[social_share][powerpress]I’ve been a Christian for a long time, and I’ve been “in the ministry” for almost 20 years. As I’ve grown older both spiritually and physically I’ve learned some things along the way. One of the things that I’ve learned spiritually is that somehow we have managed to make the Christian life seem very complicated. We have somehow taken what God meant for our good and turned it into a burden. What ever happened to the simple gospel? Well the gospel is simple, meaning that everyone can grasp the fundamentals of the gospel. The complications arise when we try and live out the gospel. Let me rephrase that, the complications arise when we try and live out the Christian life apart from the gospel.
Such is the case when it comes to really what is vital to our lives as believers and that is the filling of the Holy Spirit.
For the last two weeks we have been trying to gain an understanding of the Holy Spirit. Understanding is necessary if we are going to obey God’s command for each and every one of His children to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
Our study began with the acknowledgment that if we as a church are going to reach our goals, if we are going to move forward we must move forward in the power of the Holy Spirit. But we must not limit the filling of the Holy Spirit to one or two areas of our lives. No, we must be filled with the Holy Spirit if we are going to successfully walk as God would have us to walk.
Last week we examined who the Holy Spirit is, and asked a very important question; do we really believe that the Spirit of the Living God actually lives in us to enable us and empower us to live as we were redeemed to live. I hope you have given that some very serious thought. It’s so easy to hear a message but not let the message have it’s full impact. Especially in our information saturated world, where we are constantly bombarded with information, we must make a conscious effort to focus on those things that are of eternal value. Being filled with the Spirit, and becoming like Christ, and walking like Christ are certainly matters of eternal importance.
This week our goal is to learn how are we filled. What does it mean to filled with the Holy Spirit?
Let’s begin this morning by listening to some wise words from Dr. MacArthur. Writing in his commentary on the book of Ephesians he says.
“Apart from the truth in verse 18, which is the heart of Paul’s message, the book of Ephesians would appear to be legalistic. Every exhortation he gives would have to be fulfilled through the power of the flesh. Believers would need to rely on their own resources and strength to follow the great road map of the Christian life that the apostle presents in chapters 4-6—and would, of course, find themselves completely deficient. Christians cannot walk in humility, unity, separation, light, love, and wisdom apart from the energizing of the Holy Spirit. To walk without the Spirit is to walk unwisely and foolishly (see vv. 15-17). We can “be imitators of God, as beloved children” (5:1) only as we are filled with the Spirit (cf. John 15:5).with the Holy Spirit, what does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Apart from being filled with the Holy Spirit the Christian life becomes very complicated as we struggle to figure out how we are supposed to live out the instructions that we find in God’s word. But if we can come to an understanding of what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit we find that we can un-complicate the Christian life.
There are two commands in verse 18. One is negative command, meaning there is something that we must not do. The other is a positive command, meaning there is something that we must do.
The negative command is simple, straightforward and clear. Don’t get drunk. Don’t yield control of your body to alcohol.
The positive command is simple, straightforward and clear. Do get filled with the Holy Spirit.
The question is how are we filled with the Holy Spirit? Before we examine how we are filled let’s examine an important word. That would be the word “filled”.
The word filled has nothing to do with contents or quality, as if we are empty and need a spiritual fill up. Unfortunately that is how many people understand the filling of the Spirit. With the best of intentions that pull into God’s heavenly gas station and asked to be filled with the Spirit. Yes the Bible does instruct us to ask to be filled with the Spirit, and God the Father has promised to give the Holy Spirit to those who ask. But the meaning of being filled again has nothing to do with the content or the quality.
Again I’d like to quote Dr. MacArthur. The Greek work translated as filled is “pleroo”.
“Pleroo connotes more than filling something up, as when someone pours water in a glass up the rim. The term was used in three additional senses that have great significance for Paul’s use of it here. First, it was often used of the wind filling a sail and thereby carrying the ship along. To be filled with the Spirit is to be moved along in our Christian life by God Himself, by the same dynamic by which the writers of Scripture were “moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:21). Second, pleroo carries the idea of permeation, and was used of salt’s permeating meat in order to flavor and preserve it. God wants His Holy Spirit to so permeate the lives of His children that everything they think, say, and do will reflect His divine presence. Third, pleroo has the connotation of total control. The person who is filled with sorrow (see John 16:6) is no longer under his own control but is totally under the control of that emotion. In the same way, someone who is filled with fear (Luke 5:26), anger (Luke 6:11), faith (Acts 6:5), or even Satan (Acts 5:3) is no longer under his own control but under the total control of that which dominates him. To be filled in this sense is to be totally dominated and controlled, and it is the most important sense for believers. As we have already seen, to be filled with the Spirit is not to have Him somehow progressively added to our life until we are full of Him. It is to be under His total domination and control. This is in direct contrast to the uncontrolled drunkenness and dissipation in the worship of Dionysius that was alluded to in the first half of the verse.”
To be filled with the Spirit is synonymous to being controlled by the Holy Spirit. As we think about the person who is drunk they are under the control of the drink. People who are drunk act in strange ways. In a similar way the Christian who is filled with the Holy Spirit will act in a way that seems strange to others.
Think back to the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came and filled the believers on that day. What did the watching crowd say? They accused them of being drunk, they said they are filled with new wine!
To filled with the Holy Spirit means that we are being controlled by the Holy Spirit. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit our thinking is changed, and of course our actions are changed.
But how does the Holy Spirit control us? I think this is where many Christians start to become a little nervous. They are not sure what the Holy Spirit will “make them do”, maybe they have seen some of the actions of people who claimed to be filled with the Spirit and they want nothing of it. And rightly so. But when you are tempted to think that way remember that Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit, and he never engaged in those things that many want to ascribe to the Holy Spirit today.
Always remember this, that the Holy Spirit is never, will never lead you to do something that is outside of the boundaries of the Word of God. Never, never, never! That’s is why it is so dangerous to claim that God is leading you to do something that is outside of His word or contrary to His word.
So how then does the Holy Spirit fill us, control us? How can we know that we are truly being filled by the Holy Spirit? Let’s drop down and read verse 19-21
“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.”
The cliff notes version of what Paul is saying is this. The evidence, the proof if you will, the results of being filled by the Holy Spirit is revealed in the way that we relate to one another. Remember what I said in an earlier message. The filling of the Spirit isn’t primarily -if ever – so we can do miraculous things today like raising the dead and drinking poison. God gives us His Spirit so that we can properly live out the ordinary common events of life. God gives us His Spirit so that we can have peace and harmony with our families both physical and spiritual.
When we are thankful, joyful, and putting the needs of others before our own needs that is the evidence that is the proof that we are filled with the Holy Spirit. When we examine our relationships that Paul is going to deal with later in the book they are indicators of whether or not we are walking day by day, and moment by moment under the control of the Holy Spirit.
Conversely when we are at odds with our family, our friends, or our co-workers that too is evidence that we are not walking by the Spirit. When we are not living with joy, or we continually lack self-control that too is evidence that we are not walking by the Spirit.
When these characteristics are found in our lives that indicates that we are filled with the Spirit.
To complete our understanding of how we are filled with the Holy Spirit or how we are controlled by the Holy Spirit we need to look at a passage in the book of Colossians.
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. “ Colossians 3:16
Notice that the results of letting the word of Christ dwell in us richly are the same as when we are filled by, when we are controlled by the Holy Spirit. What is the word of Christ? The Scriptures, when we allow the Scriptures to dwell in us richly, it effects the way that we relate to one another. It effects the way we relate to our families, our church families, our friends and our co-workers.
What conclusion can we draw from comparing these two passages? The filling of the Spirit, to be controlled by the Spirit is accomplished as we allow the word of Christ to dwell in us richly. In other words the Holy Spirit exerts His control in us as we do what? As we submit ourselves to the Scriptures, as we obey the Scriptures.
Now I ask you is there anything mystical about that? Is there anything complicated about obeying the Scriptures? Obedience may be hard and painful at times but it is not complicated!
Therefore you cannot separate the filling of the Holy Spirit from the Word of God.
Armed with this information, and I encourage you to go home and compare these two passages of Scripture, to take some time to meditate on them. Take the time to become fully convinced of this yourself. This is such an important truth that I want you to wrestle with it, and to come to grips with it. When you do one thing will become very evident to you and that is the absolute necessity of you having a working knowledge of the Scriptures.
Let’s walk through this. If it is impossible to live as Christ calls us to live apart from the filling of the Holy Spirit, if we are commanded to be filled with the Holy Spirit, if the filling of the Spirit is synonymous with letting the Word of Christ dwell in us richly, and if the Word of Christ is synonymous with the Scriptures then we must have a working knowledge – not a complete knowledge – but a growing knowledge and understanding of the Scriptures. Then we can obey the command to be filled with the Spirit as we submit to the authority of the Word of God. Our submission is demonstrated by our obedience.
In our study of the book of Ephesians the word “walk” plays a dominant role. Thinking about the process of walking with help us understand the filling of the Holy Spirit. How do we walk? We walk, and we can only walk as we take one step at a time. Or to quote the Texas Ranger Le’beouf in True Grit “I only take one step at a time, that’s why God gave me two feet..” To be filled with the Spirit is similar to walking in that you can only take one step at a time. Being filled with the Spirit is our moment by moment obedience to the Scriptures. Every thought, every word, every decision, every move we make we make by submitting ourselves to the Word of God.
Dr. MacArthur writes:”To be filled with the Spirit is to live in the consciousness of the personal presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, as if we were standing next to Him, and to let His mind dominate our life. It is to fill ourselves with God’s Word, so that His thoughts will be our thoughts, His standards our standards, His work our work, and His will our will. As we yield to the truth of Christ, the Holy Spirit will lead us to say, do, and be what God wants us to say, do, and be. “We all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18). Christ consciousness leads to Christ likeness.”
Finally consider this, it is not simply hard to accomplish God’s will for your life apart from the Holy Spirit. It’s not hard, it’s impossible. You can try and try and try and all you will do it wear yourself out. But if you will submit your will to the Father’s will, if you will take in the words of Christ and let them guide you then the Holy Spirit will control you so that you can accomplish the will of God, so that you can become like Christ and yes, so that you can experience the blessing of Christ. It is not an understatement to say that an understanding of the filling of the Spirit is absolutely critical to your success of failure as a Christian.[/sws_author_bio_ui]