Be Filled with the Spirit

Recently I heard someone describe some religious services he had attended. He told me of the bizarre and chaotic assemblies in those churches in which the churchgoers seemed almost out of control. Those caught up in this behavior would attribute their actions to being filled with the Holy Spirit. But are these outbursts the result of the Spirit’s influence, or are they an overexcited, emotional release on the part of these people?

Paul wrote to the Christians in Ephesus and said, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). The contrast is made between being filled with the Spirit and being intoxicated. Both being drunk with wine and being filled with the Spirit will affect ones behavior. So how does being filled with the Spirit affect us? Does it result in spontaneous, uncontrollable action? Let us notice the context.

Results of Being “Filled with the Spirit”

  1. Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19). Being filled with the Spirit, we will sing to one another. We are told in another passage that singing is for the purpose of teaching (Colossians 3:16). Teaching requires the use of intelligible words, not nonsense. Words that cannot be understood are of no profit to others (1 Corinthians 14:2).
  2. Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22). Submission is not a spontaneous outburst. It is a controlled, deliberate action.
  3. Husbands, love your wives…” (Ephesians 5:25). The husband’s love for the wife was to be patterned after Christ’s love for the church. Jesus did not give His life for the church as an emotional reaction to something. He did so to fulfill God’s eternal plan and purposefully carried it out despite the overwhelming trials.
  4. Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1). Wild, uncontrolled behavior by a child constitutes disobedience. The obedient child does not have these fits. When he does, he is disciplined for it.
  5. Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline an instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Parents need to retain control in order to provide discipline and instruction.
  6. Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters…” (Ephesians 6:5). This cannot be accomplished by wild, erratic behavior. This is done through self-control.
  7. And masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him” (Ephesians 6:9). Again, we see controlled behavior. Not overexcited, irrational actions.

All of the things listed in this context involve control and stability. Being “filled with the Spirit” results in behavior that requires these attributes. Being filled with the Spirit, we will behave in this manner.

We can also see that Christians are commanded to “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). How could we be responsible to carry out this command if we are simply waiting for the Holy Spirit to come upon us? If we are commanded to be filled with the Spirit (which we are), then logically there is something we must do to be filled with the Spirit.

We noticed that being filled with the Spirit results in certain behavior. Seven different things are listed in the context of the passage we considered. We learn about these things (instructions for singing, family responsibilities, etc.) through the teachings of the Bible. We can look at other passages that give further instructions along these lines. Being filled with the Spirit, we will do these things. We do these things as a result of studying God’s word. We are filled with the Spirit inasmuch as we are filled with the word of God.

Notice the parallel between the verses we noticed in Ephesians and a similar passage in Colossians: “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you” (Colossians 3:16). In this passage, Paul went on to list seven things that result from having the word dwell in us (Colossians 3:16-4:1). The seven things listed are the same seven things that result from being filled with the Spirit. We are filled with the Spirit through the word of God.

Be filled with the Spirit.” This is a command that we must work to fulfill today. We obey this command, not by waiting for God to send the Spirit directly upon us, but by studying His word, learning His will, and applying the teachings in it to our lives. As we have the word of Christ in our heart and demonstrated in our lives, we have the Spirit dwelling in us. Let us be diligent to be filled with the Spirit and obey the Lord in this way.

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