The Indwelling Spirit
The indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the Christian has been a topic of intense interest to many people for many years. To deny that the Holy Spirit dwells in the Christian is to deny the Bible. Yet it is taught with equal force in the Bible that God dwells in the Christian (2 Corinthians 6:16; 1 John 3:24; 4:12-13). It is also asserted that Christ dwells in the Christian (Ephesians 3:17). If it is true that God, Christ and the Holy Spirit dwell in the Christian, and it is, is there any justification for the idea that the Spirit dwells in us in a sense different from that in which the Father and the Son dwell in us? In other words, if the Bible should teach that God and Christ dwell in the Christian through, or by means of the Word of God, can it be correct to insist that the Spirit indwells differently, i.e., separate and apart from the Word?
How God Indwells. How does God dwell in the Christian? John answered that question, when he wrote, “And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the spirit which he has given us” (1 John 3:24). This verse teaches: (1) that God dwells in the Christian; (2) that we have knowledge of His abiding presence; (3) that we possess this knowledge by the spirit which God has given.
The Holy Spirit assures of divine approval by motivating the Christian to do those things which enable the Father to abide in him. How? By the word of God, the only motivating force which comes into contact with the individual. The immediate, or direct, operation of the Holy Spirit is not taught, neither here nor anywhere else in the Bible. Therefore, God dwells in the Christian by means of His Word.
How Christ Indwells. How does Christ dwell in the Christian? Paul answers by saying, “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love” (Ephesians 3:17). The fact that Christ dwells in the heart of the Christian “by faith” is not misunderstood if we know how faith comes. Paul tells us, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).
It is clear that Christ dwells in the Christian. From this we do not surmise that in some mysterious and incomprehensible manner, He has in His very person, taken up abode in us. Why should we follow a similar error with respect of the third person of the Godhead?
How the Holy Spirit Indwells. How does the Holy Spirit dwell in the Christian? Paul asked the Galatians, “Received ye the Spirit by works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? (Galatians 3:2)? Again, the faith, by which the Holy Spirit indwells comes by the Word of God (Romans 10:17). In light of this what reason has anyone for saying that the Holy Spirit dwells in the Christian any other way, unless he can pinpoint an express declaration in Scripture defining and explaining that other way?
If it is not clear enough that the Holy Spirit operates and indwells in the same manner as God and Christ (through the Word), then consider the following: What are some of the things that might be expected by a personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the Christian, separate and apart from the Word? What might He (the Holy Spirit) do for us?
1. He might give us faith. But through the Word he does that (Romans 10:17).
2. He might enable us to enjoy the new birth. But through the Word He does that (1 Peter 1:23).
3. He might give us light. But through the Word He does that (Psalm 119:130).
4. He might convert us. But through the Word He does that (Psalm 19:7).
5. He might give us understanding. But through the Word He does that (Psalm 119:104).
6. He might save us. But through the Word He does that (James 1:21).
7. He might sanctify us. But through the Word He does that (John 17:17).
8. He might purify us. But through the Word He does that (1 Peter 1:22).
9. He might build us up spiritually. But through the Word He does that (Acts 20:32).
These are only a few of the many things the Holy Spirit might do-and does-through the Word of God “which liveth and abideth forever.”
My SOURCE: The Good Tidings, of Michael Willey.