How to Be Filled with the Holy Spirit
A Command and Priviledge for Every Christian
Once a person is saved, they have God living in them (I Corinthians 6:19,20). This is the basis for every other aspect of the Christian life. It is the source of our power. We no longer belong to ourselves. We belong to the Lord. We no longer need to be slaves to the old sinful nature. We literally have the power of God at our disposal to become all that the Lord would have us to be. Unfortunately, not all Christians are filled with the Holy Spirit. And there is a lot of confusion over what it means to be filled, even though certain segments of Christianity emphasize it. We need to clear up some of the confusion and teach God's people that they can have more from their Christian lives then they are, at this moment, experiencing.
I. What it Mean to Be Filled With the Spirit
In Ephesians 5:17, 18 the apostle Paul commands us:
"So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit..."
The issue here is who or what are we going to allow to control us. Paul is comparing the intoxicating influence of alcohol , which leads a person to do something that they would not normally do, to the control of the Spirit. He's telling us not to allow ourselves to be controlled by alcohol, but rather allow the Holy Spirit to take control of our life.
The verb "be filled" is in the imperative mood , which simply means that it is a command. This is not something optional for the person who has accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior. And It is not just for the elite, super saints. It is for all of us.
The verb is also in the passive voice, which is a fancy term that means that we who are being filled are being acted upon by another. The Spirit of God is the one acting on us, and taking control. But this doesn't mean that we have nothing to do with it. We have to allow Him to act. He won't do it against our will. Just as we would have to put alcohol to our lips and drink it before it influences us, we need to do some things which allow the Spirit to have free reign in our lives.
We have to also realize that being filled is not just something that we do once and that's it. The verb here is also in the present tense, which tells us that it is a continuing action. We could translate the sentence here as: "Keep being filled with the Spirit." Sin quenches the Spirit's work in our lives ( I Thessalonians 5:19), and it grieves His heart (Ephesians 4;30). Those who have unconfessed sin in their lives cannot be filled.
II. Results of Being Filled With the Spirit
The results of being filled with the Spirit of God include a Christ-like character as opposed to the character that we had when under the influence of the old nature. We have the fruit of the Spirit which includes love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22,23).
A Spirit-filled believer is a person who desires to worship and praise the Lord in all he or she does. Ephesians 5:18-20 talks about an outer expression of praise. It says that we speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spirtual songs. We have an inner expression in that we sing and make melody in our hearts to the Lord. And we have a thankful heart. An unthankful heart is evidence that we haven't been filled.
We see in Ephesians 5:21- 6:9 that being filled with the Spirit of God also leads to a submissive spirit. Paul teaches us to be submissive to one another. And he tells us that God has arranged an order for His Body. Wives are to be submissive to husbands, and husbands are to love their wives as Christ did the Church. Children are to obey their parents, and parents should not exasperate their children. Slaves are to obey their masters and masters must respect and honor their slaves and not threaten them. This, of course, today is like the employer, employee relationship.
And we learn in Romans 13:1-7 that a Spirit-filled believer is also one who is subject to government, because it is an agent of God to do us good. It is there to protect us and punish the evil who would seek to harm us.
Last but not least, a Spirit-filled believer is one who lives a life of service to God and to others. We are even given Spiritual gifts in order to build up the Church and help other members of the Body to grow. And we learn from I Corinthians 12 that the gifts of every believer are necessary for that growth. None of us is expendable.
III. Receiving the Filling
Before a Christian can be filled with the Spirit, he or she must first have the desire to do so. As we said, the Spirit will not act against our will. Jesus talks about those who hunger and thirst after righteousness as being blessed because they will be filled with it (Matthew 5:6).
We then must confess any known sin in our lives, and forsake it. I John 1:9 tells us that: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
After confession, we ask God to fill us with His Spirit. We know from Ephesians 5:18 that it is something that God commands us to do. Since that is the case, He will give us the power to do it if we ask Him. As stated earlier, this is a continual thing. Every day we must ask God to fill us and lead us by His Spirit, showing us what He wants us to do that day for Him.
Finally, we need to claim the promise found in I John 5:14,15. If we pray anything according to His will then He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, we also know that He has given us the request. The key here, is asking according to His will. And, as we just said, the filling of the Spirit is definitely the will of God.
Jesus said that without Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). And having Jesus Christ also means that we have the Spirit of the Living God dwelling inside us. We are His temple. It is He who empowers us to live the Christian life. But in order for us to become all that God would have us to be, we must allow Him to take complete control of us. We have to give Him free reign in our lives. That is what the filling of the Holy Spirit is all about. It is my prayer that all who read these words will do just that. Allow the Spirit to fill you today. You will never regret it.