“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,” (Ephesians 5:18, ESV)
The spiritual person is filled with the Spirit – Part 1
How does a believer become a spiritual person who lives accordingly? It is a matter of being filled with the Spirit. So, what does it mean to be filled with the Spirit?
When you go to a gas station to fill up your car, often you will see a pump with two nozzles. One nozzle will often have a green identification and the other various colors, most often black. The distinction is vital. The green nozzle indicates that it will pump diesel fuel out. The black will pump out gasoline. If you pump diesel fuel into your gasoline-powered car, you will quickly discover that your car will not run. Conversely, if you pump gasoline into a diesel-powered vehicle, you will damage the engine. It is a matter of what fuel you used to fill the tank.
This is a simple analogy, but it should help us understand our spiritual lives. We are going to be filled with something. If it is not the Holy Spirit, it is something else. Only by being filled with the Holy Spirit will our spiritual lives run correctly.
Now in this ministry of being filled with the Spirit, there is much confusion today. Let us sort out what this means. The key verse that presents the doctrine of being filled with the Spirit is in the book of Ephesians.
Every believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit – This is essential for every believer to understand. Yes, this has already been covered, but since there is so much false teaching in this area, it must be repeated. Paul wrote to the Romans, “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.” (Romans 8:9, ESV) These groups that say certain believers do not have the Spirit because they do not speak in tongues have not understood this verse and that it is by faith alone in Jesus Christ that one is saved (John 6:47; Eph 2:8-9).
The important part here is that every believer has the Holy Spirit and the capacity to be filled with the Spirit. Yet not every believer who has the Holy Spirit is filled with the Spirit.
To be filled with the Spirit is to be controlled by the Spirit. – When you look at this verse you see two commands. One is in the negative, “do not get drunk with wine.” When one gets drunk, he is not in control of his or her motor functions. We call drunk drivers, “impaired drivers.” In other words, their actions are not normal. People in this condition do not think straight. They do not talk straight. The do not walk straight, and they do not drive straight. This means that in a sense the alcohol has taken control and modified their behavior.
The second command is, “be filled with the Spirit.” This is a positive command. We could look at the command to “not get drunk with wine” metaphorically. In others words, do not let anything of the world so fill your life that you are not filled with the Spirit. Moreover, since whatever fills our lives has the ability to lead and control us, we know that we need to avoid worldliness and pursue the things of the Spirit, godliness.
To “be filled with the Spirit” is a command to allow the Spirit to do His work. – Here is where this gets complicated. Both the commands are present tense imperatives in the passive voice. In this context, present tense imperative verbs are those which are to be obeyed continuously or characteristically.
The interesting part is that these commands are in the passive voice. Here the passive voice verbs refer to something that is being done to the believer. So, the verse is translated correctly. The believer is commanded not to allow wine to fill him or her, but rather the believer is to allow the Spirit to fill him or her. So, how do you obey such a command to be filled with the Spirit, since it is something that He must do to you? The answer to this will come in the next devotional.
(To be continued.)