It’s important that we start by stating that there is a difference between being ‘indwelt’ with the Spirit and being ‘filled’ with the Spirit.  One is totally the work of the Lord, the other is largely up to the believer. 

Every believer is indwelt with the Holy Spirit.  It was on the day of Pentecost that the Holy Spirit came down to fill every believer.  We read in Acts 2:1-4, “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”  At this time, which was the birth of the church, all believers not only were indwelt with the Spirit, all were filled with the Spirit.

This is the unique characteristic of the church.  Prior to this day, the Holy Spirit would come and go as He pleased.  He would come upon people at times, but He would also leave.  Old Testament believer had no promise of the continual presence of the Holy Spirit.  In fact, as David confessed his sin to the Lord, he prayed, “Cast me not away from thy presence; and TAKE NOT THY HOLY SPIRIT FROM ME.” (Psalm 51:11).  This is not a prayer that believers today need pray.  In fact, we are assured in Ephesians 4:30, “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby YE ARE SEALED UNTO THE DAY OF REDEMPTION.”  Yes, we may grieve the Spirit, but we cannot grieve Him away.  We are sealed unto the day of our redemption of our bodies.  (Read Romans 8:23).

  • Ephesians 1:13, “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.”  All believers receive and are sealed with the Spirit at the moment of salvation.
  • 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”  The Holy Spirit baptizes all believers into the body of Christ, the church.
  • Romans 8:9, “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”  If a person is saved, he has the Holy Spirit.  If a person does not have the Spirit, he doesn’t belong to Christ…he is not saved.

I think these verses are enough to show us that all believers are indwelt with the Holy Spirit.  But, how about being filled with the Spirit?  As I stated earlier, the responsibility to be filled with the Spirit is given to the believer.  Ephesians 5:18 instructs us, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but BE FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT.”  In contrast to being filled with alcohol, we are told to be filled with the Spirit.  In contrast to allowing alcohol to control us, we are told to allow the Spirit to control us. 

To be filled with the Spirit, we must be empty of self!  The Lord Jesus said in Matthew 16:24, “If any man will come after me, let him DENY HIMSELF, and take up his cross, and follow me.”  To deny oneself, literally means to disown one’s personal will, or to abstain from fleshly desires.  To be filled with the Spirt, we must be empty of self. 

  • To be filled with the Spirit will produce boldness for Christ.  “And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.” (Acts 4:31). 
  • To be filled with the Spirit will produce peace in the harshest of circumstances.  As Stephen was being stoned to death, we read, “But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.” (Acts 7:55-56). 
  • To be filled with the Spirit will produce in us the characteristics of the Spirit.  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23). 

Yes, it is possible for a true believer to go through life and never be filled with the Spirit.  May that not be true of you or me.  May we empty ourselves of our own desires.  May we be faithful students of the Word of God and obey its teachings.  May we truly allow the Lord to be Lord of our lives.  As we read in Galatians 5:25, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”  (CC)  (511.2)