The Edifier

West Allen Church of Christ

The Edifier Index

Indwelling of the Holy Spirit


That the Holy Spirit indwells all Christians is clearly taught in the New Testament. In fact, the New Testament teaches that God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit all indwell the Christian. Consider the following:

"No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us." (1 John 4:12). "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?" (1 Cor 6:19). The indwelling of Jesus and the indwelling of the spirit are used interchangeably in Rom 8:9-11: "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you."

So the question is not: "Does the Spirit of God indwell the Christian?" but "How does the Spirit indwell?" Is there some mystical method to bring it about? Does it produce miraculous powers? What is its effect? The first step in answering these questions is to recognize that the indwelling is not physical it is spiritual. From Romans 8:9-11, the indwelling of Christ and the Spirit are identical you cannot have one without the other. Clearly, the physical body of Christ does not indwell the Christian, and neither should we view the Holy Spirit as a physical being. The indwelling of God in our lives is much more powerful than a mere physical presence (see Jn 16:7), since it results from the most powerful of spiritual influences (Rom 1:16).

How Does the Holy Spirit Indwell?

This question is answered in Ephesians 3:14-19: "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God."

Read this passage several times and meditate on it. Notice that the indwelling of the Spirit, Christ and God are all mentioned as being the same thing. Notice that the indwelling comes by faith: "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith ..." Faith can be true or false, living or dead. James 2 declares that faith without works is dead, as is faith only. This proves that faith only is an oxymoron, for if the indwelling of God proceeds out of true faith, this must certainly result in something.

So to determine the source of the indwelling of God we must find the source of true faith. The only passage in the New Testament that declares the source of faith is Romans 10:17: "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Should we be so surprised that placing Godís word in our hearts will result in faith, and that faith will result in the indwelling of God. Jesus himself is called the Word in John 1:1 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

This means that Godís indwelling is something that is up to you it is up to you to fill yourself with Godís word and thus build the condition "that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith." This is a principle of Godís established truth; it does not require anything miraculous.

The miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit in the first century were to reveal and confirm the word (Mark 16:20). The power is in the gospel (Romans 1:16), and the essence of the gift of the Holy Spirit is not the temporal proofs that established and proved it, but the revealed truth itself.

Ye often hear it said ...

"If the Holy Spirit is in you, you can work miracles", but in John 10:41 it states with regard to John the Baptist: "And many resorted unto him, and said, John did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this man were true."

This, despite the fact that the bible declares explicitly that John the Baptist "shall be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb" (Luke 1:15). Clearly there is no implication that being filled with the Holy Spirit necessitated the miraculous. However, in all cases in the book of Acts where Christians are stated to be "filled with the Holy Spirit" it goes on to say that they spoke the word of God. (Acts 2:4, 4:8, 4:31, 13:9f). Being "filled with the Holy Spirit" results in the God who is living within us becoming evident to others.

Even having the gift of the Holy Spirit did not imply the miraculous. The scriptures state that all who obey have the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:22). Yet, they did not all have miraculous spiritual gifts (1 Cor 12:28ff). In Acts 8 many were baptized but could do nothing miraculous until receiving the laying on of the apostlesí hands (17-18). We cannot begin to enjoy the essence of the Holy Spirit as long as we limit His power to the temporal benefits of the miraculous. The essence of the Holy Spirit is the Divine truth He revealed (John 8:32).