The Spirit of God Dwells in Us

In today’s second Mass reading from the first letter to the Corinthians, Paul asks, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”

When we use the term dwelling, we mean something more than a casual residing. When we go on a business trip and stay in a hotel, we don’t speak of the hotel as our dwelling. When we visit our relatives and friends and stay at their home, even for a long visit, we don’t speak of dwelling with them. “Dwelling” carries with it a sense of continuing and remaining, as in how we live in our own homes.

So to say God dwells in us speaks of much more than casual contact, but of something far more permanent and intimate. And that permanence and intimacy is something accomplished through the Incarnation of God.

I don’t mean by that statement to suggest that we do not hear of God dwelling among his people in the Old Testament. On the contrary, the references are numerous. In Exodus God says: “I will dwell in the midst of the Israelites and will be their God. They shall know that I, the Lord, am their God who brought them out of the land of Egypt so that I, the Lord, their God, might dwell among them.” In the Book of Kings God promises: “I will fulfill toward you the promise I made to your father David. I will dwell in the midst of the Israelites and will not forsake my people Israel.” Similarly, in Leviticus, God reassures his people, “I will set my dwelling among you, and will not disdain you. Ever present in your midst, I will be your God, and you will be my people.”

But for all their beauty, these Old Testament statements speak of nearness or closeness, dwelling with, dwelling near, dwelling among. And although God dwelt with, near among, there is still separation. Even those closest to the God of the Old Testament, like Moses, could only look at his shadow and not on the face of God.

With the Incarnation, however, God comes to dwell in humans. God opens himself to a deeper, more intimate relationship with us by becoming one of us. God first dwells in the man Jesus. But with the death, resurrection and ascension Jesus and the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, God now dwells in the disciples of Jesus, in the body of Christ that are his people.

One important way to express the good news of Christianity is this: God the Son became human so that through His death and resurrection He can secure the gift of the Spirit for His people, so that God might be, not just with us, near us, among us, but in us.


4 thoughts on “The Spirit of God Dwells in Us

  1. Dear Suzane,

    I came across your wonderful article The Spirit of God dwells in us as proclaimed in Jeremiah and Hebrew. Union with God through Jesus in the Holy Spirit has been my passion for the last 32 years. It’s the main core objective of our belief as Christians.

    But, you know what worries me the most ? You seldom hear someone mentioning this subject during a sermon, lecture or certain conference. There are some 2 billion christian named individuals on this planet with the majority unawre of this fundamental truth.

    I am sure the Holy Spirit nowadays is shedding some light on this crucial point in our lives, for instance your article and some other writers I came across.

    We in Lebanon (Middle East) are watching carefully the works of the Holy Spirit. God is at work in his church. Many individuals, coming out of nowhere, are stepping forward to share there intimate experience how the Spirit is withnessing to this beautiful truth in their lives:
    CHRIST IN US THE HOPE FOR GLORY. When the scriptures says in us it means in us.

    Keep on the good work and God bless you in the name of Jesus our Lord.

    Tony Shelala
    CBMC Lebanon president

    Christian Businessmen Committee Int.

  2. hi Tony, Susan

    isn’t this interesting. Susan’s article was in 2009, Tony replied in 2010, and now in 2011, I came on board! Its nice to know that the Spirit dwells in us all the time. I am the coordinator of the Emmanuel Praise and Worship community in my parish of St. Anthony in Singapore. And this evening, we have our regular weekly meeting. The theme is, “Are we allowing the Spirit of God to dwell in us?”. So, as I was just surfing for inputs, I came across Susan’s article – thanks. But what also caught my attention is that Tony, you’re from Lebanon. I have a Lebanese friend who is attending my parish presently and we’ve become good friends. So, I thought I’d just say hi to you Tony.
    God bless both of you and the work that you do.


  3. What concerns me is that millions of Christians call the building the Church. Then they spend much time, effort, and money maintaining “God’s house”, sacrificing themselves and neglecting each other.

    I’ve been opening myself up more to God and now know that the Church isn’t a building that will be torn down someday.

    Instead, WE are God’s house, with Christ as the head. That’s exciting! We don’t go TO God’s house, we ARE God’s house! And when we care for God’s house, we take care of each other!

    This turns the whole Christian world upside down!

  4. Gospel of John ch.17

    20″I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us.

    The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one.

    O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

    a) Just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you
    b) I in them and You in me
    c) May be in them and I in them

    Please notice above parallels.

    If Jesus did not use those patterns I would have understood our union with Him as a deep moral relationship no more. It would have been like Jesus was trying to get to an agreement with us to convey a message of high ethics, and that’s not bad at all. But in his interceding prayer, Jesus did not limit His words to such moral level. Instead He kept on going by stressing a mystical union He intended for us believers with His Father who became our Father in Him. The word “Knowing” Jesus used is not confined to memorizing His words although it’s true, instead the profound meaning is like when “Abraham Knew Sarah” which means total union. Paul implied the same in his letter to the Corinthians-I ch.6-17.

    Blessed are the ones who listen carefully to the words of Christ with love and obedience, because to them will be revealed the overwhelming Love of the heavenly Father in the face of His only begotten Son who saved us to unite us with the Holy Trinity.
    To those who cannot see the truth yet, I say to them “Seek and you shall find”, “ Ask and you shall be given”.

    Love in Jesus to Ray and Wes

    Tony Shelala
    CBMC Lebanon president
    Christian Businessmen Committee Int.

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