That the Holy Spirit dwells in Christians is an undeniable fact. “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.” Paul is saying that the Spirit of God is the Holy Spirit and when one becomes a Christian, the Holy Spirit is given to dwell in him (Acts 5:32; I John 3:24). The Holy Spirit to dwell in Christians is a proof of being a Christian.
The fact of the Holy Spirit is proven beyond a doubt, but the method of indwelling is two different things entirely. The Spirit either dwells in Christians directly, or else He does so indirectly. There is no middle ground. It cannot be both ways at the same time.
It is my firm conviction that the method is indirect. He indwells through the truth and the means is the Word of God. When the Holy Spirit works directly, the results must be considered a miracle. This would have far-reaching consequences, some of which very few would be willing to accept. For if the Holy Spirit dwells in us miraculously, the period of miracles has not passed; and this conflicts with other scriptures which teach that miracles have passed.
If the Spirit works directly on the human mind to influence, direct, guide, impress, nudge, then a miracle is performed. If we concede that the scriptures teach that miracles were wrought only to establish the Christian system, then ceased, then we must also concede that the Holy Spirit dwells in Christians now indirectly.
Many good brethren believe that the Spirit indwells personally, but that He works in them only through the means of the written word. This is an impossible position to defend and is a compromise between error and truth. This compromise opens the door to all kind of Pentecostal practices. The bottom line is we cannot choose the direct method and expect to reap the consequences of the indirect, because the consequences of each method goes with the method.
The Christian’s awareness of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is not based on his/her “feelings” or by any physical manifestations. A child of God knows that the Holy Spirit dwells in him/her just as we know that Christ dwells in us by faith! Paul said, “that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Gal. 3:14). The same apostle declared that faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Rom. 10:17). In Ephesians 5:18, Paul exhorts, “Be filled with the Spirit” and tells us how in Colossians 3:16. “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.” To be filled with the Spirit; therefore, is to have the Word of Christ richly dwelling in a Christian!
One of the great difficulties in understanding the fact that the Holy Spirit is a person who dwells in the child of God, is the fact that so many people don’t recognize Him as an influence, a power, or an ideology. Any theory of the direct operation of the Holy Spirit, through miraculous intervention, separate and apart from the Word of God, would nullify the scheme of redemption that is taught in the New Testament. Paul said, “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us” (Rom. 5:5).
When the Holy Spirit, as God’s gift, reigns on the throne of a Christian’s heart, the deeds of the body will be none other than the fruits of the Spirit which are good, because the Spirit does not dwell where sin dwells! The Bible says Christ dwells in our hearts by faith (Eph. 3:17). God dwells in our hearts by faith (II Cor. 6:16).
The indwelling of God and Christ is not literal or direct but by the medium of the Word -- the same way that the Holy Spirit indwells!