Meditations in 1 John : 53 : Spirit Indwelt
1 John 4:13 We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.
I wonder how many people sitting in the pews (or on the chairs) on a Sunday morning are sure in their mind that they are people indwelt by the very Spirit of God? What scares me about Scripture sometimes, is that I can read a verse or a paragraph and completely miss things I take for granted. In the previous verse John said, “if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us,” but there he used the phrase “God lives in us” as an outworking of love and it is as if now he thinks, but actually God DOES live in us anyway and I need to note that: “He has given us His Spirit” and he lives in us.
John first picked up this train of thought at the end of the previous chapter: “Those who obey his commands live 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.” (1 Jn 3:24) He hinted at it again a few verses later: “the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 Jn 4:4) In his reasoning for us to love one another he focused first on the fact that Jesus, the expression of God’s love for us, had died for us (v.7-11). That had brought him to saying about how we loved because of this, but it also showed that God was in us (v.12). Now in our present verse he stated that more directly. He is going on to refer back to Jesus’ love for us being an expression of the Father’s love for us (v.14-16) and he concludes it with, “Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” (v.16b)
These are John’s only references in his letter to us being indwelt by the Spirit, for it is not the main issue as far as he is concerned; that is all about Jesus and so again and again he returns to refer to Jesus.
I asked earlier how many sitting in church on a Sunday morning can say that they know that they are indwelt by God’s Holy Spirit. It is almost a basic teaching in the New Testament yet I am sure that there are many of us who are not convinced about it. Let’s examine what the New Testament tells us about it.
In his Gospel, John records at one point, “On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” (Jn 7:37,38) John then adds his own interpretation of what Jesus said: “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.” (v.39) Note the reference to, “from within him” and the application that the Spirit would eventually be within the believer. The numerous references to the Spirit coming in Jn 14-16 don’t actually say he will live in us.
On the Day of Pentecost we read, “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit,” (Acts 2:4) implying He was now in them. At the end of his first preaching on that day, Peter declared, “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.” (Acts 2:38) Clearly the implication was that all new believers would similarly receive and be filled with the Spirit as they had that day.
The apostle Paul was undoubtedly the greatest teacher about this, e.g. “God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” (Rom 5:5) and “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ” (Rom 8:9) and “if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you…..” (Rom 8:9 Implied He is!) and “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” (1 Cor 3:16) and “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” (1 Cor 6:19) and of course there are many, many more references to the Holy Spirit’s working in us.
So, as we have commented a number of times already in this series, the Spirit of God indwells us and, to put it slightly differently, He empowers us, enlightens us, educates us and enables us. We are what we are by the combined work of Jesus on the cross and his Spirit indwelling us. Hallelujah!