Filled with the Spirit
Let us learn this from the very beginning. Some of you are new Christians and you might not understand that. You, as a Christian, possess the Spirit and He’s there in fullness, He’s there in totality. You don’t get Him in bits and pieces. You don’t have to say, “Oh, God give me more of Your Spirit.” There isn’t any more to get. He’s in us totally. Every believer possesses the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 12:13 says, “For by one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Greeks, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink one Spirit.” The baptism of the Spirit is non-experiential. You don’t feel it, you don’t know it happens. The baptism of the Spirit of God is the act by which the Holy Spirit puts you into the body of Christ when you believe.
In 1 Corinthians 6:19 Paul is telling the Corinthians about their immorality. They were committing fornication, they were doing evil, vile things. And you expect him to say, “Why don’t you get the Holy Spirit so you can get your life cleaned up?” But he doesn’t say that. On the contrary, he says, “Don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you?”
Don’t you know you’re defiling the Spirit of God who’s in you?” You see, even when a Christian lives in sin, the Holy Spirit is still there. Ephesians 4:30 says, “Do not grieve the Spirit of God.” Or 1 Thessalonians 5:19, “Do not quench the Spirit.” The Spirit is a “He” not “it.” He is a personality and He is anguished by our sin, and He is defiled when the temple, which is our body, is defiled.
The Spirit is a permanent resident in the life of the believer. That’s why there is never a command to be baptized with the Spirit. You are never commanded anywhere in the New Testament to be indwelt by the Spirit or sealed by the Spirit; that is also a gift of God. Ephesians 1, you have already been sealed, you have already been baptized, you have already been indwelt bu the Holy Spirit.
The command in Ephesians 5:18 is, “Be filled with the Spirit.” Well, what does it mean? It means to be kept being filled with the Spirit.” You don’t say, “Oh, I’m filled with the Spirit. I’m in for the rest of my life.” You must be being kept continuously filled, moment by moment by moment, day by day. It’s passive; something fills you, you don’t fill yourself, you receive the action from the Spirit of God.
You can live your Christian life in defeat if you don’t know what it is to experience moment by moment the be-being-kept-continuously-filled-by-the-Spirit-of-God experience. It expresses the idea of a moment-by-moment, continual work. My being filled with the Spirit five minutes ago is no good for this moment. My being filled with the Spirit tomorrow is no good for today.
Let me give you three concepts. The word pleroo is used of a wind filling a sail and billowing the sail out and moving the ship along. When we say that the sails are filled with wind; and that’s in Paul’s mind for a beginning thought, to be carried along. To be moved along, to have the thrust of your life and the energy of your life and the pressure of your life be the power of the Spirit of God.
In other words, you don’t move in your own energy, you don’t move in your own flesh, you don’t move with your own ideas, you don’t generate your own will, you are blown along under the wind of the Spirit of God. You are carried along the path that He wants you to go. It’s in a very real sense almost like those who wrote the Scripture who were moved along by the Spirit of God.
There’s a second thought, and that’s the idea of permeation. Pleroo is used sometimes of something which permeates, and a good illustration of that is salt. Salt permeates. In fact, it permeates so well that if you put enough of it, it will preserve it. But when you want to eat something and you put some salt on it, it gives it flavor. It permeates the whole thing so that the whole thing is flavored.
There’s the sense in which the Spirit of God wants to flavor your life so that you taste like the Spirit of God, and so that when anybody gets next to you, the flavor of your life is that of God, so that being with you is almost like being with God. So it’s the idea of pressure to move you along, and it’s the idea of permeation so that, they think maybe they’ve been with Jesus.
But the dominant thought here, as compared with the gospel record particularly, the use of ‘pleroo’ is to speak of total control. You’ve got the idea of moving along, you’ve got the idea of permeation, but the control idea is the key. Whenever in the gospel the writer wants to talk about somebody who is dominated by an emotion, he will use the word ‘pleroo’. In John 16:6, it says, “They were filled with sorrow.”
Let me give you an illustration to help you understand this. Most of the time we can kind of balance things in our life. Take the concept of sorrow. As we go through life having a little bit of sorrow and then often we think of something happy to balance it out. But once in a while, we can’t keep that balance. The person we love the most dies. Suddenly sorrow takes over and nothing can take away the sorrow.
That’s when that word ‘filled’ is used. It’s totally dominating. But then your aunt Martha dies and leaves you fifty thousand dollars. Wow, on the happy side. Never expected it, now all of a sudden you’re filled with happiness, and that’s the concept of the word. You’re totally dominated by it and you don’t need any equilibrium. On the other hand, a war breaks out and we’re scared to death.
You’re controlled by that which influences your thinking and your emotion. Now, the same thing is true with how we live the Christian life. Here’s self over here and here’s the Holy Spirit. But all of a sudden, we yield to the Spirit of God totally, and self disappears and we’re filled with the Spirit. Everything is controlled by Him, all of our emotions, all of our acts of will, and all of our thinking.
That’s what it means to be filled with the Spirit. It is the idea of being moved along, it is the idea of being permeated, but it is also the idea of being controlled by a firm hand of control. Look at Matthew 4:1, “Then was Jesus led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tested by the devil.” Now, here’s the Holy Spirit operating in the life of Jesus, and the Holy Spirit led Jesus.
Now let’s study Luke 4:1. He led Jesus in Matthew 4:1 to the temptation, in Luke 4:1 we have the same incident, the temptation, the same situation, but here it says, “And Jesus, being full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.” Now, what was the condition by which the Spirit led Him? He was “Full of the Spirit.” It means to be controlled by the Spirit.
Now, if you were to go to Mark 1, the same thing is dealt with again, the temptation of Jesus, and in Mark 1:12, it says, “And immediately the Spirit drives Him into the wilderness.” He thrust Jesus into the wilderness. In other words, Jesus Himself was under the power of the Spirit of God so that the Spirit of God literally drove Him where the Spirit wanted Him to go.
Jesus was controlled by the Spirit of God, and that’s why later on, when they came to Jesus and they said, “What you do, you do by the power of Satan,” He said, “You have blasphemed not Me but the Holy Spirit.” Why? Because He had yielded the control of His life to the power of the Spirit of God. He was full of the Spirit, and that’s why He was driven by the Spirit.
To be filled with the Spirit, beloved, is that same thing. It’s the idea of being driven by the Spirit of God, of being moved by the Spirit of God, of being permeated by the Spirit of God, and of being controlled by the Spirit of God. And that’s what we’re talking about. We’re talking about living your life under the control of the Spirit of God. So you are dealing with His person and His purposes.
Let’s use the illustration of a glove. If I say, “Glove, go play the piano,” what’s the glove do? It just sits there. If I put my hand in that glove and then play the piano, what happens? Chaos. Well, as a Christian, you’re a glove and you can lie around on the table and grunt until you die, but you’re never going to affect anything for God until you’re filled with His Spirit.
Because a glove can’t do anything without a hand and you can’t do anything without the energy of the fullness of the Spirit. Everything you try to crank out on your own is done in the flesh and is useless. So what the Scripture is saying here is that you need to be filled with the Spirit of God to be effective. To do anything for God, to walk in wisdom, you must be filled with the Spirit of God.
You must be controlled by His presence. Functioning in the flesh reaps absolutely zero. Whenever the Lord wants a job done, He always gets somebody full of the Spirit. They needed some men for a special job, and so what were the qualifications? Acts 6:5 says, “And the saying pleased the multitude; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit.”
To be filled with the Spirit gives you a view of God. To be filled with the Spirit detaches you from the worldly system. To be filled with the Spirit means you could care less what happens to you as long as He is glorified. Stephen just looked up and saw the glory of God. It’s a transcending reality. You move right out of the world, right out of your circumstances, and right out of your trials, to see God.
Whenever God wants a person for a job, He selects a person full of the Spirit because it may wind up that the person will be stoned, and if he isn’t filled with the Spirit, he’ll never be able to handle that. Later on in Acts 9, God needed a man named Saul who was humanly speaking the opposite because he was a persecutor of the church. But the Lord transformed him totally.
Acts 9:17 says, “And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit. 18 Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.”
Saul, before you begin your work, you’ve got to be filled with the Spirit. Being filled with the Spirit, beloved, is just living under the control of the Holy Spirit. It’s a yielding to the Holy Spirit. Another example in Acts 11:22 where the Lord needed Barnabas to help Paul. His requirement was in verse 24, “For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith.”
Here is Paul filled with the Holy Spirit. Acts 13:52, “And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 14:1, “It came to pass in Iconium that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spoke, that a great multitude, both of the Jews and of the Greeks believed.” When God wants somebody to win people to Christ, He finds somebody filled with the Spirit.
So that’s the meaning of filling, but how do I get filled?” You don’t have to pray for it. It’s a command. If God gave you a command, then He gave you the resources. And the resource is to empty yourself of yourself; it’s a matter of the confession of sin. It involves a surrender of your will, your intellect, your body, your time, your talent, and your treasure, everything to His control.
It’s the death of self. It’s the slaying of your own self-will. It’s the mortification of the members of your body. When you empty yourself of yourself, God will fill it up. Look at Ephesians 5:18 -22, “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit. 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord,
20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God. 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.” Filling of the Spirit produces singing, saying thanks, submitting, and a whole lot of right human relationships.
What happens? All relationships become right. Your relationship with God is right because you sing and give thanks. Your relationship to other people is right because you submit, whether it’s in a marriage or family or an employment situation. It’s all very practical; it’s all very clear. The filling of the Spirit affects all these relationships to God, to our families and to others.
Look at Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, in all wisdom.” Being filled with the Spirit is the same thing as letting the Word of Christ dwell in you richly. It’s got to be the same because it produces the same results. If you want to be Spirit-filled, feed yourself the Word of Christ. Who is the author of the Word of Christ? The Holy Spirit, it becomes the thing that controls you.
Being filled with the Spirit is the same thing as living as if you’re standing next to Jesus Christ. It is the same thing as letting the presence of Christ dominate your life. It’s filling myself with the Word of God so that the truth of Christ dominates my thinking, and then the Spirit of God, as I yield to the truth of Christ in me, will lead me to do and say and be what God wants me to be. Let’s pray.