We are the temple of God through the Holy Spirit.
“you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the
Spirit.” – Eph 2:22
“19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?
20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” – 1 Cor. 6:19,20
The dwelling place of God must be a sanctified place. It is the blood of Christ that sanctifies the Christian as he walks in the light (1 Jn 1:6ff). But when a person turns from God there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, hence God removes the temple’s cleansing, sanctifying agent.
“7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” – 1 Jn 1:7
“For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,” – Heb. 10:26
If God removes the cleansing agent, does God remove Himself? That’s the question.
Before Christ and the Church there was not the sealing of God’s people with the Holy Spirit. In Ephesus, the disciples didn’t know about the Holy Spirit and did not receive it until they were immersed again in the name of Christ (Acts 19:1ff). Christians receive the Holy Spirit after getting baptized and washed in the blood. Peter said, “be baptzed…and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). Christians have the indwelling Holy Spirit which is God’s seal of ownership and the promise of redemption (Eph. 1:13,14). To be sealed is essential for eternal life. Paul says to the Romans, “But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” – Romans 8:9.
In the Old Testament there was the clear understanding that the Holy Spirit was real and active, and that the Spirit could come and go. David said,
“The Spirit of the LORD spoke by me, And His word was on my tongue.” – 2 Sam. 23:2.
This seemed to primarily relate to the supernatural manifestation and work of the Spirit (see Ezekiel 2:2 “As He spoke to me the Spirit entered me and set me on my feet; and I heard Him speaking to me.”). Earlier in David’s life, when he was coming to grips with his own sinfulness deeds, he prayed to God,
“Do not cast me away from Your presence And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.” – Ps. 51:11.
Samson’s strength was related to having the Spirit of God. When Samson had the Spirit, he was strong (Judges 14:19). When Samson turned to immorality and broke the Nazarite Vow, the Spirit left him (Judges 16:20). “But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him.” The implication is that the Spirit could be removed from the man of God. Later when Samson was repentant, he prayed to God and the strength returned to him one last time (Judges 16:28).
Along this line, we recall the importance of the Tent of Meeting and then the Temple built by Solomon. God’s presence was there in the day and in the night. But when Israel turned away from God and the people were carried away into Babylonian captivity, Ezekiel saw a vision depicting God’s Spirit leaving the temple. Ezekiel 10 says,
“18 Then the glory of the LORD departed from the threshold of the temple and stood over the cherubim.“
The next chapter says,
“23 The glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city and stood over the mountain which is east of the city.” (Ezek. 11:22,23).
I don’t pretend to have a complete picture on this matter, but I wouldn’t exclude the idea that the Holy Spirit leaves a Christian similar to the way that God’s Spirit left the temple. The leaving of the Spirit wasn’t at the first sin or trespass since God is longsuffering and patient with His people. Paul reminded the Christians that sin “grieves” the Holy Spirit and not to do so (Eph. 4:30). If God’s Holy Spirit leaves a Christian it would only be after it was certain the person had left God.
The position that the Holy Spirit leaves the type of person being described in Hebrews 6:4-6 is not as tenuous or difficult a position, in my opinion, as one that says God’s Spirit must NOT leave since we have no explicit example of Him leaving and coming back into the repentant soul.
Since God’s Spirit is first given at Baptism when there is forgiveness of sins, the seal of the Spirit (Eph. 1:13,14) could return when the straying Christian repents and prays.
“Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you.” (Acts 8:22).
I was asked if I really believe that God would leave a Christian and the answer is no. But Hebrews 6 describes someone who has left God and would be listed more as a former Christian. The point of the question here is not to understate the grace of God or to overstate the responsibility of the Christian, but only to explore that there is a point at which a man no longer enjoys the presence of God. It is rightly pointed out that God is longsuffering and patient with His children. Christians aren’t perfect, but they are made perfect by the sanctifying work of Christ as they walk by faith, not by sight. But if a man turns back to the world, removing his hand from the plow and looking back, he is no longer fit for the kingdom of heaven.
“62 But Jesus said to him, ‘No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.'” – Lk. 9:62