Indwelling Spirit a foundational truth

This morning, Quick Bible Truths has this line:

Carnality fails to grasp the foundational truth that the Spirit dwells in God’s people. http://nlt.to/1co.3.16-17

So that we know what we’re talking about here are the Bible verses in question, in the NET Bible:

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If someone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, which is what you are.

The QBT phrase is based upon an affirmation of Robertson and Plummer in their commentary on 1 Corinthians, in the ICC series, who seem to capture the point of chapter 3:

“The Corinthians are so carnal that they have never grasped, or have failed to retain, so fundamental a doctrine as that of the indwelling of the Spirit.

This affirmation raises a number of questions.

  • Are they correct that the indwelling of the Spirit is a fundamental doctrine?
  • Is it essential to understand what this indwelling consists of?
  • Is the lack of such an understanding symptomatic of carnality?
  • Does the denial of the Spirit’s indwelling prevent his activity in the life of a Christian?
  • Does the failure to grasp or retain this understanding contribute to divisiveness in the body of Christ?

These seem to be important questions to ask, especially considering that the topic is one of keen interest among us.

3 Replies to “Indwelling Spirit a foundational truth”

  1. I am reading a book, currently, by Ashley Johnson (1903) on the topic (I have many more to read). I am only able to affirm plain Bible statements; the mechanics of it all is tough to get my arms around.

  2. Colossians 1:27  “…Christ in you, the hope of glory.
    Galatians 4:6  “…God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
    Romans 5:5  “… God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
    1 Corinthians 6:19  “… your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?…”
    Acts 2:38, Acts 10:45, Hebrews 6:4, Ephesians 1:13, 1 Thessalonians 4:8, 2 Timothy 1:14…

    Even granted that some of these passages apply only to the apostles or their contemporaries, the indwelling of the Spirit in each Christian certainly seems fundamental to me. If we take the position that the spirit of Christ, the spirit of God and the Holy Spirit are essentially the same Spirit, then the case becomes even clearer.

    Your questions are pertinent. To the first one I’d answer an unequivocal yes. To the second I’d say no, and assert that that kind of an understanding is not even possible, which, in a sense, answers the third as well. I would like to think that I witnessed the fruits of the Spirit in the lives of some who I know denied His indwelling – at least semantically (does that make sense?), so I’d say that position might be equivalent to one of your previous ones, i. e. lack of understanding. The answer to the last question seems clearly to be yes. Agreeing to disagree on certain doctrinal questions seems beyond our capability sometimes.

  3. The Bible tells us Deity dwelt in Jesus and tells us HOW – “bodily” (Col.2:9). This is not so stated when it comes to Christians. The “bodily” dwelling of Deity (Col.2:9) was miraculous – it took a miracle, which is why the “incarnation” is so uncommon and unique. The Bible tells us God (Father, Son, HS) dwells in Christians, but NEVER says HOW?
    I agree with brother Jim McGuiggan who writes: “In saying the Spirit is “in” us I don’t think we’re supposed to think he takes up (as it were) “bodily residence” in us. People live “in” houses. In saying this we mean that they take up room within the confines of the walls, as opposed to being outside. Is this how we’re supposed to think of the Spirit’s indwelling? Is the Spirit inside our bodies in the same way our heart and liver and brain are? That is, is he spatially located there? I don’t think so. I think the idea of his indwelling us is a relational notion rather than a spatial one. Christians are said to dwell in God and in Christ but I’m fairly sure that such texts aren’t talking about a spatial indwelling.”

    Like those of the first who envisioned an earthly, material, kingdom, some do the same when the ycome across the words “dwells” or “dwelling”, automatically concluding an “earthly” – carnal or fleshly – residence in their bones, blood and skin.
    In some way God dwells in His people, and in some way His people dwell in Him. But literally? Hermeneutically, how is one dwelling determined to be “literal” (fleshly, bodily, personally) and the other a metaphor or figurative dwelling?

What do you think?