Indwelt versus filled with the Holy Spirit. Is there really a difference? Wow. What a tough concept to grasp. This question came up during my weekly mom's Bible study at church. Well, from years of Bible study, reading lots of theology reference materials, and sitting at the feet (so to speak) of Godly women who mentored me, I have come to understand that idea of being "filled" versus being "indwelt" as two different things.
The moment we accept Christ's gift of everlasting life (acknowledge Him as Lord as Savior-confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord, believe in our Heart that He died for me, that He rose from the dead and is seated at the right hand of God) we become indwelt with the Holy Spirit. He is a He, not an it. He is the "counselor" our Lord Jesus spoke about in Scripture. He lives within us.
The tricky part is the idea of being "filled". I cannot take credit for the illustration I will share with you now but it helped me to understand the concept of being "filled" with the Holy Spirit.
Imagine that your life is like a house. You have a room for "friendships", a room for "parenting your children", a room for "your marriage relationship", a room for "work relationships",.... With each room, comes a door that you can open or close. When we live a life "filled" with the Holy Spirit, we allow the Holy Spirit access to each and every tiny square inch of our house. However, sometimes, we live our daily life with a few closed doors. Because of a arguement with our spouse, we may close the door of our "marriage relationship" so that the Holy Spirit cannot work to reconcile that damaged relationship. On another day (or week, month, or year), we may keep the door to our "work relationship" closed. This may be because we are having an emotional affair with a coworker or maybe we are harboring unforgiveness of a coworker that has seriously damaged our work relationship. When (hopefully, it is not IF) we let the Holy Spirit have access to ALL of the rooms in our life, then we can know we are living a Holy Spirit filled life. (Watch out for those dark closets too.)
The beauty of allowing the Holy Spirit access to all aspects of our life is that it can lead to serious spiritual growth. With spiritual growth always come hurdles to overcome though. Know that the Holy Spirit's job is that of counselor and teacher. We will eventually have to face that coworker we have not forgiven and ask their forgiveness. All of this begins and end with prayer though.
If you desire a life truly filled with the Holy Spirit, then develop a daily habit of Bible Study. During that Bible Study time, ask God to teach you what He wants you to learn. He is patient with us. He will slowly reveal areas in your life that need work. He knows what is most important for you and will walk you through each room as you allow Him too. You may even want to begin making a list of the "rooms" in your life and then pray for God's wisdom and guidance daily.
I hope that this word picture has helped make the concept of being filled versus begin indwelt a bit easier to understand. Blessings to each of you,