If you are truly a Christian, then the Holy Spirit dwells in you, Roman 8:9.
There is no ‘Premier Division’ to be promoted to. But we should all seek to be filled more and more by the Holy Spirit.
John the Baptist, Luke 1:15;
Our Lord, Luke 4:1;
Peter, Acts 4:8;
Stephen, Acts 6:5; 7:55;
Saul, Acts 9:17; 13:9;
Barnabas, Acts 11:24.
We also read of larger numbers being filled at the same time, Acts 2:4; 4:31; 6:3; 13:52.
WHAT IT MEANS
It is clear that the New Testament encourages us all to experience in fullest measure the indwelling, enriching, and empowering of the Holy Spirit.
According to Ephesians 5:18, being filled with the Spirit:-
- is not optional, but obligatory.
- is not singular, but plural.
- is not our work, but God’s.
- is not once-for-all, but continuous.
‘To be filled with the Holy Spirit is to be filled with the immediate presence of God himself, and it therefore will result in feeling what God feels, desiring what God desires, doing what God wants, speaking by God’s power, praying and ministering in God’s strength, and knowing with the knowledge which God himself gives.’ (Wayne Grudem)
(a) SPIRITUAL FRUIT
The fulness of the Spirit will lead to such practical results as Paul describes in Galatians 5:23-23 and Ephesians 5:18-6:9. This will include:-
God-glorifying praise, Ephesians 5:19-20; Colossians 3:16; Psalm 40:3
Thankfulness in all things, Job 1:21; Psalm 145:2; Philippians 4:11
Transformed relationships, Philippians 2:5; Ephesians 5:21 and following.
Being filled with the Spirit is not a ‘quick fix’. It does not offer an easy short cut to holiness. The Christian life continues to be a battle against sin, the world, and the devil.
(b) SPIRITUAL GIFTS
In the book of Acts it is repeatedly made clear that the experience of the
Holy Spirit is accompanied by visible signs and clearly recognisable events.
Because some of the gifts are controversial, Christians can be over-cautious. But see Ephesians 4:7-16:-
- Do we sorrow deeply over the imperfections of the church? God has given his gifts ‘for the perfecting of the saints’ (Authorised Version).
- Is the very existence of Christian ministry is at stake? God has given his gifts ‘to prepare God’s people for works of service’.
- Are Christians ashamed of their divisions, yet embarrassed at misdirected to heal them? God has given his gifts ‘until we all reach unity in the faith.’
- Are people bewildered by heresy and half-truths and doctrines of men? God has given his gifts so that ‘we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching…Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.’
We can apply the following questions to the use of spiritual gifts:-
- Is Jesus attested as Lord? I Corinthians 12:3.
- Is the church built up? I Corinthians 14:26.
- Do they lead to peace, rather than to disorder? I Corinthians 14:32f.
- Do they possess the character of witness to unbelievers? I Corinthians 14:24.
- Are they exercised in love? I Corinthians 13:1.
- Do they lead to God being glorified? I Peter 4:11.
BEING FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT
It is both a free gift, I Thessalonians 4:8, and a solemn responsibility, Ephesians 5:18.
There are certain positive attitudes which open the way to the blessing of the Spirit.
We are to ask, Luke 11:13
We are to thirst and drink, John 7:37
We are to repent, Acts 2:38
We are to obey, Acts 5:32
We are to have faith, John 7:39; Galatians 3:1-5,14.
On the other hand, certain negative attitudes can oppose the work of the Spirit.
He can be lied to, Acts 5:3
He can be resisted, Acts 7:51
He can be grieved, Ephesians 4:30
He can be quenched, I Thessalonians 5:19.
The fulness of the Spirit is a foretaste of the life to come, Romans 8:23; II Corinthians 1:22; 5:5; Ephesians 1:14.