Summary: Paul says, "If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, He does not belong to Christ." We must possess the Spirit to be possessed by Christ. He must be ours if we are His. Mutual possessing and mutual indwelling is what salvation is all about.
Indwelling has a variety of meanings. It can mean that matter indwells matter as a kernel or
fruit within a shell. A yoke indwells the white and both dwell within the shell. It can refer to a
situation where one substance is intermixed with another, as with salt and water, or medicine
within your blood system. Then there is the non-material indwelling the material. When an artist
really puts himself into his art, we say his spirit indwells it. A musician lives in his composition.
It reveals his nature, personality, or mood.
This is what we mean when we say God indwells His creation. His beauty and harmony of
nature are built right into what He has made. Another type of indwelling is related to heredity.
Parents indwell their children in the sense that part of them has been reproduced. Man being
made in the image of God conveys this idea, and so God indwells men in the sense that they have
qualities that are from His nature. We can speak of one man dwelling in another in the sense of
influence or inspiration. If a man is a follower of another's methods or ideas, you can say that he
just lives in that man.
All of these ideas of spiritual indwelling fit the meaning of being indwelt by God, but they all
fall short of the full meaning. Paul makes it clear in this passage that God's indwelling is not just
figurative, and does not just relate to His image, influence, and inspiration, but to a literal
indwelling. God actually abides within our literal flesh just as Jesus literally entered the flesh of
a human body in the incarnation. The term Christian refers to those who are Christ ones, and that
is what we literally are as Christians. We are little Christ's. We have the same Holy Spirit
indwelling us as He had. The source of His wisdom and power is within us as it was in Him. In
verse 11 Paul makes it clear that the very Spirit of God who raised up Christ is the Spirit that
dwells in the believer, and it is He who will also raise us up to life immortal.
It is no wonder that Paul was such a man of assurance and certainty. Paul didn't claim to
know everything, for he said that we know only in part. Much was mystery to Paul, but he was
sure of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We want to study this passage verse by verse in order to
grow in the knowledge that is necessary to have the assurance of Paul.
In verse 9 in the KJV Paul says to the Roman Christians, "You are not in the flesh." If you
take this literally you would think Paul was writing to disembodied Christians. It sounds like a
weight watchers paradise. But the modern versions make it clear that Paul is saying they are not
controlled by the sinful nature. He is saying that the natural man is not controlled by the Spirit,
but the Christian is to be so controlled. Those who are in flesh live their life with no regard for
God and His will. They live in a sphere that is flesh controlled and dominated. In contrast Paul
says the Christian is controlled by the Spirit. Paul's method of getting people to examine
themselves is far superior to that of asking people
if they are saved. Instead of asking them, he describes the two spheres in which all people live,
and then let's them judge for themselves which sphere they are in. To be in the Spirit is the
opposite of being in the flesh. If you are in the Spirit and controlled by the Spirit God will play
the dominant role in your decisions, thoughts, and acts. John wrote in I John 14, "Hereby we
know that we dwell in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit." The indwelling
Spirit is the key to Christian assurance.
Then Paul says, "If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, He does not belong to Christ."
We must possess the Spirit to be possessed by Christ. He must be ours if we are His. Mutual
possessing and mutual indwelling is what salvation is all about. These are terms that are not
familiar to us because we have taken a few biblical concepts to describe salvation and have
ignored the rest. This is a statement of absolute finality, just like the statement, "You must be
born again." You must have the Spirit of Christ is saying the same thing. Having the Spirit is a
good biblical phrase that we ought to use, for it means to be a child of God. We tend not to use
this terminology because it brings the Holy Spirit into the center of the plan of salvation, and we