We all want to be closer to God, all the time.
Not all of us are achieving this.
A major obstacle to abiding in God through Holy Spirit-empowered obedience is living with a lack of affection towards our God. Affection for God is something that can sustain you beyond emotional experiences with God. Emotional experiences can be great. But I’m learning that there are key differences between emotions and affections.
Affections are long-lasting, deeply rooted, consistent with your beliefs and convictions and therefore, result in action. Affections involve your mind, will and feelings. Affections grow steadily and do not fade easily.
Emotions are fleeting, without roots, can overshadow your beliefs and do not always result in action. With emotion, feelings are often disconnected from the mind and will. Emotions can bloom quickly and easily fade away.
It is a steadily growing affection that can keep a marriage strong. It is emotion that fuels adultery. Therefore, we would be wise to look beyond emotional experiences and seek long-lasting affection for God.
The fuel of affection
The only way I know how to do this is to meditate on the gospel. I can’t think of a better way to know God’s character and understand His love for us than through an understanding of the gospel. The gospel is full of love and mercy revealing God’s own power and grace through Christ. There is endless beauty in the gospel to build up your affection for God. Consider Psalm 51:11-12:
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
David wrote this psalm after committing adultery and murder. A felt distance between him and God was inevitable. With a repentant heart, David calls on God to restore to him the joy of the Lord’s salvation. For David, this is the key to remaining in God’s presence. And notice the role of the Holy Spirit. David understands that it is the ministry of the Holy Spirit that will keep him in God’s presence.
The conclusion we can come to is this: By the work of the Holy Spirit, we can remember the joys of the gospel, increase our affection for God, grow in holiness and have communion with God. Therefore, let Psalm 51 be our prayer.
Lord, with a broken spirit and a longing for your presence, we come to you asking for the Holy Spirit to come. Come Holy Spirit and lead us to the cross and remind us of the grace God offers us through Christ’s blood. Thank you Lord for cleansing us, that we may be holy and blameless before you. May we walk in a manner worthy of your calling and abide in you, and you in us. Amen.