What Does “Being Filled With The Spirit” Really Mean?

(Ephesians 5:18) “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;”

Most of the preaching and teaching we receive on this verse concerns someone’s thoughts about what being “filled with the Spirit” is supposed to mean. If you identify the denominational background of the person speaking, I could probably tell you what their theology teaches on the subject. (For the sake of argument, I would say most who are “non-denominational” often turn out to be a denomination anyway). However, I’ve heard very little on the actual context of the verse as it relates to the meaning. The focus isn’t about mechanics or methods leading to a Spirit-filled life. We find the context and direction in the meaning of “excess.”

Even the messages I’ve heard about the relationship of wine and “excess” are usually about the awful effects of alcohol and avoidance. Unfortunately, this interpretation misses the mark. The word “excess” comes from the Greek word asotia which Thayer defines as “an abandoned, dissolute life.” The issue isn’t the wine. The issue is the activity and the problem as a result of drinking too much wine. In other words, the result of drinking too much is an immoral life. For Christians, immorality is measured against the morality of God. When we are drunk, the very state and the resulting behavior often defy the goodness found in the nature and character of the very God Who indwells us.

Set this against “being filled with the Spirit.” Our decisions are not controlled by wine or any worldly substance. We are acting on behalf and in alignment with the character of God Himself. Instead of surrender to the flesh, we are surrendered to the Spirit. Instead of uncontrolled behavior, we are absolutely controlled by the Spirit of God acting in combination with sound doctrine residing in our soul. Our lifestyle reflects the desire and decisions resulting from this control. We live contrary to the world. The fruit of the Spirit is the tangible manifestation of this lifestyle we live “filled with the Spirit.” It is not relegated to church services and small group meetings. It is not isolated in prayer meetings and preaching conferences. “Filled with the Spirit” is a description of the surrendered life we live in the face of a lost world.

Renewed Thought – Being “filled with the Spirit” will never point out and glorify us. Being “filled with the Spirit” will ultimately bring glory to God alone.


Living The Good Life

(Ephesians 5:9) “(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)”

Have you ever heard the expression, “Living the good life?” What does this usually mean? In commercials during football games it usually means kicking back with a group of friends, popping open a cold one, and having a party. In Florida, we see advertisements of retirement communities where seniors can play golf, hang out with friends and enjoy nice walks on the beach. It’s evident that a “good life” means different things to different people. In these cases, “good” equals “fun.” But in the bigger scheme of things, can we really know the life we are living is “good” in the eyes of God. Who defines what is truly “good” and whether we are living a life that is good? How does this relate to our life in Christ?

In this parenthesis, we find the connection between our identity and our walk. At the moment of salvation, the Holy Spirit places us into the Church, the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians12:13). We become saints not by virtue of what we’ve done but by virtue of who we are. But we are not left to walk in our own power to fulfill our identity. The Holy Spirit indwells us for the purpose of living a life under the power of God.

Our conscience is designed to recognize goodness, righteousness and truth. Unfortunately, we live in a world system that will question, violate and eventually sear the conscience. All three of these are not regarded as absolutes but are judged as relative attributes. By defining these virtues in a relative sense, any real definition is lost and it becomes impossible to recognize what is good, righteous or true. All of it becomes subjective and therefore our lives are defined by self. The only way to live according to a standard higher than self, according to a moral conscience that is consistent with a Higher Authority, is to abandon the relative and cling to the absolute. The only way to understand and live in the absolute is to have a source and authority outside of self. This is what allows us to live consistently according to the faith we hold and Christ we proclaim. For the believer, the Holy Spirit is the connection between our identity and our walk. Any virtue produced in our lives after salvation are to the glory of God because He is the One producing it.

Renewed Thought – “As Christians grow in holy living, they sense their own inherent moral weakness and rejoice that whatever virtue they possess flourishes as the fruit of the Spirit.” – D.A. Carson

What Is Grieving The Holy Spirit?

(Ephesians 4:30) “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.”

Have you ever grieved over someone? Usually we grieve out of a sense of loss. Maybe you lost a spouse, sibling friend or parent to death. Sometimes we grieve when we lose a relationship like in a divorce or a friend no longer speaks to us. It’s traumatic to suffer loss. What was once normal is no longer normal. We lose not only a relationship but we also lose a sense of familiarity. We feel lonely in these times. The Holy Spirit can be grieved as well. If this is true, then the closest we can come to understanding it is to look at it in the sense of loss.

We are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. He is not only the third member of the Trinity, but He is also the One who empowers the Word of God operating in us. When we live a life that denies who we now are in Christ, it’s as if He lost the person who is the product of redemption. In these times the Holy Spirit is witnessing a redeemed person who is behaving like they were before salvation. It’s as if the redemption is worthless or meaningless when our behavior matches who we were not who we are in Christ. The redeemed person who was so familiar at salvation living in Christ’s identity has reverted back to living in their own identity. This grieves the Spirit of God. Better yet, this grieves the Holy Spirit – and He is named Holy Spirit for a reason.

But think about the grace of God working in a situation where we grieve the Lord. In spite of our behavior contrary to Him and His character, His Spirit still seals us until the Church is taken up off this earth to live with Him (“day of redemption”). He continues to cover us and protect our salvation while we live out of a sense of self. He continues to indwell us even though we are impossible roommates in this earthen vessel.

The question we all need to ask ourselves is this: Am I grieving the Holy Spirit?

If so, then it’s time to make a decision to stop.

Renewed Thought – Sometimes we hurt those who love us the most. Today is the day to stop doing that.