I’ve blogged mostly about why I believe that the Holy Spirit lives within the believer, but I don’t want to ignore an important implication of that belief: the Holy Spirit lives among believers, plural; unites believers and intercedes for believers and empowers believers to proclaim the gospel boldly. Plural. Plural. Plural.
When Ananias and Sapphira conspired to defraud the early church at Jerusalem and cheat the beneficiaries of that church’s generosity, the charges against them were not just fraud and cheating, not to Ananias:
Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.” ~ Acts 5:3-4
And not to Sapphira:
Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.” ~ Acts 5:9
Ananias and Sapphira, as nearly as we can tell (like every believer in Jerusalem) were the beneficiaries themselves of the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is no stretch of the imagination to understand that the same Holy Spirit within them – or at least among them – revealed their conspiracy and lie to Peter and the other believers.
Clearly, the Spirit is no One to be trifled with. Peter’s words to Ananias are clear: the lie was not just to human beings, but to God Himself.
It should not be a surprise that Paul links the Holy Spirit’s work to the unity of the believers, and advises them to maintain it in order to mature in Christ:
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. ~ Ephesians 4:3
Or that Paul describes how the relationship between Spirit and believer works in terms of unity:
But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit. ~ 1 Corinthians 6:17
Or that he cites it when encouraging believers to agree in humility:
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. ~ Philippians 2:1-2
And no wonder. Jesus’ prayer for unity – at the very table where one had separated himself to betray his Lord – describes His desire for that unity taking place by God being in us as well as us being in God:
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” ~ John 17:20-23
He has just spent the text of the previous three chapters punctuating His final mortal discourse with them with hints at how His Spirit would help and unite them from within – beginning with:
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. ~ John 14:16-17
So I think it’s clear as can be that the Spirit’s dwelling place within believers is also among believers. Where we have let Satan take us off-center with this is by believing the lie that our individual understanding of the scripture inspired by the Spirit is more important that our communal sharing of it.
But that’s where I plan to go in part two of this subject.