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What Does it Mean to Have the Holy Spirit Live in Us?
As Truth Two reveals, when the Holy Spirit, God Himself, takes up residence in you, He brings with Him all the power, love, wisdom, understanding, joy, peace, and gifts of the Godhead. Let this truth sink in; God now lives in you. Not with you or by you or around you. But the Holy Spirit actually lives, right now, in you. Which, as the Scriptures teach, makes you a temple of the Holy Spirit, a dwelling place of God. Consider this:
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 you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.
For Christians today, the idea of a temple seems archaic and outdated. After all, temple worship is something we associate with false religions or is relegated to the pages of the Old Testament, a practice of ancient Judaism. And we’ve moved far beyond that, or so we think.
In Judaism, the heart of their worship was tied up in a building, a temple. Because it was only in a specific part of this building, and only on certain days, that man was able to meet with God. And to make matters worse, not all men could meet with God, only the priest, and only after going through rituals that make no sense to us today. God was understood to dwell in the temple made for Him to reflect His glory. And it was only in the temple that sacrifices could be made for the atonement for sins. Without the temple, there were no sacrifices. And without the sacrifices, there was no forgiveness of sin. So the importance of the temple to the Jewish understanding of the forgiveness of sins cannot be overstated.
The first temple was built by Solomon and later destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC. After 70 years without a temple, the second one was built around 516 BC under the leadership of Ezra and Zerubbabel and stood for almost 585 years. Later, beginning around 20 BC and during the 18th year of his reign, Herod the Great made impressive improvements to this second temple so that it is commonly known to us as Herod’s Temple. It was destroyed by Titus Vespasian and the Fifth, Tenth, and Fifteenth Roman Legion during the siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD.
So without a temple, what were the Jewish people to do? How could they meet with their God? They could not. At least not in a temple made by human hands (Acts 7:48).
When Jesus died on the cross, He was the one, final, perfect sacrifice for the atonement of our sin (Heb. 10:1-18). There was no need any longer for the sacrifices of animals as a picture of what Jesus was to accomplish on the cross. Hence, there was no need for a physical temple whereby sinful men could come and offer the blood of goats and lambs to somehow atone for the penalty of sin for which Jesus had already suffered and died to forgive (Heb. 9:12). After Jesus, everything had changed.
Since there was no need for a temple, nor continual blood sacrifices, nor a high priest to act as an intermediatory between each of us and a Holy God, what has replaced these religious mainstays for us? The answer: Jesus. He became our High Priest (Heb. 9:11, 10:21), and His blood, sacrificed for us, has provided atonement for our sins, once and for all (Heb. 10:11-14). And the veil in the temple that separated sinful men from the presence of God in the Holy of Holies, was torn from top to bottom at the death of Christ (Matt. 27:51), indicating there was now no barrier between God and man. We now have bold access to the throne of God by the blood sacrifice of Jesus (Heb. 10:19-22).
And this is where it gets exciting, especially regarding the Higher Christian Life.
You Are Now the Temple of God!
Remember the verses we looked at earlier, 1 Corinthians 6:19-21. Because the Holy Spirit, God Himself, now lives in us, we have become the temple of God, the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. We have within us what the Jews hoped to experience in the Holy of Holies— the fullness of God. We have the presence of God in the Person of the Holy Spirit inside of us. And this was the wonderous mystery hidden from the Jews, but now revealed to us.
To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory – Colossians 1:27.
Now, when we struggle with our failures in the higher Christian life, it is because of our sinful nature, pulling us, prompting us, sometimes forcing us to do the things we don’t want to do when our spirit wants to do the things pleasing to Him (Rom. 7:18-20), yet we fail. You and I, and Paul, know what this is like. Remember, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Rom. 7:24). You are not alone when you struggle to be more like Him.
But the great encouragement for today is simply this; you have the Holy Spirit living in you. Take some time and reflect on this familiar truth. You don’t have to travel to the temple to meet with Him. You don’t have to wait until a certain day to experience His healing power. You don’t have to go through all sorts of rituals to make yourself appear worthy to come into His presence. He is already here. In you. Closer than you can imagine. He knows you better than you know you. And He has seen the best and the worst of who you are, and yet He still loves you.
So relax and stop striving (and probably failing) to live out something in your life (holiness, sanctification, the Higher Christian Life), that the Holy Spirit was given to live through you. Let Him do His job. Get out of His way. Just “let go and let God”— be God.
Will you do that today?