Many of us feel that God is like some mystical, distant and non-personal being. We have often wondered what we have to do to cultivate intimacy with God. We wish that the LORD would give us a 5-step list or formula to grow in intimacy with Him.
In Proverbs 2:1 – 5, the LORD has given us a “divine prescription” for deepening our relationship with Him. He gives us five conditions which we must fulfill in order to understand the fear of the LORD and to grow in our intimacy with Him.
Condition 1 – A Commitment to Obey God
“If you will receive my sayings…” (Prov. 2:1, NAS)
This verse simply means that we do not ignore nor cast away the commands of God but we must have the intention of obeying God and always setting our hearts to say “yes” to all His commands. Deliberate disobedience quenches the Holy Spirit. We know that the Spirit of God is the only One who can reveal Jesus to us (John 16:13 – 14; 1 Cor. 2:9 – 10), and if He is quenched and grieved, we will not receive the revelation of Jesus. We cannot offend the Holy Spirit yet still expect Him to reveal Jesus to our heart in a greater measure.
We can ask for the Spirit-filled revelation of God but if we are deliberately disobeying God, prayer will get us nowhere! Prayer is not a substitute for the intention to obey and if we want to know Jesus intimately, we must receive the sayings of Jesus in our heart without purposefully resisting the Holy Spirit!
Are there areas of deliberate disobedience in our life? We must consistently make a resolution to confess and resist sinful area in our lives. Furthermore, realizing that God looks at the sincerity of our motives to obey rather than at our actual attainment of spiritual maturity gives us confidence to run to Him when we sin.
Remember this: persisting in even one deliberate sin is fatal to the spiritual growth of our soul. Deliberate sin blocks spiritual progress and hinders our walk with the LORD. There is no substitute for a life of obedience!
Condition 2 – A Life of Meditation on the Word of God
“If you will…treasure my commandments within you…” (Prov. 2:1, NAS)
Notice that the Bible emphasizes the treasuring of God’s commandments and not the accumulation of knowledge. Knowledge, even Bible knowledge is not neutral. If we are not longing to please the LORD, and if we are driven by pride and our goals are simply to gain more knowledge of the Scriptures through intellectual exercises, we run the risk of ending up calloused and hardened like the Pharisees. Treasuring God’s commandments means conversing and interacting with the Person of Jesus who is the Author of those Words. We do that through meditating on the Scriptures.
It is difficult to grow in intimacy with Jesus without a commitment to regularly meditate on the Scriptures. We will not be adequately equipped to grow in the deep things of God (1 Cor. 2:9 – 10) if we do not treasure the Word of God in our hearts. The Word and the Spirit go together!
We need to see the value of meditating on the Word so that we will regularly schedule the time for it. Without this this spiritual discipline, we will never grow substantially. We must be serious in our use of time as anything else in our life. We must consider spending time with God as important and view it as a real appointment so that we will not neglect it. We must value the “appointment” with God and even consider it more important than any other appointment with people.
The Bible teaches that a lack of meditation on the Word of God eventually leads to both weak faith and weak obedience. Therefore, a life that prioritizes meditation on the Word is absolutely vital!
Condition 3 – A Teachable Spirit
“Incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding…” (Prov. 2:2, NKJV)
An inclined, attentive ear and an applied heart speak of a teachable spirit. Obedience and meditation are important if we want to experience intimacy with the LORD, but a teachable spirit is also essential!
There are many earnest people who have stubborn spirits and are not teachable before God or man. That is deadly because the absence of a teachable spirit will hinder us in our growth in the intimate knowledge of God. An unteachable, “know-it-all” spirit will quench the Holy Spirit and eventually our spirit hunger will wane and die out.
We are to be teachable and to have patient hearts of learners. Being teachable is actually a much greater challenge for many than being obedient or scheduling time to meditate. Isaiah 66:2 says this,
“…To this one will I look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My Word.” (NAS)
The LORD is looking for the heart of a learner. If we have a teachable spirit, the LORD can bring us into any truth that we are lacking.
Condition 4 – Praying for Revelation of the Knowledge of God
“Yes, if you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding…” (Prov. 2:3, NKJV)
Crying out in this way actually means praying to receive more wisdom and insight into the glory and splendor of God’s Personhood. We are exhorted many times in the Scriptures to cry out for a deeper revelation of the knowledge of God!
Apostle Paul’s first prayer in the great Ephesian Epistle was for the wisdom and revelation of the knowledge of God to fill the believers in Ephesus (Eph. 1:17). If it is something we really desire, we will not rest or stop crying out until we receive it. If you go without asking for it, you will end up living without it.
Condition 5 – An Abandoned Heart Searching for Divine Treasures
“If you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures…” (Prov. 2:4, NKJV)
What if someone guaranteed you that a million-dollar cheque is hidden somewhere inside an abandoned house and it would be all yours if you find it? You would search and not leave any board or a brick unturned until you find it, no matter how long it would take. You would re-arrange your schedule. You would reset your priorities and make all sorts of sacrifices until you find the hidden treasure.
The same principle applies in our walk with God: Whatever we can live without in God, we may often go without. Whatever truth we decide that we cannot live without, we will eventually obtain. If there is a truth in God that we absolutely refuse to live without, we will have it in due time – whether it’s within one year or twenty years.
Many people spend eight, ten years or even more, laboring for university degrees and doctorates that become their prized possessions. Their dedication and perseverance are considered normal. If an individual with that degree of determination in God ever becomes insatiably hungry for Jesus, he or she will sacrifice everything to gain deeper knowledge of this “Pearl of great price”!
It is very valid to pray for spiritual passion, for consuming zeal, for a release of insatiable hunger in our hearts, for holy thoughts and godly desires. It is valid to pray that we will see and feel what the Father sees and feels when He beholds His dear Son. It is valid to cry out for intimacy with the Person, Jesus Christ! The Apostle Paul called Jesus Christ “the wisdom for…in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (1 Cor. 1:24; Col. 2:3).
When we pray, do we feel as if we are trying to communicate with some non-personal influence somewhere out in space? Begin talking to a real Person seated upon a real Throne in the heavenlies. Begin spending time in His presence and cultivating an intimate relationship with Him. Jesus is what we need – not religion, not power, not a greater ministry. Our answer is Jesus – the Source of all spiritual riches!
If we really want to know Jesus intimately, there are conditions to be met, and these are laid out in Proverbs 2:1 – 5. If we are willing to meet these conditions throughout the years and make each of them a life commitment, we will discover the Treasure of all treasures – the glorious Man Jesus Christ and an ever-deepening intimacy with Him!