Be Filled with the Spirit
May 12, 2013 Series: Life in the Spirit
Topic: Holy Spirit Passage: Ephesians 5:18
Grace Community Church
May 12th, 2013
BE FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT
We're continuing in our series on the Holy Spirit and asking God to lead us into a greater understanding and experience of living our lives in the Spirit. So far we've learned that the Holy Spirit is fully God. He is in perfect unity with the Father and Son in carrying out the purpose and plan of God to redeem a people for Himself that He will dwell among and will worship and enjoy Him forever. Then we saw the essential role that the Holy Spirit plays in salvation. And last week Allen preached on holiness: both the effect and responsibility of those who are born of the Spirit.
Today we're going to look at the topic of being FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT. Let’s read Ephesians 5:(18)15-21: "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ."
My Testimony: I responded to the gospel when I was 13 years old. I grew up believing in God but had no foundational understanding of what that meant for me or of the gospel. Then one Sunday afternoon at a church lunch, Don Smith, a man I didn't really know that well, sat with me and began to explain the gospel to me. When He was done he asked me if I wanted to respond; did I want to live for Jesus. When I look back I realize that I still didn't understand the gospel, but something inside of me compelled me to say yes. And that day I put my faith in Jesus, I prayed and committed to live to Him.
A few months later I was baptized and later that day another friend, who was teaching me what it meant to follow Jesus, talked to me about the Holy Spirit. He told me that now that I was a Christian and had been baptized in water I should pray to be baptized in the Spirit. So I did. He prayed with me and I asked God to pour out His Spirit on me, to give me gifts and I asked that I would experience His presence and know that He was filling me. And He did. I became so overwhelmed with joy that I couldn't talk. I was smiling and doing this weird laugh/cry thing. I was so overwhelmed by God's amazing love for me and I felt the joy of being in His presence. And then I began to speak in tongues.
I don't exactly know how to describe it but I believe it was the Spirit of God in me expressing gratitude and worship for the joy I was experiencing; joy that I couldn't describe with the English language. I was overwhelmed with the Spirit of God. This experience of the Holy Spirit, and many others through the years, have encouraged, strengthened and propelled me in my Christian walk. I may not be able to describe it well and I may not be able to convince everyone that this experience was real. But no one will ever be able to convince me that it wasn't real. I experienced, in a tangible way, the reality of God’s love and acceptance of me as a result of His presence.
What does “Be filled with the Spirit” mean?
So here's the question, what should we call that experience? I was told I was baptized in the Spirit. Some might say I was filled with the Spirit? Is this what Paul is describing in Eph. 5:18? There's a lot of debate, confusion and differing teachings about this subject. The experience I described in my testimony is an example of the Spirit of God acting upon me in a particular and significant way and scripture says that God does this and we should desire these encounters. But I don’t believe this is what Paul is teaching in Ephesians 5:18.
I grew up with a Pentecostal understanding of the Spirit which says that after becoming a Christian, a second experience of the Spirit is necessary for full Christian life and ministry-a baptism of the Spirit-then we continue to seek "fillings" with the Spirit. This, I found out years later, is what I was taught. This "Pentecostal" understanding tends to view "being filled with the Spirit" as a series of outward, experiential events.
What I believe now, after holding my previous understanding up to scripture, is that we are "baptized in the Spirit" upon regeneration (1 Cor. 12:13) and "being filled with the Spirit" is a daily activity of walking in faith and obedience…that will at times lead us to emotionally experience the joyful effects of the presence of God in our lives. To show this we’re going to start by looking at verse 18 in context of the whole book.
Context: The book of Ephesians is about the eternal plan of God to restore and reconcile all things to Himself through Christ and to unite a people to Himself from all nations and to each other in the church. All this was accomplished through the power and sovereignty of God-Father, Son and Holy Spirit-and is received by faith alone through grace. And in light of all this, Christians are to live lives that gratefully, humbly and powerfully reflect the great Lord that they were saved by and now serve.
Our text is found in the second half of the book; the part where Paul is telling us how to live. Chapter 5 starts out with “Be imitators of God (how)…walk in love (how)…as Christ loved us…” Live in a way that identifies us as His. Then Paul describes what this isn’t-sexual immorality, covetousness, filthiness, crude joking, etc. All these are out of place for the Christian. You’re free from these, no longer living for the prince of this world. Live for Christ.
And then in verse 15 Paul says, “look carefully how you walk” (live), gives an illustration of comparison (don’t be drunk, be filled with the Spirit) and he describes what our lives should look like. Then at the end of chapter 5 and into 6 Paul takes this command and applies it to specific relationships. Imitate God as husbands and wives, children and parents, servants and masters.
Holy Living: God’s great plan and power in your life should have an all consuming and pervasive effect on every area of your lives. And verse 18 is nestled right in the middle of Paul teaching on how we the redeemed of Christ should live. This means that Paul’s command to be filled with the Spirit is inseparably connected to holiness and holy living. (Not salvation but sanctification)
The reason this is so important for us to see this is that I believe this verse and others like it have been misunderstood and misapplied in ways that have become a hindrance to our growth and maturity, which is the opposite of Paul’s aim. If we get this backwards, we end up sitting on our back sides, struggling with temptation and giving in to sin, asking God to fill us so that we can change. And when it doesn’t happen we get discouraged, lose hope and blame God for not showing up. And often give up and give in to sin which diminishes the effect of the Spirit in our lives. When the reality is, the exact opposite is true. It’s already done. That’s what the first half of Ephesians is all about.
Yes, we were dead in our sin, slaves to this world. Yes, we needed help; we needed something outside of ourselves to rescue us. But we weren’t praying; we were children of wrath, unconcerned and unable to save ourselves. Yet before we were, the Father knew our need and in love and mercy, had already purposed to send Jesus to die on our behalf. And Jesus forgave us and broke the power of sin our lives; He adopted us as His children and folded us into His family, the church; and gave us His Holy Spirit as a seal that all this is real.
The Battle: The Spirit of God in us makes us holy (Christ) and He leads us to live holy lives because we still live in flesh and sin remains. There’s a battle-the war has been won but the battle in our heart rages because now we have the Spirit which is against the flesh. And Paul says, “Get up! Jesus did the hard work, you’re free but you need to fight, resist. He ends the book in chapter 6 using the language of war: Be strong, armor of God, stand firm, resist, withstand, keep alert. This isn’t couch potatoes language, it’s a call to action.
When Paul says “Be filled with the Spirit” I don’t believe he has a charismatic worship & ministry service in mind. He’s saying: imitate God, walk in love, lay down your life, walk carefully, walk wisely, know the will of the Lord-don’t live the way you used to live when you were dead; “put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” Paul is commanding us to keep living in accordance with the nature of the Spirit that we have received. And this isn’t a new concept in scripture; examples:
• Ezekiel 36:27-And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
• Galatians 5:16-But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
• 1 Corinthians 6:19-20- Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
• 1 Thessalonians 4:7-8- For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore, whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.
I’m not against charismatic worship and ministry and I want us all to experience the active presence of God. But if we skip holiness and holy living, we can begin to treat the Spirit like a shiny object, a novelty or a tool to use as we want. We begin to live for and hope in the experience of the Spirit instead of Jesus; which is why we have the Spirit-to point our eyes to Jesus, to remind us of the promises of Jesus, to teach us how to live for Jesus, to be the guarantee that we belong to Jesus.
How are we to “Be filled with the Spirit?”
We can’t. This is an odd command. The verb “be filled” is in the present passive tense. Paul is commanding us to do something that is done to us and is continually happening. A more literal translation might be: “keep on being filled with the Spirit” or “be being continually filled with the Spirit”. Or we might go as far as, “be living in the fullness of the Spirit that is in you”. Look at the comparison with wine.
“Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit”. Just as too much wine influences in a way that leads to sin and unholy living, we are to be “influenced” by the Spirit which will lead to obedience to God and holy living. The effect of being drunk is a lack of self-control leading to a life of debauchery; the effect of the being full of the Spirit is self-control and love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, [and] gentleness” (Gal. 5:16-17, 22-24).
We know how to get drunk on wine, you drink it. How do we stay “filled with the Spirit”?
• Romans 8:5 “Those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit”.
• Col. 3:1-2 “Set your mind on the things that are above…seek the things that are above”.
• Phil. 4:8 “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
• Phil. 3:3 “Put no confidence in the flesh”
• Gal. 6:8 “the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”
The things of the flesh are not just blatant sexual immorality- starts with small things, what are you feeding mind, heart- music, movies, media, habits? Does your intake produce holiness, imitating god, the fullness of the Spirit of God?
We stay filled with the Spirit by seeking the things of the Spirit, directing our attention to the things of the Spirit, being devoted to the things of the Spirit. Remember, this isn’t mysterious-The Holy Spirit is God. These are the things of God we’re focusing on. And the effect of the Spirit filled life is Joy, Gratitude and Humility. Look at verse 19-21 “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs [This doesn’t mean that life is one big musical], singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ,”
This may not have been the message you hoped for or expected when you heard “Be filled with the Spirit” but I believe that there is a wonderful upward spiral of blessing that occurs when we start here. Let’s not be those who don’t want to fight; who expect the blessing without the work. God has already proved that He is the initiator in our relationship; He saved us, forgave us, freed us and gave us the Holy Spirit which empowers us to overcome sin and to be filled with joy and to be bold witnesses of Christ.
As we fight our flesh, battle temptation and live Holy lives in the power of the Spirit, we grow in the Spirit; we cultivate a love for the Spirit. When we obey, we experience joy and peace, which causes us to love God more and desire His ways more and as this spiral moves upward we find that we’re being changed. Our taste for sin diminishes and our love for God grows. And this pleases the Lord, who loves to shower His presence and goodness on His people. And He will.
One last thing, in Luke 11:13 Jesus said to his disciples, “If you then who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” If we want to be filled with the Spirit we must pray for it. And that is just what Paul does for the Ephesians in chapter 3, verse 19. He asks his Father in heaven (v.14) that the believers “might be filled with all the fullness of God.”
What is it to be filled with the Spirit? To be filled with the Spirit is to daily live our lives in utter dependence on the Spirit of God, being empowered by the Spirit, having our minds set on the Spirit, and praying for more of the fullness of the Spirit in our lives.