“Am I a God at hand, declares the Lord, and not a God far away? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord.” –Jeremiah 23:23-24
With the Scriptures, Christians have always held that God is omnipresent. That is, He is everywhere.
David made the same point: “Where shall I go from Your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, You are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,’ even the darkness is not dark to You; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with You” (Psalm 139:7-12).
However, though the two passages make the same point, they reveal very different attitudes toward that truth. In Jeremiah, God is rebuking the Israelites for imagining that the idolatries that they perform in secret are hidden from the God whom they profess. In contrast, David describes that same omnipresence as a comfort, knowing the presence of God both as his defender and as a spur to reject temptation.
Do we see America’s professing Christians in either of these passages? We still have enough of our Christian heritage left that few profess outright atheism or worship pagan deities. Yet, we see the false promise of Satan, that he will give his devotees autonomy from the rule of God, in the actual spiritual practice and lives of those same Christians.
We go to church on Sunday, pray, sing God’s praises, and read His word. Then Monday through Saturday, too many of us live as the pagans we really are, whether it is treachery toward loved ones, sexual immorality, covetousness, or any of the other sins in our minds that are not visible to others, we imagine that God sees nothing of them. We are free to lust because these six days belong to us, and God gets His required share on Sunday mornings.
That is exactly what God rebukes through Jeremiah. Do we imagine that God sees us on Sunday mornings, but then turns blind Monday through Saturday? Many Christians act as if that is the case. But His point, as well as that of David, is that autonomy is a pipe dream, because God is everywhere, always knowing, and sees the truth of our hearts. Who is sovereign? God or us? God does not share.