Vol. 11 No. 11 November 2009
The Spirit Within Us
What is our relationship with the Holy Spirit in the present age? How does He dwell in us? How does He influence our lives?
There is perhaps more misunderstanding of these questions in the modern religious world than on any other subject. The views many hold are based more on emotion and superstition than on Scripture. It is important to let the Bible answer. This may necessitate your forgetting some of the ideas you have previously held.
First, remember that the Holy Spirit is a Divine Person, just as the Father and Christ are Divine Persons. With this in mind, remember that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit—all three—are said to dwell in us (2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 3:17; Galatians 4:6; 1 Corinthians 6:19). We know of the indwelling of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit because we are told this in the Scriptures. Notice again that Christ dwells in us “by faith” (Ephesians 3:17). Now read Galatians 3:2. Here we learn that the Spirit is received by the “hearing of faith.” The simple fact is that we know the presence of the Holy Spirit in the same way that we know the presence of Christ and the Father. This is not by feelings and experiences, but by faith that is based on the statements of the Scriptures.
The Holy Spirit instructs, guides and influences us by means of the written Word of God. Jesus promised the Spirit to the apostles to guide them “into all truth” (John 16:13). The Word of God is the “sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17). Everything that the Spirit does in guiding, instructing and influencing us is said to be done through the Word.
Read Ephesians 5:18-19 and Colossians 3:16. Notice the parallels between the two passages. Notice how one place says to be “filled with the Spirit” and the other place says to “let the word of Christ dwell in us richly.” The two statements mean the same thing. A person is under the influence of the Spirit when he is being guided by the Word.
It is a dangerous mistake to expect the Spirit to instruct, influence or guide us through some means other than the Bible. The Scriptures furnish us completely unto every good work (1 Timothy 3:16-17). When people imagine that the Spirit is leading them by some other means instead of the Scriptures, they come to ignore and even contradict the Word of God.
As we consider the influential power of the Spirit in our lives, there is one passage that we should especially learn — Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
The “fruit” the Spirit bears in our lives is “love, joy, peace,” etc. Notice the contrast in verses 19-21. The Spirit leads us through the Scriptures to avoid the sins of the flesh and to produce the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. The only meaningful evidence of the Spirit’s influence is in changed lives. It is not in feelings, ecstatic experiences or emotional outbursts, but in whether a person’s life is characterized by the fruit described.
First Corinthians 6:18-20 shows a powerful motivation for purity. When we realize the presence of the Holy Spirit (as the Bible tells us), we recognize how important it is to keep ourselves from fornication and any other sin that defiles the “temple of the Holy Spirit.”