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Life in Christ and Filled with the Spirit

Posted by on Sep 29, 2011 in discipleship, spirit/holy spirit | 25 comments

Life in Christ and Filled with the Spirit

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.


25 Comments

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  1. 9-29-2011

    This is such an important area of our lives in Christ: “When a person is operating (living, working, serving, whatever) according to the work of the Spirit within, that person is ‘filled with the Spirit.’”

    I remember years ago immediately identifying with the title of a book, “Yes, But How?” and then just as quickly being as disappointed with its lack of help as my lack of experience with God.

    I think the key issues for me have revolved around my will, choosing what God wants and thinks–what He values–rather than what I want or others want, and then counting on God to (I can’t find the right word–“functionalize?” “Make come true?”) to make my choice (which seems powerless alone against my old nature by itself) actually have a real effect within me and through me. If I lose sight of Him, I lose to the old me.

    Negatively, I picture it as a little child leaning against Dad, an arm tightly around his leg for security, saying no to some temptation that is bating me, knowing Dad will kick its butt. Positively, I picture that same little child looking intently to Dad’s eyes as He gives instructions, and looking for encouragement, for that nod that says, “Yes, like that,” knowing that because He is there guiding and directing and able to bring His power to bear where I cannot do it, that I can do what He is teaching me to do.

    Whether I know what to do or not, and whether I want to choose that or not, if there is no Dad, there is no doing. And it is so easy to get distracted and take our eyes away from Dad.

    You know me and my love of charts… http://churchtaskforce.org/holyspirit/engage.html

  2. 9-29-2011

    Really enjoying this series Alan.

    I recently did a study of indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit/Sprit of Christ in relation to the new covenant in His blood. Having sojourned in a tradition that was cautious (to put it mildly) regarding the perceived excesses of other traditions understanding of the practical outworking of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in an individuals and a local assemblies life it was very helpful for me to carefully look at and meditate upon the important and comprehensive role of the Spirit of Christ in our sanctification.

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit gives me true life:

    John 6:63- The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.

    The Spirit was given to Christ followers after Christ’s Death, Burial and Resurrection at Pentecost:

    John 7:39-By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

    As a Born Again Follower of Christ, the Spirit of Truth lives with and in me:

    John 14:17-the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit teaches me all things and reminds me of the things that The LORD Jesus Christ has said:

    John 14:26- But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit testifies to me about the LORD Jesus Christ:

    John 15:26- “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me.

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit guides me into all the truth and tells me what is yet to come:

    John 16:13- But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit makes known to me what the LORD Jesus Christ has said:

    John 16:15- All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit empowers me to witness for the LORD Jesus Christ:

    Acts 1:8- But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

    When people are granted repentance unto salvation through the gospel of Christ they receive the promise of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit:

    Acts 2:38- Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit fills me with joy:

    Acts 13:52- And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit inside me proves that God has accepted this Gentile:

    Acts 15:8- God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us.

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit has circumcised my heart, my praise is from God not men:

    Romans 2:29- No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit is God’s love poured into my heart, giving me hope and enabling and motivating me to love Him, my neighbor, brother and enemy:

    Romans 5:5 -And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit has released me from the law/the written code so that I can serve God by the Spirit/the law written on the heart:

    Romans 7:6 -But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit set me free from the Mosaic code/the law of sin and death so that I can live by the law of the Spirit of life in Christ not by the flesh but by the Spirit:

    Romans 8:2-4: because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit allows me to live as He desires:

    Romans 8:5-…but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit gives me a mindset of life and peace:

    Romans 8:6 -The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit indicates that I belong to Christ:

    Romans 8:9-You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit imparts to me life and righteousness:

    Romans 8:10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness.

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit gives me life now and guarantees me a resurrection body:

    Romans 8:11-And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit leads me and indicates that I am a child of God:

    Romans 8:14- For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit has freed me from slavery and fear, has given me adoption so that I am now a son of God and He is my Father:

    Romans 8:15- The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit testifies to me that I am a child of God:

    Romans 8:16- The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit is transforming me into a righteous man full of peace and joy:

    Romans 14:17-For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit fills me with joy, peace and hope:

    Romans 15:1- May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit reveals to me the deep things of God:

    1 Corinthians 2:10-these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit allows me to understand what God has freely given to me:

    1 Corinthians 2:12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit empowers me to explain spiritual realities:

    1 Corinthians 2:13- This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit allows me to make proper spiritual judgments and places me above human judgment:

    1 Corinthians 2:15- The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments,

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit indicates that followers of Christ individually and collectively as the Church are the temple of God:

    1 Corinthians 3:16- Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?

    In Christ, the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit has sanctified and justified me:

    1 Corinthians 6:11- …But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit unites me with the LORD:

    1 Corinthians 6:17- But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit indicates that followers of Christ individually and collectively as the Church are the temple of God:

    1 Corinthians 6:19- Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit sovereignly distributes gifts to all followers of Christ in order for us to build one another up in the faith:

    1 Corinthians 12:11-All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit forms all followers of Christ into one body:

    1 Corinthians 12:13-For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit is God’s seal of ownership on me guaranteeing me reception of His promises:

    2 Corinthians 1:22- set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit makes me a competent minister of the new covenant:

    2 Corinthians 3:6-He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit makes me free:

    2 Corinthians 3:17- Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit is transforming me into Christ’s image:

    2 Corinthians 3:1- And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit is God’s pledge to me that I will receive what is to come:

    2 Corinthians 5:5-Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit indicates that I have received the blessing given to Abraham (Inheritance of the world: Romans 4:13) by faith in Christ:

    Galatians 3:14 -He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit indicates that I am a son of God, He is my Father:

    Galatians 4:6 -Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit empowers me to not gratify the desires of the flesh:

    Galatians 5:16 -So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit has freed me from the law:

    Galatians 5:18 -But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit develops love, joy, peace, forebearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in me:

    Galatians 5:22-25: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit has sealed me in Christ:

    Ephesians 1:13 -And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit gives me wisdom and revelation so that I may know the Father better:

    Ephesians 1:17- I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit gives me access to the Father:

    Ephesians 2:18-For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

    God lives in me through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit:

    Ephesians 2:22 -And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit strengthens me in my inner man:

    Ephesians 3:16- I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit indicates that I am of the new circumcision:

    Philippians 3:3- For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh—

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit fills me with the knowledge of God’s will:

    Colossians 1:9- For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit gives me power, love and self discipline:

    2 Timothy 1:7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit has washed me, given me rebirth and renewal:

    Titus 3:5- he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit reminds me that I am a partaker of the new covenant having God’s law in my heart and written on my mind and that my sins are forgiven:

    Hebrews 10:15-18: Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will
    remember no more.” And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit allows me to keep God’s commands and testifies that God lives in me:

    1 John 3:24- The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit indicates that I live in God and He lives in me:

    1 John 4:13- This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit.

    The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit testifies to me of the truth about Christ:

    1 John 5:6- This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.

  3. 9-29-2011

    Art,

    I like that picture, thanks for that

    Hutch,

    wow, just, wow

    Alan and everyone,

    question: we are told to examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith but we can drive ourselves crazy trying to discern which of our works come from the flesh and which are born of the Spirit. Is there a such thing ad too much introspection? Where is the middle ground?

  4. 9-29-2011

    Art,

    That is a helpful analogy/image. How would you add in the presence of other children?

    Hutch,

    I’ll apply the question I asked Art to your list of Scripture passages. Those are excellent references to how the Spirit works within the individual, but it’s only part of the picture. Why do you think the authors of Scripture also talked about the importance of relationships between and interactions with other brothers and sisters in Christ? (i.e., the “one anothers” would be a good starting point)

    Bobby,

    That’s a good question. Apparently, some type of introspection/examination is good. But, we should not examine ourselves to the point that we never “do” anything. Instead, we trust God, serve him as we think we should, trust him to help us understand when we are quenching/grieving the Spirit, and examine ourselves… all of this together. This is where I think we need other people. They can help us at each of those points along the way.

    -Alan

  5. 9-29-2011

    The way I see it one another relationships/living in community force us to die to self and put others first allowing the love of God poured into our hearts to manifest in our behavior developing love, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, self control etc. I forces us to either run away and hide in our selfish and self sufficient lives and stagnate or to grow in Christ-likeness, in fact, my flesh hates it and sometimes I think that I will never fully participate in the process and that I am broken in this regard beyond repair. I’ve started journaling about the issue, maybe that will help me, or maybe it will just justify my fear of even wanting that type of community. :( :)

  6. 9-29-2011

    Bobby-

    Yeah, I hear you, I know way too much. Sorry. :)

  7. 9-29-2011

    So are we equating salvation with baptism in the Holy Ghost with the initial physical evidence of speaking in tongues and prophesy

  8. 9-29-2011

    Hutch,

    Do you think the Spirit can work through others to do some of the things for you that you mentioned in your first comment?

    Mike,

    I would equate salvation with the indwelling of (baptism with, the giving of) the Holy Spirit. I do not make a distinction between the indwelling of the Spirit and the baptism with the Spirit and being given the Spirit. Speaking in tongues and prophesy are simply two ways that the Holy Spirit manifests himself when he indwells someone. We do not always see people speaking in tongues and/or prophesying in Scripture when they are saved (indwelled by the Spirit). Therefore, I do not think these two (or even one of these two) are always present when someone is saved (indwelled by the Spirit).

    -Alan

  9. 9-29-2011

    The big outrageously long comment? I’d say no, unless I’m not understanding your question.

  10. 9-29-2011

    Hutch,

    Yes, “the big outrageously long comment.” :)

    You said, “The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit teaches me all things and reminds me of the things that The LORD Jesus Christ has said…” I agree with that. But, why do you think we would also read things like “teach one another” and “admonish one another” and similar commands?

    -Alan

  11. 9-29-2011

    Oh, I see, yes, as we gather together with others as Christ’s church the Spirit within each will remind us individually and collectively of what the LORD Jesus Christ has said, and I believe that there is great benefit in teaching and being taught by Christ through each other. But the context of John 14:27 is that is a ministry of the Holy Spirit that will be active within all who are in Christ, IOW its a ministry that He does within us even when we are all alone without any other brothers and sisters in Christ present.

  12. 9-29-2011

    this fits perfectly with my BSF study – thanks again. love it!! :)

  13. 9-29-2011

    Great post, Alan! You mentioned, being filled with the Spirit. Perhaps, that is synonymous with eating and drinking Christ?

  14. 9-30-2011

    Hutch,

    Love the content of your “long” post. MY iwfe and I are going to talk through that material over the next few days. And sooo appreciate that someone can post longer comments than me.

    Alan,

    So agree with you that God doesn’t just work “inside” the believer but also works “inside/among” the saints collectively as they interact/gather. I see that is the point of a new post, so I’ll comment there on a “group” image.

  15. 9-30-2011

    Just wanted to second Art’s words to Hutch. I love it when he dumps the whole tandem load of scripture on us sometimes. It was really encouraging to read through those for me.

  16. 9-30-2011

    Thanks again, everyone. I also enjoy Hutch’s (and Art’s) long comments. Perhaps I should start giving weekly prizes for longest comment…

    -Alan

  17. 9-30-2011

    Peter –
    can you elaborate more on your comment? :)

  18. 9-30-2011

    and thanks Hutch from us as well! :)

  19. 10-1-2011

    Randi, since being filled with the Spirit is contrasted with being drunk on wine, it made a connection in my mind with Jesus’ imagery of eating and drinking Himself like bread and wine. Obviously, we don’t literally eat and drink Him, but since we have the Spirit, this must be a spiritual eating and drinking of God to nourish us, saturate us, and be our pleasure. If being filled with the Spirit isn’t synonymous with eating and drinking Christ, it seems like there is a correlation between the two. Maybe, we need to eat and drink of Christ, in order to be filled with the Spirit. Just some thoughts. :)

  20. 10-1-2011

    I thought that’s where you were going with it….. I remember you or Alan before referencing something to that on this blog I think. can you give me the scriptures of that? Just wanna dwell on that more – cool thought.
    Thanks!
    Randi :)

  21. 10-1-2011

    I would think that the idea of eating/drinking Christ from John 6 (or abiding in Christ or obeying Christ or several other terms) would be similar to if not synonymous with being filled with the Spirit.

    -Alan

  22. 10-2-2011

    Thanks Alan. Randi, do you want any other scripture besides John 6, which Alan mentioned?

  23. 10-2-2011

    Let us not arrange the temple as a time share condo for the King’s heart. If/as He has filled us, who would be bailing against Him? Grace, like the God Who gives it, is Mighty and True — until someone recklessly (or, presumptively) make a game of Him.
    nice chart, brother Art. Though we soberly come to understand, if both the left and right hemispheres (of the diagram) are intact within a man/woman: a double-mind, unstable in all his/her ways (despite a good show to the contrary).

  24. 10-2-2011

    Excellent exegesis, Alan. This is a post I feel prone to share with many. I would like to see you address one additional passage which is often puzzling to the church: Mark 3:28-30 (Luke 12:8-10). Tying this in would, in my opinion, add to and complete the piece. Or perhaps it’s an whole blog post on it’s own, that topic. ;)

  25. 10-2-2011

    Yes John 6! That was what I was looking for – Thanks Peter & Alan – very good.