This Sunday we continued our series in Ephesians, you can view the sermon here.
Being filled with the Spirit = Letting the word of Christ dwell in you richly = Abiding in Jesus.
This Sunday, our sermon began unpacking how to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 5:18 is a command from God through the pen of the Apostle Paul. God always gives us commands for our good. As the one who drinks the wine and becomes drunk is under its influence, we are responsible to obey the command to be filled with the Spirit and continually under His influence.
Compare Scripture With Scripture
Is there another place in Scripture we can compare with the context of Ephesians 5:18 and the results of being filled with the Holy Spirit in verses 19-21?
Colossians 3:16 is another passage where the results of Paul’s command result in our being thankful, singing, and encouraging one another. There the command is to let the word of Christ dwell in us richly.
As we are responsible to be filled with the Spirit, we are likewise responsible for the words of Christ dwelling in us richly. The results are the same. To be filled with the Spirit we must immerse ourselves in the Scriptures, the word of Christ.
Apart from Scripture, it is impossible for us to be filled with the Holy Spirit or for Him to work in us and through us. Jesus calls the Holy Spirit the Spirit of truth, and in His beautiful prayer in John 17 He says God’s word is the truth. The Bible can never be separated from the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit does not separate His work from Scripture.
Therefore, if we are to obey the command to be filled with the Spirit we need to live in the Bible. Paul captures this with the word dwell. Our dwelling place is our home. It is a place we are comfortable with and know very well. I’m reminded of a quote from Charles Spurgeon, “Visit many good books, but live in the Bible.” In order to be filled with the Spirit, we need to know Scripture. This happens through memorization and meditation.
More than Bible Reading
Reading our Bible is essential for the Christian life. This is where we need to start but we must go deeper than that.
Meditation is somewhat of a lost art in our day. To meditate on Scripture means we think about it with intention, with the purpose of thinking through how it applies to my life today.
Psalm 1 is a key passage for meditation. The blessed person meditates on God’s word day and night. This is not an occasional activity but a continuous one, as the command to be filled with the Holy Spirit is a continuous command. Meditation makes us strong in our faith and keeps us from following the course of this world.
Meditation is a means to let the word of Christ dwell in us richly. Without this intentional effort, we will not get what God wants us to get from His word.
One More Passage
John 15 is a wonderful passage. For many of us, it is a familiar one. Jesus tells His disciples that He is the vine and they are the branches. There is a vital and living union between Jesus and His disciples. So much so that Jesus tells us that apart from Him we can do nothing.
In John 15:7 Jesus makes the statement, “if you abide in me and my words abide in you.” A key part of abiding in Christ is His words abiding in us. If we remain in Christ His words will remain in us.
This is similar to allowing the word of Christ to dwell in us richly. Jesus’ words must abide in us if we are to abide in Him. If we want nothing to do with His word we will have a much harder time abiding in Him, indeed it is most likely impossible.
One and the Same
We end where we began.
To be filled with the Holy Spirit means the word of Christ dwells in us richly. It means that we are abiding in Christ and in His word. We cannot separate Christ from the Holy Spirit as we cannot separate the Holy Spirit from Scripture.
As Sinclair Ferguson put it; filled with the Spirit equals the word of Christ dwelling in us richly equals abiding in Jesus.
These three together provide a summation of how we live the Christian life in a way that glorifies God. They are one and the same. You cannot have one without the other. If we do not have the words of Christ richly dwelling within us then we are not filled with the Spirit. If we are not filled with the Spirit we are not abiding in Christ as we should. They work in unison and in beautiful harmony.
The main action many of us will need to take from this is to meditate on Scripture. We need to live in Scripture more than we live in any other book. Without the intense, practical thinking about Scripture, we will not be filled with the Holy Spirit
The good news is we can all do this. We have Scripture and it is clear. God has revealed Himself because He wants to be understood. The Bible is clear.
We have the Bible and the Holy Spirit living within us. It brings the Holy Spirit delight to use Scripture to make us more like Christ. As we meditate we need to ask for His help. This is a prayer we can count on being answered.
The result of our meditation will be that we are filled with the Spirit and can pursue Christ-likeness in every situation God brings us to.
May we all be like the Psalmist and meditate on God’s word continuously.