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’s not referring to the Holy Spirit indwelling us.
- In Part II we saw that it doesn’t mean speaking in tongues.
- In Part III we saw that it doesn’t refer to “being baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
- In Part IV we saw that it doesn’t mean experiencing something emotionally.
In this post we’ll begin talking about what it does mean to be filled with the Spirit. We’re given part of the answer in the next two verses: Ephesians 5:19-20 Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Both verses are about our speech: if you’re filled with the Spirit you’re going to exhibit godly speech. And why is that? In Matthew 5:18 Jesus said, “Those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart.” What we say is a reflection of our hearts. What could be a better indication of whether we’re filled with the Spirit than what we say?
James 3:1-12 discusses the tongue. It says we can tame everything in creation, but we can’t tame our tongues: they’re like wild fires burning out of control destroying everything in sight (vv. 6-8). This is why James says, “If someone could tame his tongue, he would be a perfect man” (v. 2).
What does it look like practically for us to exhibit Spirit-filled speech? Here’s Ephesians 4:29 from the Amplified Bible: Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God’s favor) to those who hear it. That’s godly speech!
We’ve already discussed that “being filled with the Spirit” is compared with wine in verse 18, not because it feels like being intoxicated, but because wine 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 Him. When we don’t submit to the Holy Spirit, we’re not being filled with – or influenced – by Him. This is what Paul means when he says not to grieve (Eph 4:30) or quench the Holy Spirit (1 Thes 5:19). Being filled with the Spirit is a day-to-day, even moment-by-moment surrendering of our lives to the Spirit, and nothing reveals whether that’s happening better than what comes out of our mouths.