Some say the Holy Spirit dwells in the Christian the same way Christ does—i.e., by faith (Ephesians 3:17). But in order for me to be required to believe that this is true, it would need to be proven that the Holy Spirit dwells in the Christian in the same manner as does Christ. In other words, just saying He does, does not make it so. Second, if it could be scripturally demonstrated that the Holy Spirit dwells in the Christian “by faith,” then one would still need to prove that faith is the manner (or mode) by which He dwells in the Christian, and not the condition that must be met before the Holy Spirit indwells him. Based upon my understanding of Acts 2:38 and Acts 5:32, I believe that obedient faith is the condition which must be met before the Holy Spirit can be received as a gift.
What Does The Indwelling Spirit Do?
In addressing the question posed in the above subtitle, R.L. Whiteside, in Doctrinal Discourses, wrote:
What does the indwelling Spirit do? What if I am unable to answer that question? And what if no one else can give a definite answer, would our inability to answer the question nullify what God has said? If we cannot explain a thing, shall we say there is no such thing?
Whiteside’s point is valid, especially in this materialistic age, which says, “If I can’t see, hear, smell, taste, or touch it, then it just ain’t so.” But, and this ought not to surprise the careful Bible student, the Bible plainly tells us the indwelling Spirit does do something for us—viz., He helps our weaknesses (Romans 8:26; Ephesians 3:16). Even though we do not always know what we ought to pray for, the Bible tells us that the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us. Although it is true that some, like the esteemed Alexander Campbell did, teach that the “spirit” under consideration here was the human spirit, most have not so understood this passage. Furthermore, common sense tells us this passage must be speaking of the Holy Spirit and what He does for Christians (viz., the ones who are clearly the “we” and “us” of this passage). But someone says, “This is a controversial passage and doctrine ought not to be established on a controversial passage.” This is nonsense, and this is true even when such comes from the lips and pens of esteemed brethren. In truth, there are hardly any passages in God’s Word that are not considered to be controversial by someone. Furthermore, this passage is considered controversial not so much because it is difficult to understand or interpret, but because of the preconceived idea some among us have that the Holy Spirit works only (i.e., solely) in and through the Word today.
All Things Work Together For Good
The apostle Paul relates the common predicament we all experience (Romans 7:13-25) in that battle that takes place between the old sinful self (the carnal mind or flesh, as Paul calls it,) and the new spiritual mind we have in Christ Jesus, which Paul identifies as being “in the Spirit” (Romans 8:9). And as paradoxical as it may sound, Paul says we are in the Spirit only when the “Spirit of God” or “Spirit of Christ” (viz., the Holy Spirit) dwells in us. This indwelling, according to Paul, functions as a “first fruits” (Romans 8:23)—an “earnest” and “seal,” if you will (Ephesians 1:13,14)—of the heavenly inheritance that will one day be ours (Romans 8:24).
In this battle between “the flesh” and “the spirit“ (cf. Galatians 5:17), we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37) because “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). The immediate context here is the work the indwelling Spirit does for us—work, incidentally, that we are unable to do for ourselves. No wonder Paul said, “we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” He would surely agree with the apostle John, who wrote: “He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world” (I John 4:4).
With these thoughts of God’s wonderful assurance in mind, I pray the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, the Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen (cf. II Corinthians 13:14).