I want to learn photography. I also want to create and edit videos. So I started investigating cameras.
I asked our church’s media director for advice, who recommended several camera options. I was grateful for his help. But I left his office thinking this was a major investment I should make carefully.
About twenty minutes later, Marcellus walked into my study with his iPhone in hand, attached to a small tripod to show me how my iPhone could do what I wanted without me spending any money.
I was prepared to spend hundreds of dollars for functionality I had in my pocket! Many Christians make the same mistake. We search about for resources that we already have in the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.
Indwelling is the ministry of the Holy Spirit coming to permanently live in the body of each Christian. God lives in us!
Here are five spiritual dynamics of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
It is Christian.
The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is uniquely Christian. No Old Testament believer had such a relationship with the Holy Spirit. It is the Lord’s promise to the church. The Holy Spirit indwells Christians exclusively. The Spirit has taken up residence in all and only those who have saving-faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is essential.
“Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him” (Romans 8:9). This is a definitive statement. Either you have the Spirit or you don’t. And if you do not have the Spirit, you are not a Christian. To ask if a person has the Spirit is to ask if that person is saved. Unsaved people are “devoid of the Spirit” (Jude 19).
It is universal.
The significance of Pentecost is not in the supernatural phenomena that took place. It is the fact that these phenomenal experiences took place to all the believers (Acts 2:1-4). Before Pentecost, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit was selective and temporary. But the Holy Spirit now permanently resides in all Christians. “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free – and all were made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13).
It is permanent.
David prayed, “Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me” (Psalm 51:11). This is not a prayer a Christian ever needs to pray. God the Holy Spirit permanently indwells all Christians. How does sin in the life of a Christian affect indwelling? When a Christian sins, it grieves the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). But the Spirit, by whom we are sealed for the day of redemption, does not move out!
It is foundational.
The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the foundation for other ministries of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer.
The assurance of salvation. Assurance of salvation is rooted in the word of God, the work of Christ, and the witness of the Spirit. Paul wrote, “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Romans 8:16). “And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Galatians 4:6).
Eternal security. Salvation is forever. Eternal life is eternal life (John 10:28-30; Romans 8:31-39). And the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is proof of our eternal security. “Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” Paul asked (Galatians 3:3). God finishes what he starts (Philippians 1:6).
Spiritual empowerment. God’s strength is perfected in our weakness by the indwelling of the Spirit. We are “strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being” (Ephesians 3:16). The power of God to do immeasurably beyond all we ask or imagine is at work in us by the Spirit’s presence (Ephesians 3:20).
Christian unity. Jesus prayed for his future disciples “that they may all be one” (John 17:21). This prayer of Christ is answered by the unity of the Spirit: “There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope that belongs to your call – one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4-6). By the indwelling Spirit, we are one!
The motivation for holiness. Christian holiness is not obedience to the law (Galatians 5:22-23). It is submission to the indwelling Spirit. “Do you now know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16) “Or do you now know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
Hope in suffering. Christianity does not guarantee a trouble-free life. But it does offer true hope in the midst of suffering, which is a ministry of the indwelling Spirit. “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3-5).
A Christian worldview. Christians should not be shaped by the world’s way of thinking (Romans 12:2). We are to live in the world without being of the world. A Christian worldview happens by the truth and wisdom of scripture, which the indwelling Spirit helps us to understand, apply, and obey (1 Corinthians 2:9-12).