Summary: This lesson examines the three main views regarding how the Holy Spirit dwells in Christians.
As we continue our series of studies of the Holy Spirit of God, we move to what would be considered by most the most controversial subject among brethren regarding the Holy Spirit: The Indwelling. I will share with you my understanding of this important topic which has been molded and changed as I have studied it over the years. I understand that some who hear this lesson may not agree with the view I will give in this lesson (there are many good, faithful brethren who disagree with me on this). I do not believe if you disagree with me about the Indwelling that you are in danger of being lost, but I do believe that if you take the view I will oppose in this lesson that you will miss many of the blessings that we receive from the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
If you are one of those people, I would be more than willing to sit down with you and to hear any arguments that you may want to share that you think I have not considered regarding this issue.
WHAT IS NOT DEBATED:
One thing that is not debated when it comes to the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the fact that the Spirit dwells in us. The issue that is debated is “how” He dwells in us. Anyone who would deny that the Spirit dwells in us at all could only arrive at such a view by disregarding clear passages of scripture that teach otherwise. Some examples include:
• John 7:37-39 “Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
• 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, 22 who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.
• 2 Timothy 1:14 “14 Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.
These verses (amongst many others I could give) show the fact that the Holy Spirit dwells in us in some way. The big question we must ask is “how”? How is it that the Holy Spirit dwells in us as God’s people? There are three possible views that I know of that try to answer this question:
1. The Holy Spirit indwells the Christian SEPARATE and APART from the word. Some believe that the Holy Spirit dwells in every Christian in a distinctly miraculous way, separate from the influence that comes through hearing and believing the Word. This indwelling is alleged to be evidenced through manifestations of His presence through signs, gifts, and inspiration. In this way enlightenment comes through the prompting of the Spirit. This is given precedence over the revelation that comes from the Holy Scriptures. There is NO credible evidence that the Holy Spirit is working in this manner today. (I will attempt to respond to this view in a later lesson)
2. The Holy Spirit dwells in us ONLY through the word. This position believes that it is through the Word of God that the Holy Spirit “figuratively” indwells the Christian. This indwelling is said to be a “representative” indwelling in that it denies the premise that the Holy Spirit actually indwells the body of the believer. As we fill our minds with the word of the Spirit, trust in His promises, enjoy the Spirit’s blessings, and obey the word, the Spirit “dwells” in us. My question for those who hold this view is this, “Where is the passage of scripture that teaches this position?” I do not know of one. This is not to say that arguments are not given to try to prove this position (I will deal with a few of the arguments in a moment). But there is just not a passage that says that teaches the premise; that the Holy Spirit dwells in us ONLY through the word I believe this position (although well intentioned) is guilty of something that I tried to encourage us at the beginning of these lessons not to do: to overreact to false teachings on the subject. I believe that the belief that the Holy Spirit dwells in us ONLY through the word is an overreaction to the false belief that the Spirit dwells in us in some miraculous way, and I believe it can be proven that this position had its beginnings at times in which the first position was gaining strength. Positions one and two seem to be the two extremes that one can take on the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit. I believe the truth is in the middle.