His Indwelling Presence – Part 2

[In part one we considered “His Indwelling-Our Positional Sanctification”]

“By that will [God’s will] we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” [positional/spiritual] (Heb. 10:10).

“For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified [experiential/practical] (Heb. 10:14).

II. His Indwelling–Our Experimental Sanctification


The Spirit who has come to indwell us is the sustainer, transformer, renewer of the life He has imparted to us. He abides in us as the Holy Spirit of God to bring His holiness to full fruition. To that end He seeks a vital relationship with our inner processes of thought and aspiration, as intimate and interpenetrating as that which our human spirit enjoys. From within He works a transformation that is not only moral and spiritual, but intellectual, affectional, volitional, yes, practical.

His aim is this: having secured to us such a wonderful Position, He is setting about to produce in us a correspondent Condition. The necessary transformation is of a twofold nature, for the meeting of our twofold problem:

  • negative, to the overcoming of sin in the life;
  • positive, to the developing of Christ-likeness of character.

The Shorter Catechism states it thus: “Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.”


He delivers us from it. He gives us victory over it. What took place when we believed upon Christ? We were born again; born of the Spirit; we received a new nature…. Did the self-life cease to exist?[1] God’s Word is emphatic in teaching that the sin nature never dies short of glory. If it did, we could never sin again. The only source from which we could draw our thoughts or acts would be the new life in the Spirit; but that never sins (I John 3:9). If the case were otherwise the fact that any one sinned would prove that he was not born again. Who then could establish his spiritual birthright? The Scripture rebukes such a position in severest terms: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us … . If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us ” (1 John 1:8, 10).

The Scripture does assert our dual nature, resulting in an inner, spiritual conflict: “The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would ” (Galatians 5:17).[1] This teaches:

  1. that the flesh persists after the Spirit comes to indwell;
  2. that the two are separate and opposing entities, “the one” contrary to “the other “;
  3. that the one checkmates the other, resulting in a life of defeat.

The way out is in the verse preceding: “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh ” (Galatians 5:16). It is not in the death of the flesh but in the dominance of the Spirit over it. The life that draws its every aspiration and motive for action from the Spirit leaves the flesh to atrophy in inaction, in inability to have its way.

We must turn now to Romans. Immediately someone reminds us that Paul taught that the intent of our identification with Christ in death is “that the body of sin might be “destroyed ” (Romans 6:6). But any Greek scholar will tell us that that is just what it does not teach. The word is “work” with the alpha privative before it: un-working, inoperative, out of a job.[2] We step up to a door bell to ring it and read: “Bell not working.” The bell is there, but something has happened to make it un-working. It does not respond. Temptation steps up to our door and knocks, as formerly. But while the “body of sin” is within, it does not respond for it is “not working” [when we yield to the Holy Spirit].

In Romans 7 the inner conflict between flesh and spirit is depicted in a scene of mortal agony. Not only is there hopeless deadlock–hopeless to the human “I ” -but a sense of desperation in which the victim cries: “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Another name for “the body of sin”). Be it noted, he does not ask for sin to be destroyed or done to death; he asks to be delivered from it. Deliverance from death! And how? By the dominance of life.

That deliverance, that new dominance, comes at once–Romans 8, when the Holy Spirit is introduced as indwelling the life, taking charge of its interests, taking over the conflict for which the [independent] “I” had proved all insufficient. In the glad exultation of realized deliverance comes the cry: “The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death ” (Romans 8:2). The Holy Spirit, become the law,” (the ruling, controlling, dominating principle) by His indwelling presence, is in all reality the Spirit of life, freeing us from the control, the domination of sin and death.

And now, just as we have seen that Positional Sanctification is grounded in the finished work of Christ for us, so likewise is Experimental Sanctification. The work of the Spirit has its roots in, and grows out of, the redemptive work of our Lord Jesus Christ. He, as it were, checks upon its treasured resource and makes its values our own in victorious experience. “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit ” (Romans 8:3, 4). Christ has made it no longer necessary, nor even logical, for us to follow the dictates of sin; and when we cease to heed the promptings of the flesh, choosing rather to heed the behests of the Spirit, He, the blessed Indwelling Spirit, leads us out into a life of assured victory.

One thrills with the exultation of freedom from enslavement, of victory over defeat, as we follow, step-by- step, the unfolding story (Romans 8:5-25) only to find ourselves gripped and carried on to the glorious climax of the chapter, sharers in a sweepstake victory over every force in the field:

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord ” (Romans 8:35, 37-39).

“Separate us from … Christ ?” No, indeed, for by the Indwelling Spirit we have entered into the inseparable life. In it we have found both delightful deliverance from sin and unspeakable satisfaction for the soul–separated from it and unto Him. Thus the practical expression of Sanctification is in a life of Separation.

This phase of Sanctification is carried over in to the Epistles to the Corinthians and there developed more fully. These Corinthian Christians were confronted with every form of evil in the society surrounding them, evil that made a strong bid for freedom to enmesh them in its toils. It is even so with us. Evil is not only in us but also around us. The two are kin, responsive; they tend to “get together.” But the Spirit indwells us as the Spirit of Separation. And He separates by a twofold appeal. He both restrains from evil and constrains to a life set apart to Himself. Having repeatedly reminded the Corinthians that they are the indwelt temple of God (I Corinthians 3:16, 17; 6:19, 20), each time using this fact as an appeal for a holy life, separate from sin, He finally comes to a supreme entreaty, based upon the same fact, for a life that can make experimental proof of this endearing relationship:

“And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty ” (II Corinthians 6:16- 18).


This double demarcation of the Christian life, because the indwelt temple of God, is clearly and beautifully denoted by the two walls of separation in the Tabernacle. The outer, court wall separated from the world without; the inner, house wall separated unto the Presence within. And again, they depict the interrelation of the work of Christ and of the Spirit in a life of separation and sanctification. The court, particularly by its altar of sacrifice, portrays Christ’s work for us, and our POSITION in Him. The house, setting forth the abiding Presence and the abiding life, portrays our POSSESSION in the Spirit.

Thus Positional and Experimental Sanctification conspire in a double urge to a life of separation. These two elements are present at every marriage altar, sanctifying the home as a doubly set- apart life. The husband’s vow runs: “Forsaking all others, cleave lovingly and loyally to her, and to her alone.” So also the wife ‘s, it is a separation from and unto. And the ideal home, the truly safe and happy home, is one where the “from” has less and less need of emphasis and the “unto” becomes increasingly ascendant. This is the compelling secret of the home–the unfailing, sanctifying presence of the dear one who indwells it. What is the home without that presence? And what but an empty mockery, destined for the divorce courts, the marriage bond that ceases to respond to it!

Not otherwise is it with the Spirit’s covenanted presence in our hearts. As “separated from” is the negative side of sanctification, so “separated unto” is its positive side. The one always has the other in view, and alone makes it possible. To this latter, then, we naturally turn next.


Part 2 of 3

From HIS INDWELLING PRESENCE: Intimate Studies in the Things of the Spirit, by Norman B. Harrison, D. D. Pastor, Bible Teacher and Evangelist (1928). CHAPTER FOUR: HIS INDWELLING–OUR SANCTIFICATION.

[1] The author is affirming that the flesh (“self-life”) continues in the believer as a hindrance to holiness. Agreed. And also the world system and demonic influences conspire to tempt the believer to sin. Harrison uses traditional terminology, Did the old nature die?, and mentions “sinful nature” as a general term for the flesh/world/devil influence which Romans 7:17 describes as “sin that dwells in me.” However, we recommend using more precise terminology. The believer does not have two co-equal “natures.” The regenerate human spirit is the “new man”, but the mortal body still has the old patterns and vulnerabilities that tempt the believer to “walk according to the flesh.” For further discussion, see the articles on definitions of old nature, old man, flesh, etc. – “Does the Believer Have Two Natures?”

[2] katargeō “to render idle, unemployed” (as in Heb 2:14).

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Honorable Mention

International Discipleship Literature has published The New Life booklet in several foreign languages. They are available for download at their web site:


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