Being filled with the Spirit is a Christian duty. The New Testament never instructs Christians to be baptized, indwelt, gifted, sealed, or anointed by the Spirit. These Spirit-graces are the standard equipment of the Christian life. For this standard equipment to function correctly, you must be filled with the Spirit. The Word of God commands us to be filled with the Spirit. Ephesians 5:18 contains two commands. Both carry divine authority. It is just as sinful for Christians not to be filled with the Spirit as it is to be drunk with wine.
Every Christian is commanded to be filled with the Spirit. It is not just for Pentecostals or charismatics. Filling is not just for church leaders, mature Christians, or ministry participants. And it is not just for those who desire it or seek it. Spirit-infilling is all-inclusive. Having told us in Ephesians 5:18 to be filled with the Spirit, Ephesians 5:21–6:9 teaches what it looks like for every Christian wife and husband, child and parent, employee and employer to be filled with the Spirit. Think about that. What would your church be like if every member was filled with the Spirit?
To be filled with the Spirit is to be empty of self.
How is a Christian filled with the Spirit? Study this subject, and you will find multiple, contradictory answers to this question. The Bible does not give any formula, process, or technique for being filled with the Spirit. But I do believe there is a biblical answer to this question. It is in Colossians 3, which parallels Ephesians 5. Paul gives the same set of instructions in both passages.
Ephesians 5 begins these instructions by saying, “Be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18).
Colossians 3 begins these instructions by saying, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Col. 3:16).
Put these two verses together, and you find the way to be filled with the Spirit. To be filled with the Spirit of God is to be filled with the Word of God. The Holy Spirit and Scripture are not in conflict. They always work together. If you show me a person whose life is governed by the Word of God, I will show you a person whose life is governed by the Spirit of God.
It is worth noting that no Spirit-filled person in Scripture ever claimed to be filled with the Spirit. The primary work of the Holy Spirit is to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “He will bear witness about me” (John 15:26). Jesus also said, “He will glorify me” (John 16:14). The Holy Spirit is the “shy” member of the Trinity. When the Spirit shows up, He never draws attention to Himself. He always puts the spotlight on the Lord Jesus. Likewise, Spirit-filled Christians do not show off how spiritual, gifted, or mature they are. To be filled with the Spirit is to be empty of self.
by H. B. Charles, Jr.
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