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 when he states:
Ephesians 5:18 – “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,”
Paul is inspired to tell us here that we oughtn’t 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” (Greek asotia) 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” is translated from the Greek term pleroo meaning ”to make replete, . . .to cram (a net), level up (a hollow), . . . to furnish (or imbue, diffuse, influence), satisfy, execute (an office), finish (a period or task), verify . . . accomplish, . . . complete, end, expire, fill (up), fulfill, (be, make) full (come), fully preach, perfect, supply.” In addition to this definition, the grammatical form of the term “filled” (Present/Passive/Imperative) conveys the thought of an ongoing and constant (Present tense) work that the believer receives or has done to them (Passive voice) that is absolutely essential (Imperative mood). 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.
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 it reads:
Acts 4:31 - “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.”
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 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 (Luke 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 to trust Him that much?
Sanctified Transformation 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.
The 4 Evidentiary Effects of the Spirit Filled Believer
Ephesians 5:19-21 - 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.
The context of Ephesians 5:18-21 gives us a criteria by which to determine the presence of Spirit fullness in a person. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit it is evidenced in four ways according to the context of this passage. 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 (4:15). They won’t speak unwholesome words but their words will be gracious and edifying (4:29). The Spirit filled believer will talk in a pure and holy way.
Secondly, the Spirit filled believer will have a song in their heart (5:19b). The Spirit filled believer will have a song in their heart. 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.
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” (5:20). 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).