(2) How the Spirit Dwells in Us


I cannot argue with the Book (the Bible) although some may consider it only a “book,” because doing so would be to argue with the God who inspired that Book. I once argued with my Philippine history teacher because she made George Dewey the first American civil governor of colonial Philippines. You cannot argue with facts, but you can argue with wrong “facts.” You cannot argue with an inspired man. But in this age of post-miracles and post-inspiration, you can argue with any man about the Book, including Apollo Quiboloy, Eli Soriano, Erano Manalo, Ruben Ecleo and the “pope” of Rome, since they are never inspired. The axe falls where it may. Don’t take it then as a sign of disrespect if I question everything that I read, every teaching that I heard, regardless of who wrote or taught it. I teach nothing in secret and you have every right too to examine my premises and my conclusions.

The Holy Spirit does dwell in the Christians. But the question is: How? It is here where most disagreements lie. But since there are many bright and intelligent men on both sides of the controversy, you will certainly hear some uncertain sounds. Sometimes the discussion heats up it becomes a battle for numbers. The one with the most number of adherents wins.

What we need are wise men, not just intelligent or bright ones.

In this discussion, I take a different approach and for a different reason. My purpose is not to win an argument. I look at the question and the facts in front of me, hopefully, without my colored glasses on, without my preconceived notions, without my set of beliefs.

A missionary of the Lord’s church, who equated “being indwelt by the Spirit” with “being filled by the Spirit” (a conclusion which we have just proved to be lexically and etymologically wrong, see series 1), seeing from the Scriptures that only inspired men had been “Spirit-filled,” concluded that the indwelling of the Spirit had ceased with the death of the last inspired writer. There is no Spirit-indwelling today, he said. He was wrong.

In approaching the question, I try to look at ALL the facts related to it and based on a good number of reasons, I may make my conclusion. But, that conclusion is subject to further investigation and examination. The reason I do this is because I am not an inspired man and neither do I have a hotline connection to the office of the Deity.

This doctrine is like a puzzle, and I am trying to find the pieces that fit. Like any specimen in the lab, the Bible too may be examined, by us, and by those who are very critical of it. The facts about that specimen, its character and nature– they do not change–and if those facts are printed and published by machines configured only to print and publish what they see, these facts would come out the same. But in the eyes of men whose hearts have been configured to believe only what they want to believe, you would hear different conclusions.

This study is an invitation to you to learn with me.

Does the Holy Spirit dwell in us through the Word? The proponent of this theory argues that “the Holy Spirit dwells in the Christian indirectly, that is, through a medium,” which is the Word of God. Citing Romans 8:1-2, he says that the “Holy Spirit has a law that set us free from the slavery we were under, from the law of sin and death,” and that law is “the word of God, the good news of Jesus Christ.”

The paragraph in Romans 8 begins with a “therefore,” or “consequently,” an inference drawn from the argument which Paul made in Romans 7. That argument shows that in Christ the disciples are delivered from sin and from the curse of the Law. Since they have been delivered, they are now in Christ, and since they are now in Christ, they are no longer under condemnation or punishment. Romans 8:2 literally reads, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ FREED you from the law of sin and of death” (Alfred Marshall’s translation). “Freed” is from the Greek, eleutherosen, which means “liberated,” aorist indicative active of eleutheroo, to liberate. As this law liberated Paul and other Christians of long ago, it too could liberate anyone from the law of sin and death today.

The question is what law? The proponent argues that the Holy Spirit has a law, and that is the Bible. He argues from the use of the genitive, the of-phrase. “The Bible is the law of the Spirit, and since you keep the Spirit’s law within you, then He also resides, or dwells within you.”

But the Word is not just the law of the Spirit, it is also the law of God (Joshua 24:26; Romans 7:25) as well as the law of Jesus (Galatians 6:2). Hence you have not just the Spirit dwelling in you through the word, you have all of the Godhead dwelling in you. What proves one, proves all, and therefore proves nothing.

Take these other examples: The “law of the burnt offering” (Leviticus 6:8); the “law of the sin offering” (Leviticus 6:24-25); the “law of the trespass offering” (Leviticus 7:1); the “law of the beast” (Leviticus 11:46); the “law of him that hath an issue” (Leviticus 15:32); the “law of Moses” (2 Chronicles 30:16). Are you ready to believe that when that law resides in you, you have a lot of things–not just the Holy Spirit– residing in you?

It is illegal and anomalous to argue the indwelling of something by the use of the of-phrase.

2 Timothy 3:14-17 and Hebrews 4:12 are also cited to prove that the word of God has the power to make us complete and fully equipped. This does not help to prove the contention that the Holy Spirit dwells through the Word.

I am in agreement with this brother when he says that the Holy Spirit does not dwell in us literally. But the doctrine of the representative indwelling of the Spirit through the Word is not the kind of indwelling the Bible teaches.

Does the Spirit dwell in the bodies of Christians? The teaching that we have to keep our bodies morally pure and that we have to quit our vices like smoking and drinking because by continuing on with these vices, we are destroying our bodies, and our bodies are God’s temple, is one teaching the brethren keep promoting. Its intents and purposes are noble and profound. There are two basic texts used. First is 1 Corinthians 3:16-17. The passage says: “Know ye not that a shrine of God ye are, and the Spirit of God in you dwells? If anyone defiles the shrine of God, God will defile this man, for the shrine of God is holy, which ye are.”

Paul begins his argument by asking the question: “Know ye not that you are a temple of God (Greek, ou’k oidate hoti naos theou este)”? The pronouns used in this construction are PLURAL. One pronoun is found in the verb ending –te of the verb oidate, translated as “know ye not,” and in the separate pronoun este, translated as “ye are.” Paul is talking to them as a group: “Know ye (plural) not that you (plural) are a temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwells in you (plural).” By using the plural pronoun “you” (or ye) and “your” and the singular noun “body,” Paul does not have the individual bodies of Christians in mind; he is addressing the Corinthian Christians as a “body.” The Christians of Corinth are a temple of God and the Holy Spirit dwells in them.

Paul could have said: “Know ye not that your bodies are a temple of God and the Spirit of God dwells in your bodies?” Then we could understand that he means individual bodies of Christians. See for example his language in 1 Corinthians 6:15.

“If any man defiles that temple, God shall defile him.” To defile the temple also means “to destroy [it] by means of corrupting, and so bringing [it] into a worse state…With this significance it is used of the effect of evil company upon the manners of believers, and so of the effect of association with those who deny the truth and hold false doctrine [1 Corinthians 15:33 is cited in support. ETM]…With the significance of destroying, it is used of marring a local church by leading it away from that condition of holiness of life and purity of doctrine in which it should abide, 1 Cor. 3:17…and of God’s retributive destruction of the offender who is guilty of this sin…” (W. E. Vine, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, p. 242). If anyone destroys the group, God shall destroy that person, because the temple of God is holy, and you (plural) are that temple. Anyone who destroys the church, God shall destroy!

1 Corinthians 3:16-17 does not teach that the Holy Spirit dwells in the individual bodies of Christians, either spiritually, personally, literally or representatively.

The second text we shall consider is 1 Corinthians 6:15, 19, 20. In verse 15, Paul asks the question: “Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them the members of a harlot? God forbid.” In contrast to 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, Paul here talks of “bodies,” and there is no denying that this term refers to individual Christians. Individual Christians are members of Christ. What does the phrase “members of Christ” mean? In Acts 5:14, it is said that “believers were ADDED TO THE LORD”; in Acts 11:24, “a crowd was ADDED TO THE LORD”; in Acts 2;47, we read of saved believers that the Lord ADDED TO THEM or to the church (KJV). Since the church is the Lord’s body (Ephesians 1:22-23), to be added to the Lord is to be added to His body. Thus we conclude that the phrase “members of Christ” means members of Christ’s body, the church.

The “body” mentioned in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 is not referring to individual bodies. My conclusion is based on the fact that the pronouns used here are plural. “What? Do you (plural) not know that your (plural) body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which you (plural) have from God and you (plural) are not of yourselves (plural)? For you (plural) were bought with a price; therefore, you (plural) glorify God in your (plural) body.”

Notice especially the clause “For you were bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:20). The verb egorasthete, translated “ye were bought,” is aorist indicative passive plural. It is indicative because it is a declaration or statement of a fact: “You were bought.” It is passive since the subject of the verb, “you,” is not the one doing the action but is being acted upon (Someone did the buying, not you). The verb egorasthete is plural, hence the pronoun is also plural (you must understand that in Greek grammar, the endings of the verbs signal the kind of pronouns those verbs have). Finally, it is aorist, signifying a past action, an action that is done, finished, fulfilled.

May we remind you that Jesus had bought a church two thousand years ago and you are just added to it. The buying is an action that has been concluded in the past, and today He is just adding men and women to the church He has bought. The translation in your KJV, “ye are bought with a price,” is not correct.

Again, according to Paul’s teachings, the group is the temple or shrine of God, the habitation of the Spirit. If you still insist that the Spirit dwells dynamically, personally, representatively in the body of a Christian, you cannot expect any help from 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 and 1 Corinthians 6:19-21. Look for it elsewhere.

The Holy Spirit dwells in the church. Consider the passage of Ephesians 2:19-22. It says: “Then therefore ye (plural) are no more strangers and sojourners, but ye (plural) are fellow-citizens of the saints and members of the family of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom (singular relative pronoun, referring to Jesus) all the building being fitted together grows into a holy shrine (or temple) in the Lord; in whom (singular pronoun, still referring to the Lord Jesus) also you (plural) are being built together into a dwelling house of God in Spirit.”

Paul has just told the Ephesian church that at the time that they were without Christ, having been alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, they were also strangers from the covenants of promise (Ephesians 2:12); now he tells them, that is past, “you are no more strangers” (Ephesians 2:19), because they are now partakers of those covenants of promise.

They are no longer sojourners or aliens (Greek, paroikos) (Ephesians 2:19). An alien or sojourner is one who lives alongside the inhabitants of the place. According to Old Testament meaning, “a resident alien was subject to only a part of the law of the land and enjoyed only a corresponding legal protection” (Rogers and Rogers, A New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament, p. 438). In Christ, they have ceased to be sojourners (Ephesians 2;19); they are now subject to all His laws, and enjoy His full protection.

Paul tells the Ephesian Christians that they are now fellow-citizens (Greek, sumpolitai) with the saints (Greek, ton hagion) and with the household of God (Greek, oikeioi ) (Ephesians 2:19). What do these words mean?

A polites is a member of a city or state, or the inhabitant of a country or district. A sumpolites is a fellow member of a city or state, possessing the same rights and privileges as the polites.

The saints are the sanctified ones in Christ Jesus. The household (or house) of God is the church (1 Timothy 3:15).

What does Paul mean when he tells the Ephesians that they are now fellow-citizens with the saints? It means that they enjoy the same rights as the sanctified ones in Christ Jesus, having Him as their Savior to cleanse them of their sins. Their cleansing does not end after they are baptized, for they would always need their Savior to continually cleanse them, and to keep them saved. “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sins” (1 John 1:7). Cleansing, according to this verse, is a continuing process.

They are also fellow-citizens with the household of God and as such they have God as their Father, and Jesus as their older brother. As fellow-citizens with other members of the church, they too have Jesus as their head and Savior (Ephesians 5:23), and they enjoy the fellowship with the saints on high and the fellowship with the Godhead. The Greek word oikeioi, “member of the household,” when used of persons means “one’s family,” strictly of relatives or kinsmen; loosely of familiar friends. But it is also used “of all members regardless of social or personal position” (Rogers and Rogers, p. 438).

Paul tells them that they are built on a sure foundation, the foundation of the apostles (who began the church on Pentecost day) and of the prophets (who prophesied about the church prior to Pentecost day), of which Jesus Himself is the chief cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20). The phrase “are built” is from the Greek epoikodomethentes, an aorist passive participle, literally translated as “having been built on.” It is a participle and is used as an adjective to describe the church. It is passive indicating that they, the church, have been acted upon; that the church did not build itself, it was just the beneficiary of an action. Jesus is the builder of it (Matthew 16:18).

In Christ Jesus, all in the building are “being fitted together” (Greek, sunarmologoumene, present passive participle of sunarmologeo, to fit together). As a participle, in Greek grammar it functions as a description of the noun, in which case it is the church structure described as being fitted together. In the parlance of the builders and constructors, the word describes the “elaborate process by which some stones are fitted together: the preparation of the surface including the cutting, the rubbing, and the testing; the preparation of the dowels and the dowel holes, and finally the fitting of the dowels with molten lead” (Rogers & Rogers, 638).

Since it is passive, Someone, not us, is doing the architectural job of making every part in the structure fit together. You as a brother, a part in the structural building, do not have any right to complain that your brother does not fit in the structure. It is the Lord’s prerogative to make all of you fit together, and he does this by making you grow everyday, changing you gradually, until you fit in. Notice too that the tense of the verb is in the present, not past or future.

The parts of the building being fitted together grows into a holy shrine or temple of the Lord (Ephesians 2:21). The Greek verb auxei, translated “grows” means to grow or to increase. It is present indicative active. The present indicates that the growing is continuous, and auxei may also be translated as “continuing to grow and develop. Though the building is structurally complete, it continues to grow with the addition of individual stones” (Rogers and Rogers, p. 438). The church keeps growing, becoming a temple of God.

Paul then tells the Ephesians that in Christ they “are also being built together as a habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:21). The Greek verb sunoikodomeisthe, “ye are being built together,” is present indicative passive. The indicative as we have said shows that this sentence construction is a declaration of a fact or state of things. The passive shows that Christ is the one doing the building. The present is used because the building is still going on. They are being built as the dwelling of God through the Spirit.

You and I are just stones being made to fit into the building, parts of the structure being built as God’s temple. God does not dwell in you or in me as stones; He dwells in the whole building, the church. And He dwells there through the Spirit.



One Response

  1. Dear Bro. Ed,

    Keep on the presentation of the “How” of the Holy Spirit Indwells.

    Your presentation is rich with ensights.

    May God bless you.

    Bro. Freddie

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