Each Christian is to be filled with all the fullness of God, with His Spirit, and with Jesus Christ. God indwells within Christians when those believers abide in love for God is love (1 John 4:16). Christians know the love of Christ by Jesus’s selfless sacrifice (1 John 4:9–10). Thus, the love of God has been poured into the hearts of Christians through the Holy Spirit (Rom 5:5–8). God’s love is completed in believers when Christians love one another, and by love, Christians dwell in God, and God in them (1 John 4:12–13). That love compels and controls the believer who judges, “that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again” (2 Cor 5:14–15).
The first of the fruits of the Spirit is love (Gal 5:22–23). Only by Christ’s sacrifice can anyone really know love and be compelled by love. “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16; cf. 1 John 5:1-3). Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13).
When God indwells by love, Christians gain their strength. God is able “to strengthen through His Spirit into the inner person, to abide the Christ through the faith in your hearts being grounded and settled in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph 3:18–19).
God’s Indwelling by Love
Christians know that they are in God when they keep His word, and thereby the love of God is completed in them (1 John 2:5). Jesus taught that God the Father and Christ dwell within those who have Christ’s words and keep them (John 14:23). When believers receive the Word of God, the Truth, then the Word works within those who believe (1 Thess 2:13; cf. Col 3:16). By that Truth in the New Covenant, the Spirit transforms believers into the image and glory of Christ (2 Cor 3:6, 18; 4:4). Believers are transformed by the renewing of their minds (Rom 12:2). “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Rom 8:5–6). Therefore, the Spirit and Christ must dwell within each Christian to give each believer life (Rom 8:9–11; cf. 1 Thess 4:7–8).
Indwelling from Being Born of the Spirit
The transformation of the Spirit by the Word begins in each believer when that person is born again of water and the Spirit (John 3:5). A believer’s soul is purified in obeying the truth through the Spirit having been born gain through the Word of God (1 Pet 1:22-23). This is when the Word first began to work within each believer (1 Thess 2:13). Because of God’s love, believers are made alive and are saved by grace when each is raised with Christ from being dead in one’s trespasses (Eph 2:4-6). For a believer to be raised with Christ, that person must first die and be buried with Christ. For the Gospel that saves everyone is the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ (1 Cor 15:1–4).
That love of Christ’s sacrifice compels and controls believers to die with Christ (2 Cor 5:14–15; cf. Gal 2:20). Christ’s Spirit teaches that for the believer to be raised with Christ, then that person must first have died to sin and been buried with Him in baptism (Rom 6:3–7; Col 2:12–13). Therefore, each believer is born again through the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Pet 1:3), and therefore “baptism now saves you” “through the resurrection” (1 Pet 3:21). The Spirit teaches, “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5).
“The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him” (2 Tim 2:11, cf. Rom 6:8).