RPM, Volume 15, Number 14, March 31 to April 6, 2013

Be Filled with the Holy Spirit

Ephesians 5:15-21

By Mike Osborne

Introduction: We come to the end of our series on the Holy Spirit.

Our focus today is on vs. 18: “Be filled with the Spirit.”
• This is a topic about which there is a lot of confusion. On the one hand, you have the idea of some who say that the filling of the Spirit is a special experience you ought to have after you become a Christian.
• When I became a Christian in the mid-1970s, it was a time of spiritual awakening on college campuses around the country. Suzy and I were told by this group of believers on our campus that we needed to seek the “second blessing.” They didn’t want us to just be “average” Christians. They wanted us to become “Spirit-filled” Christians. And the way you know if you are Spirit-filled, they said, was that you can speak in tongues.
• Then you have those on the other end of the spectrum (many of us Reformed Presbyterians) who never talk about the filling of the Spirit, because they fear it will open a Pandora’s box. It’s too mysterious, too personal, too dangerous. If you’re filled with the Spirit, it might lead to too much emotionalism in the church.

But the apostle Paul isn’t bashful about this subject at all. He says in vs. 18, “Don’t get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery (or excess). Instead, be filled with the Spirit.”

Today let’s focus on three simple truths:
1. If you’re a follower of Jesus, you have the Holy Spirit.
2. But you need to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
3. You can be filled with the Holy Spirit.

I. First, if you are a follower of Jesus, you have the Holy Spirit.

This is what we’ve learned in this series. All believers are baptized, sealed, indwelled, and gifted by the HS from the moment of conversion.
• Baptized: 1 Cor 12:13, “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body, and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.”
• Sealed: Eph 1:13 — “Having believed, you were marked in Christ with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.”
• Indwelled: 1 Cor 6:19 — “Don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.”
• Gifted: 1 Cor 12:7 — “To each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.”

Don’t let anyone try to tell you that you can be saved one day and get the Holy Spirit the next day or the next week or the next year.

Every Christian has the Holy Spirit of God living within him or her. Rom 8:9 makes this crystal clear: “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.”

But… not every believer is always filled with the Spirit.
• Illus.: Exercise bike or treadmill that you have in that upstairs room, but it’s doing you no good

Every Christian has the Spirit, but the question is, Does the Spirit have you? If you’re a follower of Christ, you have received the Spirit of God, but the question is, Are you fully yielded to him? Is he empowering you and enabling you to live a fruitful Christian life?

This is why Paul goes on to say…

II. You need to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Why? Because the life God calls you to live is too hard to do on your own power.
• Think about the context of these verses…
• Paul has been exhorting us in Eph 5 to live as children of light. In vs. 1 he said to “live a life of love, just as Christ loved us.” He said in vs. 10, “Find out what pleases the Lord.” He has warned us to have nothing to do with the deeds of darkness, to not let even a hint of sexual immorality and other vices be named among us.
• You think you can do those things without the Spirit’s enablement? How’s that been working for you?
• Then in vs.15 he says, “Be careful how you live. Watch your walk. Redeem your time (vs. 16). Stay in God’s will” (vs. 17).
• In vs. 21 says, “Submit to one another. Defer to one another. Give in to your brothers and sisters.” And he implies, “Even those you don’t like. Even those you don’t agree with.”
• Later in chap 5 Paul is going to tell wives to submit to and respect their husbands, and husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church. That’s easy, right?
• And in chap 6 he’s going to tell children to obey their parents, and parents to die to themselves and nurture their children in the faith, and slaves to obey their masters, and masters to treat their slaves with equanimity and respect.

Friends, it’s too much. The bar is too high. Someone has said, “The Christian life is so simple that even a child can live it, and it’s so difficult that no one can live it.”
• “Apart from me,” says Jesus in Jn 15, “you can do nothing.”

But Jesus gave you the Spirit so that he might fill you and make the Christian life possible.

Paul puts vs. 18 right smack dab in the middle of the chapter to show us that without the Spirit, the Christian life is an impossibility. But with the Spirit’s filling, with his empowering, we can do it. Not perfectly of course, but we can do it, and we can get better at it. That’s what sanctification is all about — dying more and more to sin, and living more and more to righteousness, by the enabling grace of the Holy Spirit.

Let’s take a closer look at vs. 18.

In that verse, there are 2 commands: “Do not get drunk on wine; be filled with the Spirit.”

A. “Don’t get drunk on wine.”
• Notice Paul doesn’t say, “Don’t drink.” The Bible doesn’t forbid the use of alcohol. But it does forbid the abuse of alcohol.
• Drunkenness was common in the pagan world of Paul’s day, and it was a strong temptation to Christians. Paul may be referring to the out-of-control worship practiced by the followers of Dionysus (Bacchus), the wine god, which was widespread at the time.
• Be that as it may, Paul says don’t get drunk.

B. “Instead, be filled with the Spirit.”
• To be more precise, the verse should read this way: “Be continually filled with the Spirit,” or “Let the Spirit be continually filling you.” It’s a present, passive, imperative.
• In other words, it’s a command. It’s not an option. It’s on par with the Decalogue, the Ten Commandments. Just like God said, “You shall not murder,” he says “Be filled with the Spirit.”
• All of us are supposed to be Spirit-filled Christians, not just a few of us. You know, it’s not “average” Christians over here and “Spirit-filled” Christians over there.
• And it’s not a once-for-all experience, but a continual, moment-by-moment, organic, growing experience of being enabled, empowered by the Spirit of God.

Now it’s very interesting that Paul compares and contrasts being filled with the Spirit with being drunk on wine.
• These two things are different, aren’t they? I mean, wine is a liquid, a substance; and the Holy Spirit is a divine Person. Wine is a depressant, while the Spirit of God is a stimulant. When you’re under the influence of alcohol, you lose control. But when you’re under the influence of the Spirit, you actually gain control. Drunkenness leads to debauchery; the Holy Spirit leads to the fruit of love, joy, peace, etc.
• But at the same time, wine and the Holy Spirit are similar. Both enter us from the outside and change us. They influence or control us.
• But not only that, why do people turn to alcohol? What are they looking for? Pleasure. And alcohol delivers, to a degree. It releases tension and worry, it clears the mind of problems, it relieves pain, it releases you of inhibition. Psalm 104:15 says, “Wine gladdens the heart of man.” It does…for a while.
• But Paul is saying, if you want these things — and every person does — turn to the Holy Spirit. He’s the source of real pleasure, lasting pleasure. Alcohol is the devil’s poor substitute for the “joy unspeakable and full of glory” that God wants to give you.
• “Come,” says the prophet Isaiah, “all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?”

The Holy Spirit IS what alcohol only pretends to be.

Do you need peace? Be filled with the Holy Spirit. Do you want to be set free of guilt and worry? Be filled with the Holy Spirit. Do you need enabling grace to serve God and resist sin and live life as it was intended to be lived? Of course you do. Then be filled with the Holy Spirit of God. God wants you to have him.

III. So I leave you with some good news: You can be filled with the Spirit.

You can experience the things listed in vss. 19-21. This is what it looks like to be filled with God the Holy Spirit.
• “speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” = fellowship and community
• “singing and making music in your heart to the Lord” = worship
• “always giving thanks to God for everything” = peace & contentment
• “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ” = getting along with other people

You can experience this.

How? By doing a few simple things that the Holy Spirit finds attractive. (4)

#1 — Read the Bible. And don’t just read the Bible; let the Bible read you.
• Compare Col 3:16-17 with Ephesians 5:18-20

Ephesians 5
Colossians 3
Vs. 18 — Be filled with the Spirit. Vs. 16a — Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.
Vs. 19a — Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, & spiritual songs. Vs. 16b — Teach & admonish one another with all wisdom and as you sing psalms, hymns & spiritual songs…
Vs. 19b — Sing & make music in your heart to the Lord. Vs. 16c - …with gratitude in your hearts to God.
Vs. 20 — Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Vs. 17 — And whatever you do…do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

“Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.” To be filled with the Spirit is to be indwelt by the Word of Christ, and vice versa. Never separate the Spirit from the Word of God. The Spirit works by and with Christ’s Word.
• So read your Bible daily. When you get to a verse that either convicts you or consoles you, sit on it for a while. Pray that word back to God. Ask God to work his truth deep into your heart.
• Folks, we are supposed to be people of the Book. Some of you haven’t read your Bible for days, weeks, maybe even months. No wonder you’re getting so beat up by the world, the flesh, and the devil.
• Find a plan for Bible reading and stick to the plan as best you can.

#2 — Confession. When you sin against God, be quick to admit what you’ve done. When you sin against another person, be quick to ask their forgiveness. Why? Because grace flows downhill. “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” The Holy Spirit cannot resist the contrite heart.

#3 — Prayer. Ask the Holy Spirit to empower you. See, the filling of the Spirit is an aspect of our sanctification. How are we sanctified? By repentance, faith, and the diligent use of the means of grace. What are the means of grace? The Word, sacraments, and prayer.

#4 — Do things that are too difficult for you. In the book of Acts, many times you’ll find that the early Christians were filled with the Holy Spirit.
• Acts 4 — Peter is brought before the Sanhedrin after healing a crippled man: “By what power or name did you do this?” “Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit,” testified to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
• Later in Acts 4 — The Christians were gathered in a house for prayer. They prayed that God would enable them to speak the word of God with boldness. And it says, “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.”
• Acts 7 — Stephen was about to be stoned for standing up for Jesus, and just before the first stone hit his body, we’re told that “Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.”

These were just ordinary believers like you and me. But they did hard things. And when they did hard things, they knew they couldn’t do it without the help of God, and so they prayed, “God, you have got to get me through this. You have got to send me a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit, or I’m sunk.”

Maybe the reason some of us are not experiencing the enabling power of the Spirit of God is that we’re not putting ourselves in those places of risk where we have no resources of our own to rely on, and where we have to desperately cry out, “Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me. Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me. Break me, melt me, mold me, fill me….”

May we who have the Spirit, let the Spirit have us in humble reliance and faith.

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