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God’s Spirit Lives In You

Who or what is the Holy Spirit?

Doug Britton, MFT

Part 1 of a 2-part series on “Living in God’s Power”

Read Part 2


When you think about God, where do you think he is? If you’re like most of us, you might say “in heaven”—and you would be right.

But you’d only be partially right. If you are a believer, God’s Spirit, also known as the Holy Spirit, lives within you. One way the Bible describes this is to say that you are a temple of the Holy Spirit.

Do you not know that your bodies are temples 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 bodies. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Discussion question

1. What does it mean for a believer’s body to be “a temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19)?

Related: Understanding God’s nature

The Holy Spirit makes all the difference

Knowing that the Holy Spirit lives in you can be life-changing.

  • It lets you know that Christianity is not just a religion.
  • It lets you know that Christianity is more than a set of doctrines and beliefs.
  • It lets you know that God is much closer to you than you may realize.

Discussion question

2. Do you think being more aware that the Holy Spirit is in you could change the way you go through life? Why or why not?

Who is the Holy Spirit?

God is not an “inner light” or a “cosmic consciousness.” Interacting with God himself is very different from being “spiritual” or practicing “spirituality.”

Related: You are a temple of the Holy Spirit

The Bible says God is “one.”

It’s important to know that God is “one,” a unique personage with individuality and personality, characteristics, and distinctiveness. Jesus showed us how important it is to understand that God is one when he was asked which was the most important commandment. Notice that he began his answer by saying, “The Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Mark 12:29).

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)

The Bible refers to God as the Father, the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit.

Although the Bible says God is one, it also refers to God as the Father, the Son (or Jesus), and the Holy Spirit. Peter referred to all three—Father, Spirit, and Jesus Christ—in the same sentence (1 Peter 1:1-2).

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance. (1 Peter 1:1-2)

Since the Bible says God is one, yet it also refers to him as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, many people use the term “the Trinity” to describe him, saying he is one being of three co-equal persons or aspects. Some describe him as being unique, with individuality and personality that is manifested in three persons:

  • The Father (Galatians 1:1)
  • The Son, or Jesus (John 20:28)
  • The Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3-4)

Related: Understanding God through Jesus

The Holy Spirit is not just some sort of spiritual force.

When you read about the Holy Spirit, you are reading about God himself. That’s why we refer to the Holy Spirit as a person or personage, using terms such as “he” or “him,” not “it.”

Discussion question

3. Is it important to refer to the Holy Spirit as “him,” not “it”? Why or why not?

When does the Holy Spirit first enter someone?

When someone becomes a believer—in other words, when someone becomes a Christian—the Holy Spirit enters him or her.

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:37-39)

Related: Becoming a believer

What does the Bible mean when it says Christ lives in us?

Some Bible passages say the Holy Spirit lives in believers, others say Christ lives in believers. They are referring to the same thing, since the Holy Spirit is Jesus’ Spirit. Here are two verses that say Christ lives in us:

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27) 

Discussion questions

4. Are you a believer? If so, do you think the Holy Spirit is living in you? Why or why not?

5. How often do you remember that the Holy Spirit lives in you? How important is this realization in your daily life?

6. How important would you like this realization to be in your life? Silently pray for a few minutes, asking God to help you remember every day that the Holy Spirit lives in you.

What does the Bible mean when it says believers were “filled with the Spirit” two or more times?

The Bible describes times when believers—people who had already received the Holy Spirit—were “filled with” or “full of” the Holy Spirit on two or more following occasions. What does that mean? How can the Holy Spirit “fill” someone who has already been filled?

Christians disagree about the full answer to this question. However, one thing we can be sure of is that when you are “filled with the Spirt,” you experience God’s power in a special way to accomplish his will and to glorify him.

Let’s look at three occasions when this happened in Acts:

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.” (Acts 4:8-10)

But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. (Acts 7:55-58)

But the Jewish leaders incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. So they shook the dust from their feet as a warning to them and went to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 13:50-52)

Notice that in all three passages, the believers who were “filled” with the Spirit had been telling others about Jesus, and they either were being persecuted or about to be persecuted.

Discussion question

7. Why do you think it was important for Peter, Stephen, Paul, and Barnabas to be “filled” with the Holy Spirit at these times

How does the Holy Spirit help believers?

Since the Holy Spirit lives in you, he knows what you need. Here are some ways he is available to help you:

  • He gives you power and helps you tell others about Jesus.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

  • He gives you hope.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

  • He teaches you.

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. (John 16:13)

  • He helps you in your weakness and intercedes for you in prayer.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. (Romans 8:26)

  • He helps you overcome sin.

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16)

Discussion question

8. Review the previous ways the Holy Spirit helps believers. What is one way you would like him to help you? Explain why you chose this.

Related: Understanding God’s power

Memory verse

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

Make it personal

1. Who is the Holy Spirit?

2. Where is the Holy Spirit?

3. What is the Trinity?

4. When does the Holy Spirit first live within someone?

5. How does knowing that the Spirit of God lives in you affect you?

6. Today’s lesson lists five ways the Holy Spirit helps believers. Name one of them that speaks to you personally:

Explain why you chose this one:

7. Write a prayer asking God to help you become more aware of the Holy Spirit in you as you go through life:

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About Doug Britton, MFT

Doug Britton, Bible-based Marriage and Family Therapist, has helped hundreds of thousands of people as a therapist, clinical director of a treatment center, seminar speaker, radio cohost, and author of over twenty books that show how to apply God's truths in your daily life. (Visit www.dougbrittonbooks.com.)

Copyright © 2020 Doug Britton. Permission granted to print for personal use. (Scripture verses are from the New International Version, copyright © 1984.) See reprint policy.

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