Nav Menu

Author: Ron Graham


The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit
—Three questions

Although we have been saying, in our previous lessons, that the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the various miraculous gifts are not for today, we certainly do not mean to say that there is no gift of the Holy Spirit today, or even that there is only a lesser gift today.

On the contrary, the gift, renewing, outpouring, indwelling, or seal of the Spirit which all Christians are given in common, is concerned with the greater purpose of imparting, guaranteeing, and preserving sanctification unto eternal life. It was never intended that this gift should cease.

1 Does the Holy Spirit Dwell in the Christian?

Yes, the Bible says, the Spirit of God dwells in you" and we dare not unsay it.

This a blanket statement applicable to all Christians, because the same verse goes on to say, "if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to him". (Romans 8:9)

The next two verses make it even clearer that the indwelling is for all Christians. The Christian's future resurrection unto life is made dependent upon the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, since it will come about "through His Spirit who indwells you" (Romans 8:10-11).

2 How Does the Holy Spirit Dwell in the Christian?

There is a lot of debate about the nature of the indwelling. Does the Spirit dwell in us personally, directly, and bodily? Let's look at these issues briefly.

A Direct and Personal Indwelling?

Some say that this indwelling is not direct or personal, because the same passage says, "...Christ is in you..." (Romans 8:10) and since Christ is not in us "personally" then neither is the Holy Spirit.

However this argument loses sight of the Holy Spirit's role as Christ's representative or deputy. When Paul says "...Christ is in you..." he is saying no more than that "the Spirit of God dwells in you" or that you "have the Spirit of Christ" (Romans 8:9).

We note, too, that the same argument against a personal indwelling of the Christian would also prove against a personal indwelling of, and presence with, the apostles if it were applied to John 14:17-18.

Another argument against the personal or direct indwelling, is that the Holy Spirit dwells in us through his word. This is made to mean that he does not dwell in us personally or directly, but rather his word dwells or abides in us.

However this is a simple semantic error confusing the indwelling with its instrument. For example a family might dwell in a house through a leasing agreement, that does not mean that the family dwells in the house indirectly and not personally, but only the lease papers dwell in the house.

Rather, the lease is the instrument of the family’s indwelling of the house. In the same sense, the word of covenant of Christ is the instrument by which the Spirit directly and personally dwells in us.

A Bodily Indwelling?

An argument against a "bodily" indwelling is that "God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts crying, 'Abba Father!'" (Galatians 4:6).

The argument seems to be that since the Spirit dwells in our hearts, he does not indwell our bodies. No reason is given why the Spirit cannot indwell our whole being, both body and heart.

The best reason I have ever heard is that our bodies would burst into flames if the Spirit tried to indwell them, but that is an unsupported assertion.

The fact that I mention these arguments and show the faults in them, does not mean that I say the Spirit dwells in us "personally" or "directly" or "bodily".

Paul thought it was sufficient to say, "the Spirit of God dwells in you" (Romans 8:9). I really don't see any need to tack adverbs on to that.

The Holy Spirit dwells in us. That is a sufficient truth for me to accept and believe in. Whether he does so personally, directly, bodily, or some other "ily" is a question I don't need to ask.

What concerns me is that the arguments I have mentioned seem to be against not so much a particular "ily" but against the indwelling itself, and that's why I have included them in this lesson.

3 Why Does the Holy Spirit Dwell in the Christian?

The “3S” Purpose of Indwelling

The purpose of the Holy Spirits indwelling may be summarized in three reasons each starting with S...


Webservant Ron Graham

Copyright on print