The Temple of the Holy Spirit
“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?”

By Jon W. Quinn
The Bible shows that the Holy Spirit dwells in the hearts of Christians. This is a matter of faith and is accepted because God has so stated in His word. However, there are differing ideas about whether this dwelling is literal or figurative. I see three possibilities here; either the Bible tells us that the dwelling is literal, or it tells us that the dwelling is figurative, or it doesn't reveal whether the dwelling is literal or figurative thus leaving the subject in the realm of human opinion.

There is nothing wrong with human opinions (in fact, you may have noticed that my own opinions are quite good) as long as we recognize them for what they are. If, however, because of pride or arrogance I demand that you accept my opinions or I will not accept you as faithful, then I have a serious problem! I am "wise in my own estimation" having "gone beyond what is written" (Romans 12:16; 1 Corinthians 4:6).

We are going to consider what the Bible actually says about the Holy Spirit in the lives of disciples. We'll try to keep any opinions at a minimum.

The Holy Spirit is Given to Those That Obey
"Jesus stood and cried out, saying, 'If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scriptures said, from his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water. But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive..." (John 7:37-39). Jesus issued an universal invitation to all men to drink and receive. Later, hearers on the day of Pentecost were told to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus to receive "forgiveness of sins" and "the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38). We read of God giving the Holy Spirit "to those that obey Him" (Acts 5:32). We learn that for those who have been "justified by faith" that the "love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us" (Romans 5:1,5). God gives His Spirit to those who become His children, and believers become His children when they by faith obey the gospel and are baptized into Christ (Galatians 4:6; cf. 3:26,27). We become "partakers of the Holy Spirit" when we become Christians (Hebrews 6:4,5).

The Holy Spirit Lives in Those Who Live By Faith

"Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?" (1 Corinthians 6:19). The Holy Spirit continues to dwell in Christians as their bodies become His temple, or dwelling place. As such, we all ought to use our bodies to God's service and glory. Too many of the church seem to have a "vacancy" sign hung on the temple. The Holy Spirit doesn't seem to be present literally or figuratively!

We learn that the Holy Spirit is a seal or pledge that God has given to every Christian. In effect, God's Spirit is God's guarantee that He will fulfill all His promises to His children. He is the "pledge of our inheritance" (2 Corinthians 1:20-23; Ephesians 1:13,14).

In fact, if the Spirit does not dwell in a certain individual, then that individual does not belong to Christ (Romans 8:9-11). Note something important here; this passage also teaches that along with the Spirit that "Christ is in you". We learn that Jesus dwells "in your hearts by faith" (Ephesians 3:17). Since Jesus dwells in us in a figurative sense, maybe that's how the Holy Spirit dwells in us as well. Maybe. Maybe not. I fail to see how one could draw a necessary conclusion either way.

Conditions Relating to the Dwelling of the Holy Spirit
“Truly, truly, I say unto you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God" (John 3:5). As we have already seen, the Spirit is given to those that obey the gospel. But this does not mean that the Spirit is somehow trapped within. In fact, He will be quite willing to move out
should He be crowded from the heart by faithlessness and sin.

The Bible says, "And the one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in Him. And we know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us" (I John 3:24). The one who's life is truly being directed by the Spirit orders his life a certain way. He "puts to death the deeds of the flesh". He allows himself to be "led by the Spirit" and is confident as he considers the teachings of the New Testament that he will be glorified with Christ (Romans 8:12-17).

One in whom God's Spirit abides has put off the deeds of the flesh which include immorality, impurity, strife, jealousy, drunkenness and things like these (Galatians 5:16-21). Instead, he bears the fruit of the Spirit in his life. This includes love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22,23).

How the Spirit Leads

"For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God" (1 Corinthians 2:10). God, through the Spirit, has led the writers of the New Testament unto His truths. We are led by the Spirit as we are led by the Spirit-inspired word of God. Please understand this point: The Spirit's work was to reveal the truth to the apostles (John 16:13). This He has done. The Spirit worked then and today through the inspired word to bring about conversion and the living of a new life (Romans 10:14). The Spirit begets us through the medium of the word of God (1 Peter 1:23-35). He sanctifies us by that same word (John 17:17).

You may have noticed that I never got around to supplying the verse which says that the Holy Spirit dwells in us "figuratively". Nor did I supply one that said "literally". But I supplied plenty that said He dwells in us. I am content to leave it at that.

From The Bradley Banner 10/28/2012
Published by the Bradley Church of Christ
1505 E. Broadway
Bulletins of the Month
Return to Homepage