Pastor's Pondering


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Having the Spirit vs. Being Filled with the Spirit

by Duane Mabee on July 27, 2022

There are a number of phrases in Scripture that we read over far too quickly, assuming they are just metaphors.  Among them are, “Christ in you”, “you are in Christ”, “you are united with Christ” and Jesus’ statement “I am in My Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you”.  These statements have a metaphorical quality to them, but they are not mere figures of speech.  They are to be taken literally.  Christ literally dwells in us, and He wants to become our righteousness, our sufficiency, our strength, our health and our victory. 


A. B. Simpson taught that the Lord Jesus revealed Himself as a living and all-sufficient presence.  Christ did not save us from future peril and leave us to fight the battle of life as best we can.  He Who justified us is waiting to sanctify us, to enter into our spirit and substitute His strength, His holiness, His joy, His love, His faith, His power, for all our worthlessness, and make God’s promise an actual and living fact “I will dwell in you and walk in you.” 


Simpson also taught that “There is a measure of the Holy Spirit’s life in every regenerate soul, but it is when every part of our being is filled with His love and possessed for His glory that we are wholly sanctified, and it is this divine fullness which excludes and keeps out the power of sin and self.” 


Dr Richard Bailey wrote, “All of us who are Christians are born of the Spirit and we have the Spirit.  He is the Giver and the Sustainer of the spiritual life that we have.  But there is a world of difference between having the Spirit in His regenerative power, and being filled with the Spirit, knowing the enduement of His power.” 


The difference between “having” the Spirit and being “filled with” the Spirit is the difference between being saved and being totally surrendered to the will and control of Christ in us.  It is the difference between trying to keep Christ in one corner of our lives, while we try to run things in our own wisdom, strength and power, as opposed to allowing Christ to have total control of everything we have, everything we are, everything we do, and everything we value.  It is the difference between trying to have a little of the Holy Spirit for our benefit and yielding ourselves completely to the Holy Spirit’s control for His purposes. 


If you want to experience “Christ in you”, “you are in Christ”, “you are united with Christ” and “I am in My Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you” as more than metaphors, you must first surrender yourself entirely to Christ’s control, and then invite Him to express His life and fullness in and through you.