THEY AREN’T EXACTLY ALIKE
By Larry White
For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, that you may be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inward man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; to the end that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be strong to apprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge, that you may be filled unto all the fullness of God. Now unto him that is able to do superabundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, unto him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all generations for ever and ever. Amen.
It has been said that the Holy Spirit dwells in Christians in exactly the same way God and Christ dwell in them.
I think this is short of understanding.
The Holy Spirit dwells in us personally; he is in us and we have him from God. (1Corinthians 6:19) As we continue to grow in faith through the knowledge of God's word, the Holy Spirit sanctifies us with, and through the agency of the word which we study, and in which we abide.
This growth is in a definite direction. When we mature and grow into a likeness of Christ, Christ dwells in us as we reflect his image which is wrought in us by the Holy Spirit. (2Corinthians 3:18) Christ is formed in us by the Holy Spirit through the agency of God's word. When we act and speak like Christ, then we begin to understand that we are in him and he in us. Christ dwells in our hearts by faith (Ephesians 3:17) and that is because we are strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man, i.e. the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. (Ephesians 3:16)
The Father also dwells in us through the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:22) When we grow into the image of Christ his son, and are able to know the love of Christ, that is when we can be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:19) When we love God and love and keep his word; when we love his children and abide in love; God abides in us and we in him. (1John 4:12,16; 5:1-2)
It has been said that the Father and Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are so inseparably one and in union that, to say one dwells in us is to say all three dwell in us also. But it seems that having Christ dwell in our hearts requires a substantial growth in maturity; growth into his likeness; having him formed in us; (Galatians 4:19) and realizing that we are one with him as we do his work and teach his word - which realization takes a substantial growth in faith. But this whole process of growth is effected by the Holy Spirit who already and always dwells in us, he, working this growth through the agency of God's word.
Dwelling in Christ and he in us, and dwelling in the Father and he in us, is contingent on our being in union with him in the areas of activity (work), and teaching (doctrine). (2 John 9) Oneness with Christ is not an automatic thing that we have or obtain overnight, but requires growth and maturity which is the sanctifying work and process of the Holy Spirit (2Thessalonians 2:13) who we receive when we are immersed. (Acts 2:38-39) We receive him from God and by him are sealed (Ephesians 1:13-14; 2Corinthians 1:22) and we belong to Christ by him. (Romans 8:9) He begins his sanctifying work at our immersion and continues that process all our life long. (Titus 3:5-6) This process is fast or slow, hindered or encouraged, halted or continued, depending on how we relate to God's word. Whether we abide in his word, whether we study his word, whether we let his word dwell in us richly, and very importantly, whether we mix his word with faith, are all factors with which the Holy Spirit deals as he proceeds with our sanctification and growth.
To say that the Holy Spirit dwells in us in exactly the same way that Christ and the Father dwells in us, is really not understanding the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian.
In this great prayer in Ephesians 3:14-21, Paul was praying for the Ephesian church who were already Christians. But they could be much more than they were at the time. In this prayer we see an objective goal in spiritual growth that we all can and should attain, but as yet may not have attained, viz. that Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith, and being filled with all the fullness of God. But we do already have the Holy Spirit. He can strengthen us in the inner man and we can attain.
We do have the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, and there are just too many references to that fact in the New Testament to say otherwise. (Acts 2:38-39; Romans 5:5; 8:9, 11, 23, 26; 1Corinthians 3:16; 6:19; 12:13; 2Corinthians 1:22; 5:5; Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 4:30; 1Thessalonians 4:8; James 4:5; 1Peter 4:14; Jude 19; &c.)