Of the Manner and Importance of the Spirit's Indwelling
1 John 3:24
And he that keeps his commandments dwells in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he stays in us…

I. WHAT THE GIVING OF THE SPIRIT IMPORTS AND SIGNIFIES. The Spirit of God is said to come upon men in a transient way, for their present assistance in some particular service, though in themselves they be unsanctified persons. Thus the Spirit of God came upon Balaam (Numbers 24:2), enabling him to prophesy of things to come. But whatever gifts He gives to others, He is said to be given, to dwell, and to abide only in believers (1 Corinthians 3:6). An expression denoting both His special propriety in them, and gracious familiarity with them. There is a great difference betwixt the assisting and the indwelling of the Spirit; the one is transient, the other permanent.


1. The Spirit of God in believers is the very bond by which they are united unto Christ. If, therefore, we find in ourselves the bond of union, we may warrantably conclude that we have union with Jesus Christ.

2. The Scripture everywhere makes this giving, or indwelling of the Spirit, the great mark and trial of our interest in Christ; concluding from the presence of it in us, positively, as in the text; and from the absence of it, negatively, as in Romans 8.

3. That which is a certain mark of our freedom from the covenant of works, and our title to the privileges of the covenant or grace, must needs also infer our union with Christ and special interest in Him; but the giving or indwelling of the sanctifying Spirit in us is a certain mark of our freedom from the first covenant, under which all Christless persons still stand, and our title to the special privileges of the second covenant, in which none but the members are interested; and, consequently, it fully proves our union with the Lord Jesus.

4. If the eternal decree of God's electing love be executed, and the virtues and benefits of the death of Christ applied by the Spirit unto every soul in whom He dwelleth, as a spirit of santification, then such a giving of the Spirit unto us must needs be a certain mark and proof of our special interest in Christ; but the decree of God's electing love is executed, and the benefits of the blood of Christ are applied to every soul in whom He dwelleth, as a spirit sanctification. This is plain from 1 Peter 1:2.

5. The giving of the Spirit to us, or His residing in us, as a sanctifying Spirit, is everywhere in Scripture made the pledge and earnest of eternal salvation, and consequently must abundantly confirm and prove the soul's interest in Christ (Ephesians 1:13, 14). Uses: I shall lay down some general rules for the due information of our minds in this point, upon which so much depends.

(1) Though the Spirit of God be given to us, and worketh in us, yet He worketh not as a natural and necessary, but as a free and arbitrary agent: He neither assists nor sanctifies, as the fire burneth, as much as He can assist and sanctify, but as much as He pleaseth; "dividing to every man severally as He will" (1 Corinthians 12:11).

(2) There is a great difference in the manner of the Spirit's working before and after the work of regeneration. Whilst we are unregenerate He works upon us as upon dead creatures that work not at all with Him; and what motion there is in our souls is a counter motion to the Spirit; but after regeneration it is not so, He then works upon a complying and willing mind; we work, and He assists (Romans 8:26).

(3) Though the Spirit of God be given to believers, and worketh in them yet believers themselves may do or omit such things as may obstruct the working and obscure the very being of the Spirit of God in them.

(4) Those things which discover the indwelling of the Spirit in believers are not so much the matter of their duties, or substance of their actions, as the more secret springs, holy aims, and spiritual manner of their doing or performing of them.

(5) All the motions and operations of the spirit are always harmonious, and suitable to the written Word. (Isaiah 8:20).

(6) Although the works of the Spirit, in all sanctified persons, do substantially agree, both with the written Word and with one another, yet as to the manner of infusion and operation there are found many circumstantial differences.

(7) There is a great difference found betwixt the sanctifying and the comforting influences of the Spirit upon believers, in respect of constancy and permanency.Evidence 1. In whomsoever the Spirit of Christ is a Spirit of sanctification, to that man or women He hath been, more or less, a Spirit of conviction and humiliation.Evidence 2. As the Spirit of God hath been a convincing, so He is a quickening Spirit, to all those to whom He is given (Romans 8:2).Evidence 3. These to whom God giveth His Spirit have a tender sympathy with all the interests and concernments of Christ.Evidence 4. Wherever the Spirit of God dwelleth, He doth in some degree mortify and subdue the evils and corruptions of the soul in which He resides.Evidence 5. Wherever the Spirit of God dwelleth in the way of sanctification, in all such He is the Spirit of prayer and supplication (Romans 8:26).Evidence 6. Wherever the Spirit of grace inhabits, there is an heavenly, spiritual frame of mind accompanying and evidencing the indwelling of the Spirit (Romans 8:5, 6).Evidence 7. Those to whom the Spirit of grace is given are led by the Spirit, Sanctified souls give themselves up to the government and conduct of the Spirit; they obey His voice, beg His direction, follow His motions, deny the solicitations of the flesh and blood, in obedience to Him (Galatians 1:16). And they that do so, they are the sons of God.

(John Flavel.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.

WEB: He who keeps his commandments remains in him, and he in him. By this we know that he remains in us, by the Spirit which he gave us.

The Warrant of Faith
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