Is there a litmus test for knowing whether the Holy Spirit is dwelling in us? John provides more understanding of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling in the believer and the love that they share for the brethren. The way we express love may differ from culture to culture but the fact we show it or not is the tell-tale sign of the indwelling Spirit.
DWELLING IN GOD AND DWELLING IN LOVE (1 John 4:13-16)
A beautiful reality about Christianity is that there are both internal and external proofs of God’s work in people’s life. Internally God witnesses to us by the Holy Spirit “because he hath given us” (vs. 13). We are not asked to believe without receiving anything. We can know that God dwells in us because He promised to give us the Spirit as a gift or expression of His love towards us.
While we cannot see we were there to see Jesus alive we do have the ability to still “testify” (vs. 14) that God gave us the Savior. We can see the transformation that takes place in people’s life’s when they come to Christ in faith. This is a powerful testimony of the presence of God in us.
The promise of the indwelling of God by the Spirit is for “whosoever” (vs. 15). By coming to Christ in faith, one must confess that Jesus is the Son of God. This belief is evidenced by our dwelling in love that is of God. “God is love” (vs. 16) speaks of a different type of love that exists that is only from God. Those that believe in the Son have experienced this love and dwell in it.
WHAT LOVE DOES (1 John 4:17-21).
The love of God is an internal proof to the believer that the Spirit is indwelling in them. It is evidence of the inward work that is taking place. Through Him, our love is made “perfect.” This does not mean a sinlessness but a maturing or completeness of our love toward God and the brethren. The outgrowth of the love is confidence toward the day of judgment.
The day of judgment may sound like a fearful thing, but the believer does not have to fear it. This is because there is “no fear in love” (vs. 18) We fear rejection and abuse of trust if we love too much. Love for God, on the other hand, casts out that fear and brings us to complete trust in Him because we understand that “he first loved us” (vs. 19).
The love of God also brings the believer to see external proofs of the spirits indwelling. The obvious evidence is that we also love the brethren. It is easy to love one that we have seen but if we do not then how can we “love God” that we “hath not seen” (vs. 20)? If we do not feel compassion and love towards the people of God, then the love for God is also missing. This is because we have the command to those that love God to “love his brother also” (vs. 21).
BELIEVE, LOVE, OVERCOME (1 John 5:1-5).
We are “born of God” (vs. 1) when we believe in Jesus through the work of the Spirit. All those that are born of God share a likeness with the Heavenly Father in that we love our Christian brethren because God is love. If we say we love God and truly do then Scripture others will “know that we love the children of God” (vs. 2).
The world believes that being a Christian is an old-fashioned way of life. That is it boring and full of rules. The reality though is that God’s “commandments are not grievous” (vs. 3) or hard. This is because we do not try to live them on our own. It is by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit that we “overcometh the world” (vs. 4) by faith. Those that “believeth that Jesus is the Son of God” (vs. 5) are overcomers of the world’s temptation and the pursuit of an ungodly love.