Indwelt But Not Spirit-Filled

When we are born again the Holy Spirit comes to live inside our now alive spirit – the new heart of flesh the Lord has given to us and so we are a temple of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16). However, just because we have the Holy Spirit does not mean that the Holy Spirit has us. I have learned that there is a difference between being indwell and being filled with the Holy Spirit.

In 1 Corinthians, Paul describes three types of people: spiritual, carnal (fleshly), and natural. Spiritual people are those who are submitted to and led by the indwelling Spirit. Carnal people have the Spirit of God dwelling within but function in their own strength and according to their own agenda. Natural people are those who do not have the Spirit of God within them, and thus can do only what comes naturally to those who are without God.

Paul calls the Corinthians “fleshly” or “carnal,” meaning they have the Holy Spirit (remember, he also calls them ‘saints’), but they function in their own abilities, according to their own reasoning, and are driven by their own selfish desires. So, it is possible to have the Spirit indwelling but live according to our own selves.

In Ephesians 5:18, Paul describes what it means to be filled with the Spirit in contrast to being drunk with wine. The verb ‘to be filled’ is in the present tense imperative, making it a command in the presence tense. When is it in the present tense? Now. The presence tense is always now. That’s why many commentators on Ephesians 5 remark that Paul’s command should read, “Always be filled with the Spirit,” or “Be being filled by the Spirit.”

Because this command is in the present tense, it implies that we have a choice. In every moment, we can either be filled or not be filled. Every moment (even now) is an opportunity for us to choose the Spirit of the flesh. The choice is ours and ours alone.

The phrase “to be filled” can be confusing. Every few days, we drive our cars to the pump and fill our tanks with gasoline. A full tank of fuel can take us a long way, so it is natural for us to think of being filled with the Spirit in the same way. But that would not be right. We do not get more of the Holy Spirit when we are filled and lose some of the Holy Spirit when we are not filled.The Spirit is not a commodity that we can acquire more or less of.

So, what does it mean to be “filled” with the Spirit? Paul contrasts it with being drunk with wine. If you get drunk with wine, even much wine, you are not ‘filled’ with alcohol. Your body is still composed of the same parts of water, tissue, and other matters as before you took your first drink. However, when you are drunk, you are under the influence of alcohol. In other words, the alcohol affects your decisions, your actions, your thoughts, and your feelings. That is what it means to be “filled with the Spirit.” It is to be under the influence of the Holy Spirit to such an extent that He affects your decisions, actions, thoughts, and feelings.

so, many are born again and thus indwell by the Holy Spirit but are not filled with the Holy Spirit – walking in the Baptism … immersed totally in the Spirit as the original meaning of “baptized” means.

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