On Sunday mornings at WCC we’re in the middle of our Marriage & Family Series looking at the instruction for husbands, wives and children in Ephesians 5:22 to 6:4. All the instruction flows from the command in Ephesians 5:18 to, “Not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.” Considering the importance of this verse I wanted to spend a few weeks talking about what it means…and doesn’t mean.
In Part I we saw that it doesn’t refer to the Holy Spirit indwelling us at the moment of conversion. We considered the four individuals in Luke 1 who were “filled with the Spirit” (John in v. 15, Mary in v. 35, Elizabeth in v. 41 and Zacharias in v. 67), and there’s no record of any of them speaking in tongues. The fifth Person in Luke “filled with the Spirit” is Jesus Himself in Luke 4:1, but while the first four were “filled with the Spirit”, Jesus was “FULL OF the Holy Spirit”. Colossians 1:19 and 2:9 say “in [Jesus] dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” Nobody would argue with Jesus being the most Spirit-filled Person to walk the earth, but there’s no instance of Him ever speaking in tongues. Some would say there’s no verse saying He didn’t speak in tongues, but that’s called “arguing from silence”, and for reasons that go beyond this post, let me simply say: arguing from silence is very dangerous. We stand on what God’s Word says, not on what it doesn’t say.
Others think “being filled with the Spirit” means you can have more or less of Him, but the truth is you can never have more or less of the Holy Spirit than you have at the moment of conversion. When you’re saved the Holy Spirit indwells you and you receive all of Him: 1 Corinthians 6:19 Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you. You either have the Holy Spirit or you don’t, but you can’t have part of Him without having all of Him.
But – and this is very important – you can have more or less of the Holy Spirit’s influence over you. This is why the beginning of Ephesians 5:18 mentions wine: it has the potential to influence people, and so does the Holy Spirit. We are filled with, or influenced by, the Holy Spirit when we submit to, or yield to Him, allowing Him to help us live holier lives:
- Eddie Rasnake says, “There is no place in Scripture that indicates we can receive more of the Holy Spirit. The real issue is the release of the already present Spirit to have free reign in our hearts. It isn’t about us having more of Him, but of Him having more of us.”
- John Napier said, “The goal of the Christian life is not to gain the Spirit-filled experience; rather, the goal is to remain Spirit-filled. That should be the normal Christian life.”