There are a number of aspects of the work of the Holy Spirit in life. These aspects are indicated at times by the use of prepositions. The Holy Spirit is “with” people prior to their conversion as He convicts them of their sinfulness and leads them to Jesus as Savior (John 14:17a; 16:8-11). Rejecting the Spirit’s overtures in this regard is the only unforgiveable sin (Mat. 12:31; Mark 3:28-29). When a person responds to the Spirit by turning from their sins (repentance) and trusts in Jesus as Savior, God forgives them. God gives the repentant person eternal life and the Holy Spirit comes to dwell “in” the new believer (John 14:17b; 20:22; Rom. 5:5; 8:9-11; 1 Cor. 6:19-20). As the new believer grows in their faith they have a desire to do things for their Lord. In their own strength they will be frustrated in their attempts to do anything for the Lord (e.g. Rom 7). That is why believers need a subsequent work of the Spirit in their lives which is when the Holy Spirit comes “upon” them in power (Acts 1:8; 2; 8:16, 24; 10:44; 11:15; 19:6). When the Holy Spirit comes upon the believer he empowers the believer with the ability to do.
In addition to the indwelling of the Spirit at conversion and the empowering of the Spirit when He comes upon the believer, there are subsequent fillings or refreshings of the believer by the Spirit. The Bible uses the phrase “filled with the Spirit” to describe the daily renewal and refreshing the believer needs (e.g. Acts 2:4; 4:8, 31; 9:17; 13:9). There are subsequent re-fillings and refreshing by the Spirit in the believer’s life. The sense of this ongoing work is found in Paul’s inspired letter to the Ephesians where he states, “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,” (Eph. 5:18).
Paul is inspired to tell us here that we should not get “drunk with wine in which is dissipation.” To be drunk is to be intoxicated. It is a state of diminished senses and sensitivity to what is around you. To be drunk is to have your mind dulled. “Dissipation” means literally unsavedness, wastefulness, profligacy, prodigality, an abandoned desolate type of life. The Lord has so much more than this for us.
Instead we are to be “filled with the Spirit.” The word “filled” means, to make replete, to cram, to satisfy, fill up, fulfill, make full, perfect, supply. In addition to this definition, the grammatical form of the term “filled” conveys the thought of an ongoing and constant work that the believer receives or has done to them that is absolutely essential. Therefore, to “be filled with the Spirit” means to be constantly, regularly, daily filled up, satisfied, furnished and supplied with the Spirit for one’s daily needs and God-ordained plans. Being filled doesn’t mean you get more of the Spirit; it means the Spirit gets more of you; all of you.
The impact of such a daily filling is conveyed in the book of Acts where those who had experienced the empowerment of the Spirit at Pentecost again pray for this ongoing empowerment and refreshing. In Acts we read, “And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31). When the Spirit comes upon the believer in fullness He empowers the believer with the ability to do; to do whatever the Lord calls the believer to do. Therefore the fullness of the Spirit is very important in the life of the believer.
Do you really want to be filled with the Spirit? Some will answer immediately without thinking and say “Yes!” But to be filled with the Spirit will cost you. Before there can be a resurrection, there has to be a crucifixion. Jesus said if anyone was going to come after Him they must deny themselves, pick up their cross and follow Him (Lk. 9:23). To be filled with the Spirit you’ll have to fully surrender to the Lord. You’ll have to trust the Lord enough to give Him control of everything in your life. That means if you are single, have a hard to live with spouse, bad job, illness or any other problem, God may choose to keep you in that situation to show the sufficiency of His grace (2 Cor. 12:9-10). He may not, but He may. Are you willing, really willing, to trust Him that much? Think and pray about that.
Sanctified Transformation is by Faith. God’s purpose in all of this is to conform us to the likeness of His only Son Jesus (Rom 8:29). This is God’s will for every believer (1 Thess. 4:3). It is a process God does in us called sanctification (Phil. 2:13; 1 Thess. 5:23-24). Sanctification like salvation is a work of God in us that is done by faith (Acts 15:8-9; 26:18; Gal. 2:20; 5:5). The sanctifying process of God in the believer takes place as the believer puts their faith and trust in God to do it. We surrender in faith to the Holy Spirit to do His holy work in and through us. How much do you trust the Lord?
There are 4 Evidentiary Effects of the Spirit Filled Believer. In Ephesians from chapter five verse eighteen it goes on to state, “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” (Eph. 5:19-21). The context of Ephesians 5:18 therefore gives us four criteria by which to determine the presence of Spirit fullness in a person. These four evidentiary effects are as follows.
First the Spirit filled believer will talk differently (5:19a). Paul says, “speaking to one another.” The Spirit filled believer will talk differently. They will speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). They won’t speak unwholesome words but their words will be gracious and edifying (Eph. 4:29). The Spirit filled believer will talk in a pure and holy way. How do you talk?
Secondly, the Spirit filled believer will have a song in their heart (5:19b). They will have a psalm in their heart or a prayerful song. They will have hymns in their heart or songs that communicate the truths of scripture. They will have a heart of worship toward the Lord. Do you have a song in your heart, a passion to worship the Lord? Worship is a way of life but singing is a big part of it. Do you come to service late to avoid the singing? Are you willing to trust the Lord enough to sing to Him, even if you’re off key?
Thirdly, the Spirit filled believer will be thankful always for all things (5:20). It is only by the Spirit that a person can offer thanks to the Lord all the time and in all things, even trials and difficulties. With the Spirit ruling our hearts we will have the wisdom and strength to offer thanks to God “for all things.” It’s one thing to thank God for the good stuff, can you thank Him for the pain, sorrow and trials in your life trusting and knowing He has a Plan. It’s only in the Spirit that we can live in that kind of surrender to the Lord.
Fourthly, the Spirit filled believer will live in mutual submission toward others (5:21). The Spirit filled believer does away with the spirit of competition and instead esteems others better than themselves. The Spirit filled believer will live by “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). The desire and priority of the Spirit filled believer will be for God to be glorified. If God uses someone else to bring glory to His name then the Spirit filled believer will rejoice that God is glorified. The spirit of competition that leads to jealousy, resentment and conflict will be defeated for those living in the power of the Spirit. The Spirit filled believer knows God has the right to exalt or bring low His servants as he sees fit (Rom. 14:7-13). God has the right to reward His servants as he sees fit (Mat. 20:1-16). How do you feel when the Lord blesses those around you? Do you rejoice that they are being used to bless God or are you jealous that God didn’t use you?
Do you see these four criteria in your life? Are you filled with the Spirit? Do you really want to be filled with the Spirit; really? If you want to be filled with the Spirit all you need to do is trust the Lord and fully surrender your life to Him. Give God the freedom to do whatever He deems necessary to make you like Jesus. Then you will experience His presence like never before. Then you will experience God’s fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11). Pray about it. Trust Him. Do it!