In my post “Life in Christ is Life in the Spirit,” I suggested that to be in Christ (i.e., to be a disciple of Christ, or a believer, or born again, or any of the other terms used to describe God’s children) is the same as having received the Holy Spirit (to be indwelled with the Spirit, to be baptized by the Spirit). I came to this conclusion beginning with Paul’s focus on receiving the Holy Spirit in Acts 19:1-6, then by comparing this to Paul’s statements in Romans 8, especially Romans 8:9.
However, being indwelled by the Holy Spirit is not the end of the story. In fact, receiving the Spirit or being baptized by the Spirit is the initial point in the life of a follower of Jesus Christ. This does not mean, though, that being indwelled by the Spirit is an unimportant or less important aspect of our life in Christ. In fact, everything else that follows in our life in Christ must flow from the life of the Spirit (of Christ) who lives within us.
In fact, at several points, our life as followers of Jesus Christ is defined or described as fruit produced by the Holy Spirit (i.e. “fruit of the Spirit”). This means that the “fruit” such as love, joy, peace, patience, etc. is being created in and through the disciple of Christ by the presence, power, and work of the Holy Spirit who is indwelling that person.
When a person is operating (living, working, serving, whatever) according to the work of the Spirit within, that person is “filled with the Spirit.” It is interesting that Paul contrasts being “filled with the Spirit” with being “drunk with wine.” Just as a person is influenced and even controlled by drinking much wine (more influence/control with more win), a person can be influenced / controlled more and more by the life of the Spirit living in them.
But, that “filling” is not automatic. The Spirit (as with the Father and the Son) does not force himself on any person, even a person that he indwells. He is always there, always instructing, always exhorting, always comforting, always directing. But, we are not always listening or responding.
In fact, we are told by the authors of Scripture that we can quench the work of the Holy Spirit within us. (1 Thessalonians 5:19) It is extremely interesting that this command (“Do not quench the Spirit”) is in the context of encouraging, respecting, admonishing, helping, being patient, rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks. While there are certainly other activities of the Spirit in and through a follower of Jesus Christ, these represent a good example of the kinds of things that the Spirit does through those he indwells.
Also, we are told that it is possible to grieve the Holy Spirit within us. (Ephesians 4:30) Again, this command of setting ourselves against the work of the Spirit (“Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God”) is given in the context of transformation (from lying to speaking the truth, from holding on to anger to releasing anger, from stealing to sharing with others, from tearing others down to building others up) as well as putting away things like wrath, anger, and malice and replacing them with kindness, a tender heart, and forgiveness.
These two groups of activities / attitudes (as well as the fruit mentioned above and other similar passages) can help us determine if we are allowing the Spirit of God to fill our lives or if we are quenching or grieving the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
The indwelling of the Holy Spirit marks the beginning of our walk with Christ. As the Spirit fills us – and we do not grieve him or quench his work within us – we continue to mature in Jesus Christ.