Our relationship to sin: Conviction / Repentance / Regeneration / Forgiveness / Redemption / Justification
Our relationship to God:
Before conversion: Election / Drawing / Faith
At conversion: Reconciliation / Positional sanctification / Adoption / Union with Christ / Spirit Baptism / Sealing / Indwelling / Assurance
After conversion: Progressive sanctification / Filling / Glorification
He moves in. He takes up residence.
We call that “indwelling.”
In the Old Testament, God speaks often of dwelling with his people. He does so visibly in the Tabernacle, the “tent of meeting,” where the cloud of his glory hovers over the Holy of Holies and where, “between the cherubim” on the covering of the Ark of the Covenant (Ps 99.1), he says that he dwells. When Solomon dedicates the Temple in Jerusalem, the glory cloud appears there, “fill[ing] the house” (2Chr 7.1).
But the presence is not intimate; it speaks more of transcendence than immanence. You have to go to the Tabernacle, or the Temple, to experience it; and even then hardly anybody can actually get to it; the women have to stop approaching first, then the men, and even the priests can go only so far. And the high priest? Just once a year, with lots of special preparation (Lev 16).
Now, sometimes the Spirit would “come upon” people in the Old Testament, but those times were relatively rare, and the people were few—an occasional prophet (2Chr 15.1; Ezek 11.5), or warrior (Judg 3.10; 11.29), who needed an infusion of strength or insight for a specific occasion. David appears to have had what may be the only example of indwelling in the OT; at his anointing, the Spirit “came upon” him “from that day forward” (1Sam 16.13), and after his great sin with Bathsheba, he pleaded with God not to remove his Holy Spirit from him (Ps 51.11). But he was apparently the exception.
No, it’s not intimate.
But it’s also not all there is.
In that era God speaks of a time when real intimacy will come. In the great New Covenant passage of Jeremiah 31, God describes a day when his law will be written not on tables of stone, but on tender hearts—when he will dwell with his people in a new and intimate way. In Ezekiel 37 he describes the dry bones of Judah coming to life again, and rejoining the Northern Kingdom of Israel, “and they will be my people, and I will be their God” (Ezek 37.23).
How does the New Testament understand these prophecies? God gave them to Judah in captivity in Babylon, but they were not completely fulfilled in the return to Jerusalem. There is a new, more complete fulfillment in the church, where God dwells with his people by dwelling inside them, intimately, personally, with direct fellowship (2Co 6.14-20). Jesus says to his disciples that the Spirit has been with them, but one day will be in them (Jn 14.17). This is a new level of intimacy.
It’s remarkable that the Spirit is “at home” with us. We are where he resides.
I love to travel. But pretty much anyone who travels will say that there’s no place like home. It’s a delight, after a long absence, to enter the door of your own house, smell the familiar smells, taste the familiar foods, raid your own refrigerator, sleep in your own bed, step into your own shower—the one with the high water pressure and the hot, hot water.
Can it be that that’s how the Spirit views us? We are his temple? With all the dust in the corners, cracked windows, drafty rooms, bug infestations, closets full of who knows what? He calls us “home”?
Yes, he does.
He moves in, cleans the place up, and settles in for the long term.
“Aaaaahhhhhhh,” he says. “It’s nice to be home!”
Fixing up the place is a never-ending task. But he stays, and he fixes up the place for as long as we breathe. And when we stop breathing, he …
But wait. I’m getting ahead of myself. We’ll talk about glorification later.