Be filled with the Spirit

We’ve often heard the idea of being filled with the Spirit, or being Spirit-filled.  What does that mean exactly?  Paul writes,

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, – Ephesians 5:18

Paul provides a sharp contrast here.  Perhaps there were some at the church of Ephesus given to drunkenness.  By the way, this does not prohibit drinking, but the Bible does strongly forbid drunkenness.

As opposed to being drunk with wine, believers should be filled with the Spirit.

Now, some have abused this passage to suggest that being Spirit-filled looks like being drunk.  They slur their words, act inebriated, etc.  But that’s not Paul’s point here.  When a person is drunk, they lose self-control.  In a sense, the alcohol controls their actions.  What Paul is exhorting us to do is to submit our wills not to alcohol, but to God the Holy Spirit.  May it be the Holy Spirit to guide our thoughts and actions, and not anything else.

The passage goes on to describe what being Spirit-filled looks like:

addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. – Ephesians 5:19-21

So, being Spirit-filled is not about being possessed by Him, in the way we think of possessions, but rather that we are bursting with songs of joy to Him, exuding thankfulness to the Father, and living lives of loving submission to one another.  Surely it’s not an exhaustive list that Paul gives here, but we get the idea.  Being Spirit-filled means being guided by the Holy Spirit to love and live for God according to His Word.

Now, it does seem that Paul is using these “ing” words (addressing, giving, etc.) to describe what being Spirit-filled looks like.  He may also be describing how to be Spirit-filled. We become Spirit-filled by worshipping God with our minds, our hearts, and our actions.

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