Christ in You – Where does God live?
Where does God live, where does He reside?
Acts 7:48 “Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest?
This scripture clearly indicates that God doesn’t live in a temple – He would never fit! No, He’s far bigger than that! In fact, He’s omnipresent!
God in a box
Nevertheless, under the Old Covenant God graciously dwelt or tabernacled with man. In fact, for a while He came to live in a box or ‘ark’ hidden in a desert tent or ‘tabernacle’. Unfortunately, to go in and meet God you had to be an Israelite, a Levite and also the high-priest that year. The chances of even meeting God in those times were pretty slim and of surviving the experience also pretty slim! Moses, who saw God’s back, was a very privileged individual!
Under the Old Covenant God’s presence was external. It was, as Graham Cooke calls it, a ‘visitation mentality’. In other words, God came and He went. King David could therefore legitimately say in Psalm 51:11:
“Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.”
In those days the Holy Spirit came upon people, indeed He filled them but He didn’t indwell them. In other words, He didn’t reside there, He just came to stay for a while and one day He was gone. His presence was always temporary. (By the way, the prayer above is not appropriate for believers today because His presence in the believer is permanent – but we will get to that later!)
God lived in Jesus
God’s ultimate plan and desire, though, was always ‘habitation’. He desired to live with man permanently. The prophetic title of the Messiah ‘Emanuel’ meaning ‘God with us’ expresses this perfectly. Through the event of incarnation around 2,000 years ago God came to dwell amongst us in the person of Jesus Christ.
John 1:14 “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”
Access was limited
But, the problem was that even though God was manifest in the flesh, access was still limited. You actually had to be living in Israel, push through huge crowds and, technically, salvation was available only to the Jewish people – gentiles were excluded. So, even though Jesus was the temple of God access to Him was not universal and was limited to the brief time that He was actually alive and walking the earth – a mere 33 years before He was brutally murdered!
The Holy Spirit’s coming!
Jesus himself hinted privately to his disciples shortly before his crucifixion that a mystery was going to be unveiled. He revealed that He would soon be leaving and that His replacement would soon be coming – the Holy Spirit. This meant that the presence of God was coming and He would be personal and permanent to His followers, not just a visitation but also a habitation. Indeed, they would literally carry the presence of God, the Spirit of Christ and the Holy Spirit everywhere they went and worship would no longer be in a physical temple but by the Spirit.
John 14:23 “Jesus answered and said to him, If anyone loves me he will keep my word and my Father will love him and we will come to him and make our abode with him.”
The disciples get born again
However, Jesus had first to be resurrected from the dead before the disciples could be born again and in-dwelt with the Holy Spirit. This event is recorded in John 20:22 when the living Christ Jesus breathed into them His own Spirit (the Spirit of Christ); this mirrors Genesis 2:7 when God breathed into Adam and he became a living soul.
John 20:22 “and when he had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them Receive the Holy Spirit”
Why Jesus had to leave
In order for the Holy Spirit to be sent from heaven, however, Jesus had first to ascend back into heaven to His Father – that is why Jesus tells Mary not to touch Him in John 20:17 because He no longer wanted her to relate to Him in the flesh but according to the Spirit.
“Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.”
Jesus therefore had to leave in order for the Holy Spirit to come.
John 16:7 “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.”
On the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came it was to indwell the church, the body of Christ and tongues of fire settled on each of the hundred and twenty believers gathered there in that upper room.
Similarly, many years previously, when King Solomon had dedicated the temple (2 Chronicles 5:13), a hundred and twenty priests had sounded trumpets and had been unable to stand to minister because of the glory cloud of the Lord.
When Pentecost came, believers individually and collectively became the temple of the Holy Spirit – and permanently so. God came to live in the Church, the body of Christ.
1 Corinthians 3:16 “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?”
So, each believer (a member of the body of Christ) is a little Christ, an anointed one or Christian – a nightmare for the devil because everywhere we go, the presence of God goes – a moving temple!
Ephesians 2:21 “In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”
The revelation of the Apostle Paul
The full extent of the revelation of this magnificent truth, though, awaited the conversion of the devil’s right-hand man – the Apostle Paul. Paul, unlike the other Apostles, had never met Jesus in the flesh (as far as we know), only meeting Him dramatically in a ‘heavenly vision’ at midday on the Damascus road.
What the Holy Spirit revealed to Paul was that, even though you might have known Jesus in the flesh and even touched and talked with Him, now by the Holy Spirit every believer had far greater access to God the Father.
2 Corinthians 5:16 “Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.”
Questions for discussion
1) What is the difference between a ‘habitation’ and a ‘visitation’ mentality?
2) Under the Old Covenant where did God live?
3) When were the disciples born again? – John 20:22
4) Why did Jesus have to go back to heaven? – John 16:7
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