Colossians 1:27 “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:”
God lived in a box
Where does God live, where does he reside?
Acts 7:48 clearly says: “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?
However, under the Old Covenant God graciously dwelt or tabernacled with man. In fact, for a while he came to live in a box (the ark), hidden in a tent (the tabernacle), in the desert. 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 meeting God and even surviving therefore were pretty slim! Moses, who saw the back-side of God was a very privileged individual!
Under the Old Covenant therefore, 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 say in Psalm 51:11:
“Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.”
Therefore, 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 bit and one day he was gone. His presence was always temporary. By the way, the prayer above is not appropriate for believes 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’. In other words, he desired to live with man permanently. The title of the Messiah, Emanuel, or God with us expresses this perfectly. Through the event of incarnation, 2000 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
The problem was, that even though God was manifest in the flesh, access was still limited: you actually had to be living in Israel, the crowds were big and technically salvation was available only to the Jewish people – Gentiles were excluded. So, even though Jesus was the temple of God, the access was not universal and was limited to the brief time that he was actually alive and walking the earth – a mere 33 years before being brutally murdered!
The Holy Spirit’s coming!
Jesus himself though, hinted privately to his disciples shortly before his crucifixion, that a mystery was going to be unveiled. He revealed, that he was leaving and his replacement was soon coming – the Holy Spirit. This meant that the presence of God was coming and it would be personal and permanent to his followers. Not just a visitation but a habitation. Indeed, they would literally carry the presence of God, the Spirit of Christ, 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, it awaited the resurrection though, before the disciples could be born again and indwelt 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), mirroring 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 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 by 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 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, he came to indwell the church, the body of Christ and tongues of fire settled on each of the 120 believers gathered there in that upper room.
Many years before, when King Solomon dedicated the temple (2 Chron 5:13), 120 priests sounded trumpets and the priests were unable to stand to minister because of the glory cloud of the Lord.
At Pentecost however, believers individually and collectively became the temple of the Holy Spirit – and that permanently.
1 Cor 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 righthand 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 spirit every believer had far greater access to God the Father by the Holy Spirit.
2 Cor 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.”
Really close to God!
In fact, now you as a believer, are so close to Jesus that there is not a hairs breath between you and God!
1 Cor 6:17: “But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit!”
Christ’s Spirit is in you
Not only that, the truth is, that a christian is no longer in the flesh with a dead human spirit your born again spirit is the spirit of Christ.
Romans 8:9 “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. “
Christ now dwells in the heart through faith. We have the Spirit of Christ.
“….so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” (Ephesians 3:17)
Our spirit is alive and righteous
And, because it is Christ’s Spirit that lives in us, even though our bodies and souls are still affected and damaged by sin and death, our spirit is alive and is righteous and holy just like Jesus!
Romans 8:10 “And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.”
Eph 4:28 “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”
Hebrews 12:23 “To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect”
A new nature
In fact, new birth means your nature has been completely changed. Before, it was natural to sin because you were of Adam’s fallen spirit – the old man. Now you have the new man Christ Jesus inside and you have a new nature, a divine nature just like Jesus. What is God’s nature? It is love.
2 Peter 1:4 “Wherebye are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”
Laws written on the heart
This new nature therefore wants to do what’s right. Through new birth, God has written or programmed his laws, (this is not the ten commandments but the commandments of God, his desires on our hearts.) This means, that new birth also affects the will, mind and emotions – the whole person.
Hebrews 8:10 “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts; and I will be to them a God and they shall be to me a people;” Hebrews 10:16
It affects everything
So then, this new creation miracle, is not restricted to just to the spirit. This new life, eternal life, resurrection power, works from the inside out, affecting and transforming both our emotions, mind, heart and even the physical body itself:
Romans 8:11 “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”
The new nature does not sin
In addition, this born again christ like and righteousness nature cannot sin!
1 John 3:9 “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”
Of course, this doesn’t mean we don’t sin but Christ in us cannot sin! There has been an identity change and the I the real I is who your are in Christ:
Romans 7:7 “Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.”
Therefore, you have a new identity. A new name. You are no longer called a sinner. No you are called a holy one or a saint.
A new identity
That is your new identity and like Paul you can identify yourself fully with Jesus in his crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection. After all, that’s what baptism is all about!
Galatians 2:20 “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I (the old identity) . but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh (the physical existence) I live by faith in the Son of God; who loved me, and gave himself for me”
Lastly, to finish, the real test of whether you are a christian and you are in the faith is that Christ is in you. If Christ is indeed in you, then outwardly you may not look like Jesus but your spirit is identical. You are like Christ!
2 Cor 13:5 “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?”
Next article: why do I still sin?
New birth (Audio)
You must be born again
The end of law
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