We’re in the middle of our Marriage & Family Series at WCC and all the instruction for husbands, wives, and children in Ephesians 5:22 to 6:4 flows from the command in Ephesians 5:18 Do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit. Considering the importance of this verse, I’m going to discuss what it means – and doesn’t mean – over the next few weeks.
First, we’ll talk about what it doesn’t mean…
Paul is not talking about the Holy Spirit indwelling us, as that happens at the moment of conversion: that is a one-time, instantaneous event when we put our faith in Christ and are regenerated, or born again, or brought to life spiritually. Paul is talking about something else in verse 18 though: the Greek would actually be better understood as: “keep on being filled” or “stay filled with the Spirit”, because Paul is describing something that should be ongoing our lives. And what is that? Interestingly, the beginning of the verse is how we understand what he’s saying, and when you catch the contrast it makes perfect sense: alcohol has the potential to influence people – when people are driving drunk, we say they’re “driving under the influence” – and just like wine has the potential to influence people, so does the Holy Spirit have the potential to influence people.
This begs the question, “How are we filled with, or influenced by, the Spirit?” The answer is actually simple to understand, but difficult to live out: by submitting to or yielding to Him. When we don’t submit to or yield to the Holy Spirit, we’re not being filled with – or influenced – by Him. This is what Paul’s talking about when he says:
- Ephesians 4:30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God
- 1 Thessalonians 5:19 Do not quench the Spirit.
Some people will say you’re grieving or quenching the Spirit if you don’t do certain things, usually speaking in tongues, but that’s not what these verses mean.
Consider the theme in Luke 1 of four different people being filled with the Spirit (John the Baptist in v. 15, Mary in v. 35, Elizabeth in v. 41, and Zacharias in v. 67), but there’s no record of any of them speaking in tongues. Were they grieving or quenching the Holy Spirit? Of course not, and even though two of them were moved to make dramatic declarations (Mary’s Magnificat in vv. 46-55 and Zacharias’ prophecy in vv. 68-79), they weren’t spoken in tongues.
More in Part II on the 5th Person filled with the Spirit: Jesus!