Entering the Presence of the Lord

When we enter God’s presence, we seem unaware that the Holy Spirit is also present (Acts 5). With the couple, Ananias, and his wife Saphira both planned to deceive the Apostles. They were looking at man who is equal to them and who cannot read minds, and failed to understand that there is always a greater than man, who is the Holy Spirit Who reads minds and intents (Jeremiah 17:10; Hebrews 4:12). The couple wanted to be like the other givers who sold their possessions and gave the proceeds to the Apostles. They also sold their possessions, but conspired to deceive the Apostles. They made a gross mistake by ignoring the presence of the Holy Spirit. There are times we enter the presence of the Lord and behave in ways unbecoming of Christians. We fail to understand that God is present everywhere Who sees, hears, and knows everything; even what is in here hearts before we are aware of those thoughts (Psalm 139:4).

Although the couple had a good intention, their efforts were marred by deception which grieved the Holy Spirit. They were fatally struck down immediately as reality confronted them (Acts 5). This is a lesson for every believer to remind us that the Holy Spirit is constantly present, and if we do not yield to His warnings, then we will suffer the consequences. While there are people who seem to be getting away with their sinfulness, God is patient and gives them time to repent (II Peter 3:9), but their time will eventually expire.  Others are clutching grace as a panacea for their sin. Grace is powerful, but we do not want to abuse this great gift to help us live lives which are reputable as believers in Christ. Grace is not to be exploited or taken casually. “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (I Corinthians 15:10). Those who seem to abuse the gift of grace are no longer conscious of the presence of the Holy Spirit. What they have is a form of godliness, with no power (II Timothy 3:9).

When we present ourselves before God, our sacrifice must be with sincerity and truthfulness. God will judge us concerning the condition of our hearts when we bring our offerings to Him. He may not respond immediately, but our lives will continue to go downhill. If the heart is not right, the sacrifice will be rejected similar to the rejection of Cain’s sacrifice (Genesis 4:1-5). With Ananias and Sapphira their offering was rejected because it was tarnished by the sin of deception, despite their intentions of helping with the work.  The main mistake which the couple made was thinking that the Apostles were the object of their adoration and service. There are members who adore a pastor or famous person and totally forget that God is the One Who should be reverenced and adore. With the couple, they were unaware of the constant presence and power of the Holy Spirit. There are people who do believe that we no longer need the Holy Spirit, and that Pentecost was a one-time occurrence. Those persons are being misled and do not understand the power, purpose, and work of the Holy Spirit. When Jesus was leaving, He promised the Apostles that He would send them another Comforter Who will abide with them (John 14:26).

The Holy Spirit is present at all times, whether we are conscious of His presence or not. For this reason and more, we should be thoughtful when we sing that we bring the sacrifice of praise if our hearts are not clean. Sin is the hindrance to the presence of God, but no one needs to remain in this condition. Jesus’ blood will cleanse and purify any heart that is presented to the throne of grace.


Our attitude concerning the preparation and state of our hearts are of primary importance when we present ourselves before the Lord. Not must our hearts be right, but our outer appearance should be with reverence. This may not seem significant to most people, but our dressing or apparel speaks much concerning the condition of our hearts. If our hearts are not right, neither will the outer appearance. People say they are singing praises to God, but many are deceivers and only going through the motion not recognizing the Holy Spirit’s presence. Ananias and Sapphira thought they were meeting only with the Apostles, but they were mistaken. When we present ourselves before God whether in or out of church, we must be careful about the condition of our hearts and the manner in which we enter His presence.

We could refer to Abel and Cain who both presented gifts before God, but only one gift was acceptable (Genesis 4). Why did God reject Cain’s gift? This is a good question. As we read the story, we find that Cain had a grudge against his brother who may have been very godly and caring about his relationship with God. Cain may have been careless and with a bad attitude. It is also possible that the parents showed deference between the two brothers because of their attitudes or personalities. If our attitude is such that we do not consider the type of, state of, or quality of the gift we bring before God, He will not accept us.

We see an example concerning the ungodly attitudes of the people who presented sacrifices to God in Malachi 1:6ff. God’s response to the people regarding the quality of their sacrifices was rejection similar to what Cain received. The people’s attitude was ungodly because the sacrifice was not even fit to give to their governors. When we consider the ungodly manner some [mainly women] enter the presence of the Lord, yet they would not dress the same way to enter a court of law or certain important places in those ungodly sensual outfits. It is clear to see that they are acting in the same manner as Ananias and Sapphira who thought they were deceiving the Apostles; and Cain who had no reverence for the presence of God.

The Condition of the Heart

To have the right attitude as we approach the presence of God with our sacrifices, this must begin from the heart, which will be manifested in the behaviour. The ungodly and corrupt worldly-minded heart can only produce attitudes which are fitting to its condition and displayed on the outside. According to the word in Romans 12:1-2, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Consequently, a corrupt heart cannot bring forth good deeds (James 3:10-12). For example, the ungodly sensual dresser thinks she is [only] going to church. In her mind, she is thinking that God does not look at her appearance, and He is only concerned with the heart. Nonetheless, if the heart is sick, it will be displayed in the behaviour. Others quote the Bible incorrectly that God says, “Render the heart and not the garment.” The Scripture really states, “And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil” (Joel 2:13).

When God challenged the people in Malachi Chapter 1, concerning the sacrifices which they brought to Him, He pointed out their lack of sincerity and reverence for His presence. The quality and type of sacrifices were really a representation expressing the condition of their hearts and the level of reverence they gave to Him. God cares about the type of sacrifice we bring before His presence. If the heart is not right, God will reject the sacrifice, no matter if the individual empties his bank account and gave it to the church. Unless the heart is right, the gift will not be acceptable to God. Man will gladly take the offerings and tithes, but those persons are not being blessed.

As we survey the 21st Century new age Christian Church, the evidence is that there is no reverence for God. People enter a church uncaring about their attitudes, dressing, or behaviour. Church members have become extremely worldly, and uncaring concerning the things of God. With this attitude, there is every evidence that the worship is ungodly with lack of reverence for the presence of the Lord. As we see in Malachi and with Cain, God is not pleased, and surely, He questions the condition, type, quality of sacrifice, and the attitude of our hearts. The question is still being asked by God, “Where is mine honour?” (Malachi 1:6).

Abel’s sacrifice was acceptable and speaks of conscious, careful, and thoughtful preparation before entering God’s presence. Not only was the sacrifice acceptable, but so was Abel’s heart. God sees the heart before the sacrifice. The prepared heart will be careful concerning the type of offerings we bring to the Lord. We cannot live for the devil six days in the week and Sunday morning bring lame, dumb, weak, sick, and blind offerings before the Lord. He will not accept them! Here is God’s response to those who offer ungodly sacrifices to Him. “But cursed (be) the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and vows, and sacrifice unto the Lord a corrupt thing: for I (am) a great King, saith the LORD of hosts, and my name (is) dreadful among the heathen” (Malachi 1:14). God is of purer eyes than to behold evil (Haggai 1:13). Pay attention to the life that you live before the world. We have God’s grace which helps us in our times of need so that we can get right with God when we have sinned (Hebrews 4:16). It is time for the church to repent and begin to do the works of righteousness again. The lights have gone dim or completely out in many churches despite the number of people in the midst. If God is not present, the efforts are in vain.

Too many churches present praise with some dead, worldly-minded songs which do not minister to anyone. God wants sincere praises from our hearts; and not just to utter words which have no meaning, and which have become [hits] to satisfy the way the world thinks about God. Where is the sincerity of those songs? Who gets the glory? God, the writer, or the singer? What is being presented as “gospel” these days are only semblance of what true worship songs should be. The singers themselves live for the world and are not examples of holiness. Their very outer appearance speaks of the heart and lifestyles. The songs lack taste and power, with loud and uninviting music. They are insipid, and often only have the world’s beat to attract the “right” audience, but not suitable for church worship. Those singers remove the skin off a worldly ungodly music genre and call it Christian. Christian rock, and so forth. There is nothing Christian about those songs. To skin a cat and place the coat on another type of animal does not make the animal a cat. Those persons are deceivers II Timothy 3:13.

Preparation for Entering God’s Presence

In Romans 12:1-2, we are instructed how to present ourselves to the Lord. This teaching corresponds to Jesus’s requirements for true and sincere discipleship in Luke 9:23. To enter the presence of the Lord, we must deny ourselves, and become living sacrifices, in holiness and true reverence. This requires preparation and having a relationship with the Lord all through the week. Trying to squeeze out a praise on a Sunday morning is similar to forcing blood out of a stone. It is just not there! This is why some church services are cold, and lifeless. God said He will spew them out of His mouth. “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:)16. There has to be preparation all through the week. This means we repent of our sins as we commit them. We should also take time to study the word, spend quality time with the Lord in prayer and fasting. Holiness and sanctification are of the utmost necessity when it comes to being acceptable to God. Self-denial begins with a made-up mind to follow the Lord in consecration. We must present our bodies before Him in holiness and live a life of sanctification pleasing unto Him so that our sacrifices of praise will be acceptable to God.  

We have no excuse by saying “no one is perfect” which God already knows. However, He has made provision for everyone to confess and repent of committed sins (John 1:8-2:2). God will never go back on His word. He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins, but we must repent and receive forgiveness. He gives us grace to live from sin, but we must recognize our faults and seek His grace which He freely gives to those who seek it (Hebrews 4:16). We also prepare ourselves through fasting which purifies the soul. This brings us to a state of acknowledging our weakness and the desire to be strengthened in the Lord. Through fasting and prayer, we are brought to repentance, recognizing our weaknesses and our need for a closer walk with God.

The sacrifice of praise is more than singing and shouting. It requires sincere living for the Lord in humility, submissiveness to His will, and true obedience of His word. We cannot expect to live for God and the devil, the world, and the flesh all at the same time. This is impossible. Each person must choose whom He will follow in sincerity and truthfulness. Man sees the outside, but God sees the heart when we bring our sacrifice to Him.

© 2023 Shekinah Theological College
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