“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,” (Ephesians 5:18, ESV)
During the COVID pandemic, many people went to get vaccinated against this disease. I do not know of any who vaccinated themselves. No, those vaccinated drove to the vaccination site, filled out some forms, rolled up their sleeves and allowed the nurse to inject the vaccine into their arms. Similarly, there are some steps that every believer must take to put themselves in a position by which the Holy Spirit can fill them.
Chafer presented three conditions essential for believers to be filled with the Spirit (Chafer, He That is Spiritual). These essential conditions are “Quench not the Spirit” (1 Thess 5:19), “Grieve not the Holy Spirit” (Eph 4:30), and “Walk by the Spirit” (Gal 5:16).
“Grieve not the Holy Spirit” – The believer must seek to maintain a repentant heart towards sin. “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30, ESV) The context of this verse has to do with sin (Eph 4:25-32). Sin will grieve the Spirit of God. When a believer has sin and shrugs it off without genuine confession and repentance, he or she grieves the Spirit of God. When the Holy Spirit is grieved, He will not fill the believer. In the case of guiding the believer in spiritual truth, this creates a significant barrier.
The solution to this problem of grieving the Spirit is that of confession. John gave us this beautiful promise, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” In the context of sin, confession, homologeo, is agreeing with God that your actions are sin (Thayer p128). Yet, confession without repentance is empty and powerless. Both are confession and repentance are essential. Repentance, metanoia, refers to a change of mind (Thayer p117), which consequently means a change in direction or action.
Those who harbor unconfessed and repentant sin, cannot be filled with the Spirit since they are grieving the Spirit. Whether it be something big in one’s eyes or small, sin will grieve the Spirit.
“Quench not the Spirit” – The believer must seek to receive biblical instruction and exhortation. Paul wrote, “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:19–22, ESV) Any believer who summarily rejects the clear instruction from God’s word will put out the Spirit’s fire in his or her life. This extinguishes the work of the Spirit in filling the believer’s life.
This does not mean that the believer should blindly do everything a teacher or preacher puts out. The Lord requires that every believer must examine carefully everything taught and “hold fast” to that which is good and reject that which is wrong. Remember that the Berean Jew’s were commended as more noble that those in Thessalonica because the listened to what Paul preached and examined it according to the Scriptures to ensure he presented the truth (Acts 17:11)
In addition to hearing the word of God proclaimed, this implies that the believer should be in the word of God. Believers need to be searching for truth, examining the biblical texts, and applying them in life.
It is very clear from this that any believer who rejects the full teachings of the word of God, is quenching the Spirit of God who empowers and illuminates truth. A believer cannot in his heart say, “I like everything I see in the Bible except this or that. I will not agree and adhere in that.” To do so is to reject the infallible and inerrant word of God. How is a believer to hear from the Lord if he or she rejects the primary way the Lord reveals truth to them?
The solution here is very similar to that in the previous condition. It is in confession and repentance. Repentance here has to do with changing one’s attitude towards God’s word. The result will be to accept that the Bible is absolute truth, that it is infallible, that it is unchanging, and that it is sufficient for us. Moreover, this means that the believer will seek to turn from a lethargic attitude towards God’s word, to one of seeking biblical truth with a revived zeal.
“Walk by the Spirit” – The believer must seek to avoid being controlled by the desires of the flesh. “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh” (Galatians 5:16–17, ESV) This point was somewhat addressed earlier in defining what is meant by being filled with the Spirit.
When a believer lives under the control of the flesh, he or she is living in opposition to the desires of the Spirit. To live in opposition to the desires of the Spirit hinders the work of the Spirit in filling the believer. This too will hinder the work of the Spirit in illuminating the truth of God’s word to the believer.
Again, the solution here is confession and repentance. However, it is often difficult for the one who is controlled by the flesh to identify the problem. It is best to examine your life in view of motives. If the motives are self-serving and not driven by the purposes of God, there is a problem. If fleshly lusts are the driving factor of our lives, then we are not able to be filled with the Spirit. Sometimes our emotions can be in control. When they are, we will find ourselves out of control. Things like fear, anxiety, depression, anger, and etcetera can often control our actions.
In Galatians 5:16-25, Paul lists the type of things that are manifested in the life of a person when the flesh is in control (v19-21,25). In verses 22-23, we see the fruit of the Spirit listed.
The believer should prayerfully look through each of the things listed in these verses and do a spiritual inventory. He or she should then confess the failures, seek God’s grace to reverse these trends and then display the fruit of the Spirit.