testify (bear witness) with our spirits (inner man) over issues becomes habitual our minds become tuned to the Holy Spirit channel. We are able to be led by the Spirit because we give him first priority over our thoughts and desires. Scripture says that, Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires,” (Romans 8:5-6)
This demands “living, by faith and not by sight,” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Our thoughts, words and actions, are expected to depend more on the unseen spiritual realm God is operating in and not on what is seen. It means being away from the body and at home with God in the spiritual realm. Paul said, “As long as we are at home in the body (the physical realm guided by sight), we are away from the Lord,” (2 Corinthians 5:6). Then he said, “We walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord (5:7-8).”
Obedience is the Outcome of Abiding (Spiritual Intimacy)
Obedience is applying the Word and will of God. Abiding is being in fellowship with the Holy Spirit, the one who gives us the power to obey. As we grow in the art of abiding and being intimate with our Lord we begin to experience the great fruits of being empowered to walk in obedience.
The Scripture says the extent we’re able to punish the enemy depends on our level of obedience to God. When our obedience is complete we’re able to punish the enemy completely. “We will be ready to punish every act of disobedience once (when) your obedience is complete,” 2 Corinthians 10:6 (emphasis added). We’re able to punish more disobedient acts of the enemy the stronger our obedience to God is. Disobedient acts of the enemy in our callings, ministries, marriages, health, society, finances, and so on, are punishable through our high level of obedience to God. It’s not that an easy life will result. Rather it’s that obedience enables us to effectively deal with hindering matters in our callings, ministries, marriages, health, society, finances, etc.
As the Holy Spirit works in us to deal with our personal matters he also works through us to effectively fulfill our respective callings. Through our obedience we can overcome satan’s influence among those that aren’t saved or are bound in one way or another. We’re able to bring their disobedient lifestyles to the obedience of Christ. “Submit to God and be at peace with him… You will pray to him, and he will hear you… He will deliver even the one who is not innocent, who will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands,” Job 22: 21,27,30.
May we grow in abiding so that our obedience also grows. This will enable us to effectively use the authority given to us by our Lord Jesus to demolish strongholds. Being soldiers of Christ he’s able to entrust us with greater responsibilities in his army the stronger our obedience to him is.