Elon, North Carolina
We are studying the Book of Ephesians and are in chapter five. This is one of the most practical sections of the whole book. It deals with practical Christianity where the rubber meets the road. It deals with how to live the Christian life at home, in your marriage and on the job. Our topic for today is the filling of the Holy Spirit.
Every Christian needs to know what the Bible says about the filling of the Spirit. The great tragedy of the church today is that many Christians are not filled with the Holy Spirit and do not know much about it. Many Christians are not Spirit-filled, at least not on a regular basis.
You can be baptized and not be Spirit-filled. You can be a Christian for forty years and not be Spirit filled. You can get a degree from a seminary and not be filled with the Spirit. You can be a church leader and not be Spirit-filled.
If you are not filled with the Holy Spirit, you have no power to live the Christian life. You have no power to resist sin. You have no power to minister. You have no power to use your spiritual gifts the way God intended. You have no power to witness. You have no power to be a godly husband or a godly wife.
The filling of the Holy Spirit is found all through the Bible. It is in the OT. It is in the NT. Ephesians 5:18 is the one passage in the NT where it is commanded for Christians. What exactly does it mean to be filled with the Spirit? What does that look like? What do Spirit-filled believers do?
There are many false ideas about the filling of the Spirit. Some charismatics teach that if you do not speak in tongues, you are not filled with the Spirit. Jesus was filled with the Spirit. Luke says that He was “full of the Spirit” (Luke 4:1). Jesus said, “The Spirit is upon me because he has anointed me to preach” (Luke 4:18). John the Baptist was filled with the Spirit. The Bible says he was filled with the Spirit before he was even born (Luke 1:15) but neither one of them spoke in tongues.
Paul wrote most of the NT. He mentions the filling of the Holy Spirit only one time and that is here in Ephesians 5 and he doesn’t say anything about speaking in tongues in this chapter. You don’t have to be a Pentecostal to be filled with the Spirit.
On the other hand, you can be filled with the Spirit and speak in tongues. The filling of the Spirit has many different manifestations.
Acts 2:4 says, “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit” (NIV).
Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied (Luke 1:67 NIV).
“They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly” (Acts 4:31 NIV).
What does it mean? Let’s begin with what the verse says and make a few observations.
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18 ESV).
Two things clearly stand out in Ephesians 5:18 when you first read the verse.
1) The COMPARISON
The Holy Spirit is compared to alcoholic beverages. Liquid spirits are compared to the Holy Spirit. That seems a little strange. For many, wine has a negative connotation. How can the Holy Spirit be compared to sin (drunkenness)? Why would Paul ever make such a comparison? We will find out.
2) The COMMANDS
These are commands, not suggestions. God does not say, “It would be a really good idea if you do this. It will greatly help your spiritual life.” These are not suggestions. Ephesians 5:18 has two commands to obey.
There are two of them. Don’t be drunk with wine and be filled with the Holy Spirit. The first command is negative (Don’t be drunk with wine). The second command is positive (be filled with the Holy Spirit).
Both are binding today and both are important. We take the first one seriously. We wouldn’t want people staggering into church completely drunk. That would be terrible but many people in church are not filled with the Spirit. In some cases, it is even the church leaders and it is not a big deal. It is the normal way of doing things in some churches.
Do Not be Drunk with Wine
The first command is not to be drunk with wine. Why did Paul have to tell the Ephesians this? He told them this because believers COULD get drunk with wine. We can fall into any sin. We do not become sinless after salvation. Abraham lied. David committed adultery. He also committed murder. Peter cursed. He swore. Noah got drunk. Lot got drunk. None were immune from these sins and they were believers. In fact, some of them were mature believers. Noah walked with God for six hundred years before this happened.
Notice what Paul did NOT say. He did NOT say, “Don’t drink wine.” Many Baptists today say, “Don’t drink wine.” That is part of other religions as well (e.g, Mormons., Muslims). Paul said, “Don’t be drunk with wine.” Paul was not a Baptist. He was a Jew.
Many believe drinking alcohol is a sin. Many say if you are a follower of Jesus, you should stay away from all alcohol and give all kinds of reasons, but Paul drank wine. Jesus drank wine. Wine was part of Jewish culture. They drink wine at Passover. Jews drink wine at weddings and still do to this day. Jesus’s first miracle was to turn water into wine.
It is embarrassing in some churches to admit that this was Jesus’ first miracle. His first miracle was an act of creation. He could have turned water into any drink (e.g., sweet tea) but He turned it into wine but not just any wine.
He turned it into really good wine, what the master of the banquet called “the best wine” (John 2:10) and He made a lot of it. There were six huge water pots full of water turned into wine. Scholars tell us that these six water pots contained up to one hundred and fifty gallons of water. One hundred and fifty gallons would be about seven hundred and thirty bottles of wine.
The rule for deacons is that they not be given to much wine (I Timothy 3:8). The same qualification is given for people who want to be elders (I Timothy 3:3). Not only are Christians allowed to drink, so are church leaders. They are just not to drink too much of it. That is rarely preached today in churches. What the Bible condemns is drunkenness. The Bible says some strong things about drunkenness.
The Bible on Drunkenness
1. Drunkenness is a serious sin
The Bible calls drunkenness a sin. The world calls it a disease. It calls it a disorder. Mental health professionals call it “alcohol abuse disorder” (AUD). God calls it sin. The world calls it “substance abuse.” Alcoholics just have an addiction. God calls it “a work of the flesh” in Galatians 5:19-20. Paul calls it “a deed of darkness” in Romans 13:12-14. Some may be more susceptible to it genetically but there is also a choice involved.
2. Drunkenness has serious consequences.
It has consequences in this life. It has serious consequences in the next life.
In this life, drunkenness has physical consequences (cf. Proverbs 23:32-35). It is linked to over two hundred diseases and health issues.
It has financial consequences. People have lost their job because of their addiction to alcohol.
It has social consequences. It causes marriage problems and family problems.
It has societal consequences. It impairs judgment and causes drunk driving which kills innocent people.
It causes moral consequences. People do crazy things then they are drunk.
Drunkenness also has consequences in the next life. It sends people to hell. How do we know? Paul says that drunkards will NOT inherit the kingdom of God. In fact, he says it TWICE (I Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21). It is not some minor sin. How many people go to hell because of alcohol?
3. Drunkards can be saved
God can completely transform an alcoholic or a drug addict by His Spirit. Jesus came to preach liberty to the captives. He came to proclaim freedom for prisoners. He came to set the oppressed free (Luke 4:18). He can save crackheads. He can save prostitutes. He can save alcoholics.
Be Filled with the Holy Spirit
Now we come to the second part of the verse: Be filled with the Holy Spirit. This also is a command. Now, this is interesting. We are NOT commanded to be sealed by the Holy Spirit. We are NOT commanded to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit. We are NOT commanded to be baptized by the Holy Spirit. We are commanded to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
What does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit? It means to be influenced or controlled by the Holy Spirit. How do we know? There is a direct parallel in that verse with alcohol. In fact, three time in the NT there is a direct comparison between alcohol and the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18; Luke 1:15; Acts 2:1-15).
The Holy Spirit and Wine
There are many symbols in the Bible of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is compared to oil. Kings in the OT were anointed with oil (I Samuel 10:1). Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:38). The Holy Spirit is compared to fire (Matthew 3:11; Acts 2:3-4). The Holy Spirit is compared to wind (John 3:8; Ezekiel 37:9-14). The Holy Spirit is compared to water (Isaiah 44:3; John 3:5; 7:37-39). The Holy Spirit is also compared to wine and even to drunkenness but there are some differences between the two.
Alcohol is drug that you can see. The Holy Spirit is a person that you cannot see. One is physical and one is invisible.
Drunkenness makes you lose control of your body and your mind. The Holy Spirit puts you in control. Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit.
Drunkenness leads to moral depravity. It leads to debauchery. The filling of the Holy Spirit leads to holiness and righteousness
You can get too much of alcohol, but you can never get too much of the Holy Spirit.
In both cases, you are controlled by something else (another substance or another person). In both cases, you are “under the influence” of something else.
In both cases, that person or substance which controls you, is inside you.
In both cases, the result is a change in behavior. One is a good change and one is a bad change. A person who is drunk says and does things that he or she would not normally do. The same is true of someone who is filled with the Spirit.
In both cases, people did something for this to happen. You do not get drunk automatically. You have to do something to get drunk. You have to do some things to be filled with the Spirit.
Holy Spirit Filling Basics
1) Filling is for every believer
It is a command for us. That means it is also possible. God does not give us a command that is impossible. It is the will of God for every Christian. It should be the normal experience of every believer. It should not be exceptional or rare.
Any believer can do it. You don’t have to be a special Christian to be filled with the Spirit. You don’t have to be a deacon or elder. You don’t have to go to seminary. You don’t have to know Greek and Hebrew. You don’t have to be saved for fifty years. You can be a baby Christian and be filled with the Spirit.
2) Filling is to be repeated
We should be filled constantly. Filling with the Spirit is something that is repeated. The word “filled” is in the present tense in Greek. It is a present imperative. Present tense in Greek usually refers to continuous action. It is not a one-time event. Peter and John were filled with the Spirit in Acts 2. They were filled again in Acts 4. Every day, we are to be filled with the Spirit.
Just because you were filled with the Holy Spirit yesterday does not guarantee that you will be filled with the Spirit today. You do not stay filled, any more than you stay drunk. You have to keep on drinking to get drunk again.
3) Filling can happen anywhere
You can be filled with the Spirit in church. Preachers can be filled with the Spirit. Missionaries can be filled with the Spirit but filling of the Spirit is for daily living. You can be filled with the Spirit at home (mothers and fathers, husbands and wives). You can be filled with the Spirit on the job. It is for life and for ministry.
How to be Filled with the Spirit
We are commanded to be filled with the Spirit and are to do it every day. How do we do it? Let me suggest four ways.
1) by prayer
We should pray to be filled with the Spirit. The command is passive in Greek, not active. We do NOT fill ourselves. We are acted upon. It happens TO us. God is the one who does the filling. He is the source of the filling. Ask God to fill you. That is a prayer that God will answer. It is a prayer that is accordance to His will. It is a biblical prayer.
2) by confession of sin
We do it by not living in unconfessed sin. If we live according to the flesh, like the world lives, we will not be filled with the Spirit. If we live a life of disobedience to God’s Word, we will not be filled with the Spirit. If we quench or grieve the Spirit, we will not be filled with the Spirit. We cannot be filled with the Spirit when we are sinning against the Spirit.
3) by yielding to the Holy Spirit.
We do it by surrendering to the Holy Spirit. We do get filled with the Spirit by getting more of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not a divine liquid. First, we get the Spirit’s arm. Then we get the Spirit’s leg. Some Christians do not have more of the Spirit (e.g., Pentecostal Christians) than other Christians. If we are saved, we already have ALL of the Holy Spirit. We are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. We all have the Spirit, but does the Spirit have all of us?
4) by being filled with Scripture.
To obey the Holy Spirit, we also need to know and obey the Scriptures. We can see this clearly by a parallel passage.
Ephesians 5:18-20 says, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 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” (ESV)
Colossians 3:16-17 says, “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. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (ESV).
The books of Ephesians and Colossians were both written by Paul about the same time and they use some of the same language. These two passages both mentions psalms, hymns, spiritual songs. They both mention thankfulness. They both mention doing it in the name of Jesus but being filled with the Spirit is clearly parallel with letting the word of Christ dwell in you richly. One way to be filled with the Holy Spirit is to be filled with Scripture.
Results of Holy Spirit Filling
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:18-21 ESV)
If you notice, Ephesians 5:18 does not end with a period. It ends with a comma. The sentence does not end until the end of Ephesians 5:21. After telling believers to be filled with the Holy Spirit, he tells us what this looks like. Paul mentions four results of Holy Spirit filling. It is four participles in Greek (four verbal adjectives). Two of the four have to do with music.
1) Spirit-Filled Music.
If we are Spirit-filled, we will speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, not only music but all kinds of different music. We should not have music wars in the church and be divided over music. Martin Luther said, “next to the Word of God, music deserves the highest praise.” He also said, “Music drives the devil away.”
2) Spirit-Filled Worship
If you are Spirit-filled, you will sing and make melody to the Lord with your heart. This does not even mention singing with your lips but with your heart. Not all of us are musical but we should all have music in our soul. This music is to the Lord. Some sing just to be heard by others. This is music to the Lord. It is one thing to do this when things are going good. It is another thing to do this when tings are going bad.
3) Spirit-Filled Thanksgiving
This Is not ordinary thanksgiving. This is “giving thanks ALWAYS and FOR EVERYTHING to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” There is a big difference between what I Thessalonians 5:18 says and what Ephesians 5:19 says.
I Thessalonians 5:18 says that we are to thank God IN all things. Ephesians 5:19 says that we are to thank God FOR all things and that we are to do it always (Ephesians 5:19). How many do that? How many thank God for that bad things that happen to us? That requires Holy spirit filling.
4) Spirit-Filled Submission
A fourth result of the filling of the Holy Spirit shows up in relationships. It shows up in how we relate to people in our marriage, in our family, and on the job. This spirit is the exact opposite of pride and arrogance. Submission will be out topic for next week.