Few things seem more confounding and confusing to the religious world than the “In-dwelling Holy Spirit.” Does the Holy Spirit dwell in us? Yes! But is this a mysterious, miraculous, personal indwelling—the Holy Spirit somehow possessing our bodies where we do things we will not to do? Or, as others claim, is the Holy Spirit “with us” in a way that God or Christ are not, though He does not directly act upon us? I do not believe that this is what the Bible teaches. How then does the Holy Spirit dwell in us? Notice this comparison between Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3 (in the ESV):
The Holy Spirit dwells in us when the Word dwells in us—when we believe and follow what the Holy Spirit has revealed and confirmed (Hebrews 2:3-4)
Here is a comparison chart and comments by Robert Turner that I hope helps to clarify the issue of the work of the Holy Spirit and the means by which he accomplishes it.
Does the Holy Spirit? Well, so does the Word!
1. Give faith ? ? ? Rom.10:17...faith comes by hearing word
2. Beget ? ? ? 1 Cor. 4:15 ........begotten through gospel
3. Quicken ? ? ? Psm.119:93 .....with precepts--quickened
4. New Birth ? ? ? 1 Pet.1:23 ................by the word of God
5. Save ? ? ? 1 Cor.15:1-2 ..........saved-- by the gospel
6. Cleanse ? ? ? Jn.15:3 ...............clean through the word
7. Purify ? ? ? 1 Pet.1:22 ................in obeying the truth
8. Sanctify ? ? ? Jn.17:17 ...................."through thy truth"
9. Give light ? ? ? Psm.119:105 ........."Thy word is a lamp"
10. Bear witness ? ? ? Jn.5:39 ........Scriptures testify (1 Jn.5:6)
11. Give growth ? ? ? 1 Pet.2:2 ....desire word-- worketh in you
12. Work in us ? ? ? 1 Thes.2:13 ..........word-- worketh in you
13. Guide our walk ? ? ? Phil.3:16 ..................walk by God's rule
14. Strengthen ? ? ? Col.2:7 .............."established in the faith"
15. Build up ? ? ? Acts 20:32 .......word- is able to build up
16. Comfort ? ? ? 1 Thes.4:18 ...........comfort-- with words
17. Convert ? ? ? Psm.19:7 .......law of the Lord-- converts
18. Wash ? ? ? Eph.5:26 ..the washing of water by word
19. Justify ? ? ? Rom.5:1 ..."by faith"----(See Rom.10:17)
20. Give life ? ? ? Jn.6:63 ............"the words that I speak"
21. Understanding ? ? ? Psm.119:104 ....."through thy precepts"
22. Convict ? ? ? Heb.11:1 ........faith-- a conviction (R.V.)
23. Reconcile ? ? ? 2 Cor.5:19 ......the word of reconciliation
24. Open eyes ? ? ? Acts 26:18 ..preach word, to open eyes
25. Call ? ? ? 2 Thes.2:14 ..........called by the gospel
The scriptures teach that GOD must be IN us. But HOW is God in us? Well, read 1 Jn.4:12,15-16 and like passages, to see that no mystical "better felt than told" dwelling is meant.
1 John 4:12, 15-16 “No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us… 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.”
In like manner, CHRIST must be IN us. (Col.1:27 Rom.8:10) If you can understand how God and Christ can be in us, you should also understand how the Holy Spirit can "dwell in you richly" -- how we can "be filled with the Spirit". (Col. 3:16; Eph. 5:19)
The Spirit speaks through the word (Rev. 2:11-12) pricking and cutting the hearts of men. (Eph. 6:17) He is resisted when we resist the word of God. See ye do it not!
Adapted from Plain Talk, Vol. 1, No. 2 Article in Plain Talk
Some may argue (and have) that this is a simplistic and theologically unrefined way of viewing the Spirit dwelling in us. However, the scriptures don’t just speak of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us: God dwells in in us (John 14:23; 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 1 John 4:12, 15-16); the Truth dwells in us (2 John 2); Christ dwells in us (Colossians 1:27); and the Word dwells in us (Colossians 3:16). Christ dwells in us through faith (Ephesians 3:17). This “indwelling” describes God dwelling in our lives, character, and heart as we submit to His will found in his Word (Galatians 2:20). We might illustrate this dwelling in human terms through such familiar phrases as, “You’ve got a lot of your dad in you” or “He lives on in his work.” Does a man personally indwell his son? No—it is a figure of speech! Does Christ personally dwell in us? Does God the Father? I know of few who would argue such.
Many have no difficulty in accepting the concept of the Father, the Son, or the Word dwelling in us representatively as their will, character, or message dwells in us—but we get to the Holy Spirit and many feel the need to complicate our understanding. All three persons of the Godhead are described as being in us (even in the same chapter—Ephesians 3 and Romans 8!), but, in the minds of many, the Holy Spirit is a different (that is, personal) indwelling than the Father or Christ. This distinction is arbitrary and not contextual!
We KNOW the Holy Spirit dwells in us through the Word. The burden of proof is on those who would suggest a different indwelling for Christians today. Can they do so through the objective standard of the Word of God?