Paul wrote, “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). He was addressing himself to people like you and I—to the whole Ephesians church. Certainly these words were not intended for one or two special Christians in Ephesus. Yet, it is said as a command!
Today God is blessing those who wholeheartedly desire it—it is the experience of spiritual renewal, just as the Bible teaches—it is God’s purpose for all of us. But are you sure you want to be filled with the Spirit? It may sound like a misguided question. Why ask it?
Actually, that is the very question, thought provoking in nature, asked long ago by A. W. Tozer. His is prophetic; allow me to quote him:
“Are you sure that you want to be possessed by a Spirit who, while He is pure and gentle and wise and loving, will yet insist upon being Lord of your life?
Are you sure you want your personality to be taken over by One who will require obedience to the written Word?
Who will not tolerate any of the self-sins in your life: self-love, self-indulgence?
Who will not permit you to strut or boast or show off?
Who will take the direction of your life away from you and will reserve the sovereign right to test you and discipline you?
Yet, Unless you can answer an eager ‘Yes’ to these questions you do not want to be filled [by Him]. You may want the thrill or the victory or the power, but you do not really want to be filled with the [Holy] Spirit.”
Take a pause and read those words again.
Duncan Campbell, the Scottish revivalist, said there are many people who want the glory and blessing of heaven-sent revival but are not willing to pay the price for it. And that is just as true of a personal filling of the Holy Spirit.
And it must again be mentioned that Paul wrote these words not as a suggestion but as an imperative. The verb is the present passive imperfect. All Christians should passionately desire to be filled with the Spirit. This means, of course, it is a command ordered.
F. B. Meyer said, “We have too largely forgotten the exhortation: ‘Be filled with the Spirit.’ We have thought that the fullness of the Spirit was a speciality for the apostolic age instead of being for all time … We can never be what we might be until we have got back … in respect to this all-essential matter.”
“… they were all filled with the Holy Spirit …” (Acts 2:4) It was an enabling, an empowering, and an equipping for ministry. The New Testament stresses that when we are filled with the Spirit, we are controlled by the Spirit. We note again the word “all.”
Do you want to be filled, and the answer only seriously comes clearly from people who sense powerlessness, emptiness, and the distress of failure. But now, who long that God should be glorified in their life.
When the Spirit came on the upper room disciples, it was not the start of a petal-strewn flower path and a pleasure-filled glory-trip. Only when we ask wholeheartedly to be filled with and by Him do we know this, and above all things we want Jesus to be glorified—loved, worshiped, and adored in endless honor. That becomes the controlling desire of our heart, and it consumes us!
Paul first told his readers not to “grieve the Spirit” (Ephesians 4:30), and now he goes on to the positive, the infilling of God’s Spirit. Today this topic is often debated and discussed endlessly. Sadly, it has divided the people of God in many instances. Therefore, let’s find balance. To be filled with wine, which Paul mentions, is to be controlled by alcohol; so the contrast, to be filled with the Spirit, is to be under the power and influence of God. But, it does not mean we lose control as with alcohol, but we are under control. To say it another way, the Spirit-intoxicated person does not act crazy, we act Christ-like!
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says the Spirit of God is a stimulant, “He stimulates our every faculty … the mind and the intellect … the heart … and will …” Alcohol turns humans into demon-controlled people; the Holy Spirit turns humans into Christ-like people. The fullness of the Holy Spirit makes us people God controls for His own purpose and praise; timid people are made brave, frail people are made strong, ordinary people speak with divine wisdom, and indecisive people are made confident and bold.
Again, can you sincerely say, “I want that for my life”?
What now are our thoughts? Remember, Jesus in Scripture came most gloriously on the weak, hungry, and thirsty and those who wanted Him desperately. Their absolute need of Him was openly and sincerely expressed. Repeat these words, “… ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. For the Scriptures declare that rivers of living water shall flow from the inmost being of anyone who believes in me.’ (He was speaking of the Holy Spirit …)” (John 7:37-39, TLB)
Are you sure you want that? Then ask! Then seek! Then knock!