The Indwelling Of The Holy Spirit (Part I)

By Wayne Wells

The Bible clearly teaches the Spirit dwells within Christians. No Bible-believer should ever deny this truth.

Romans 8:9
But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.

Romans 8:11
But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

1 Corinthians 3:16
Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

2 Timothy 1:14
That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.

Among Bible-believers, there is much disagreement on how the Spirit dwells in us. Does He dwell in us directly? Indirectly? Through the Word?

We must understand the indwelling of the Spirit is not just some impersonal force within us that helps us be better Christians.

The Spirit is a personal being and is part of the Godhead just as much as the Father and Son.

This becomes obvious when we consider that when Ananias lied to the Spirit, he lied to God.

Acts 5:1-4
But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. 2 And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? 4 While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”

We must understand some attributes of God before we can properly understand how God the Spirit can dwell in us.

When the Bible says the Spirit indwells Christians, it is not referring to a physical location (is He in your heart, stomach or liver?). If He physically dwells in your heart, is He in your right atrium? left ventricle? or coronary artery?

The indwelling of the Spirit is not talking about a physical location but a working relationship the Spirit has with all Christians.

Before we can properly understand the indwelling of the Spirit, we must understand the infinity of God.

God Is Infinite: He Is Unlimited By Anything Within Creation

1. God is unlimited in His existence. (He always existed, always will exist)
We are immortal because God chooses to have it so. God is immortal because of who He is.

1 Timothy 6:16
Who alone has immortality,
dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen.

2. God is unlimited in knowledge. (He is omniscient. He knows all things.)

3. God is unlimited in power. (He is the Almighty. He is omnipotent.)

4. God is unlimited in space. (He is omnipresent.) Space, like time, is a product of creation. Created beings are limited by space. We are in physical body and can only be one place at one time.

In the spiritual realm, created beings live differently than we do, yet they cannot be everywhere at once.

The angel who appeared to Daniel could not be everywhere at the same time, and he was not all-powerful. 

Daniel 10:12-14; 20
Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words.
But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia.
Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come.”
20 Then he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? And now I must return to fight with the prince of Persia; and when I have gone forth, indeed the prince of Greece will come.”

God alone is unlimited by space. He cannot be measured. There is no answer to how big, tall, wide, heavy God is. These types of measurements do not apply to God.

1 Kings 8:27
But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!

The omnipresence of God is the reason it makes no difference where we worship. Pagans had an idea of gods who were limited in their location (cp. Baal in 1 Kings 18). Their gods were limited in space just as humans are.

God Is Omnipresent He Is Present To All Of Space At All Times

Psalm 139:7-10
Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.

Jeremiah 23:23-24
“Am I a God near at hand,” says the Lord, “And not a God afar off? Can anyone hide himself in secret places, so I shall not see him?” says the Lord; “Do I not fill heaven and earth?” says the Lord.

Acts 17:26-28
And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being.

The omnipresence of God shows the futility of Jonah’s attempt to run away from God.

Jonah 1:3; 10
3  But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.
10 Then the men were exceedingly afraid, and said to him, “Why have you done this?" For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them.

God is everywhere. There was no place Jonah could run to get away from God.

Sometimes God becomes present in a different way. In addition to being present to all of space equally, He actually enters space at specific points and becomes present in it for a special purpose.

He may make His presence known in the form of a theophany in which He appears in a specific location, but that visible appearance does not limit God to one place. God could make himself known in a million simultaneous theophanies and still be fully present to all the rest of creation at the same time.

Some Examples Of The Local Appearances Of God

1. Sinai

Exodus 19:11
And let them be ready for the third day. For on the third day the Lord will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people (see 19:16-24).
 

2. Leaders of Israel

Exodus 24:9-11
Then Moses went up, also Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and they saw the God of Israel. And there was under His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, and it was like the very heavens in its clarity. But on the nobles of the children of Israel He did not lay His hand. So they saw God, and they ate and drank.
 

3. Pillar of Cloud

Exodus 33:9
And it came to pass, when Moses entered the tabernacle, that the pillar of cloud descended and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses.

4. Cloud in the Temple

1 Kings 8:10-11
And it came to pass, when the priests came out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the Lord,
so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord.
 

In all of these appearances of God to men, He was seen in some form at a particular, physical location, but He still remained omnipresent. He still filled heaven and earth.

In the Bible, God’s presence or absence is used in a figurative sense to represent either:

1.   His attitude of favor or disfavor.

2.   His availability for help.

The righteous who are in God’s favor are spoken of as being near to God or being in His presence. The wicked who are in God’s disfavor are said to be far away from God or that He has withdrawn from them.

1. Those in God’s disfavor are “far” from Him.

Genesis 4:16
Then Cain went out from the presence of the Lord and dwelt in the land of Nod on the east of Eden.

Proverbs 15:29
The Lord is far from the wicked
, but He hears the prayer of the righteous.

Psalm 51:11
Do not cast me away from Your presence
, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

Deuteronomy 31:17-18
Then My anger shall be aroused against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide My face from them, and they shall be devoured. And many evils and troubles shall befall them, so that they will say in that day, Have not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us? And I will surely hide My face in that day because of all the evil which they have done, in that they have turned to other gods.

Isaiah 59:1-2
Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.
 

2. God is “near” to those who are in His favor.

Psalm 34:18
The Lord is near
to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.

Psalm 145:18
The Lord is near
to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.

Zechariah 1:3
Thus says the Lord of hosts: Return to Me, says the Lord of hosts, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts.

Malachi 3:7
Yet from the days of your fathers you have gone away from My ordinances and have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts.

James 4:8
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you...
 

3. Gentiles who were “afar off” are now “brought near” in Christ.

Acts 2:38-39
Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

Ephesians 2:13
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been made near by the blood of Christ.

In all these verses that describe God as near or far away, God’s omnipresence is the same.

Acts 17:28 has been true the whole time:

“for in Him we live and move and have our being.”

Depending on our attitude towards Him, His presence takes on different meanings for us.

  1. To the disobedient, He is present, but there is no response or is active by bringing chastening or judgment.

  2. To the obedient, He is present and is active in their lives and is a source of blessing.

God’s presence is used figuratively to represent God’s availability to help in time of need.

Psalm 35:22
This You have seen, O Lord; Do not keep silence. O Lord, do not be far from me.

Psalm 71:12
O God, do not be far from me; O my God, make haste to help me!

In these verses, the request is for God to help in time of trouble. God is always omnipresent. He is never literally far from anyone, but He helps the righteous and ignores the pleas of the wicked.

1. God expressed His willingness to help through Haggai

Haggai 1:13-15
Then Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, spoke the Lord’s message to the people, saying, I am with you, says the Lord. Yet now be strong, Zerubbabel, says the Lord; and be strong, Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest; and be strong, all you people of the land, says the Lord, and work; for I am with you, says the Lord of hosts. according to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear!
 

2. The promise of Jesus

Matthew 28:19-20
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Sometimes when we gather to worship or go to God in prayer we say,
“We come into Your presence.”

This does not mean that we were not already in God’s presence before we walked into the building; we are recognizing His presence as we set apart a special time to concentrate on it.
 

3. Those who seek the Lord in false worship do not find His presence

Hosea 5:5-6
The pride of Israel testifies to his face; therefore Israel and Ephraim stumble in their iniquity; Judah also stumbles with them. With their flocks and herds they shall go to seek the Lord, but they will not find Him. He has withdrawn Himself from them.
 

4. Those who worship in spirit and truth can find Him anywhere

John 4:20-24
Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Matthew 18:20
For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.
 

5. Through Jesus our High Priest, we can always “draw near” to God

Hebrews 10:22
Let us draw near
with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

We must remember that the infinite God is not limited by space and is omnipresent. His omnipresence provides no comfort or aid to those who refuse to obey; but it is a great source of blessing and comfort to those whose heart is right before Him.

When the Bible speaks of God dwelling in us, whether it is the Father, Son or Spirit, it is not speaking of physical location. God is omnipresent at all times whether we are rebellious or obedient. We cannot change God.

The indwelling of the Spirit speaks of a working relationship that describes the close active role the Spirit has with those who willingly submit their lives to God’s will. To say the Spirit literally dwells in a physical location in our body is to miss the point. In the same way, those who limit the indwelling of the Spirit to only the influence of the Bible which was revealed by the Spirit miss the point. It speaks of the Spirit’s work in the lives of those who study and obey His Word.


(Wayne Wells preaches in Texarkana, TX.
He is the webmaster for http://godofmercy.com
and can be contacted at wayne@godofmercy.com.)

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