The Indwelling Holy Spirit
© 2023 C. O. Bishop
One of the things Jesus had to do in the few hours he had left with his disciples, was to teach them what to expect regarding the Holy Spirit. He was also preparing them for His own Departure, but, since He was leaving, they needed to know that the Holy Spirit would take the Place of Jesus in their lives, and actually indwell them.
John 14:16, 17
16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
This is a key passage, because in it we learn three things:
- The Holy Spirit is the Comforter (parakletos) who takes the place of Jesus as our comforter, protector and guide.
- The Holy Spirit will remain with us Forever! (No qualifiers, here!)
- The Holy Spirit is with us, and (since the day of Pentecost) He is in us.
He is God!
The Holy Spirit is God. We see that in Acts 5:3, 4, where Peter accused Ananias of having lied to the Holy Spirit, and then he clarified the accusation, by declaring, “You lied to God!”
He is a Person
He is a Person; specifically, the third person of the Godhead. In Colossians 2:9, we see that “in Him (Christ) dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead, bodily.” Paul warns us not to grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30) as He is the one sealing us in Christ until the day of redemption. He is not a “force:” (a force cannot be grieved.) He is not a feeling: Feelings have no authority and they cannot speak to a group of people, as in Acts 13:2, and, as God, send the servants of God out on a mission.
The Indwelling is permanent
In the Old Testament, no one was permanently indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Certain prophets were evidently temporarily indwelt by the Holy Spirit, but He gave no guarantee that He would stay, and David specifically begged that the Holy Spirit would not be taken from him, in Psalm 51:11. The New Testament believer has no need for such a “fear of abandonment.” Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would be with us forever.
Also, the Old Testament servants of God were frequently said to have the Holy Spirit upon them. Only in a few cases does the scripture suggest that He was in them. But Jesus made that New Testament distinctive very clear: the Holy Spirit was (already) with the disciples, but He would soon be in them! The New Testament, proper, began on the day of Pentecost, in Acts chapter 2.
18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. 20 At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. 21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
This is another important passage, because, along with verse 23, it underscores the truth of the Trinity. Jesus had just said that he would leave them and that, in His place, the Holy Spirit would come and indwell them. But, in verse 18, He says, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. And, in verse 19, He says that He is in the Father, that we are in Him (the position of believers is “In Christ!) and that He is in us! So, in the person of the Holy Spirit, we are also indwelt by Jesus Christ Himself!
And in John 14:23, He states that He and the Father would come and make their abode with the believer. As the Third Person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit fully includes the entire Godhead, just as we read in Colossians 2:9, that Jesus, (God the Son,) fully included the entire Trinity.
Finally, in John 14:28, Jesus reminds the disciples that the Father is greater than the Son. (Bear in mind that in Isaiah 9:6, we see that the Son shall be called the Everlasting Father!)
Do I understand this? No! I accept it by faith, because God says it is so!
God has the authority to make statements that I cannot understand. I can either accept them as truth, even though I fail to understand them, or I can reject them, claiming that they “don’t make sense!” As a teacher of God’s Word, it is critically important that I teach what the scriptures actually say, and not try to make them palatable by “filtering out the hard things.” I have to be faithful to teach the whole Word of God, even when it seems hard to understand.
John 15:26, 27
26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: 27 And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.
Something was going to change: when the Holy Spirit came, the disciples would testify about Jesus, because the Holy Spirit would testify about Jesus. Remember Jesus had already told them they would be scattered, and flee, when He was arrested (and they were, and they did!) But now He tells them that when the Holy Spirit finally came, something was going to change.
In Acts 1:8, 9, He told them the same thing, just before he physically ascended, back into Heaven. He said “But ye shall receive power (“dunamis”…strength; ability) after that the Holy Ghost has come upon you, and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem and in all Judaea, and in Samaria and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
We are Called to Speak, and Called to Do, as He Does
The Holy Spirit speaks of Jesus. That is one of His character traits. He glorifies Jesus, in Word and in deed. And as He indwells us, He calls us to do the same. We have a problem, though: we still have our old sin nature, and we have to overcome a lifetime of habitual self-serving, in order to cut loose from our slavery to self and sin, and to freely follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.
In Galatians 5:16, we are admonished, “Walk in the Spirit and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” That is the only way we can serve God, and be free from our old slavery to sin. Jesus told His disciples, in John 15:5, “Apart from Me ye can do nothing.” It was the literal truth.
7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. 8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 Of sin, because they believe not on me; 10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; 11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.
Jesus reminded them that it was necessary for him to end His earthly ministry, in order that the Holy Spirit could be completely free to indwell all believers individually. As God, He is omnipresent: He is in all places simultaneously. But Jesus chose to live His earthly life under the same physical rules that restrict each of us. So, while He remained in His earthly body, Jesus was bound to a single place and time at any given moment. He could only be in one place at a time.
Jesus is Omnipresent again, now.
Now, however, He is free to live in every single believer, in the Person of the Holy Spirit. He is free to act through each of us, and speak through each of us, to Glorify the Father by the Church.
Having finally come, the Holy Spirit has two separate spheres of influence: He lives in us, where He teaches, guides and protects us. But His service toward the World is completely different: He “Reproves the World of Sin, and of Righteousness, and of Judgment.”
By the Holy Spirit, especially as witnessed in His people, the World sees sin for what it really is. They may or may not respond in repentance, but they know sin, and by the same means, they know righteousness, and judgment. They can see that the judgment of God is coming.
13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. 14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. 15 All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
The rest of the work the Holy Spirit does, is in teaching the believers: Jesus said that the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth. He does not speak independently from the Written Word of God, but always within the context of God’s Word. He guides us so that we can see what is ahead. He receives all that Jesus is, and says, and does, and He delivers it to us at a level where we can understand it, or at least put it into practice.
He makes the whole Church to Function as it Should
He is the one who administers the Gifts of the Spirit, and He empowers the teachers and leaders He has given. The Holy Spirit is the one who fills the Body of Christ and makes it functional as a whole, rather than being just a cluttered pile of disconnected parts.
Notice, too, that, if the Holy Spirit is the One who is functioning, then the result will be that the actions and words will glorify Jesus, not the humans involved, nor even calling attention to the Holy Spirit Himself. He works to glorify Jesus. He does not speak of Himself, but of Jesus.
This parallels the story of the Servant in Genesis 24, who spoke only of the Son, and sought the Bride. He continued speaking of the Son, until Rebekah was able to look, for herself, to the bridegroom, and see Isaac. The Holy Spirit will glorify Jesus until we see Him face-to-face!
Ministry of the Spirit
In the outworking of the New Testament, we begin to see details of the change Jesus promised: We see the gifts of the Spirit laid out in 1st Corinthians 12. We see the unity of the Spirit, in Ephesians 4:3-5. And we see the Fruit (singular) of the Spirit, described in Galatians 5:22, 23.
We see that there is One Body of Christ with many Members. We see that there is One Holy Spirit, who works differently through each believer, in the various gifts, but they are always in keeping with God’s Word. (If they are not, then it is not the Holy Spirit who is at work.)
We see that the Unity of the Spirit (in that One Body of Christ) is created by the One Holy Spirit, but is to be maintained by the believers, collectively, by walking in obedience to Him.
We see that the Fruit of the Spirit has nine aspects, but that they all are to be there, in season: it is just one fruit, with nine characteristics, all of which have to be there.
Just the Facts!
This is not the “heady, psycho-babble” that typifies much of the foolishness taught today, about the gifts of the Spirit. It is simply the facts, as laid out in the Word of God. And, as we continue walking in the Spirit, the Lord raises us up as His servants and coworkers, so that the Gifts He has given find a place to function, and we rejoice to serve with Him.
Do I have to understand all the things God says about the Holy Spirit, in order to be aware of His leading in my life? No, I do not! If I am willing to obey Him and trust Him to lead me, then He will open doors before me and offer tasks for me to fulfill that will honor Him and please Him. He will direct our paths, if we are willing to follow His leading.
When we know the “general truths,” such as the fact that He has called us to be His witnesses, and that He has called us to leave our old ways of life behind, and commit ourselves to following Him in His Holiness, then we can start doing what we know to do, and looking to Him to lead us into a further walk with Him.
I want to close with one small point, in John 14:26. “26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”
Notice that it says the Holy Spirit will teach us, but it goes on to say, “He will bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”
Jesus primarily speaks to us through His written Word. Peter confirmed this, in 2nd Peter 1:19, saying “We have also a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn and the daystar arise in your hearts.”
If the written word is the primary way Jesus talks to us, and if we are not spending much time in the Word, then He can’t say much to us…and “we aren’t giving the Holy Spirit much to work with,” in terms of bringing it to our remembrance. We can’t remember what we never heard or never read. We need to feed on the Word, to be prepared to follow His leading.
Lord Jesus, empower us by Your Holy Spirit, and raise us up to walk in your footsteps. Teach us to understand Your Will and to obey from the heart.