The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit

Text: 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

“Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you.” But there is confusion about this. How does the Holy Spirit dwell in us? And what does this mean for us?

The Holy Spirit Dwells in the Christian

  • This is plainly taught in the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 6:19; 2 Timothy 1:14)
  • It is vital that the Spirit dwells in us (Romans 8:9-11) – it’s a matter of belonging to Godlife
  • The question is how the Spirit dwells in the Christian – A direct, personal indwelling? Or an indirect indwelling (representatively)?

Other Persons of God Dwell in the Christian

  • People often talk about the indwelling of the Holy Spirit – Why not the indwelling of Christ? Or of the Father?
  • The Father dwells in the Christian (2 Corinthians 6:16,18; 1 John 3:23-24; 4:2-4)
  • Jesus dwells in the Christian (John 6:56; Romans 8:10; 2 Corinthians 13:5; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 3:17)
  • And of course, the Holy Spirit dwells in the Christian

Is the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit Different?

  • Can one person of God indwell a Christian in a way that is different from the others? … No – same indwelling language used for all
  • Christ dwells in us through faith (Ephesians 3:17) – faith comes from the word of God (Romans 10:17)
  • So Christ dwells in us to the degree that the word dwells in us – same with the Holy Spirit
  • Notice the parallel between being “filled with the Spirit” & having the “word…dwell within you” (Ephesians 5:18-6:9; Colossians 3:16-4:1) – both produce the same result; this is not a coincidence, but is divine commentary explaining how one is filled with the Spirit
  • The Spirit dwells within us to whatever degree the word of God dwells within us

The Holy Spirit Accomplishes What the Word Does

  • This is only logical because the Spirit revealed the word (2 Peter 1:20-21; 1 Corinthians 2:10-13)
  • Both give life (John 6:63)
  • Both sanctify (1 Peter 1:2; John 17:17)
  • Both convict sinners (John 16:8; Acts 2:37)
  • The Jews resisted the Spirit (Acts 7:51) – How? … by rejecting the law, prophets & gospel (Acts 7:52-54)
  • The Spirit admonishes (Nehemiah 9:30) – How? … “through Your prophets
  • What the Spirit accomplishes, He does so through His medium/instrument – the Word (Ephesians 6:17)

Problems with the Direct, Personal Indwelling Theory

  • One must twist the Scriptures to fit this interpretation (2 Peter 3:16) – the Bible does not contradict itself (John 10:35); we must find the interpretation that harmonizes with the sum of truth
  • The Holy Spirit is a person of God, not some mystical force or mysterious power that overtakes us – He can be grieved (Ephesians 4:30), lied to (Acts 5:3-4), resisted (Acts 7:51), and rebelled against (Psalm 106:33)
  • As a person, He has location – occupies one certain place; can move from place to place (Genesis 1:2)
  • What about the omnipresence of God? … The Scriptures do not actually teach that God is everywhere – He is omniscient (all-knowing), so it is as if He were everywhere (Psalm 139:7-10, 2 – this verse is key)
  • If omnipresence allowed the Holy Spirit to personally indwell all Christians simultaneously, would he not also indwell all non-Christians at the same time? … If not, why not?
  • If the Holy Spirit indwells the Christian personally, that would be the incarnation of deity – the Holy Spirit is deity (Acts 5:3-4); incarnation is deity personally inhabiting (indwelling) a human body (ex: Jesus – Colossians 2:9)
  • If the direct, personal indwelling were true, the Spirit of God would be incarnate in every Christian – we would then be like Christ, unable to do anything but what the Father does (John 5:19); there would be no possibility of sin (but we cannot say we have no sin – 1 John 1:8), and “once saved, always saved” (even Paul could have been lost – 1 Corinthians 9:27)

Does It Matter What One Believes on This Topic?

  • With a correct understanding, one will realize that he must look to the Bible alone to find God’s revealed will (1 Corinthians 2:10-13), not wait to be mysteriously guided or spoken to in a “still, small voice” – this will lead one to study to better understand God’s will (2 Timothy 2:15; Ephesians 5:17-18)
  • With an incorrect understanding – less motivation to study (why study to be filled with the Spirit if you believe you already are?); more emphasis on feeling as an indication of what is right and assurance of salvation (but the gospel appeals to reason – Acts 17:2-3; we can know we’re saved because we obey – 1 John 2:3-6); less carefulness to do what is right (if the Spirit is in us guiding us, how can we fall too far into sin?); often the end result is weak Christians & unfaithful Christians


  • The sword of the Spirit is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17) – this is the instrument He uses today
  • The Holy Spirit dwells in us to the degree that the word of God dwells in us (Ephesians 5:18; Colossians 3:16)
  • We should not wait for the Holy Spirit to miraculously come upon us – we should look to the word that the Spirit revealed and hear it, study it, learn it, practice it, and teach it

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