The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit



Consider that Paul first helps the saints to realize that they are free from the Law to follow the leading of the Spirit. Those who follow Him are destined for life and peace (Rom. 8:1-6). He said, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God [did:] sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and [as an offering] for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace…” Paul says that those who will not accept the new law in Christ and want to cling to the old Law, cannot please God and they do not belong to Christ. One who obeys has the Spirit of God in him (Rom. 8:7-9) Listen as Paul states, “because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able [to do so,] and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” Some would argue that what dwells in us is the word of God. But notice that Paul makes a distinction between the things of the Spirit (Rom. 8:5) which include the law of the Spirit (Rom. 8:2) which sets us free from the law of sin and death. Yet this does not negate that He dwells in us (Rom. 8:9-11). Starting again in verse 9 and reading through verse 11, Paul shares, “However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”


Now Paul shows these saints how they can be sure they are alive in Christ even if the body dies and the flesh decays…you have life from the Spirit dwelling in you. In Romans 8:12-13, we read, “So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh-- for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” It is by the Spirit that we are able to live free from the old deeds in our former manner of life. Listen to what Paul told the Corinthians in I Corinthians 3:16-17, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and [that] the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.” If you want to be reassured that you are a child of God, consider that Paul says you need to be led by the Spirit of God and receive the Spirit of adoption (Gal. 4:6), so that the Spirit can bear witness with our spirit that we are children of God.


In Romans 8:14-17, Paul adds, “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with [Him] so that we may also be glorified with [Him.].” Consider that the Holy Spirit of God is testifying with our spirit that we are children of God. Amazing! Then Paul talks of the blessings of diligence to make it to our eternal home and reveals how the Spirit can be of assistance to us. This is a longer reading but pay careful attention. In Rom. 8:18-28, Paul tells these Christians, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for [our] adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he [already] sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. In the same way, the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for [us] with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is because He intercedes for the saints according to [the will of] God. And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to [His] purpose.” Amen. While we will revisit Romans 8 from time to time, I want us to turn to Romans 15:13 to wrap up this point, where Paul wrote, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” We are clearly operating under the power of the Holy Spirit after our conversion and sanctification in a new life. Praise God for allowing His Spirit to work in us mightily as we eagerly await our eternal rest. In the meantime, it is such a blessing to have the indwelling Spirit to assist us along the way, which we will discuss in a future episode in greater detail.


After considering this passage in Romans, there are still many that would argue that it is not the Spirit of God who dwells in us, but the word of God. Turn with me to I Corinthians 2:11-13, where Paul expounds on this subject and says, “For who among men knows the [thoughts] of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the [thoughts] of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual [thoughts] with spiritual [words.]” Take a close look at how Paul shows plainly that there is a spirit in man which dwells in him. Only this spirit in man knows what is in man with regard to his thoughts. Our options are to receive the spirit of the world or to receive the Spirit of God. By receiving the Spirit of God we can know the things freely given to us by God. One of those gifts was the gift of the Holy Spirit mentioned in our last episode. Paul states here that the words that we teach are indeed from the Spirit and not human wisdom, but the words of the Spirit and the Spirit himself, are not one in the same thing. There is unity between the words of the Spirit and the Holy Spirit because the words of the Spirit are revealed by Him. Yet while the Bible reveals that the body without the spirit of man is dead (James 2:26), and many willingly accept our spirit indwelling us (II Peter 1:13-15), there is still a large part of believers that have never fully acknowledged the presence of the Holy Spirit in our bodies after our conversion to Christ. These same individuals will even accept the stories in the Bible that reveal how evil spirits indwelt human bodies to torment them (Matt. 8:28-33; 12:43-45). It is puzzling with how much the Bible says about the Holy Spirit using our bodies as a temple, that there are still people of faith denying this reality or explaining it away as only the indwelling of the word of God in us. Moses E. Lard stated, “Surely a literal indwelling is not doubted on the ground that we have no sensible evidence of the Spirit’s presence. For neither a priori nor from the Bible have we any reason to conclude that such evidence would be afforded us. And gratuitously to assume it, and then make the assumption a ground on which to doubt the indwelling, is more unwarranted indeed” (Lard’s Quarterly 1864:19) Yet we hear the naysayers continue to make comments like, “If true, then in you somewhere, somehow, you contain a divine, eternal Being, and you have no evidence whatever to prove this. He is there, but you have no idea what He is doing or even if He is doing anything at all! You can't feel Him, hear Him, smell Him, see Him, or taste Him; yet some think that He literally and personally dwells within their being somewhere!” Take note of the lack of faith in that statement. You have to be able to sense with the five senses the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to believe it to be true. Really? Let me ask you, how would you prove that you sins are washed away in baptism or that you even had any sins in the first place. Do you see the problem? We walk by faith and not by sight, said the apostle Paul in II Corinthians 5:7. In Hebrews 11:1, the author states that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. We believe that our sins are washed away in baptism and that we receive the Holy Spirit to indwell us because the Bible states that these realities are true. To say that we have no evidence to prove this, and to deny plain Bible teaching is to show a lack of faith, which comes by hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17).


Let me invite you to join me in I Corinthians 3:16. The apostle Paul stated, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and [that] the Spirit of God dwells in you?” Let’s break this down to make it plain and simple. Paul begins by asking, “Do you not know…”? Paul wants them to know what he is about to teach them. He then adds, “that you are a temple of God”. Our bodies become temples of God when we become children of God. Paul explains how God dwells in us, by saying, “that the Spirit of God dwells in you.” Now, if we take that text for exactly what it says, our study is complete. God dwells in us by placing His Spirit in us to indwell us as His temple. John wrote and confirmed this when he wrote in I John 3:24, “The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.” John continues in the I John 4:13, “By this, we know that we abide in Him and He in us because He has given us of His Spirit.” We have the Spirit of God dwelling in us. The word “dwells” that Paul used means to cohabit, reside, or make a home. The Spirit cohabitates with us, taking up a residency in us, and is making us a permanent home.

Paul told the Christians in Corinth that while they used to be sinners, they were washed in the blood of Jesus, justified before God, and sanctified in the name of Jesus and by the Spirit of God (I Corinthians 6:9-11). Paul uses this same analogy of the Holy Spirit living in us in I Corinthians 6:19-20 and starts again, but asking, “Do you now know…”? He obviously wants them to know the truth. Then Paul echoes his former teaching and adds, “your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. Again, this means that the Holy Spirit uses our bodies as His temple. Just in case you are wondering if the gift of the Holy Spirit is something from the Spirit or the Spirit himself, listen to Paul. He continues, “who is in you, whom you have from God”. The personal pronouns used here emphasize that the Spirit of God is the gift that we are given to indwell us. Finally, Paul states, “you are not your own, you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” Notice that the purchase price of the blood of Jesus is what bought us and therefore we belong to God. We are then sanctified or set apart by the Holy Spirit taking up residency in our bodies. We are the temple of God, therefore we should glorify God in our bodies. Paul’s point is that the same body that can be used to lay with a prostitute is the same body that the Holy Spirit uses as a temple. Just as we can become one (body) flesh with a prostitute if we sin against our body, so we become one spirit with the Lord when we give up sin against our body and the Holy Spirit indwells us (I Cor. 6:16-17). William Barclay commented on this and said, “Surely when a man realizes that, he cannot defile the divinity that is within him. Surely he must have a new idea of what life means. If his body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, he cannot defile it, and abuse it, and injure it with low and polluted things. If his mind is the dwelling-place of the Holy Spirit, surely his thoughts must be clean. If his heart is the place where the Holy Spirit enters and remains, surely he must cleanse himself of all unclean desires. To be the dwelling-place of the Holy Spirit is not only the privilege of manhood, but it is also the responsibility of manhood.”


Paul continued his teaching on us being the temple of the Holy Spirit when he wrote in II Corinthians 6:16-18, “Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, "I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE," says the Lord. "AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; And I will welcome you. And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me," Says the Lord Almighty.” From the time that God expelled Adam and Eve from His presence in the Garden of Eden, He made plans to dwell among His people again. God revealed Himself to His people in different forms but He specifically met with Israel in the tabernacle or temple (Most Holy Place). Many of the passages quoted from the OT that made this promise was not fulfilled or fully realized until this present age. Remember Exodus 29:45, “I will dwell among the sons of Israel and will be their God.” In Jeremiah 31:1, looking to the latter days, the prophet wrote, “At that time," declares the LORD, "I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be My people." Since we are the temple of God we should see ourselves as a most holy vessel unto the Lord. If God is making His presence known in us, through the person of the Holy Spirit then we have no choice but to sanctify ourselves and live pure lives before the Lord. Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:19-22, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.” HOLY TEMPLE = SANCTUARY. If we follow the timeline of human history and God’s dwelling with man we can see the stages that developed to see how God made His sanctuary among us. In the beginning, God dwelt with men in a close intimacy in the Garden of Eden. After sin entered, God made plans to dwell among His people in the tabernacle and then the temple, and only the High Priest could enter into His presence with blood for the sins of the people. When Jesus came to earth, God used His body and His presence to dwell among us and reveal His will. God became flesh in bodily form and dwelt among men. When Jesus left, He promised that He would send the Holy Spirit. While Jesus had ascended on high to be glorified, God would make His presence known by sending the Holy Spirit to not only live among men but dwell in those that are saved. This is the most intimate way that God could have a relationship with man apart from dwelling together forever in eternity. The sanctuary of God is not a garden, a manufactured temple, but is our bodies. This was modeled in Christ who was called Emmanuel, meaning “God with us” (Matthew 1:23) and has now become a reality for all Christians in that God is with us and in us. The Old Covenant system was a shadow of the good things to come in Christ. Just as Christ was not only the High Priest but also the sacrifice, we serve under Him as a kingdom of priests to offer up our lives as spiritual sacrifices (See Rev. 1:6; I Pet. 2:5, 9; Rom. 12:1; Hebrews 13:15-16). Jesus is our High Priest and we are the priests of His priesthood. While no more blood sacrifices are offered, Jesus still lives forever to make intercession for us so that we can have a true relationship with our heavenly Father and live forever. We offer spiritual sacrifices to our Father through Jesus Christ and in our daily living as our spiritual service of worship (Read Hebrews 7-10). William Barclay added here, “The Spirit indwells the Christian…The Christian is filled with the Spirit…The Christian is the temple of the Holy Spirit…This means nothing less than that the Christian is himself the Holy of Holies in which the Spirit of God dwells.”


Since Jesus promised the Holy Spirit as a gift to indwell all those who obey Him, and Jesus is now seated at the right hand of His Father, the conclusion that we are left with is that God is making His presence known in the temple of our body in the person of the Holy Spirit.

Since Jesus purchased us with His shed blood through His death and our baptism, and the Spirit is now given to us to indwell our physical body, we are to glorify God in our bodies each and every day that we live and move and have our being on this earth.

One day we will be a permanent pillar as the temple of God (Rev. 3:12). This is the ultimate fulfillment of God dwelling among the redeemed eternally (Rev. 21:3)

Until then, God has elected to take up residency in the heart of the saved in the person of the Holy Spirit.


This understanding of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit has certainly received many objections. Most brethren will admit that the Holy Spirit dwells in the Christian, but will likely add the qualifying statement, “It is not a matter of does the Holy Spirit dwell in us, but rather how the Holy Spirit dwells in us”. This objection attempts to accept the truth of the Holy Spirit indwelling us, but then concludes that the indwelling is accomplished through the medium of the word of God alone. These proponents focus on the question “how?” I want to suggest that it is not a matter of “how?” but a matter of “who?” The h – o – w is out of order, and the wrong question is being asked. If we can answer the question of “who dwells in us?”, then we don’t have to ask “how?” The Bible says that the Holy Spirit “who,…whom,… He,…Himself” dwells in the Christian. Once we know that the Bible promises the Holy Spirit Himself to indwell as a gift to the believer, we must simply accept this plain truth (speak where the Bible speaks). Consider what happens when you fail to respect the personal pronouns of the text of Scripture. We turn to a passage in Acts 5:30-32, which we have already reviewed and there we see the following, "The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. "He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. "And we are witnesses of these things; and {so is} the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him." In verses 30-31, the personal pronouns reference Jesus and God and no one in all of the history of hermeneutics has tried to claim that the passage mentions are symbolic in this context. Yet, when you read verse 32, there are personal pronouns that refer to man, the Father, and the Holy Spirit. If the pronoun directed at man applies to the man himself, and the reference to God, applies to God the Father, why would anyone try to explain away the phrase, “the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him”, by making the giving of the Holy Spirit the giving of the word of God? One person said of the possibility of the personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit, “The Holy Spirit Himself does NOT literally and personally dwell within your person or being. It is impossible and nowhere does God's word teach such an idea!.” On the other end of the spectrum from the blatant dismissal and denial of the plain teachings of the word of God, consider this quote, “The significance of the term oikeo is that it speaks of permanency. The idea is that the Holy Spirit takes up residency in believers—forever. He doesn't just pass through. He makes us His home. He comes to stay. Paul's reference to believers as temples underscores this point. Having grown up a devout Jew, Paul had a great deal of respect for the temple. To the nation of Israel, it represented the presence of God among His people.” “When Christ was crucified, there was no longer any need for the temple. God no longer needed a building. He was free to take up residency in the heart of man. The barrier of sin had been removed. Man's relationship with God had been restored. To symbolize the change, God tore the veil of the temple from top to bottom (see Mark 15:38). (The veil was a thick drapery separating the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple.) The fact that it was ripped from top to bottom signified that God, not man, had initiated the change. By referring to believers as temples, Paul was announcing that God had changed His residency for good. He had left the temple in Jerusalem and, through the person of the Holy Spirit, had moved into the hearts of His people.”


“The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is a blessing of the inaugurated age to come which is experienced by believers in the present as a sealing, sanctifying promise of the presence of God when Jesus comes.” ---James Hamilton


As we conclude our discussion on the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we are left to ask, if the Holy Spirit is in us, what is it exactly that He doing in us. I hope you will join us for the final episode in Season 3. We will seek more Bible answers in the next episode titled, “The Work of the Holy Spirit”.

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