The Normal Christian and the Holy Spirit

The Normal Christian Life - Lesson 5a

Key Words: Indwell, Lead, Yield

Key Verses:

1 Corinthians 6:19
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

Ephesians 5:18
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

Galatians 5:16
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.


The New Testament is full of terms that somehow associate the Holy Spirit and the Christian. The phrase, "filled with the Holy Ghost", is used throughout the whole New Testament and in all four Gospel accounts, John the Baptist spoke of Jesus saying, "he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost". Then there are numerous other passages in Acts which describe people who "received the Holy Ghost" (2:38, 8:17, etc.), how "the Holy Ghost fell" on certain individuals (10:44, 11:15), that the gift of the Holy Spirit was "poured out" (10:45), and that the Holy Spirit "came on" some people (19:6). 1 Corinthians contains a wealth of material on the Holy Spirit especially in chapters 12-14 which discuss the "gifts" of the Holy Spirit. Obviously with such a volume of teaching as this, the Holy Spirit must play a major part in the life of the normal Christian.

Many great men have written commentaries or even entire books on the Holy Spirit's involvement with the Christian. However, there is still much disagreement among these scholars. For example, some believe the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the filling are the same while others believe they are distinctly different. Some speak of the baptism of the Holy Spirit as a "second blessing" different and beyond conversion where the old sin nature is totally eradicated.

Rather than trying to analyze each of these phrases by themselves, if we just look at what the Bible teaches with respect to the Holy Spirit and the Christian, we will find that there are really four major areas: Indwelling, Leading, Unifying, and Enabling. In this lesson we shall cover the first two and reserve the remaining two for the next lesson.

I. The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit

In Exodus 25, God instructed Moses to build a tabernacle or tent which was to be a sanctuary, that is, a place set apart. In verse 8, He tells Moses the purpose for this tabernacle - "that I may dwell among them". Later, it came into the heart of David to build a more permanent dwelling place for God - a Temple (2 Samuel 7:2).

In the New Testament, we come to something totally new. It was still God's desire to dwell with men, but now He would live within each one of them. In other words, the body of each Christian has become the Temple of God. This is stated explicitly twice in 1 Corinthians, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" (3:16) and "know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you" (6:19). It is interesting that in the new heaven and earth, there will be no Temple (Revelation 21:22), it seems that God will be the Temple.

A. Further References

So, in the present day, the Holy Spirit dwells within each believer. Now let us try to establish which of the New Testament terms concerning the Holy Spirit are dealing with this concept of the indwelling.

One of the most controversial terms is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It is distinctly different from believer's baptism since the element of immersion is the Holy Spirit rather than water and the administrator is Jesus (Matthew 3:11).

What concept do you envision when you think of being immersed in the Holy Spirit?

There are several other terms that are clearly linked by the Bible to the baptism of the Holy Spirit and perhaps they will shed some more light on this. When Peter explained to those in Jerusalem how the Holy Spirit fell on the Gentiles in the home of Cornelius (Acts 11:15), he related this to the baptism of the Holy Spirit (verse 16) and to being a gift (verse 17). In the actual account of the salvation of Cornelius, we find the terms "poured out" and "received" used as well (Acts 10:44 - 47). Thus all of these terms must be synonymous with the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

What do you envision when you think about these terms: receiving, gift, pouring out, and falling on?

It seems that all of these terms point to the same event - when the Holy Spirit comes to indwell the believer.

B. Further Observations

Lets look at some further observations that will help solidify this concept and provide some application.

1. Not Repeated

The baptism, receiving, pouring out, etc. of the Holy Spirit are terms which signify a one-time event. You will not find a single time when a person was baptized with the Holy Spirit more than once (just as believer's baptism is to be a single event), nor will you find a believer ever receiving the Holy Spirit more than once. In fact, we find a promise which denotes that the indwelling is something that lasts until we receive our inheritance. Ephesians 1:13-14 says that we have been sealed with the Holy Spirit which is the "earnest of our inheritance". The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is an earnest or down payment for what is to come. That is eternal security!

2. Not Requested

The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is not something we have to pray for. We never find a believer or apostle praying for someone to receive the Holy Spirit. However, we do find a few cases where the receiving of the Holy Spirit was automatic (Acts 10:44) and some where the apostles had to lay hands on the believer (Acts 8:15-17, Acts 19:2-6). We must remember that the book of Acts contains the transition from the old covenant to the new. It seems that only the Jews needed the laying on of hands to receive the Holy Spirit. With the Gentiles, the baptism of the Holy Spirit and regeneration took place automatically and immediately. It may be that these cases involving the Jews were special cases involving people who had believed in the coming Messiah before the death of Christ, and had lived on into the New Testament time. These Jews would have been justified by faith before the cross, but would still need to be born again after the cross. Note that this would not have been the case for the Gentiles like Cornelius.

3. A Cause for Righteousness

The fact that we have the Holy Spirit of God dwelling within us ought to be cause for living a life of holiness. We ought to be careful not to defile God's temple. Paul especially warns against fornication in 1 Corinthians 6:18.

II. The Leading of the Holy Spirit

The same cloud that filled the Temple of Solomon (1 Kings 8:10-11) representing the visible presence of God, also lead the children of Israel through the wilderness. Numbers 9:15-23 provides a wonderful example of this. The children of Israel were to follow God's leading exclusively and completely. In the New Testament, it is clear that we are to follow God's leading through obedience to the Holy Spirit. This is clear as well from the last part of 1 Corinthians 6:19, "ye are not your own".

Throughout the book of Acts, it is evident that the Holy Spirit was there behind the scenes guiding and directing the church. He was present in the situation with Ananias and Sapphira (5:1-11), He directed Philip to the Ethiopian eunuch (8:29), He directed Peter to the house of Cornelius (11:12), He separated Paul and Barnabas to the work of missions (13:2), and He prohibited Paul from preaching in Asia Minor. God not only wants to indwell us, He wants to guide and direct us in His work.

A. Further References

Along with the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the "filling" of the Spirit is equally controversial. However, unlike baptism, the filling of the Holy Spirit is not new to the New Testament. Bezaleel (Exodus 31:3), Samson (Judges 14:6), Saul (1 Samuel 10:10), John the Baptist (Luke 1:15) and Zacharias (Luke 1:67) are examples of Old Testament characters who were filled with the Holy Spirit.

Another difference between baptism and the filling is that the filling of the Spirit is something that can be repeated. Someone once said truly, "one baptism, many fillings". The Bible makes a point to mention three specific times when Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4, 4:8, and 4:31), though the baptism is mentioned only once as something that happened at the beginning (Acts 11:15). When the church chose out men to be deacons, they looked for men who were full of the Holy Spirit (Acts 6:3).

So, what does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit? Much can be understood from Ephesians 5:18, "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit". Being drunk with wine is contrasted here with being filled with the Holy Spirit.

What does this say about being filled with the Spirit?

A person that is drunk is under the influence and control of liquor. A person then who is filled is under the influence and control of the Holy Spirit. To be filled is not to say that we are getting more of the Holy Spirit, for the Holy Spirit is not an influence, He is a Person. Being filled means that God has more of us. It is complete submission or yielding to the control and leading of the Holy Spirit.

B. Further Observations

1. A Command not a Suggestion

God does not suggest that we be filled with the spirit, He commands it. (Ephesians 5:18). For the Church to seek out men full of the Holy Spirit implies that even then, the average Christian was not Spirit lead, but since God commands us to be filled, the normal Christian places their entire being in submission to the will and control of God.

What would the church be like if the leaders were filled with the Spirit?

2. A Choice not a Supplication

No where do we find that anyone prayed for this filling. One does not pray to be yielded to the Spirit though they may pray for help. No, it takes a decision to choose to be filled with the Spirit else it could not have been a command. We simply must choose to submit ourselves to the control of the Holy Spirit just as the children of Israel chose to follow the cloud through the wilderness. Christian, have you made that choice?

3. The Secret to Holiness

Being led by the Spirit is the secret to living a holy life. Paul says in Galatians 5:16, "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh". To walk in the Spirit is to be led by the Spirit (see verse 18). The flesh says "do this" while the Spirit says "don't", and we choose who will have control. If we choose to be led by the Spirit we will have the fruit spoken of in verses 22-23.