|SPIRITUAL WARFARE: Will The Holy Spirit Indwell An Unclean
HIS GLORY REIGNS
Aug 5 2008 08:00
The Christians who ask this question, like those who ask whether believers can ever need deliverance from demons,
usually imply by their tone that the answer obviously must be No!
Contrary to many people's thinking, however, the answer to the question is Yes. The Holy Spirit will dwell in a vessel
that is not totally clean, provided that He has been given access to the central, controlling area of human personality:
One unchallengeable example of this is provided by King David. According to the record of II Samuel 11, David was
guilty of the sins of adultery and murder. First he committed adultery with Bathsheba; then he procured the murder of
Bathsheba's husband, Uriah. Undoubtedly David was grossly defiled by these two sins. Yet when Nathan the prophet
came to confront him with his sin, he repented. Later, in bitter anguish, he prayed to the Lord, "Do not take Your Holy
Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your Salvation" (Psalm 51:11-12).
The wording of David's prayer is significant. He asked God to restore to him the joy of his salvation, but not to restore
the Holy Spirit to him. Rather, he asked God not to take away His Holy Spirit. David had lost the joy of salvation and
prayed for it to be restored, but he had never lost the presence of the Holy Spirit. Amazing as it seems, even through
the sins he had committed, the Holy Spirit had remained with him.
Because God had not withdrawn His Holy Spirit, David was still able to repent. Without the Holy Spirit's urging, he could
not have repented. On the other hand, if David had rejected the Holy Spirit's prompting, then God would almost
certainly have take the Spirit from him.
This is clear, scriptural evidence that in certain cases, the Holy Spirit will indwell an unclean vessel.
Every born-again, Spirit-filled Christian needs to thank God for this demonstration of His mercy and grace. Without it
few of us would have any hope that the Holy Spirit would remain with us. Adultery or murder are not the only sins that
can defile us, as Jesus made clear in Mark 7:21-23:
covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: all these evil things
come from within, and defile the man."
Let us focus for a moment on five of the sins in Jesus' list: evil thoughts, covetousness, deceit, pride, foolishness. I
(Derek Prince) have been associated with Christians for more than fifty years and I cannot think of one to whom I could
point and say with confidence, "This person has never been guilty of any of these defiling sins." Certainly I would not
claim that for myself.
Yet God in His mercy does not take His Holy Spirit from us. He continues to indwell us, defiled though we are, but at the
same time He pleads with us constantly to repent. I am grateful that the New Testament does not paint an idealistic,
unrealistic picture of Christians!
The Continuous Struggle against Sin
Paul challenged Christians to a life of separation and holiness:
UNCLEAN THING; AND I WILL RECEIVE YOU, AND WILL BE A FATHER UNTO YOU, AND YE SHALL BE MY
SONS AND DAUGHTERS, saith the Lord Almighty." II Corinthians 6:17-18
But immediately afterward Paul continued, "Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves
from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." (II Corinthians 7:1).
Paul said, "Let us cleanse ourselves." God will not do the cleansing for us. We are responsible to do it for ourselves.
We must use the means of grace He has provided: We must confess our sins, repent, and meet God's conditions for
forgiveness and cleansing.
Note, too, Paul's words "Let us cleanse ourselves." Great apostle though he was, he included himself among those who
needed cleansing. Nevertheless the Holy Spirit continued to indwell Paul and the Christians to whom he was writing,
even though they were not yet fully cleansed.
Paul was uncompromising about God's standard of holiness, but equally clear that he had not yet attained it. In
Philippians 3:12-15 he described his personal pursuit of holiness:
for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one
thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reach forth unto those things which are before, I press
toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect,
be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you."
Each of us can do no better than follow Paul's example: acknowledge our need of cleansing, reach out to God for it and
then press on to attain the standard God has set before us.
Our intentions should not be to lower God's standards of holiness: they are forever fixed and unchangeable. But we
need to be honest and realistic about the degree to which most of us have succeeded in attaining to those standards.
The teaching that every area of a person's life must be totally clean before the Holy Spirit will indwell him may produce
one of two undesirable consequences. It may deter some sincere believers from seeking the infilling of the Holy Spirit,
since they say to themselves, I'll never be able to reach that standard. Or this kind of teaching may pressure others
who have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit into a form of self-righteous hypocrisy. Their reasoning goes
something like this: I must have been perfect to have received the Holy Spirit, so now I've got to go on being perfect all
The result is a make-believe Christian lifestyle. Such people still lose their tempers but now they call it righteous
indignation. They still criticize their minister or their fellow Christians but they call it discernment. They still overindulge
their physical appetites but they justify it by saying, "All things are lawful."
We need to remember that the Holy Spirit is also the Spirit of truth. He is pleased when we are honest about ourselves,
even though it hurts our pride. Conversely He is grieved when we hide behind a religious front.
You may ask, "Are you implying that God has no requirements for those who receive the Holy Spirit?" Certainly not.
But we need to be clear as to just what they are.
The Divine Requirement
In the book of Acts we see a divine precedent: the experience of the Gentiles in the house of Cornelius who received
the Holy Spirit when Peter visited them (see Acts 10:24-48). These were not Jews seeking to follow the Law of Moses.
They were Gentiles, and this was probably the first time any of them had heard the Gospel. Yet the Holy Spirit fell on
them and they began to speak with tongues. It would be unrealistic to think that every area of their lives had been
brought into line with God's standards by this one experience, or that they were totally free from the defilement of their
Gentile background. Yet Peter commanded them to be baptized, thereby acknowledging their right to become members
of Christ's Church. Speaking of this experience later, Peter said, "[And God] put no difference between us and them,
purifying their hearts by faith." (Acts 15:9).
Here, then, is the essential requirement for receiving the Holy Spirit: a heart purified by faith.
Solomon counsels us, "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." (Proverbs 4:23). All that we
do and the way that we live spring from one source: the heart. It is characteristic of God's practical nature that His
redemptive purposes begin with the heart. Once He has purified the heart, He works outward from there with His
sanctifying grace, until He has brought the whole personality under the control of His Spirit.
Does this happen immediately? Listen to Hebrews 10:14, "For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are
sanctified." To describe the sacrifice of Jesus, the writer uses the perfect tense: He has perfected. It is finally and
forever complete. Nothing needs to be added to it and nothing can ever be taken away from it.
In describing the work of sanctification, on the other hand, the writer uses a progressive tense: They are being
sanctified. Becoming holy is a stage-by-stage appropriation of what has already been made available to us by the
sacrifice of Jesus. In this process the Holy Spirit (as His title indicates) is our Helper.
The Holy Spirit is realistic about our failings. He gently points out our mistakes and sins, and helps us to
change. At times He may powerfully convict us, but He never condemns us.
This realism about the continual struggle of Christians against sin is presented forcefully in the New Testament. In
Hebrews 3:13 the writer says: "Exhort one another daily...lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of
sin." Again in Hebrews 12:1 the writer speaks about "the sin which so easily ensnares us." And in verse 4 he says,
"You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin."
Dealing with sin is a life and death struggle. It is not shameful to acknowledge that sin is still at work in our lives. On the
contrary, our great danger lies in refusing to acknowledge it, which leaves us unprepared to resist temptations when
they do come.
If the Holy Spirit were to wait until we are perfect to take up His dwelling within us, it would be like a professor saying to
his students, "I'll start teaching you when you have passed your exams." His students would respond, "But professor,
that's not what we need! We need you to start teaching us now, so we'll learn what we need to pass our exams."
It is now that we need the Holy Spirit, so that we may have His help available to us continually to overcome the power of
evil and to attain to God's standard of holiness. One particular area of conflict in which we need the Holy Spirit's help is
in dealing with demons. The Holy Spirit does not withhold His help if He discerns that there are demons within us. On
the contrary, He sees our need more clearly than we do ourselves, and He empowers us to expel them. Because He
has compassion on us, He is willing to take up His dwelling within us, and to work with us to establish Christ's victory
over all the power of the enemy. Our progress depends on the degree to which we cooperate with the Holy Spirit within
The Holy Spirit does not come to indwell us because we are already perfect. He comes to help us so that we may
Certainly the Holy Spirit will not help us in our struggle with demons if we intend to continue living in sin. But if we
recognize our sins and sincerely repent, He will fight with us against the demons that enslave us. With His help we will
be able to expel them and be set free.
They Shall Expel Demons, by Derek Prince, Copyright 1998, Chosen Books.
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