Ephesians Study, Part 40: Keep Being Filled with the Holy Spirit


Last week, we studied Paul's admonition not to get drunk with wine, because that is a waste.   He had previously told us not to waste our time, that the time is short and we need to get on with what God wants us to do in our life, and he says that to get drunk is also a waste.

Although we spent time of the question of wine and the Bible, I concluded that wine is not the problem, that excess is the problem, excess anything. Anything that takes over your life and is in the way with your relationship with Jesus, is a problem and a waste, it is dissipation as Paul put it.

I also concluded that Jesus drank wine when he was here on earth, and I find no direction from him that to have a drink of wine is bad, unless it leads to excess or unless it causes another to stumble.   That is of course, a really big if because it is impossible to know when our example causes someone else to use it to excess or when our example interferes with someone else being attracted to Jesus and ultimately come to accept him as their Savior.

Be Filled with the Spirit:

Although we took that course of discussion last week, that was not even what Paul was telling us.   He was telling us not to get drunk, which I do not think anyone would argue is a good idea, physically or spiritually.

But let's look at what he really said, which is yet something different.

He says that we shouldn't waste our lives by being drunk with wine, but instead we should fill our life with the Holy Spirit and accomplish what God has in mind for us in our life.   The real message is the positive admonition, to be filled with the Spirit.

How often we've heard this.   It is interesting that to be filled with the spirit is commanded.  This is a call for obedience to do something.   This be filled with the spirit, needs a comment.   The verb here has three things which we should note.  The verb is an imperative.   That means that it is a command.  But the other part, which does not show up in the English, is that it is in the continuative present tense.   It really says "keep being filled".   Paul says that this is an experience we should be having every day.   This is not just when we were saved.   It is not just on special occasions.   He is saying keep on keeping on being filled.  Interestingly, it is also in the passive of voice which means that we do not fill ourselves but we simply permit the Holy Spirit to fill us. The point is, we do not use the Holy Spirit, he uses us. The word filled here is also misunderstood. The word it really means "to be controlled by". It is used that way also in Luke 4:28:

From here it would be easy to jump off into a study about the work of the Holy Spirit.  There are at least four or five things that the Holy Spirit does once and for all.
  1. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is interpreted by most scholars as the act that includes an individual into the body of Christ.
  2. The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit is when the Holy Spirit takes up residence in the believer and empowers the believer as John makes clear in John 14:16.
  3. There is also the Anointing of the Holy Spirit, where he is the teacher of the believer.
  4. He is also both the Earnest and the Seal which guarantees the inheritance of believers and guarantees the believers for the inheritance.  We already talked about that in Ephesians Chapter 1.
  5. There is also a Ministry of the Holy Spirit which is continuous.  Being filled with the Spirit is a continuing ministry.  It is through the Holy Spirit that we confess and put away sin, First John Chapter 1 hammers away at that.  It is through the Holy Spirit that we are molded as stated in Romans 12.
  6. It is through the Holy Spirit that God's word dwells richly in us.
Perhaps the sum of all of this is to be emptied of ourselves as spelled out in Galatians 2:20. It is interesting that in Acts Chapter 2, at Pentecost, the believers were accused of being drunk and yet, both in Galatians 5:23 which says ... gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law ... and in First Corinthians 14, it is clear that self control is a fruit of the Spirit.  So uncontrollable behavior, in many people's interpretation, is questionable.

To fill a cup with a new ingredient, it must first be emptied of what was already in the cup.  One of the things that is difficult for us to understand and to learn is that to be filled with the Holy Spirit we first must be emptied of ourselves.

There are four evidences of being filled with the Holy Spirit which Paul gets into next.

He just said:

--and he continues the thought-- So one evidence that you are filled with the Holy Spirit, is the joy you express.  This speaks of the inward Joy of the Christian.  Christian Joy is a deep experience of both adequacy and confidence.  Those are what a lot of people think of when they think of Joy.  The Christian Joy is really based on that.  In spite of the circumstances around us, a Christian should feel adequate and confident.  If you think about it, God goes to extensive lengths to continue to ask us, do you really trust me.

And Paul continues:

Another evidence is the thankfulness we express for what God provides for us, both good and bad.  Remember: "Nobody knows the trouble I've had, Glory Hallelujah!"  Thanksgiving should not be something we do occasionally, it should be continual.  And Paul says that we should always give thanks for all things.  Remember that when Paul was writing this, he was a prisoner.  Here is a guy under house arrest.  He is in prison.  He will be going to his death most likely before too long.  And yet he is reminding us, and he was reminding the churches to give thanks for everything, good and bad.  Here he is chained to a Praetorian guard.  But of course Paul gives us this admonition throughout his writings.  All of Paul's prison epistles are letters of comfort to the reader.

He continues:

Paul tells us in both Philippians and in Romans that we are to think more highly of others than ourselves.  These are familiar thoughts that Paul is just hammering home to us.  If we ever hesitate to think of others more important than ourselves just remember who washed the disciples feet.  How do you submit yourself to one another?  One way is to be bold in rebuking sin.  You owe it to your Christian brother to be firm on that.  And you need to be willing to have a brother offer correction to you when you need it.

In Acts 4:13 it says:

Similarly, the new believers recognized that Peter and Paul were trained by Jesus, and that they needed to be trained by Peter and Paul.

So Paul says that we should lead our lives in a manner worthy of being chosen as a follower of Jesus, which includes being filled with the Spirit that is Jesus and acting like it, which includes being joyful, and thankful and willing to be submissive to each other as believers.

That was the easy part.

Now, we have been through the easy part.   The easy part is over.  Now to the rough stuff.  All of the women who know the passage we're about to come to are already uncomfortable.  This is that time that you may find some of the women in the class going to the restroom, or in our case missing a class session.  They know that Ephesians 5:22 is next.  How many women in this room have had Ephesians 5:22 pointed out to you by a man in your past?  (That was only a rhetorical question.)

Next week:

...there is no class, because of the church-wide world mission focus.  The following week (May 11), we are going to look at the question of the relationship between a man and a wife, as God designed it.

Look at Ephesians 5:22-33 to prepare.