To the Spirit
Well-known words about
the Holy Spirit are found:
Acts 2:4 And they were
all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues,
as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Eph 5:18 And be not
drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit . . .
One text is a narrative;
it tells us what actually happened. The other is a command; it tells us
what we should be. In case there is any doubt about it actually being a
command, we find it linked to another command: "Be not drunk with wine...but
be filled with the Spirit."
If I asked you, do you
try to obey the command "to not be drunk with wine"? You would answer immediately,
"Of course, as a believer, I obey that command." But how about the other
-- "Be filled with the Spirit," have you obeyed that command? Is that the
life you are living? If not, the question comes at once, Why not? And then
the next question, Are you willing to take up that command and say, "By
God's help I am going to obey. I will not rest until I have obeyed that
command, until I am filled with the Spirit"?
I. Disciples filled
with Spirit vs. a command to be filled with the Spirit.
Let us put away our
varying notions and conceptions about the filling of the Holy Spirit. Let
us look at the message of the text and figure out how we are going to fulfill
the command to be filled with the Spirit. When the disciples were filled
with the Holy Spirit it was not magic.
Eph 5:18 And be not
drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
There is a distinct
difference between the use of the phrase "filled with the Spirit" in the
book of Acts and its use in the book of Ephesians. The Holy Spirit came
to dwell in those we find in Acts.
Acts 2:4 And they were
all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues,
as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Acts 4:8 Then Peter,
filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and
elders of Israel,
The Holy Spirit initiated
the filling. The recipient was always taken by surprise to some extent.
It just happened. The filling seemed to be permanent. But what about when
Paul commanded the Ephesian believers to be filled with the Spirit?
How do I do that?
To be drunk is to be
under the control of alcohol, to surrender one's body, mind and spirit
to its influence. To be filled with the Spirit in this particular case
-- is to voluntarily put oneself under the influence of the Holy Spirit.
A person filled with the Spirit will be dominated and controlled by the
Holy Spirit even as a drunkard is dominated and controlled by intoxicating
Paul was not commanding
us to sit around passively and wait for something to be poured into us.
Not a state of high excitement, or of absolute perfection or a state in
which there will be no growth. Being filled with the Spirit is simply this
-- having my whole personality yielded to His power. Then we walk in the
power of the Spirit.
1 Cor 2:4 And my speech
and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration
of the Spirit and of power:
Eph 2:2 Wherein in time
past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the
prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children
Paul's point in Ephesians
5:18 is to surrender to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
To be filled with emotion
is to allow our emotions to take control of all our thoughts and feelings
to such an extent that all other thoughts are pushed into the background.
God is trying to bring
us to a place where we are totally dependent and totally surrendered upon
his leading. It has to do with a Spirit controlled life. Most people live
independently of the Holy Spirit every day. They never give it a second
thought. We need to realize that we have no one else to turn to.
Dependence and surrender
go hand in hand. We can't fully surrender our will until we are convinced
we are in a hopeless situation. As long as we see a way out, we will generally
opt for it.
Can't help a drowning
man until he stops trying to help himself. He will pull you under and both
of you will drown.
Walking in the Spirit.
2 Pet 3:3 Knowing this
first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after
their own lusts,
2 John 1:4 I rejoiced
greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have
received a commandment from the Father.
Jude 1:16 These are
murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their
mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration
because of advantage.
Romans 8:1 There is
therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who
walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Romans 8:4 That the
righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after
the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Gal 5:16 This I say
then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of
Gal 5:25 If we live
in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
2 Cor 4:11 For we which
live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also
of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.
II. What is needed
in order to be filled with the Spirit?
Have you ever found
yourself begging, bargaining, and pleading with God for some spiritual
change in your life?
Remember that those
men who first followed Christ and received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit
had forsaken all to follow Jesus.
"Forsake your net" to
another, "Leave that place in the receipt of custom, and come and follow
Later they said, "Lord,
we have forsaken all and followed thee" their homes, their families, their
good name. Men mocked and laughed at them, men called them the disciples
of Jesus, and when He was despised and hated they were hated too.
They identified themselves
with Him; they utterly yielded themselves to do His bidding.
This is the first step;
we must forsake all to follow Christ.
Many believers think
that they receive Jesus as someone who can save them and help them, yet
all but deny Him as Master. They think they have a right to have their
own will in a thousand things.
They talk about what
they want, what they like, they use their property and possessions as they
desire; they are their own masters and have never dreamed of saying: "Jesus,
I forsake all to follow you."
And yet this is the
command of Christ. Christ must be Lord of all. Until we make him Lord of
all, unless we have yielded everything, our hearts cannot be filled with
Jesus says, "Forsake
all and follow me."
Gen 6:22 Thus did Noah;
according to all that God commanded him, so did he.
Caleb & Joshua
Numbers 32:12 " . .
. not one except Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua son of
Nun, for they followed the LORD wholeheartedly.'
1 Kings 19:19-21 19
So he departed thence, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing
with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah
passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him. 20 And he left the oxen, and
ran after Elijah, and said, Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my
mother, and then I will follow thee. And he said unto him, Go back again:
for what have I done to thee? 21 And he returned back from him, and took
a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments
of the oxen, and gave unto the people, and they did eat. Then he arose,
and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him.
Psa 40:8 I delight
to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.
Isa 6:8 Also I heard
the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?
Then said I, Here am I; send me.
Acts 9:6 And he trembling
and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the
Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee
what thou must do.
Surrender is a crucial
factor in spiritual growth.
Jesus modeled spiritual
surrender as he
1) Was born as a helpless
2) Accepted a poor and
3) "Grew in grace" instead
of learning from the world.
4) Disciplined himself
spiritually, emotionally, and physically.
Luke 2:52 And Jesus
increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.
Matt 8:20 And Jesus
saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests;
but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.
5) Modeled and taught
love in action;
John 15:13 Greater love
hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
6) Paid the ultimate
price for surrender.
Phil 2:1-8 If there
be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any
fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfil ye my joy,
that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one
mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness
of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man
on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this
mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form
of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of
no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in
the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself,
and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Then he rose victorious
over evil. His example is one of emptying oneself of normal human tendencies,
and creating openness to God's grace. This is a lifelong process. It begins
with a conscious experience, of envisioning ourselves as yielded to God,
and making a commitment of our wills. The development of surrender must
take place in experience as well as theory and mental assent.
Every day Christians
voice a variety of prayers, most of them self-serving pleas for help or
protection, but God loves to hear us pray dangerously--prayers that open
us up to Him and cause us to grow spiritually. Bill Hybels suggest the
following steps for surrender and growth:
Almost every Christian
has times of feeling indignant toward people who rebel against God. David
expressed that emotion in Psalm 139, but immediately he stopped and asked
God to examine him. In the same way, we must not forget to ask God to point
out rebellion in our own spirits.
Psa 139:1-3 O LORD,
thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine
uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path
and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.
Psa 51:9-10 Hide thy
face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean
heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
You cannot grow as a
Christian until you learn to ask for brokenness.
Regardless of your level
of spiritual maturity, there will always be areas of your life God needs
to work in.
Whatever it may be,
new Christ-like ways cannot replace the old, until we let God smash the
former patterns to bits.
This is the kind of
prayer to pray when you want to grow up spiritually.
Acts 4:29 Now, Lord,
consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with
Acts 4:31 And when they
had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and
they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God
When the first-century
believers prayed for greater boldness instead of asking God to take away
persecution, they were praying "stretch me" prayers.
If you know someone
whose depth of love is humbling, whose perseverance is inspiring, whose
spiritual strength is amazing, that person has probably asked God to stretch
them through life's challenges.
Asking God to take your
life and do whatever He wants with it is risky. If you are comfortable
in your home, have a growing family, and enjoy your job, it is especially
scary to let God take control, but that's what faith is all about.
Ps 25:5 Lead me in thy
truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I
wait all the day.
Ps 31:3 For thou art
my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name's sake lead me, and guide
Ps 43:3 O send out thy
light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy
hill, and to thy tabernacles.
We've got to believe
that His plans for us are better than our own.
Acts 4:29-31 And now,
Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with
all boldness they may speak thy word, By stretching forth thine hand to
heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child
Jesus. And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled
together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake
the word of God with boldness.
It's exciting to make
yourself available to God so that He can touch someone else through you.
Such prayer creates adventures.
Praying in these ways
lets God know you are serious about living for Him. When He moves you out
of your comfort zone, your Christian life is radically changed. " (Via
InfoSearch Database "Five dangerous prayers and why you should pray them"
by Bill Hybels. Today's Christian Woman, Jul/Aug 1992. Pages 41-43.)
Spirit filled life
A fellow and a girl
were walking along one day discussing a mutual acquaintance. One of them
said, "Mary has what I call a radiant personality." "That's right," agreed
the other, "but how do you account for it?"
Just then they rounded
a bend in the road and a rippling river came into view. Pointing to the
opposite bank, the fellow said, "See that impressive old castle over there?
Well, when I was a small boy, I loved to sit right here in the evening
and look at it. I knew what was going on inside by the number of lights
that were burning. If only a few people were home, just a faint glimmer
filtered through the windows. But when friends came, many lamps were lit
and the place became a thing of beauty. One time when a member of the royal
family visited there, the entire castle was illuminated! I have never seen
Then, turning to his
companion, he said, "I think that's the only way I am able to explain Mary's
shining personality. She is entertaining a Royal Guest!" Commenting on
this story, Wilbur Nelson says, "As temples of God, the presence of the
Savior within should have a similar effect upon us--adding joy and a warm
glow to our lives."
"Worship does not satisfy
our hunger for God; it whets our appetite." --Eugene Peterson (quoted in
Leadership, Winter 1995 via InfoSearch Database)
Surrender comes through
five steps of forgiveness:
1. Hearing the Word
(that we are all sinners)
Psa 40:8 I delight to
do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.
5. Accepting forgiveness
from God as you surrender your life in baptism.
Such surrender gives
a different view of the world and of success. It involves allowing God
to teach and guide. It provides courage and motivation, by union with higher
forces than our own.