(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.