If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. Romans 8:11
Does the Holy Spirit dwell in you? If I asked you that question, how would you answer? If you answered yes, what evidence would you give to back up your claim?
How does it start? How does it continue? How does it grow? How do you know?
It starts with a calling. The way it starts may be different for everyone, but the way it is carried out is all the same. For some, it starts at the very moment they were born, ingrained in every facet of their lives. For others it may have been later when life has beat them down and their frustrations have become overwhelming. Yet others have heard it just out of happenstance, or so they think. Whatever the case, the calling is always there seeking to find those who are lost. (2 Tim. 1:5, Acts 8:30-31, 1 Cor. 12:13, Mark 16:15-16, Eph. 4:4-6, 2 Pet. 3:8)
And who is behind this calling? The Spirit that dwells in those who are offering it to the world in truth and love. (Matt. 28:19, 2 Tim. 2:24-26).
But how are they offering it? Through speaking the words the Spirit has given them. The very words that have been written by those in times past that have been passed down from generation to generation. The words that are read day and night by those who believe His testimony. The words that are their guide to confirm that they are speaking the truth on the Spirit’s behalf and that He is with them every step of the way. The words that help them identify and expose false callings. (1 Cor. 2:6-16, John 6:63, Eph. 6:17, 1 John 4:1, Gal. 1:6-9)
How do you answer it? By first hearing what the calling is all about. You are a sinner who needs a Savior. That Savior is Jesus and you are hopelessly lost without Him. He died and rose again to save you. (Rom. 10:17; 3:23; 6:23; 1 Cor. 15:3-4)
If you believe this, what must you do to be saved? “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:38-39)
Have you answered your calling? Have you believed it, confessed it, repented, and been baptized to wash away your sins? Have you received the gift of the Holy Spirit – the promise of salvation through Christ Jesus? Does the Holy Spirit dwell in you?
It continues with commitment. What kind of commitment? A commitment to obey no matter the costs. (Matt. 28:20, 1 John 2:3-4, Rev. 2:10)
But how do you know what to obey? You commit yourself to reading and studying God‘s word daily and pray to be guided. You join yourself to a group of Christians who are teaching and following the truth. You ask questions from what you read and study, not only to learn, but to test the teachings of your teachers and others who are supporting and guiding you through this new journey. You decide to change anything that is out of sync with the commandments of God. Sometimes this means getting rid of toxic relationships, extending forgiveness where you’ve denied it, giving up certain activities you enjoy, giving up old habits, and more. Sometimes it’ll feel like you’re giving up your whole old life, but remember, you’ve gained a whole new life. (2 Tim. 2:15, Acts 17:11, 2 Cor. 13:5, Rom. 12:1-2, Eph. 4:11-16; 6:13-18, Luke 14:26-27, Rom. 6:3-4)
What else must I do? Commit to worship with the saints every first day of the week. Sing songs, give an offering, hear God’s word preached, but most importantly, partake of the Lord’s supper to commemorate Jesus’ death to celebrate and be reminded of the purpose for which you are choosing to continue down this path. (Heb. 10:24-25, Acts 20:7, 1 Cor. 11:23-26, 1 Cor. 16:2, Col. 3:16)
Anything else? Commit to being a servant. Look for opportunities to serve others. Whether it be through sharing the gospel, giving of your financial means, lending a listening ear, giving a helping hand, serving your spouse and children, or petitioning to God on behalf of the weak and suffering through prayer, you must be willing to do good to all. By the grace of God, you have been created in Christ Jesus for good works. Do the works of God and the Spirit will be working through you. (Rom. 10:15, 1 Thess. 5:14-15, Gal. 6:6-10, James 5:16, Eph. 2:10)
Have you made your commitment to obey God no matter the costs? Have you chosen to change from your old life to a new life in Christ? Does the Holy Spirit dwell in you?
It grows into character. What character is that? One that is transformed by the influence of walking in the fruit of the Spirit. (Gal. 5:16-26)
How does that work? Your commitment becomes more than just obedience. Diligent actions start becoming a natural part of you that you can’t deny. All the effort you have put into learning and submitting to God’s will increases the Holy Spirit’s influence over you. You begin to walk more and more by the fruit of the Spirit in “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Gal. 5:22-23)
But what if that’s not happening for me in certain areas? Don’t be discouraged. In some areas you will thrive, in others you may barely survive, but no matter what, you must strive. You will also go through difficult seasons where all these things will be tested. It’s okay. This is a necessary part of your growth. Keep pushing forward. God understands we all come to Him broken and sometimes circumstances arise that cause us to struggle. Your brethren are there to support and help you along the way. Lean on them. God has given you these people for encouragement and help. These things take time to heal and strive to overcome. God’s grace through Christ is there to fill in the gaps as long as you are sincerely willing to repent by confessing your sins and keep trying. The only person who should be afraid is the one who is unwilling to repent. (Rom. 7:19, 24-25, Phil. 3:12-14, 2 Cor. 12:7-10, James 1:2-3, 1 John 1:9; 2:1, Gal. 6:1-2, Rev. 3:3-5)
Have you grown your character by the influence of the Spirit? Are you walking by His fruit? Are you repentent where you are lacking? Does the Holy Spirit dwell in you?
Now you can have confidence to know. Confidence to know what? To know that the evidence supports the fact that the Holy Spirit dwells in you and that He will raise you from the dead just as He did Christ Jesus. He is the witness to your spirit, confirming by His testimony that you are a son of God by the word of God. (Rom. 8:1-11, 13, 16, John 6:63, Eph. 2:18-22)
What if I’m still doubting? Most people do to some extent, but take confidence that you have the truth to test this doubt right at your fingertips. Look to the evidence when you doubt. (1 John 5:6-13)
Did you answer your calling as instructed by God’s word?
Is your commitment to strive for obedience to God’s commands to the best of your knowledge and ability?
Is your character growing to walk closer to God in exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit with a willingness to repent every time you don’t?
Can you answer yes to the three previous questions? Have you tested yourself by God’s word to gain your confidence? Do you know that the Spirit’s testimony confirms that you are a son of God? Does the Holy Spirit dwell in you?