What I Believe – Lesson 9

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Filling of the Holy Spirit

Lesson 9

Ephesians 5:18 ESV “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,” 

Luke 11:13 ESV “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”” 

One of the commands found in the Scripture for the Christian is to be filled with the Spirit.  When the Apostles were in the church at Jerusalem, a problem arose in the church.  A particular group felt that they were not being treated as well as others.  So the Apostles instituted a new group in the church called the deacons or stewards.

Acts 6:1–7 ESV “6:1 ¶ Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution.

6:2 And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables.

6:3 Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty.

6:4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

6:5 And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch.

6:6 These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.

6:7 ¶ And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.”

Please note that the qualifications for this group of men were:

1. Honest report

2. Full of the Holy Ghost

3. Wisdom

The deacons or stewards were to be men who took care of the needs of the church so the Apostles had time for prayer and to the ministry of the Word.  These men had to meet certain spiritual qualifications, one which was being filled with the Holy Spirit.

Someone told Billy Graham about a church that disciplined an elder for being drunk.  Graham asked, “What would you do with an elder that is not Spirit-filled?”⁠1

Being filled with the Holy Spirit is essential for the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ.  In Acts 2:4, the Apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit and by His power were able to witness about the saving faith found in Jesus Christ.  On that day, over three thousand souls were saved and added to the church.

Today, the church needs Christians that are Spirit-filled.

Can a Christian be indwelled and not filled with the Holy Spirit?

Romans 8:16 ESV “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,” 

When a person comes to know Christ as his of her Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit comes into the heart and life of the person.  The Holy Spirit, at the moment of conversion, dwells within the heart of the person.  He takes up residence in his or her life.  But, is this the same as the filling of the Holy Spirit?

There is a significant difference between the indwelling and filling of the Holy Spirit.  The indwelling happens at conversion.  The filling of the Holy Spirit can happen at conversion or a time later.  In one Christian’s life it can be a definite, turning point event where he surrenders his or her life fully to Christ and become an ongoing, daily surrender to Christ’s will for his or her life.  In another Christian’s life, it can be a progressive event where as he or she grows in Christ, reaches a place in time where they have surrender to God’s will and progresses in spiritual growth.

The Holy Spirit indwells the Christian but might only be a guest in the life of the Christian.  Look at the Christian’s heart as a house.  The Holy Spirit has come in but might be limited by the Christian to staying in only one part of the house, the guest room.  It is not until the Holy Spirit has been given full access to the whole house that He fills the Christian’s life.

To be filled with the Holy Spirit is a definite experience and is urgently needed by people attending churches today. It is lacking in the lives of many professing Christians.  If a Christian is not filled with the Spirit, or has not the fullness of the Spirit, his life is largely one of unfruitfulness. This filling is not to be confused with the baptism of the Spirit, for it is utterly a distinct task of the Holy Spirit.  To be filled with the Spirit means that the Holy Spirit has absolute possession and mastery of the human spirit. It means that all faculties and powers of one’s personality, including thoughts, words, and deeds are brought into subjection to and are under the supervision of the Holy Spirit. There is no such thing as receiving more of the Holy Spirit, for He is a person.  You either have Him or do not have Him. We should concern ourselves about letting the Holy Spirit have more of our lives.  To be constantly under His control, we must be filled repeatedly with the Spirit for the fullness of the Spirit.  This is something that we cannot do ourselves; it must be done for us by allowing the Spirit to have full control of our lives. We must empty ourselves of all things that hinder His work.  Those who are soul‑winners and who are witnesses for the Lord should be filled with the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is able to energize us, whereby we will become more useful servants for the Lord.  Prayer is absolutely essential before we go out to witness for the Lord.

The filling of the Holy Spirit is different than the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  This can be readily seen in the epistle of First Corinthians.  Paul speaks about three types of individuals in the world.  The first individual is the lost or fleshly person.  This is the person who is spiritually dead because he has never accepted Christ as his or her personal Saviour.  The second person is the Spirit-filled or mature Christian who is producing fruit in his or her life.  The third person is the carnal Christian that has not grown spiritually and is still under the influence of the world, not the influence of the Spirit.

1 Corinthians 2:12–16 ESV “2:12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.

2:13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

2:14 ¶ The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

2:15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one.

2:16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” 

1 Corinthians 3:1–3 ESV “3:1 ¶ But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ.

3:2 I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready,

3:3 for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?” 

A carnal Christian is one who is not under the influence of the Holy Spirit but is under the influence of the world or the flesh.  A carnal Christian is an immature Christian who has not grown in his or her spiritual life.

Hebrews 5:11–14 ESV “5:11 ¶ About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.

5:12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food,

5:13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child.

5:14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”

Should a Christian be filled with the Holy Spirit?

Ephesians 5:18 ESV “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,”

 

At Ephesus, as throughout the Roman Empire, the city would participate in the orgies of Bacchus.  Bacchus was the Roman myth god of wine or intoxication.  A child of Bacchus referred to a person who drinks to excess or a drunkard.  Throughout the Roman empire, even in Ephesus, there was the celebration of the orgies of Bacchus.  The people would drink to excess and be influence into all kinds of depravity.  At one point, the Roman government banned the celebration of Bacchus because the celebrations were out of control both sexually and criminally.

It is not improbable that in this verse there is an allusion to the orgies of Bacchus, or to the festivals celebrated in honor of that pagan god. He was “the god of wine,” and during those festivals, men and women regarded it as an acceptable act of worship to become intoxicated, and with wild songs and cries to run through streets, and fields, and vineyards.⁠2 

The individuals were out of control because the wine had influenced them.  The warning is about what is influencing the person.  Today, the Christians are being influenced by the things of the world both visual and audio.  They listen, watch, and absorb the lessons being taught on the television, radio, printings, internet, and other sources.  One young woman who was living with a man in open sin was asked about her faith in Jesus Christ.  Responded with the statement, “What does living with a man have to do with my faith?”  She has allowed the world to influence her, not the Holy Spirit.

Exhortation

“Be filled with the Spirit” means to be under the influence and control of the Holy Spirit.  It means to turn one’s life over to the Holy Spirit.  It means to be led by the Holy Spirit.

The question today is “What is influencing the Christian?”  Is the world or the Lord?  Is it the newspaper or the Bible?  Is it the Internet or the Written Word of God?

The question for today’s Christian is “Who do you listen to?”  On the other hand, “whom do you go to for the answers to life?

“Sola Scriptura meant Scripture was the supreme authority over the church. The Bible ruled reason and tradition because it alone was infallible as God’s word. All other authorities (including church leadership) were fallible and must submit to Scripture.”⁠3

Command

The command to the Christian is to be filled with the Spirit of God.  It is the calling of every Christian to be under the influence and control of the Holy Spirit.  The word filled is imperative progressive which signifies a beginning and continuation.  The Christian is to be filled and continual filling with the Holy Spirit.  It is not a one time event but rather a continual daily filling of the Holy Spirit.

Why is it difficult to be filled with the Holy Spirit?

The difficulty is not on the part of God but on the part of the Christian.  One man said that it is easier for a person to give up his sins rather than his will.  Giving our will to the Lord is saying, “Lord, I give myself totally to You.  Have your will in my life.”

Romans 12:1–2 ESV “12:1 ¶ I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

 

How is a Christian filled with the Holy Spirit?

Ephesians 5:18 ESV “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,”

Salvation

A person cannot be filled with the Holy Spirit who has not first received the Holy Spirit.  The first requirement is salvation in Jesus Christ.  The Holy Spirit indwells the Christian when he has been forgiven of his sins and accepted Christ as Saviour.

Acts 2:38 ESV “And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” 

Galatians 4:6 ESV “And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”” 

Must have a desire to be filled

John 7:37–39 ESV “7:37 ¶ On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.

7:38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”

7:39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” 

There must be the desire within the heart of the Christian to be filled with the Holy Spirit.  If there is no desire, no seeking, then the Christian will not be filled.  Many times, Christians desire to go to heaven, but do not desire to fully give their life over to the Lord.  Without the desire for the filling, the Christian will not be filled.

Must ask to be filled

Along with the desire, the Christian must ask the Lord to fill him with the Holy Spirit.  There must be the fervent prayer of the Christian for the Lord to fill him with the Holy Spirit so he might better serve and reflect Christ in his life.

Luke 11:13 ESV “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”” 

Must be obedient

Acts 5:32 ESV “And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”” 

A Christian cannot continue in sin and be filled with the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit will not reside in a filthy room or house.  The Scriptures teach that if a person regards or holds on to sin in his life, the Lord will not hear his prayers.

Psalm 66:18 ESV “If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” 

Must surrender to the Lord

Surrender is the key to being filled with the Holy Spirit.  When the Christian surrenders his life (body, desire, will, life) to the Lord as a living sacrifice, then he comes under the influence of the Holy Spirit.  Surrender is when one yields his life to God’s will.

What are the blessings of being filled with the Holy Spirit?

You will understand God’s will

Romans 12:1–2 ESV “12:1 ¶ I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

 

Notice that in verse two, the surrendered Christian is no longer under the control and influence of the world, but has his mind renewed by the Holy Spirit so he can know the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God.  

The Holy Spirit shows the Christian God’s will for his or her life.

You will have a joy, comfort, and peace

Ephesians 5:18–20 ESV “5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,

5:19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,

5:20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,”

So often, men and women drink alcohol to make them happy or to bring some level of satisfaction in their lives.  They drink hoping to forget their troubles and feel better.  The path of alcohol never brings lasting satisfaction or happiness.  Rather, so often it carries the person deeper into despair and heart ache.

To contrast this, the filling of the Holy Spirit brings joy, peace, satisfaction, melody, and thankfulness into the heart and life of the Christian.  It brings a peace that passes all understanding.  It brings a lasting satisfaction.

You will have a greater effectiveness in sharing Christ

Acts 1:8 ESV “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.””

 

Before Peter and the other Apostles had the Holy Spirit filling their hearts, their ministry was ineffective.  The Holy Spirit brings power and effectiveness to one’s ministry of sharing Christ.  Holy Spirit gives the Christian boldness to share Christ.  Holy Spirit is the one who does the work of regeneration.  The Christian is called to be faithful in sharing the Gospel, but the work is the Holy Spirit’s.

You will receive the power to live victorious in Christ Jesus

Acts 20:20–24 ESV “20:20 how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house,

20:21 testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

20:22 And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there,

20:23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me.

20:24 But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”

Paul testifies that through the power of the Holy Spirit, he was able to be an effective witness and share Christ with others.  He is able to finish his life with joy and complete the ministry that Christ called him to.

The Holy Spirit gives the Christian the power to overcome temptation and live victorious in Christ.

Lessons

There are two great eternal benefits to being filled with the Holy Spirit.  The first one is seen in the parable that Christ taught concerning the three men who were given talents by their master.  The two who were faithful in using the talents to gain more were given the commendation of “Well done thy good and faithful servant.”  When the Christian seeks and is filled with the Holy Spirit, he can live a life that is pleasing to the Lord.  When he stands before the Judgment Seat of Christ, he will receive a reward because he has followed God’s will and way for his life.

Matthew 25:23 ESV “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’” 

The second eternal benefit is seen in the testimony of Paul at the end of his life.  When he wrote to young Timothy to keep the faith and be consistent in his ministry, he was able to say that he had finished the task and kept the faith to the end.  The Holy Spirit fills the Christian so he can stay the course for which Christ has called him.

2 Timothy 4:5–8 ESV “4:5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

4:6 ¶ For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.

4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

4:8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” 

Andrew Murray in his book, Absolute Surrender writes, “Ah, yes, a good conscience is unfeigned obedience to God day by day, and fellowship with God every day in His Word, and prayer – that is a life of absolute surrender.  Such a life has two sides – absolute surrender to work what God wants you to do; on the other side, to let God work what He wants to do.”

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1 God’s Answers to Man’s Questions, Alban Douglas, p76

2 Barnes Notes on the New Testament – public domain – Ephesians 5:18

3 https://au.thegospelcoalition.org/article/the-real-meaning-of-sola-scriptura/

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