What is…the indwelling of the Spirit?

You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘the indwelling Spirit‘ before. I know I’ve said things when teaching and preaching like ‘through the power of the indwelling Spirit we…‘. But, what are we talking about?

Contrary to popular belief, the Spirit did not appear in Acts, but was always present with God and as God:

“Now the earth was without shape and empty, and darkness was over the surface of the watery deep, but the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the water.”

(Genesis 1.2, NET, emphasis added)

As we move through the Old Testament we see that the Spirit empowered people to do certain tasks at certain time (Judges 15.14, for example) but was never permanently present in the lives of God’s people. As the big narrative of the Bible continues Jesus says:

If you love me, you will obey my commandments. Then I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you forever — the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it does not see him or know him. But you know him, because he resides with you and will be in you.”

(John 14.15-17, NET, emphasis added)

As part of the New Covenant cut with the blood of Jesus on the cross then, the Holy Spirit is given to believers the moment they believe, permanently (Ephesians 1.13-14, 1 Corinthians 6.19-20). Rather than the Spirit and presence of God visiting His people once a year on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16) the believer is now the place of permanent residence for God’s Holy Spirit. As one writer phrased it, “Scripture also says that the believer is indwelt spiritually by Christ (Colossians 1:27) and by God the Father (1 John 4:15)—the Trinity is involved.

For you and for me, the indwelling of the Spirit, God’s personal presence with us in all places and at all times, brings some tangible and life-changing results;

  • Our soul, once dead in sin, is washed and renewed to life (Titus 3.5).
  • We are confirmed as adopted heirs, family members with Christ (Romans 8.15-17).
  • We are gifted for God’s glory and the building up of our local believing community (1 Corinthians 12).
  • We are given insight and understanding into the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 2.12).
  • We are empowered to live the life that God wants for us (Galatians 5.16, 22-23 Romans 8.14).
  • We are convicted of our sin and led to repentance (1 John 1.9).

So, very simply, the indwelling of the Spirit is the proof and the sign of your status as a born again believer. There is empowering, there is evidence, and there is encouragement.

Published by James Travis

Pastor of Saar Fellowship in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Married to Robyn and Dad to our two boys.

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