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Sunday, September 20, 2015

Be Filled

Almost every Christian knows that we are supposed to be filled with the Spirit. Somehow that phrase seems to get lost. Some think "That happens at conversion, so I'm done." Others think, "Oh, no, you need a special work of filling for that to occur." In Ephesians we read, "And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit." (Eph 5:18) Yes, we get it. We're supposed to be filled with the Spirit. Note, however, what it says. We think we can be full of the Spirit. You know, "Been there, done that." Either we did it at our rebirth or we did it at our "baptism of the Holy Spirit." But the verb tense in that verse is present imperative -- an ongoing, present tense command. That is, "Don't stop now." You see, we're leaky containers and this is going to be a task in which you must engage for the rest of your life.

Being filled with the Spirit is important. "Walk by the Spirit," Paul says, "and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh." (Gal 5:16) Further, "If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law." (Gal 5:18) Good stuff. We know that "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." (Gal 5:22-23) Being filled with the Spirit is essential to Christian living. And it is not a one-time or even two-time deal. It is ongoing and imperative.

The question remains. How? How do you get filled with the Spirit ... on an ongoing basis?

Here's what we can see in the Word.

The Holy Spirit is a gift. Jesus said, "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you." (John 14:16-17) That is first and foremost. You can't earn Him or grasp for Him and obtain Him. He is given. But there is more in Scripture. Jesus said, "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?" (Luke 11:13) Seems silly to have to say it, but it's right there. Ask. In one of Peter's sermons he says, "We are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him." (Acts 5:32) It doesn't happen to people unwilling to submit, unwilling to obey. Obey. In his epistle to the church at Galatia, Paul asks, "This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?" (Gal 3:2) Seems simple, but it does require active faith. Believe.

I noted one other interesting reference on the subject. It is the rest of the sentence I started with from Ephesians 5. Look at the whole sentence.
Do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. (Eph 5:18-21)
Well, now, that's more content than before, isn't it? "Be filled with the Spirit," he says. How? One aspect is in our interaction with each other -- "Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs." Another is our constant self-talk -- "making melody with your heart to the Lord." How do you talk to yourself when you're alone? That way? A critical aspect is an attitude of gratitude. Don't let the rhyme throw you. The point isn't to be catchy. The point is to say that it isn't being grateful, but to be grateful "for all things" ... in the name of the Lord. Then there is that final one, one many of us find distasteful. "Be subject to one another." It is predicated on "the fear of Christ" (which seems to be another thing many of us find distasteful). That is, "I fear Christ, so I am willing to submit to my brothers and sisters in Christ." All of these are elements for exercising the process of being filled with the Spirit.

It is a command. It is important. And it is continuous. Leaky vessels can't afford to quit being filled, and we leak like sieves. If you are going to experience victory over "fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul" (1 Peter 2:11), it will be key. If you're going to please God, it will be essential (Rom 8:6-9). And it will be ongoing. Here, think of it this way. If you're busy spending your time doing all that we've seen here from Scripture in order to continuously be filled with the Spirit, you won't have time to be sinning.


Bob said...

i guess i get confused by what i hear from other faiths, they imply that when i am filled with the spirit i will experience some type of ecstasy, or i might start speaking in tongues. this kind of information does serious damage to my brain. Yes i want to be filled with the Spirit every day. but i think i will set aside the pursuit of special experiences. there are many counterfeits out there. so simply , i will pursue God and trust that He will fill me daily with his Spirit.

Stan said...

It's interesting. The harm of those false concepts is two-fold. On one hand they offer a false "filling". "Just follow these easy steps," they tell you, "and you can experience the 'baptism of the Holy Spirit'. Oh, you didn't experience it? Must be a lack of faith." Yes, it's always "experience". Unfortunately, it's apparently a rare experience. So people get discouraged. "How do I fix my faith?" or "Perhaps the Holy Spirit isn't real at all." On the other hand, the conclusion is often, "Oh, no, we don't do anything at all. You can see this in the failure of the 'baptism of the Holy Spirit' teachings of that other crowd. No, it's just a one-time thing."

On one hand, then, we get discouraged and even give up on the filling of the Holy Spirit because we don't experience it the way they say we should. On the other hand we fail to see that we ought to be doing things (ask, obey, believe) on an ongoing basis to be (on an ongoing basis) filled with the Spirit.

You know, that sure is a clever error from that side, isn't it? Undercuts the Spirit either way. I wonder who would be clever enough to produce such a devious deceit?

Bob said...

here is a case where contradictory experiences can confuse the mind.
i read the word every night, and i get the warm feeling that the lord will never forsake me.
so like a little kid, i go to sleep knowing the lord is watching over me. then i have this dream that i am a criminal breaking into someones house and stealing there stuff. and the Cops are chasing me. What? dreams and waking hours are part of life. but what if your dreams contradict the word? should i believe the experience? should i start dream counseling?
this is a case where i must trust that God will Complete what he has started and not be moved by other experiences. maybe this is not quite on track, and yes i am sure i do need some serious counseling. just trying to compare our experience against the Word. and how even when our experience differs , God is still true. i know that the Spirit is in there somewhere...

Stan said...

Strange how experience can be the thief of truth.