The Indwelling Word

The goal is for the Word to live within you.

Receive the Word (1)

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly… Colossians 3.16

The living Word
The Bible explains that it is a living thing: “For the word of God is living and powerful…” (Heb. 4.12). The words of Jesus are Spirit and life (Jn. 6.63). Of course, the Bible does not live or is not life in a physical but a spiritual manner, which is more important at any rate.

The Bible, which is the Word of God, is alive with spiritual prospects, promises, possibilities, and power. And the Apostle Paul calls us to let that living Word live within us richly.

Can this really happen? Can the very Fount of spiritual life, the Word of God, live within us? Live within us richly? So that its power and life pervade and transform every aspect of our lives? How can this be so? What can we do to realize this indwelling presence? And what should we expect as a result?

These are the questions I intend for us to explore in this series on receiving the Word of God.

Where the Word must dwell
As a thing of spiritual life and vitality, the Word of God must take root in spiritual soil, that is, in our soul. The human soul consists of three overlapping, fully integrated, and wholly cooperative entities, each of which is spiritual and not material in nature. God intends that His Word should dwell richly in every aspect of our soul, and throughout our soul in its entirety.

The first component of the soul is the mind. The mind is that sector of the soul that manages information, thinking, logic, ideas, imagination, and the like. The mind receives input in the form of words, ideas, thoughts, analogies, images, and so forth. With our minds we analyze, categorize, compare, sort, store, assemble, and recall information of all kinds. The Bible, consisting of words, teachings, doctrines, stories, and images, is perfectly suited for establishing residence within our minds. We should expect, therefore, that one aspect of the Word’s coming to dwell within us will involve the ways it impacts and shapes our minds, and the extent to which it provides the template and parameters by which the mind does its work.

God intends for His living and powerful Word to dwell richly in our mind.

The second component of soul, and in many ways, the most important, is the heart. “Heart,” in Biblical parlance, refers not to the fleshly pump which moves the blood about in our bodies, but to a spiritual sector of the soul which is the seat of our affections. “Affections” include attitudes, loves, emotions, hopes, desires, and aspirations. The heart is the commanding facet of the soul; as Solomon insisted, from the heart – what we feel, love, long for, fear, desire, and so forth – flow all the issues of life (Prov. 4.23). The Word of God exerts spiritual power on our heart, shaping, improving, nurturing, and deploying our affections so that, over time, we grow to have what God described David as possessing, a heart for God (1 Sam. 13.14).

God calls us to let His Word dwell richly in our heart.

The final component of the soul is the conscience. This is where the will resides, where our values and default priorities are lodged. The conscience coordinates thinking and affections into decisions, choices, and plans for action. When our conscience is good (1 Tim. 1.5), that is, when our priorities and choices line up with God’s living and powerful Word, our actions follow suit. When the Word of God dwells in our consciences, then we know how to will what God would will, so that we may walk as Jesus walked.

God teaches us to sink the pillars of our conscience into the solid Rock of His Word, so that it may dwell richly there.

The living Word alive in our soul
God intends that His Word should dwell richly within our soul, constantly reviewing, impacting, nurturing, affecting, improving, and transforming our thoughts, feelings, and priorities. And to help ensure the firm planting and full flourishing of that Word in our souls, God has sent His Spirit also to dwell within us, to make us willing and able to receive the Word of God (Phil. 2.13), to teach it to us, and to bring it to bear with living spiritual power on every aspect of our life.

As we let the Word of Christ dwell richly within us, the Spirit of God works with that Word to transform us into the image of Jesus, bringing forth fruit, gifts, and power, in words and deeds that allow us to live as witnesses to Christ for the glory of God (2 Cor. 3.12-18; Acts 1.8; 1 Cor. 10.31).

God has done His part to ensure that the Word of Christ can dwell in us richly. It remains for us to “receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls” (Jms. 1.21)

For reflection
1.  The Word of God is a living spiritual power. But is this real power? Explain:

2.  How can we tell when the Word of God is beginning to “take root” in our soul?

3. Is it possible to “guard” our soul, so that the Word can take better root there? Explain:

Next steps – Preparation: How grows the garden of your soul? What are you presently doing to plant the Word of God in each aspect of your soul? Can you see any areas where you might improve in this? Share your thoughts with a Christian friend.

T. M. Moore

You can learn more about God’s covenant and why it’s so important by ordering I Will Be Your Godfrom our online store (click here). For a deeper study of God’s covenant, order the workbook, God’s Covenant, from our online store (click here).

To learn how God’s covenant defines the shape of Scripture, and guides our approach to understanding and using the Bible, enroll in the course,
Introduction to Biblical Theology. It’s free and online, and you can study at your own pace or with friends. To learn more and to register, click here. This week’s study is Part 3 of a series on The Word of God, and is available as a free download by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT. 

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