"Be filled with the Spirit" (Eph. 5:18)
At the entrance to Maranatha Village, the Assemblies of God retirement center in Springfield, Missouri, there stands a beautiful sign that boldly proclaims: Spirit filled Living. No doubt, as pedestrian and motor traffic passes by, some may ask, "What do they mean by 'Spirit filled living?'' What 'Spirit' are they talking about? Are there benefits to this kind of living?"
I. WHAT "SPIRIT" IS THIS
When St.Paul exhorted believers to "Be filled with the Spirit?" (Eph. 5:18), he was speaking of God's Spirit, also called, "The Spirit of Christ" (Rom. 8:9). The Holy Spirit, is Almighty God! To be "filled" with His Spirit indicates control; He is in charge. In that case, we can confidently expect success, victory and joy. No wonder the Early Church depended on Him so much.
II. WHO MAY BE FILLED?
Paul wrote to Christian believers in Ephesus about being Spirit filled. Before their conversion, many of them were under the influence of evil spirits. This demonic control inevitably led to serious moral corruption and ruin.
Anyone who is filled with God's Holy Spirit becomes "The temple of God." God comes into the believer's heart to dwell therein. (Jn. 15:4; Rev. 3:20), and it is there, [in the heart] where in reality He is truly worshipped, adored and glorified. "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? (1 Cor. 3:16).
Let's take note of some individuals in the Book of Acts, of whom it was specifically said, "They were filled with the Spirit": Christ's disciples (Acts 2:4); Peter (4:8); Stephen (6:5; 7:55); Barnabas (11:24); Paul (13:9); and John (in Rev. 1:9). What dynamic, fruitful ministries these (and others like them) had! The secret? "They were filled with the Holy Spirit." (See Acts 1:8)
III. HOW MAY ONE BE FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT?
- Before the Holy Spirit can dwell in the life of a person, the individual must first be "born again." Jesus said, "Except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God" (Jn. 3:5; Rom. 8:9). The Spirit will not dwell in an unregenerate heart. But faith in Jesus, repentance, and a personal invitation to Christ to come into one's heart will qualify that individual for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
- After a person is saved, the Spirit of God abides with him. But there are subsequent infillings of the Holy Spirit that should be sought. Unfortunately, some fail to follow through with this spiritual progress. Jesus admonished His disciples (who had already received the Holy Spirit - Jn. 20:22), -- "Wait for the promise of the Father...ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost" (Acts 1:4,5,8). Paul taught believers to "Be filled [keep being filled] with the Spirit" (Eph.5:18). This leads to spiritual growth and maturity.
- It is Jesus who fills us with the Spirit. "He which baptizeth with the Holy Spirit...is the Son of God" (Jn.1:33,34). The closer fellowship we have with Him, the more Spirit filled we shall be. Jesus said, "I will send Him unto you" (Jn. 14:26; 16:7).
- A person must desire to be filled with the Spirit. "Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled" (Mt. 5:6). "Ho, everyone that thirsteth come ye to the waters" (Is.55:1). "If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink" (Jn.7:37). When my parents became converted they really thirsted after God, -- and they were gloriously filled. I witnessed their joy and wanted the same. God was gracious, and also filled me.
- We must make room for the Holy Spirit, by emptying ourselves of things that are a hindrance to God. A repentant, humble and dedicated heart, is always an invitation to the Spirit, to be free to do His will in our lives.
IV. BENEFITS OF BEING SPIRIT FILLED
- To the Philippians, Paul said, (Phil.1:9-11 NLT). "I want you to understand what really matters...May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation -- those good things that are produced in your life by Jesus Christ--for this will bring much glory and praise to God" (vss.10-11). The Holy Spirit produces this marvelous "fruit of salvation" in our lives.
- The fruit we need is listed in Galatians 5:22, 23: "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance." Actually, these are the characteristics that describe Jesus. Oh, to be like Him! They are duplicated in our lives by the Holy Spirit.
- A Spirit filled person is under His direction, protection and encouragement. The Holy Spirit becomes the personal Divine Executor of God's will for our lives. God said, "I have prepared it, I will also do, it" (Isa. 46:11). The Holy Spirit is sent to "do it" in us. This should be a comfort and encouragement to every believer. "He shall direct thy paths." (Prov. 3:3-6). In John 14 through 16, Jesus describes what the Spirit will do for us: "He shall...1. abide with you forever (14:16); 2. ...teach you all things (14:26); 3. ...bring all things to your remembrance (14:26); 4. ...testify of Me (15:26); 5. ...guide you into all truth...(16:13); 6. ...show you things to come (16:13); 7. ...glorify Me (16:14)." This ministry of the Spirit produces a successful Christain life.
- Being Spirit filled provides a believer with the luxury of living under the power, influence, and fellowship of Almighty God. No longer lonely, fearful, or confused; no longer afraid of the devil, -- because the Lord is with us. (See 1 John 4:4)
A few months ago, due to severe trials, I was quite despondent and wondered why the Lord had not answered my prayers. It was a low point in my spiritual experience. One night at about 2 AM, I was awakened and sat up in bed. Then suddenly, I felt God's Spirit speak to my heart, "Lo..." (and He got my attention), and then:, "I am with you." As I sat quietly for a few minutes, He repeated, "I am with you" (and then with added emphasis), "always." God wanted me to know, that even though I wasn't aware of it, He was fully cognizant of my situation, and was there all the time to help me -- His way. The Holy Spirit will minister to our needs.
I'm glad I live in a retirement village that emphasizes Spirit filled living. But regardless of location or circumstance, when we are filled with the Spirit, He is always present to help us. We would do well to heed Paul's advice: "Be filled with the Spirit." It means, to daily seek a continuous infilling. "Wait on the Lord...and He shall strengthen thine heart, wait, I say, on the Lord" (Ps.27:14). "Blessed are they which...thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled" (Mt. 5:6). Spirit filled living? It's the only way to go!
A translation of "Fred's Epistle to the Ukrainians."