Be Filled with the Spirit
by Duane Leach
Every believer has been given the power and ability to be pleasing to the Lord. It is through the filling of the Spirit, something too many of us take for granted or simply ignore in our daily lives.
Paul not only gives the command to be filled with the Spirit, he gives us a comparison and evidence of what it will look like when we truly are filled. Ephesians 5:18-21, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father, and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.”
The negative command is to refrain from drunkenness. To become drunk is to lose control. We even use the term “under the influence” to indicate when someone has had too much to drink. This can lead to all manner of problems due to that loss of control.
In a similar manner, believers are to be filled or come under the influence of the Holy Spirit. We are to voluntarily give over our decisions and actions to His control. This is a present tense, ongoing command. Be being filled with the Spirit. It is an act of the will, surrendering all of our being to the guidance of the Spirit. This is why we continually stress the need to know the Word of God. He will guide and empower us using the truth of the Word that He inspired. Being filled with the Holy Spirit is at the heart of our ability to live godly lives. If we aren’t under the Spirit’s control we will be under the control of the flesh. Without the filling of the Holy Spirit nothing we do is of any spiritual benefit.
We are given some of the indications of what a Spirit-filled life looks like, though the list isn’t exhaustive. We will worship and give thanks and encourage others to do the same through music of various kinds. This isn’t simply an emotional response. Our minds must be engaged to understand what God has done. It’s instructive to see that giving thanks will be a mark of being filled with the Spirit. He will show us how much we have been given by our loving Father.
Another evidence of the Spirit’s filling is in our relationships with each other. We are to be in subjection to one another, something our flesh rebels against. In the following verses Paul instructs all believers exactly how they are to submit. Husbands and wives, parents and children, and slaves and masters, living in obedience, will demonstrate the reality of the filling of the Holy Spirit. The doctrine that Paul has been teaching in the early chapters of Ephesians finds its practical fulfillment in our day-to-day interactions with others.