Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Work of the Holy Spirit - Filling

The final study in our look at the Holy Spirit is the filling of the Spirit. This is another greatly misunderstood aspect of the work of the Spirit. I believe the misunderstanding stems from an emphasis on the work "filling" and focusing in on the idea of quantity. The idea, wrong though it is, is if something is filled then there is more than there was before. Thus, there are some believers who have more of the Spirit than others, and there are those believers who do not have as much of the Spirit as another. This is not only a gross misinterpretation of Scripture, it also produces within the body of Christ different "classes" and thus a type of elitism. It places terrible burdens on those who have not displayed some type of evidence of filling which, in turn, brings many to produce these evidences falsely or to give up on Christianity all together (I have heard many friends give personal testimony to this effect). The idea of filling of the Spirit must be understood for one to be a healthy Christian.

The outline I used for this sermon is as follows:

I. What is filling of the Holy Spirit? (Eph 5:18)
          A. Filling is not maturity
          B. Filling is control

II. What are the conditions in which we can be filled?
          A. Do not quench the Holy Spirit (1 Thes. 5:19)
          B. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30)
          C. Walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16)

III. What happens when we are filled?
          A. We will display Christian character (Gal. 5:22-25)
          B. We will truly worship (Eph 5:19-20)
          C. We will engage in service (Eph. 5:21)

I think the crux of this topic is found in (Ephesian 5:18. In short, this verse indicates that filling of the Spirit is not about maturity but it is about control. The picture used in this verse is the similarity between alcohol and the Spirit. When alcohol is in control of people they are no longer in control but the alcohol is. Inebriated people will say things they would not normally say, they will do things they would not normally do, think in ways they would not normally think. The alcohol controls that person while they are drunk. THIS IS THE POINT!

The filling of the Spirit means that someone is not allowing alcohol to control them but instead the Spirit is in complete control. A person, full of the Spirit, will say things he would not normally say, he will do things he would not normally do, he thinks in ways he would not normally thing. The Spirit is in control. Filling of the Spirit is not about acting drunk in front of a crowd, it is not about having more of the Holy Spirit than the guy sitting next to, it is not about how spiritually mature a person is. It is not about quantity. It is about control. It is not how much of the Spirit you have but how much the Spirit has you (I know...a cliché but it speaks the truth).

When a person accepts Christ, they receive the Holy Spirit and they get ALL of the Holy Spirit. However, the person must yield more and more control of their life to the Spirit. It is this process of yielding which can be characterized as filling of the Spirit.

So, if filling is yielding our lives to the Holy Spirit, then there must be some conditions which more easily allows that yielding. This is my second point: what are the conditions which allow the Spirit to have more control of our lives. First, we must not quench the Spirit. In 1 Thessalonians 5:19 the Holy Spirit is pictured as a fire and we are told to not put that fire out in our lives. When we do not allow the Spirit to work in our lives, we are quenching the Holy Spirit. Second, we are not to grieve the Holy Spirit. We grieve the Holy Spirit when we sin. The Spirit wants to work in us but that is prevented when we live in rebellion. This grieves Him and He cannot be in control if we are willing to allow sin to control us. Finally, we are to walk in the Spirit. The point here is that our lifestyle, our habits, our though process, all need to be more and more under the control of the Spirit. Walking in the Spirit does not mean that we will obtain sinless perfection on earth, but it means we are making that our goal.

So if we understand that filling is control of the Spirit in the believer's life, and that there are conditions which allow the believer to yield to the Spirit, then what does that look like? What happens when someone is filled with the Spirit? While there are many characteristics which could be mentioned, I focused on three. First, the person filled with the Spirit will display the fruit of the Spirit. You cannot be an apple tree and not produce apples. A Christian yielded to the Spirit will display Chist-like character. Secondly, Paul tells us in the Ephesians passage that when one is controlled by the Spirit, a godly worship will be produced. Finally, Paul goes on to say that the yielded believer will be subject to others. In short, the person will serve others much like Christ came to serve.

The filling of the Spirit is simply a metaphor for the control of the Spirit in the life of a believer. To the extent one is allowing the Spirit to work and direct one's life, the results are far-reaching.

My denomination does not seem to have historically spent a lot of time preaching on the Holy Spirit, although that seems to be changing. It is good to spend some time and think about the Spirit's work in our salvation, our life, and our eternity. It is amazing thing to think of the incredible gifts God has given those who have trusted in Christ's work on the Cross and have the Spirit of God working within them.


forever said...

I'm appreciate your writing skill.Please keep on working hard.^^

Jesus said...

thanks for making this blog!!! It has made my day :) JESUS 4 LIFE!!!

Hilary Chaney said...

I’ve just started blogging about my own manic break and hospitalization. It’s about recovery and treatment, but more importantly about discovery of a new post-religion faith where there is no hell, no original sin, you are God, and heaven on earth is real, radiant and right around the corner. A wild and triumphant ride.

Mark Turman said...

I am not disagreeing with you about filling the Spirit. But maybe you could re-word your explanation.
You said that when people are filled with the Spirit, they do, say, and think in ways that they normally wouldn't....leading some to believe it's "abnormal". I don't think you were meaning to imply that, but that was the first thing that stood out when I read your post.

More Than Rubies said...

I have read many of your blog entries, and find them to be very insightful. Thank you so much for sharing! May God bless you!

A Child of God said...

Exactly! When we are filled with the Holy Spirit we display these kinds of traits: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith... Galations 5:22-23. What a wonderful lesson. Please check out my blogsite at and share a testimony with someone.

God Bless

Peter said...

Wow that was really good,i enjoyed reading it.Good job.

Jason said...

I totally agree with your assertion that we must yeild ourselves to the enticings of the Holy Spirt. Only when we learn to desire the same things our Father in Heaven desires will we truly be happy. Thank you for your thoughts.

Unknown said...

Thank you for talking on Gal. 5! What I've learned and found in my own life is that we cannot "nail ourselves to the cross", meaning that our flesh cannot take control of the flesh...only the Spirit can take control over the flesh. So when we try and try to cease from sin it is like being in a hamsters wheel going no where. In fact when we are trying and trying and trying, we are putting our eyes on ourselves in that process because it is so tedious. However, when we make an about-face oFF of ourselves and literally follow the leading of the Spirit, by faith we see that the flesh begins to be more and more under control...because light overcomes darkness just by turning it on.

I'll wake up in the morning with my mind on Christ and my eyes on opportunities to exemplify love, peace, and etc. to those around me and in time, my flesh is not in control anymore...then walking in the Spirit becomes more and more familiar as you and I decease and He increases each day.

Wonderful, isn't it?!

Charles Van Gorkom said...

Amen! Thank-you for this little encouraging reminder!

Anonymous said...

interesting post. But you know that we often times find it intricate to decipher the work of the holy spirit because we do not study the word of God enough. God bless you!!!!

Lauralee P said...

I'd like to invite you to come check out my blog. Just finished a Bible study on this.

Citizen Atheist said...

Wow - someone has way too much time on their hands and way too much imagination. There is no Holy Spirit and the fact that the cult of Christendom has survived so long baffles me.

The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.

Rolland said...

The above quote, obviously, being a direct quote from Richard Dawkin's book, "The God Delusion."

Thanks for the input, Citizen Atheist!

"The Eye of THOR" said...

I enjoyed your disertation about the spirit. I attend a church "Grace Memorial" where I often said 'These people have a lot of the spirit". I am a person who has been gifted with a very intimate relationship with god. See blog for story. I am able to recognize the spirit when it is moving and sit in wonder when I see it. I sing a lot and can come up with a song from begining to end with no breaks, script, or preperation. I call it ghosty when I do this. I put one on you tube to honor my case worker TJ who has cancer. "Peace 2 TJ"
Peace and Grace

MELISSA said...

nice blog...