“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.”Ephesians 5:18
In Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus, he reminds believers, especially in chapter five, to be imitators of God. He goes on to point out very specifically, areas of immorality, impurity and “deeds of darkness” to avoid at all costs.
He then encourages them to…”Be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise.” Then he uses the imagery of wine as that which is poured out and poured into.
Many have used this verse to say God is using Paul to teach against wine consumption. This verse cannot be used to promote that idea. This portion of the verse, similar to other verses in the Bible, speaks against drunkenness. In using this imagery, Paul is actually saying don’t be so filled with wine that you become drunk, but be so filled with the Spirit that you become transformed in essence, even in your behavior.
In the same way that wine can alter your essence and behavior shamefully, the filling of the Spirit can alter and transform richly and wonderfully.
Paul then immediately goes on to discuss specific behavioral issues such as how to encourage one another, how to be thankful and how to be subject to one another. He continues on instructing in issues of marriage and our understanding of our position to the body of Christ, the Church.
Let me pause here for a moment and respond to some who may be thinking I’m in some way defending wine consumption. Neither my wife nor I consume any manner of alcohol. It’s simply a position we have taken and a personal conviction we hold. Scripture doesn’t speak against wine, but it’s quite clear on drunkenness and strong drink. To get hung up on the wine aspect of this verse is to miss the whole point.
The point is, “Be filled with the Spirit!”
The actual Greek rendering of this would be, “Be being filled with the Spirit.” In other words it stresses the sense of continuation of filling and refilling.
Many have wrongly used this verse (along with some others) to suggest to a new Christian (or even mature Christians) that they may be lacking in some ongoing, subsequent work of the Spirit.
They would suggest that you are a Christian but perhaps have not yet received or been filled with the Holy Spirit.
This is the point I want to discuss in this letter. I’ve addressed it previously at times in both my writing and teaching, but I believe it’s so important to get a proper biblical understanding of this that I am once again revisiting the topic.
Recently, on several occasions, I’ve had someone say something like this: “He (or she) is a Spirit filled Christian.” Or someone said, “I had some Christians pray for me but then I asked a Spirit filled Christian to pray.”
This kind of terminology begs the question, can a Christian not be Spirit filled? The answer is a resounding NO!
Sometimes when I’m teaching on this subject I like to ask my audience this question: “Where is Jesus?” The answers range generally from, “In my heart, Heaven and everywhere” to an occasional finger pointed upward, I’m sure denoting Heaven (or perhaps on the roof).
All of these answers are to some degree or another correct (with the exception of the roof) but not quite specifically accurate.
Specifically, according to scripture, Jesus is at the right hand of the Father. Look up Acts 2:32-33, Acts 7:56 and Hebrews 8:1.
It isn’t altogether incorrect to say we received Christ into our heart, but it is really His Spirit that drew us, convicted us and took up residence within us when we trusted by faith in the finished work of Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross, believing in the reality of His resurrection and receiving the precious gift of salvation by grace through faith.
You may say, “Well, that’s just another way to say the same thing,” but it’s important to remember that Christ said, “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper (Holy Spirit) shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.” John 16:7
What hope could we possibly have, especially as new Christians, if we did not have His Spirit to help, comfort and guide?
But does scripture clearly indicate that every Christian is indwelt by the Holy Spirit? The answer is a resounding YES!
“But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” Romans 8:9
This verse is crystal clear. If you don’t have His Spirit, you don’t belong to Christ. But if you do belong to Christ, you therefore have His Spirit.
I am especially emphasizing the importance of knowing that as a Christian you are indwelt by His Spirit as we enter this new year.
2020 is here! We must possess 20/20 spiritual vision as we go forward in life’s journey amidst ever increasing evil, apathy and distraction.
In the future I hope to discuss further aspects of the Holy Spirit such as, are the infilling and baptism of the Holy Spirit the same thing? What are spiritual gifts all about? Can we have a partial infilling of His Spirit? Is the Holy Spirit fully God?
These and other questions are worthy considerations for us to explore, but first and foremost it is absolutely essential that we understand that every true Christian is indwelt by the Spirit of God.
I recently read a quote by A.W. Tozer that challenged my thinking in this area and encouraged and directed me to write to you about these things.
“In most Christian churches the Spirit is quite entirely overlooked. Whether He is present or absent makes no real difference to anyone. Brief reference is made to Him in the doxology and the benediction. Further than that He might as well not exist…
Our neglect of the doctrine of the blessed Third Person has had and is having serious consequences. For doctrine is dynamite. It must have emphasis sufficiently sharp to detonate it before its power is released…
The doctrine of the Spirit is buried dynamite. Its power awaits discovery and use by the Church. The power of the Spirit will not be given to any mincing assent to pneumatological truth. The Holy Spirit cares not at all whether we write Him into our creeds in the back of our hymnals; He awaits our emphasis.”A.W. Tozer
I believe it can be argued that we as Christians today, live with the greatest privilege in the entire history of God’s people. Since the day of Pentecost, the only true and living God has chosen to literally take up residence within us completely and continually. We must consider this great privilege fully and heed His specific command diligently. Be Filled With the Spirit!