Indwelt by Christ - Ligonier Leadership Conference (VII)
When the Holy Spirit comes to us He comes primarily to mediate the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ. — Sinclair B. Ferguson, “The Holy Spirit,” Ligonier Leadership Conference
In his second address, Dr. Ferguson drew attention to the words of the apostle Paul in Romans 8:1-17. One of the first things that we must recognize as we approach these verses is that there is a peculiar temptation to read what the apostle Paul says about the work of the Spirit in terms of the need we have for personal growth, rather than as a statement of the fullness of blessing we have in Christ. “Paul is not describing the steps we take in the Christian life, he is opening out to us the plenitude of the blessings that are ours simultaneously in Jesus Christ.”
The relationship between the Holy Spirit and the Lord Jesus Christ can be best described from the words of the apostle in Romans 8:9-10: “You are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin….” The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Father, but He is also the Spirit of the Son. Notice the way that Paul develops his argument in verse 9, moving first from a general statement about the lives we now live in the Spirit, to a more specific statement about the Spirit of God indwelling believers. Paul then continues unfolding the blessings of the gospel by explaining that the Spirit of God is also the Spirit of Christ. He finally brings the matter to a climax in verse 10, where he explains that it is actually Christ who lives in us. There is an inseparable union between the Holy Spirit and the Lord Jesus, and the Lord Jesus and the believer by the work of the Spirit.
What are the implications of this truth? Paul now shifts into a discussion of the holiness produced by the Spirit. “The Spirit gives us all the power to mediate the holiness of Christ to us because He is the Holy Spirit.” There are, incidentally, two other places where we learn more about this Spirit’s work in relation to the person of Christ. The first is John 14-16, and the second, Galatians 5:22-23.
In his final discourse to the disciples, Jesus revealed to them the mysteries of the indwelling Spirit they would receive after His resurrection. In John 14:23 Jesus asserts, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” It is the Holy Spirit who makes this dwelling possible in the lives of believers. If we tie together what our Lord says in John 14:2 with what He says in John 14:23 we must conclude that “Jesus goes to heaven to make a home for us and that the Spirit comes from heaven to make a home for the Father and the Son in the lives of believers.”
The Spirit comes to indwell us in order to produce holiness in us—even the holiness of our Lord Jesus Christ. You will find, as you read through John 14-16, a number of things that Jesus says He possesses and that He wishes to give to His followers. These things are His joy, His peace and His love—incidentally, three of the fruits mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23. And, we must remember that the fruit set out in those verses is the fruit produced by the Spirit of Christ. The sanctification produced by the Spirit is a sanctification produced by the Spirit’s union, first with Christ and then with His people.
It is incumbent upon us to understand the person and work of the Holy Spirit. He is the one who mediates the presence of Jesus Christ in our lives. We receive all the fullness of blessing on account of His indwelling. Our lives are lived in union with the Lord Jesus by the Holy Spirit. All the fruit that He produces in His people are first to be found in Christ. The Holy Spirit is in our lives to make you more like Him.
Nicholas T. Batzig is minister of New Covenant Presbyterian Church (a church plant of the PCA) in Richmond Hill, Ga. He is a contributor to Feeding on Christ and Christ the Center, a weekly Reformed podcast.