Throughout history men have tried to make a dwelling place for God. They have made Temples, stained glass Cathedrals, Church buildings, altars and numerous other places. Some go on pilgrimages to Lourdes, Toronto, Lakeland, Mecca and other destinations to find God or be blessed by God. God did come down and meet the people of Israel in the Tabernacle and in the Temple but our Lord Jesus taught that God would come and dwell in you. The book of Acts tells us that God does not dwell in temples made with hands.
It is a remarkable fact that our bodies actually become Temples. This is greater than any wonder in the world, God in you, it is mind blowing. After conversion the Holy Spirit comes to live inside you, you become His sanctuary, His dwelling place on earth. He doesn’t choose to live in palaces, in cathedrals but in your frail body. Beyond the flesh, blood, bones, sinews of our physical man there in is our soul, this is where He takes up His abode and dwells with us. Nothing compares with the grandeur of the Spirit – filled life. It is staggering and humbling, vast and intimate. His Holy presence within sinful nature, this is amazing. It is He who brings about the Christ like beauty in us producing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Gal.5: 22-23.) The Holy Spirit regenerates us, indwells us, seals us, and baptizes us into the body of Christ at conversion.
LOOKING FOR MANIFESTATIONS
Some Christians look for tongues, for healings, for power to cast out demons. In recent years some looked for laughter, other wanted to be slain in the Spirit, washed in the Spirit, others for power healing, power evangelism. They miss the whole point it is Jesus they should be looking for and manifesting His life.
WHOSE WE ARE
We no longer belong to ourselves but to Christ. He bought us out of the slave market of sin, redeeming us with His own precious blood. The price of our salvation was his blood. (Heb. 9:12-14, 22; 1 Pet. 1:18-19). We belong to him He is our new master. We are to submit our rights and will to His kingship and authority. The Holy Spirit witnesses with our spirit that we belong to Him, this brings assurance also. (Rom. 8:16) Now that we are His we are to ‘glorify’ Christ at all times and in everything. The Holy Spirit convicted us and brought us to faith and now gives us the power to honour God in all that we say or do. He is the Comforter and He stays with us in times of trial, heartbreak and difficulty, He enables us to meet adverse circumstances.
ARE YOU FILLED?
All believers are filled with the Holy Spirit at conversion. (Phil.1: 13-14) This filling is repeated many times in your life. Baptism of the Holy Spirit is a once for all action. (1 Cor. 12:13) However there is an anointing that we may receive for service, which we will explain in a later study. When your car is running out of fuel you go and fill it up again, this is the same with your Christian life; we need the Holy Spirit to fill us again. The scriptures never command to be baptized by the Spirit but do command us to be filled. You may have been filled yesterday or last week but that is not enough for today.
His filling ministry is an endless supply of inexhaustible spiritual strength. We can go back again and again and be filled; there is no system superior.
Eph.5: 18 ‘Do not get drunk with wine’. This kind of drunkenness leaves you out of control. Paul is not comparing but contrasting being filled with the Spirit and being filled with alcohol. Any experience you have that is so called spiritual and leaves you out of control is not the Holy Spirit. When people lose control it is an evidence they are not exercising the fruit of the Spirit. On the day of Pentecost the disciples were all filled with the Holy Spirit but not out of control they used their faculties along with the supernatural gift of languages to minister to the crowd. When alcohol gets into the blood stream it influences and leads us to unrestrained and irrational behaviour. It transforms the drunken person into an animal or someone out of control. Many times it produces immoral behaviour. Paul speaks with a command that Christians are not to be filled with alcohol but that we are all to be Spirit filled.
‘Be filled with the Spirit’ means to be under the control of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit does not influence our blood but our hearts and minds. He leads us to restrained and rational behaviour. Our mental faculties are enhanced not dulled. He doesn’t turn you into an animal or cause you to behave like an animal but into the image of Christ and to behave like Him. This filling is opposite to being filled with alcohol.
We are commanded not to be drunk referring to the drunken orgies commonly associated with pagan worship ceremonies of that day. Alcohol clouds the mind the Spirit clears the mind. These ceremonies were supposed to induce some ecstatic communion with the deities.
We are commanded to be filled (controlled) by the Spirit.
(Eph. 5:18) means: –
a) To fill up a deficiency
b) Be fully possessed
c) Be fully influenced
d) Be filled with a certain quality.
The word “Filled” (Pleroo) is an absolute, you are not partly filled but you are either in the Spirit or not in the Spirit. Maturity and growth are a process, but filling is absolute. You may be more mature but not more spiritual. You may be living in the flesh or in the Spirit. You may be living in obedience or disobedience. You cannot be filled with the Spirit and living in sin. We are to confess our sins.
Vs. 19 This communion with God causes us to be “Speaking to one another” (about Him His ways His works and spiritual matters to other). To sing psalms (Old Testament Psalms put to music), hymns (songs of praise) and make melody (pluck a stringed instrument, primarily instrumental music) in our heart to the Lord. This is not just public but private. The Lord is the source of a believer’s song-filled heart.
BE FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT
This is a command not a choice or recommendation. It is our duty to obey Christ’s command. It is not optional but obligatory. Surrounding the text the command includes speaking the truth in love, doing honest work, and be forgiving one another, to live pure live in love for Christ and others. If we believe we are filled with the Spirit and are not doing then we are fooling ourselves. This filling gives daily strength and constant renewal. The Spirit filled believer walks wisely and his Christ like character is evident. The believer needs to be Spirit filled in order to serve Christ.
- The verb is plural; it refers to the whole Christian community not just missionaries, pastors or leaders. It is not privileged reserved for an elite group but a duty for us all. If you are filled with the Spirit you will walk in the Spirit, you will be involved in serving God. Are you empty right now, do you need to be filled afresh? If so confess all known sin and ask God to fill you again this does not mean you will escape God’s discipline for sin but it does not hinder you in being filled.
- The verb is in the passive voice. Surrender or yield to the Spirit and let Him fill you. Hold back nothing surrender all to Him.
- The verb is present tense. It is a continuous action not a one off incident. If it had have been a once for all command Paul would have used the aorist tense.
We must continually come for the filling. When we are filled it will affect our attitudes, the way we live, what we say. You will have joy in your heart. ‘…that your joy may be full’. (Jn. 15:11) We would have more joy in our churches and not silliness in what passes for worship. Eph. 5:19-25. Internally you speak unto yourselves Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, is another way of knowing you are filled. You have poise and the fruit inside your life. Alcohol clouds your mind; The Holy Spirit makes it more lucid.
However remember the power or filling of the Holy Spirit is not an end in itself but a means to an end. The objective is to bring you to maturity and have you glorify Jesus Christ to the maximum. “When He is come He will not speak of himself but He will glorify me (Christ)” (Jn.16:14).
CONSEQUENCES OF BEING FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT
These verses summarise the immediate consequences of obeying the command to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
1. The first evidence is that we speak to each other. Have you stopped speaking to a brother or a sister? I know that some may be under discipline or unrepentant so commit them to God’s judgement. But in the ordinary day-to-day living are you speaking to each other? Do you need to go sort out a problem or a situation? You cannot claim to be filled with the Holy Spirit if you are not on speaking terms with fellow Christians. We are in communion with each other, which is public, and so our communication should be public.
2. The second evidence is ‘speak to one another in psalms (O.T. put to music), hymns (songs of praise) and spiritual songs (personal testimony).” We may not all be able to sing but we can communicate in some way what God means to us. For those of us who can sing let us be encouraged to do also to the glory of God.
3. The third evidence is internal “singing and making melody in your heart.” The Holy Spirit loves to glorify Christ in us. Paul exhorts us not to be silent but to have heartfelt worship.
‘Making melody in your heart’ means to pluck a stringed instrument; it can mean instrumentals as well as heart or vocal language. It has not just to be public but private ‘in our hearts’ when we are on our own away from the big crowd, the great meetings, it is in your heart you meet with God not in a place or certain atmosphere.
4. The fourth evidence is “always and for everything give thanks.” Most of us give thanks sometimes for some things. Spirit filled believers give thanks in all things, they see Gods providing, protective and providential overruling hand. This does not mean it is wrong to struggle with a situation or question why it happened but in the final analysis we leave it in God’s hands. We are to thank Him for His presence, His guidance, and His purpose in all things. When we start moaning, always complaining and groaning it is evidence that we are not filled with the Holy Spirit and that our attitude is wrong. Christ is the person we are to be thankful for. Do you give thanks to God? I don’t mean to run around saying ‘I love God’ you will not have to do that people will know by your life and attitude. Can you say a deep sincere thank you?
5. “Submitting to one another.” This is being humble to each other and preferring one another, it also is being submissive to leadership. This is a general duty to all Christians to each other. The hallmark of a Christian is not self-assertion or getting things your way but self – submission and self- denial. It is dying to self.
THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT Gal. 5:22-25
Outwardly by fruit you begin to manifest His fruit in your life. He controls how you live and how you act.
Love – This is the core from which the others come this is essential.
Joy – The deep sense of joy and hope regardless of circumstances.
Peace – Tranquility of mind and spirit, being at one with God.
Patience – To have a long fuse, not to explode prematurely.
Kindness – That act of giving yourself to those in need.
Goodness – To do right and good by all men unless they come under God’s discipline.
Gentleness – Just as you would mend a little bird with a broken wing, be gentle.
Self-Control – To have inner poise and ability to control thoughts and actions.
A PRACTICAL RESPONSE
The Holy Spirit impacts each of us in different ways. He knows our make-up, our talents, our gifts, our moods, our circumstances, our personality or lack of it. He is in the transforming business with the whole church as well as you individually. We should avoid two things, don’t judge the spiritually of another based on spiritual experience, don’t compare yourself with another. Christ is our standard. Every Spirit – filled believer is a humble servant not a proud, obnoxious person with an air of superiority about them.
WHY LIVE A SPIRIT FILLED LIFE?
“In the fear of God”, it is in reverence to God. This is the basis for submission. We do so because we love Him and want to obey Him. This does not mean we are to let people do wrong to us or be used as a doormat. However our attitude is to walk as Paul describes in Eph. 4:1-2 ‘humble, gentle, patient and bearing one another in love.’
HOW DO I KEEP WALKING IN THE SPIRIT
“Walk” means continuous action. It implies progress, growth and advancing in the Christian life. This is to be our habitual lifestyle. God never coerces your will. He designed you and knows what is best for you at each moment of your life. He has established clear policies for you so that you may fulfill His perfect plan for your prosperity and happiness. You benefit personally not Him. The filling of the Spirit is not all the plan but part of the plan. As you walk, progress, step by step, you make decisions about each step and you have a goal in mind.
Where are you walking to in life? God’s ideal is to go on to maturity and not to be tossed about mentally or spiritually by every wind of doctrine (Eph 4:14). You are going to make one of those decisions now. Sin disqualifies your walk and you lose the Spirit’s power.