In this pseudo-series, I’ve said that life in Christ is synonymous with life in the Spirit (which is the same as being given the Spirit, being indwelled by the Spirit, or being baptized by the Spirit). (See my post “Life in Christ is Life in the Spirit.”) Next, I said that a person who is indwelled by the Spirit can be filled with the Spirit or can grieve or quench the work of the Spirit. (See my post “Life in Christ and Filled with the Spirit.”)
While the Spirit indwells and fills an individual, the Spirit also works through a group of people who are all in Christ (in the Spirit). We see this dual (individual and community) aspect of the work of the Spirit in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, where he recognizes the individual as the temple (dwelling place) of the Holy Spirit and the community as the temple of the Holy Spirit:
Do you [plural] not know that you [plural] are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you [plural]? (1 Corinthians 3:16 ESV)
Or do you [singular] not know that your [singular] body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you [singular], whom you [singular] have from God? (1 Corinthians 6:19 ESV)
In each case (both the singular “you” and the plural “you”) there is only one “temple.” The Holy Spirit somehow makes his one home in the individual believer and the gathered community of believers.
We have already seen that the Spirit works within the individual believer to help that person live in Christ. But, we can also see many examples of how the Spirit works through the community to help members of that community to live in Christ. The point, though, is not for someone (or group) within the community to tell others what the Spirit is doing, but for the community to help one another listen to and learn from the Spirit who dwells within each of them.
The work of the Spirit through the community is especially important in situations where an individual is grieving or quenching the Spirit living within. It’s at this time that the community (in the Spirit) can help the brother or sister turn back toward God in order to understand what he is doing in and through them.
We see this kind of interaction of the Spirit through the community in passages such as this one:
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. (Galatians 6:1 ESV)
While that particular passage points toward a brother or sister who has moved toward sin (transgression), problems also occur when a brother or sister is not actively following the Spirit. That’s the kind of community (in the Spirit) involvement that we find in this passage:
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works… (Hebrews 10:24 ESV)
So, we’ve seen that the Spirit indwells us to bring us into the life of Christ. The individual who has been given the Spirit can either be filled with the Spirit (yielding to the Spirit’s work) or can quench or grieve the Spirit (refusing to yield to the Spirit’s work). Now, we see that the Spirit can also work through the community to help an individual (who is also indwelled by the Spirit) to turn back toward the work of God in his/her life through the Spirit.