If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, do you recall the FIRST TIME you came into the presence of God? Another way of asking this question is, “Do you remember what you needed to do in order to come into God’s presence?” Let consider two examples in Scripture to illustrate this.

In Luke 18:9-14 the Lord told a parable where “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector” (verse 10…NKJV). The Pharisee was a proud man who boasted of his good works. In contrast, we read that “the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner’” (verse 13). The tax collector took his rightful place as a sinner before a holy God and because of this God did show mercy to him, for we read in verse 14, “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” We learn here that the sinner MUST come into God’s presence in true repentance, confessing that he is a sinner. Because of this he went home JUSTIFIED, which means God counted him as RIGHTEOUS in his sight.

In Luke 15:11-24 (which I would encourage you to read) the Lord Jesus told the parable of the Prodigal Son, which also shows us that the way into God’s presence is through true repentance. In this parable the son (who represents the “sinner”) left the father (who represents “God”) and went far away from him. This reminds me of Isaiah 53:6 which reads, “All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned everyone to his own say.” In time, the son became very poor and remembered how good he had it when he was with his father, so he was determined to go back to his father and say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son” (verses 18-19). The next verse is very precious, “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.” The lesson is clear; the heavenly Father longs to see sinners return to Him and if they come in true repentance, confessing that they are sinners, He will gladly receive them into His presence.

We have been looking at sinners coming into God’s presence for the very first time, but the same principle holds true for believers. If we have “left God’s presence,” it was no doubt because of some sin in our life. Sin is always the cause for separation from God and it must be dealt with if we are to “come back to the presence of God.” King David, who was a true believer, came into God’s presence with these words after committing adultery with Bathsheba, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitudes of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight” (Psalm 51:1-4). David did exactly what the tax collector did; he owned his sin before God and counted on his “tender mercies” to blot out his sin and to cleanse him from it. There is one big difference though; David had already been JUSTIFIED before God. He was a child of God who had forfeited His fellowship with God because of sin, so his return to God’s presence was to have that fellowship restored. This is borne out in verse 12 where he says, “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation.” He had not lost his salvation, but he had lost his joy! Perhaps this is where you are at right now. If so, you can follow David’s example and be restored. 1st John 1:9 declares, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (238.7) (DO)