Question: Can Christians with unforgiven sin still have the Holy Spirit inside? Do we have to ask for forgiveness first to make “room” for the Spirit?
In the first question, the answer is really in the question. I decided to put these two questions together because I believe they have the same answer. First, let’s look at what it means to be a Christian.
In a day and age where there is a war on defining terms I think it’s important to understand why. If you think the confusion in the world is all about things like gender identity or right and wrong, you’re sadly mistaken. The devil doesn’t care about all that. What he is trying to do is cause confusion because confusion is opposite of God. God is a God of surety and answers, God gives the ability to have faith or confidence. The devil loves when people are confused because it causes instability.
What is a Christian? The suffix “ian” means belonging or relating to or you could say, of. Therefore a Christian should be of Christ or belonging to Him. The Bible tells us in John 8:31 (NASB), “So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, ‘If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine.’” A disciple of Christ or one who learns and follows His teachings is a Christian. But Jesus also said in John 3:3, that you must be born again. We refer to this as salvation. But what does that really mean?
When asked about this very thing in Acts 2:38 (NASB), Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Salvation requires that we recognize we are sinners and that we need a savior to save us, and that Jesus is that savior. We then repent of our sins for that forgiveness. Pay close attention to the end of that verse. Once a person is born again, they receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
The only way to receive the Holy Spirit is through salvation. When we are saved, provided we continue to trust in God for that salvation, we remain in that place. At the point of being born again we receive as much of God’s Spirit as we will ever get. He is not a substance that increases and decreases, He is a Person, He is God. That being said, one of the things He does in us is fill us. What that filling is, is the key here.
What does God fill us with? He fills us with grace, He fills us with love, He fills us with goodness. He fills us with His fruits (Galatians 5:22-23). But what if we sin? We don’t lose God’s Spirit because we sin, but sin fills us with other things. The more full of those things we are, the less room there is for God to fill us with His good things. This is precisely what we see in Ephesians 5:18. This is a perfect verse for this subject. “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.” Here, being “filled with” literally means to be filled by means of. In other words, be filled with what His Spirit fills you with, not unfruitful things.
If you are truly a Christian, the fullness of God’s Spirit dwells within you. He isn’t a half in and half out God. Yet He still allows us to decide if we want His filling or our own. Romans 8:11 (NASB) says, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit wants to give us His kind of life. He wants to fill us completely but sin will hinder that filling and thus that kind of life.
This is precisely why when I hear of someone who claims to be a Christian yet openly and willingly embraces a sinful lifestyle, I have my doubts. Why? Because if God’s Spirit is truly in someone (and He is in all true Christians), then they will have a desire to be filled with God’s good things. This does not mean they won’t sin or miss it, but a true believer cannot just practice sin without remorse. How can I say that? Because God isn’t a half in half out God! Sin in a true believer cannot be comfortable to them. The Bible says that the flesh and spirit war against each other!
So, the fullness of God’s Spirit is in us if we are His. Jesus promised us that His Spirit would also remain forever. If we sin, we no doubt will feel the need to repent if we have not calloused our spirits. This is a beautiful gift we’ve been given, the Holy Spirit. We should make the most of the fact that God wanted to set up camp inside of us. Let’s allow Him to fill us just as He desires to do!