In my last post, I wrote about God’s Economy, which is His household administration of dispensing Christ as the Spirit as grace to all who make up the House of God, which is the Church (1 Tim. 3:15). The view I tried to presented was very grand and overarching, so I hope to hone in here on the particulars of God’s dispensation, specifically how it relates to you in a daily way.
The Daily Dispensing
“And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissoluteness, but be filled in spirit” Ephesians 5:18
“And to know the knowledge-surpassing love of Christ, that you may be filled unto all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:19
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” Colossians 3:16a
I had a conversation with someone recently where he said, “I don’t get why people think that they need to be filled with the Holy Spirit? As if the first time wasn’t enough!” This thought, though not usually expressed as such, is prevailing among Christians. Some think that there is no need for any more of the Holy Spirit, and many of my friends in the charismatic denominations believe that we need to only be outwardly clothed in the Spirit.
The Bible is very clear on this matter. The confusion issues from believers’ lack of experience, not from lack of clarity in Scripture. We need to “be filled in spirit.” This is not regeneration, but a daily filling in spirit. We may have received grace at regeneration, but the Lord desires to fill us even more, “that [we] may be filled unto all the fullness of God.” This requires us to be willing; willing to “let” the word of Christ, which is spirit and life (Jn. 6:63), dwell in us richly.
What Exactly is God Doing in Us?
“And do not be fashioned according to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of the mind” Romans 12:2a
“But we all with unveiled face, beholding and reflecting like a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18
As noted in earlier posts (see Tripartite Man), man consists of a body, soul, and spirit (1 Thes. 5:23; Heb. 4:12). Our spirit is the part of our being that the Lord comes into during regeneration and unites His Spirit to our spirit (Jn. 3:6; Rm. 8:16; 1 Cor. 6:17). Our soul, which is our “self,” is still corrupt and sinful. Rather than refrence verses, I simply ask the reader whether you still have evil thoughts, improper emotions, and unrighteous actions? Thus, your mind, emotion, and will are not wholly sanctified in your soul yet.
The Lord abides in our spirit (2 Tim. 4:22), and he wants to invade every part of our being. How does he do this? Paul tells us in his letter to the Ephesians:
“That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit into the inner man, that Christ may make His home in your hearts through faith” Ephesians 3:16-17a
The strengthening of the Spirit into our inner man, which is our spirit, allows Christ to make His home in our hearts, which includes our mind, emotion, and will. Paul was writing to Ephesian believers, so why would he say “that Christ may make His home in your hearts?” Christ must not be there yet! He dwells in our spirit, but wants to make His home in our hearts. That is how our mind is renewed and we are eventually transformed and sanctified (as referenced in the two verses above.)
What is the Goal?
“Because those whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the Firstborn among many brothers” Romans 8:29
“My children, with whom I travail again in birth until Christ is formed in you” Galatians 4:19
Christ is the goal of God’s Economy or Dispensing. He is conforming all of us into the image of Christ. This is not just an act of mimicry, but an actual replication process! Christ is being formed in us. He lives within us, and is currently spreading into our hearts, saturating every part of our being. Eventually, He will be fully formed in us, that it will be no longer us living:
“I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” Galatians 2:20a
“For to me, to live is Christ” Philippians 1:21a
Paul does not here exaggerate or use excessive language. He is describing his experience of no longer being the one living, but Christ living within him.
Christianity today is plagued with what a famous monk calls the “Imitation of Christ.” Believers live by WWJD (“What would Jesus do” for those who haven’t seen the bracelets). WWJD is no different than Judaism!
God’s goal is not to convince us to live better, but to infuse us with Christ that He may be fully wrought into our being. This requires the elimination of all the negative elements within us. So God is trying to fill us today for two things: the expelling of all our natural man and the adding of Christ to fill our every part. The result of such a filling will eventually be an exact duplication:
“Who will transfigure the body of our humiliation to be conformed to the body of His glory, according to His operation by which He is able even to subject all things to Himself.” Pp. 3:21
So God has regenerated our spirit, is sanctifying our soul, and will eventually glorify our bodies. This is God’s full salvation (Heb. 7:25). Christians have been stupefied by the erroneous concept of WWJD, while the Lord is trying to make His home in our hearts and be the WIJD (What is Jesus Doing!). Our job is not to imitate Christ, but to allow Him to fill us daily with His Spirit.
How can we do this? I offer three ways (though there are many): pray, read, and meet. Firstly, we must pray to the Lord. A simple prayer can be “Lord, make your home in my heart today. Let me be under your dispensing and filling work.” We should also read the Bible, not for knowledge, but for more Spirit:
“Who has also made us sufficient as ministers of a new covenant, ministers not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” 2 Corinthians 3:6
“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the word which I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” John 6:63
Read the Word with a prayerful spirit (Eph. 6:17-18). There is spirit and life in the Bible, and we must practice to take it in as such. Finally, we need to meet with other believers:
“For where there are two or three gathered into My name, there am I in their midst.” Matthew 18:20
When we gather with others into the Lord’s name, we find the Lord. I don’t mean hanging out with people who have a cross on their neck to go have fun. There is no filling of the Spirit in such an environment. We need to meet with others who are pursuing Christ, calling on His name (2 Tim. 2:22), and speaking for the building up of the Church (Eph. 4:29).