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The Spirit Indwelling

We move on now to the second aspect of the gift of the Holy Spirit, which, as we shall see in our next chapter, is more particularly the subject of Romans 8. It is that which we have spoken of as the Spirit indwelling. “If so be that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you...” (Romans 8:9). As with the Spirit outpoured, so with the Spirit indwelling, if we are to know in experience that which is ours in fact, our first need is of Divine revelation. When we see Christ as Lord objectively—that is, as exalted to the throne in Heaven—then we shall experience the power of the Spirit upon us. When we see Christ as Lord subjectively—that is, as effective Ruler within our lives—then we shall know the power of the Spirit within us.

A revelation of the indwelling Spirit was the remedy Paul offered the Corinthian Christians for their unspirituality. It is important to note that the Christians in Corinth had become preoccupied with the visible signs of the Holy Spirit’s outpouring and were making much of ‘tongues’ and miracles, while at the same time their lives were full of contradictions and were a reproach to the Lord’s Name. They had quite evidently received the Holy Spirit and yet they remained spiritually immature; and the remedy God offered them for this is the remedy He offers His Church today for the same complaint.

In his letter to them Paul wrote: “Know ye not that ye are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16). For others he prayed for enlightenment of heart, “...that ye may know” (Ephesians 1:18). A knowledge of Divine facts was the need of the Christians then, and it is no less the need of Christians today. We need the ‘opening of the eyes of our understanding’ that we may know that God Himself through the Holy Spirit has taken up His abode in our hearts. God is present in the person of the Spirit, and Christ is present in the person of the Spirit too. Thus if the Holy Spirit dwells in our hearts we have the Father and the Son dwelling within. That is no mere theory or doctrine, but a blessed reality. We may perhaps have realized that the Spirit is actually within our hearts, but have we realized that He is a Person? Have we understood that to have the Spirit within us it to have the living God within?

To many Christians the Holy Spirit is quite unreal. They regard Him as a mere influence—and influence for good, no doubt, but just an influence for all that. In their thinking, conscience and the Spirit are more or less identified as some ‘thing’ within them that brings them to book when they are bad and tries to show them how to be good. The trouble with the Corinthian Christians was not that they lacked the indwelling Spirit but that they lacked the knowledge of His presence. They failed to realize the greatness of the One who had come to make His abode in their hearts; so Paul wrote to them: “Know ye not that ye are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” Yes, that was the remedy for their unspirituality—just to know who He really was who dwelt within.

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