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The Indwelling Spirit

by R H Boll

Editor's Note-- This appeared in the June 1917 Word and Work-- in Bro. Boll's column "Words in Season."

Jesus Christ, throughout all His earthly life, was wholly under the dominance of the Holy Spirit. He was begotten of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 1:18) ; at His baptism the Spirit descended and abode upon Him; the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness to be tempted; in the power of the Spirit He returned to Galilee; by the Spirit He spoke and taught and did His mighty works; all His virtues and graces which the disciples had beheld were but “the fruit of the Spirit" (John 14:17; Gal. 5:22, 23) ; and by “the eternal Spirit He offered Himself without blemish unto God." (Heb. 9:14). From the first to the last the Spirit of God possessed ,swayed, directed Him, and He is the perfect Example of the Spirit-filled life. This, I think, no one would dispute. Now for a question: Could any man duplicate the life of Jesus, or live a life that really resembles His—unless that man were also filled, swayed, and dominated by the same Spirit that controlled Jesus? For (to quote again) “that which is born of the flesh is flesh"— a common, natural human be1ng. Now “the mind of the flesh is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be. And they that are in the flesh cannot please God." Clearly then a man “in the flesh," cannot live the sort of life Christ lived. “But," the word of God goes on to say, “ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you (Rom. 8:7-9). A true life then, a life after the likeness of Christ’s, is possible only if the Spirit of God dwells in you. That the Spirit so indwells in every child of God is clear from Gal. 4:6; 1 Cor. 6:19; 3:16, and other scriptures. And that too, marks the line between the church and the world, the saved and the unsaved. For “if any man hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” (It must be noted here that the expression “the Spirit of Christ” is not to be taken in the accommodated sense of “the disposition of Christ” which is sometimes attached to it: the context shows that the Holy Spirit Himself is meant.) By this indwelling Spirit they “put to death the deeds of the body” (Rom. 8:13), and in no other way can this be done.


From all this it is very evident that to call upon unregenerate men to follow Christ’s example and pattern, is to ignore fundamental differences. It mocks the ruin of man; nay, it denies (and it is the intention of those teachers to deny) that ruin and helplessness of the flesh, and the necessity of a new birth. It flatters the pride of the fleshly man, and deceives him with a glorious dream of his own possibilities of self-development. It urges the careful cultivation of thorns and thistles until they bear grapes, the trimming and pruning of the corrupt tree, until it bears good fruit; the development of the flesh until it brings forth the fruit of the Spirit—all of which is out of the question.

-R H Boll, Words in Season, June 1917

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That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:10