The Holy Spirit, His Indwelling

The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is one of the most marvellous truths of Christianity, and this truth is clearly and abundantly taught in the New Testament.

The Spirit in us. Referring to the gift of the Spirit, the Lord says in John 14: “He … shall be in you”. In Romans 8 this truth is emphasised in a remarkable way. In verse 9 we read: “Ye are not in flesh but in Spirit, if indeed God’s Spirit dwell in you; but if any one has not the Spirit of Christ he is not of him” (New Translation).

The Spirit is the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ. The Spirit which dwelt in Christ dwells in the believer. Verse 10 teaches that if Christ’s Spirit is in a person, then Christ is in him. This is repeated in Colossians 1.27, “Christ in you, the hope of glory”.

In both the first and second Epistles to the Corinthians the apostle writes of the saints being the temple of the Holy Spirit. In Galatians 4. 6 we read: “God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father”. In Ephesians 3. 16 the apostle prays that they might be strengthened with power by God’s Spirit in the inner man, and in verse 20 he writes of the power operating in us. We learn from 1 John 4. 4 that He that is in us is greater than he that is in the world. Timothy is told to keep the good deposit which was committed to him through the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, 2 Tim. 1. 14. (The word used is literally indwelling). James in chapter 4. 5 of his Epistle writes of the Spirit having taken up His abode in us. When encouraging His disciples to meet their persecutors the Lord says, “ye are not the speakers but the Spirit of your Father which speaks in you”, Matt. 10. 20 n.t. The Spirit co-witnesses with our spirit (an inward matter), Rom. 8. 16.

The Spirit’s Intercession. God who “searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind (meaning intention) of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God”, Rom. 8. 27. Joining with us in our weakness and ignorance, the Spirit’s intercessory activities are mingled (so to speak) with our prayers. Christ’s intercession is on high, the Spirit’s intercession is identified with what goes on in our hearts, and He (God) who searches the hearts, takes account of the Spirit’s desires as in us. There are times when words fail us; at such times the Spirit’s sympathetic intercession is expressed with groanings which cannot be uttered.

The Spirit’s Teaching. Writing of those things which God has prepared for those who love Him, the apostle tells us “God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God”, 1 Cor. 2. 10. This He does in us. The Spirit does not need to search for Himself for He is God, but He is, so to speak, the search-light in our souls illuminating the hidden treasures of divine wisdom, without which we could never discover them.

While the Lord Himself is the teacher, objectively, the Spirit is the teacher subjectively, i.e. inwardly. Through His operations in our hearts the Lord’s teaching becomes effective in us. The Lord is the truth objectively; all that is of God has shone out in Him. The Spirit is the truth subjectively (see 1 John 5. 7) and being in us makes good in us what is true in Christ, 1 John 2. 8.

The Fulness of the Spirit. Much emphasis has been laid on the well-known verse Ephesians 5. 18: “be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit”. It has been pointed out that the verb translated “be filled” is in the passive voice. It could be translated “let yourselves be filled with the Spirit”, or, as the New English Bible renders it, “let the Holy Spirit fill you”. Now a person may have the Holy Spirit without being filled with the Spirit, and a person may not be filled all the time. “He (God) gives not the Spirit by measure”, John 3. 34 r.v.; “unto Him” is not in the original. Some manuscripts read: “He gives not the Spirit by measure”, which would refer to Christ. This truth is beautifully illustrated in the incident in 2 Kings 4. The woman had nothing in the house save a pot of oil. The prophet told her to borrow empty vessels, not a few. Then she was told to fill the vessels, and the oil flowed and flowed until there was not a vessel left to fill. The teaching here, for oil in Scripture is one of the types of the Holy Spirit, is that the Holy Spirit will fill all the room we make available to Him. The woman only had a small quantity of oil but the supply was really without limit. The limitations are only on our side. Now note what follows being filled with the Spirit in the passage in Ephesians, which incidentally, is given in a church setting: “speaking to yourselves (to each other) in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord”, 5. 19. The fulness of the Spirit expresses itself in mutual joy, and in praise to the Lord.


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