Is God's Spirit in Everyone?

It is impossible to be a Christian without the Holy Spirit. This is one reason Jesus told His disciples, "I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you." (John 16:7)

God the Father sent His Son to save us because He loves us. The Son of God suffered and died on the cross for our sins. And the Holy Spirit brings people into a relationship with our Creator through faith in Christ. He comes to live inside everyone who believes in Jesus as Savior.

So is God's Spirit in everyone? Well, we find the answer to that question in Scripture.

The apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Ephesus: "You also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance." (Eph. 1:13,14)

This deposit is only given to those who receive Christ as Savior. (John 1:12) Unbelievers are not forgiven of their sins or given the Spirit as a deposit.

When Paul was warning the churches in Galatia not to be seduced by legalism, he wrote, "I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?" (Gal. 3:2) Obviously, they received the Holy Spirit the moment they were converted as they believed the good news of salvation through faith in Christ.

And Paul wrote to the church in Corinth: "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." (1 Cor. 6:19,20)

A few chapters earlier Paul wrote, "Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?" (1 Cor. 3:16)

The indwelling of the Holy Spirit within God's people was prophesied in Old Testament times by the prophet Ezekiel: "I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws." (Ezekiel 36:27)

And Jesus described the Holy Spirit's guidance this way: "When He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth." (John 16:13)

So if you want to know the truth, you will need the Holy Spirit to teach it to you. He guides believers as we fill our minds with Scripture and meditate upon God's Word. Don't forget that the Holy Spirit is the Person who inspired the Bible to be written. "All Scripture is God-breathed." (2 Tim. 3:16)

When a person drinks wine in excess, it leads to strange behavior. In contrast, the Holy Spirit works good things inside every Christian. And so Paul was inspired to write, "Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit." (Eph. 5:18)

You cannot be "filled" with the Holy Spirit unless the Holy Spirit is already living inside you. If you were going to fill a jar with water, you wouldn't pour the water outside the jar. You would pour it inside. Likewise, your soul can be filled with God's "living water." (John 7:37)

Some souls are filled with false beliefs about God. Other souls are filled with a constant craving for alcohol or drugs, or material things, or sexual immorality, or fame. Still other souls are currently enjoying the experience of being filled with the Holy Spirit.

We must remember that the Christian life tends to be fluid. That is to say, one must stay under the fountain of God's refreshing grace in order to stay filled with the Spirit. If we stray from God's love and God's commands, the Holy Spirit's flow inside us gets diminished. And this causes us to lose much of our peace and joy in the Lord.

D.L. Moody explained the Christian life this way: "We are leaky vessels, and have to keep right under the fountain all the time in order to keep full."

This involves keeping our thoughts on the love of Jesus, Scripture, prayer, and things that are wholesome.

Paul instructed the believers in Philippi: "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things." (Philippians 4:8)

Your thought life will largely determine whether or not you live a Spirit-filled life.

The Holy Spirit guards our heart and mind as we choose to think about things that are pleasing to God. The minute we start to focus on something that is offensive to God, we jab the Holy Spirit within us.

The same thing happens when our speech is not wholesome or beneficial. This is why Paul instructed the believers in Ephesus: "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." (Eph. 4:29,30)

Since the Holy Spirit is perfectly holy, doesn't it make sense that He would feel pushed away anytime we engage in unholy thoughts or sinful speech?

And so Scripture instructs us: "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (Eph. 4:31,32)

The fullness of the Holy Spirit is never experienced by a believer who is giving into rage or slander, or who is holding a grudge against someone. These acts of disobedience on our part will prevent us from enjoying the Holy Spirit's beautiful presence within our soul.

But when we confess our sins to God and to one another, (1 John 1:9; James 5:16) a weight is lifted from us and we once again experience the power of the Holy Spirit in fullness and joy.

And of course serving others with the gifts God has given us is a major way to remain full of God's Spirit. "Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms." (1 Peter 4:10)

The love of the Father moved God to send His only Son. (John 3:16) The blood of the Savior washes away the sins of believers. (Eph. 1:7) And the power of the Holy Spirit empowers us to be share the good news with others, as we enjoy the flow of the Spirit's presence within us. (Acts 1:8)

And with this flow comes amazing fruit. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." (Gal. 5:22,23)

The Holy Spirit is the author of this wonderful fruit. He produces it. He provides it. And He keeps it coming as we abide in Christ through faith and walk by the Spirit rather than giving into the desires of the sinful nature.

So is God's Spirit in everyone? The answer is "No." He only resides within those who trust Christ as Savior. If the Holy Spirit lived in everyone, then everyone in the world would be a Christian. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

At the moment of conversion, God's "living water" (John 7:37) begins to flow into the new believer's soul. This "new birth" (1 Peter 1:23) changes a person from the inside out, and only God call pull off this miracle in a person's life. (1 Cor. 12:3)

Would you like to experience this reality in your life? If so, turn to God today in repentance, and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive your sins and save your soul. And then as you "walk by the Spirit" (Gal. 5:16) everyday, you will definitely "find out what pleases the Lord." (Eph. 5:10)

After all, this is what you were created to enjoy: a loving relationship with God that gets stronger everyday.

Dan Delzell is the pastor of Wellspring Church in Papillion, Neb. He is a regular contributor to The Christian Post.

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