Summary: The Holy Spirit indwells the believer to apply the effects of Christ's redemptive work in his/er life.
This is actually the second part of the series of sermons in the 8th chapter of the epistle of Paul to the Romans.
At this point, the Apostle Paul makes it clear that “the Spirit of God lives in” every believer. Here’s the crucial point of his discussion throughout this chapter. We received a new standing before God, new life in Christ, and new way of living under the directives of the Holy Spirit because the Spirit of God dwells in us, the believers of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The indwelling of the Holy Spirit in our lives is a vital part of our union with Christ. Without His presence in us our new birth is clouded with doubts.
There are those who teach that a person who got saved should wait for sometimes before he/s can be indwelt by the Holy Spirit. But that is a false teaching! Our passage unmistakably declares that the Holy Spirit dwells in a believer at the moment he/s receives Christ (vv. 9-10).
In addition, the Holy Spirit does not leave a believer even for a while. The word “dwells” (NASB) is a translation of the Greek “oikeo”, which means “to be at home”. It has the idea of residence. In other words, to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit is to have the Holy Spirit residing in us and that is ‘til Jesus Christ returns.
Let us now examine the other three sets of outcome of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
I. New State (v. 9ab)
After a series of contrast between a mind set on the things of the flesh and a mind set on the things of the Spirit, Paul goes on to indicates that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit makes it certain that Christians are no longer in the dominion of sin (“not in the flesh”) but in the dominion of the Spirit. So, in other words, the believers are transferred from their old state of sin into the new state – the state of being “in the Spirit”.
Our former state is “in sin”. To be in sin is to be in the state of total helplessness and total hopelessness. It is to be in bondage to sin (cf. Rom. 7:14).
On the other hand, our new state – “in the Spirit”- is a state of blessedness. A state of freedom to do the very will of God out of love and thanks for Him. In 1 Corinthians 3:17 Paul says,
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
Dr. S. Lewis Johnson, a noted New Testament scholar, tells of his visit in Britain, where he observed that British people love dogs as their pets. During his stay he noticed three kinds of dogs which he relates to people in reference to freedom.
The first are those dogs who have law but no freedom. They are those who are in chain. Though they jog and roam with their masters yet they cannot go where they want.
The second are those dogs who have freedom but no law. These kind of dogs are not in chain and are free to do whatever they want and to go wherever they want to go. Yet they are living in a dangerous existence.
The third are those dogs that have the law of freedom. They are the kind of dogs who jog, roam, and play with their masters without any chain. They are free to go wherever they want to go but they still return to their masters. This they do because of the chain of affection that connects them to their masters.
The first are like those legalists who painstakingly live in obedience to man-made rules to the suppression of their freedom.
The second are like those people who make use of their freedom as license to sin.
The third one are those like genuine believers who make use of their freedom in Christ to stay close with the Master, the Lord Jesus Christ.
To be “in the Spirit” is to be in a new state of being at peace with God and submissive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
II. New Identification (vv. 9-10)
Martin Luther, a Catholic monk and the one who started the reformation in 16th century, says,
“The life of Christianity consists of possessive pronouns.”
This is precisely true. It is one thing to say “Christ is the Saviour” and quite another thing to say, “Christ is my Saviour”. This makes more sense when we look closely the verses we’ve just read. If we transform the last part of verse 9 into a positive one it reads like this,
“If anyone has the Spirit of Christ, that person belongs to Him.” How do we know a person really has the Spirit of Christ and he/s belongs to Christ?