Filled with the Spirit

Filled with the Spirit
Pastor Tony and I recently attended, along with others from Heartland Church, “The PIVOT Conference” sponsored by the Heartland Church Network in Omaha, Nebraska.  In fact, Tony and I were privileged to present our journey and testimony of what we’ve learned and implemented as part of our discipleship system. In any case, more importantly, the keynote speaker was Dr. Ryan Johnston, Chief, Church Planting Strategist, Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists and the theme for the conference was “Flip the Switch–Moving from Surviving to Thriving.” Just to give you a feel, Ryan spoke at the beginning and the end of the conference. During his second session, he made a remarkable comment. He stated, “We need to raise the bar in our churches. We need to hold each other accountable to be filled with the Spirit.” Of course, this applies to the way we talk to one another and about one another, the way we treat one another, our meetings, small groups, corporate worship and in the execution of our ministries. Well, for that matter, it applies to everything we do. Right?
In my personal experience, I’ve noticed that many Christians have a false understanding of what it means to be “filled with the Spirit.” And maybe worse than that, many of us don’t have any idea what it means to be “filled with the Spirit.” Let’s start with the words “filled” or “full.” We often think of these words in terms of having a full stomach or a glass of tea. But the word “filled” in the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, in refence to the Holy Spirit, is closer to our understanding of permeate or dominate. Dr John MacArthur defines filled with the Spirit as “being pressured, permeated, and dominated by the Spirit and God’s Word.” In fact, the command to “be filled with the Spirit” in Ephesians 5:18 is literally a command to “being kept filled.” To be clear, as MacArthur states, “yielding moment by moment to the leading of the Spirit.”
The Bible speaks of “filled with the Spirit” in the following terms:

  • “filled with the Spirit” (Acts 2:4; Eph 5:18)
  • “filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.” (Acts 4:31)
  • “full of the Spirit and of wisdom” (Acts 6:3)
  • “full of faith and of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 6:5)

Before I continue, there is an important distinction that must be made. There is a difference in being “indwelled with the Spirit” and “filled with the Spirit.” When a person becomes a Christian by faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, he or she is immediately indwelled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13; Romans 8:7-9, 8:15-16; 1 Cor 2:14; 2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:13; Gal 4:4-6). With that established, indwelled means to “dwell with you and be in you.” In other words, in simple terms, the Spirit of God lives within every believer in Christ.
JN 14:16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
I’ve been searching God’s word to understand how to be “filled with the Spirit.” I really want to consistently be “filled with the Spirit.” How about you? First, I learned when I’m not “filled with the Spirit.” 
I’m not “filled with the Spirit” when I grieve the Spirit. Eph 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.
I’m not “filled with the Spirit” when I quench (suppress, stifle) the Spirit. This happens when we reject, ignore or doubt what the Spirit is leading us to do. 1 THES 5:19 Do not quench the Spirit.
I’m not “filled with the Spirit” when I act according to the flesh (sinful human nature). GAL 5:17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.
Second, I learned when I am “filled with the Spirit.”
I’m “filled with the Spirit” when I am . . .

  1. Walking in the Spirit or keeping in step with the Spirit (Gal 5:16, 25-26)
  2. Bearing the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23)
  3. Witnessing empowered by the Spirit (Acts 1:8)
  4. Executing ministry gifts assigned by the Spirit (1 Cor 12:7-11, Romans 12:3-8, Eph 4:11-12)
  5. Abiding in Jesus and Jesus abiding in me (John 15:5)
  6. Loving Jesus by obeying the commands of Jesus (John 14:15)
  7. Responding to the Spirit consistent with the ministry of the Spirit (John 14-16)

JN 14:26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you
JN 15:26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.
JN 16:13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
We can boil the idea of being “filled with the Spirit” down to denying our will and submitting to the leading of the Spirit of God. You might say, if we’re full of self, we can’t be “filled with the Spirit.” With that said, if we as Christian people, the church, are “filled with the Spirit” we will experience the supernatural, victorious power of the Holy Spirit in our life and in our ministry to the glory of God. On the other hand, if we are not filled with the Spirit, we will experience what we can do in the power of our flesh. What’s that, you ask? 
2 TIM 3:1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.
Dr. Ryan Johnston challenged me and left me with things to consider and explore. In closing, allow me to share some of the questions I’m working on. Hopefully you are willing to consider these as well.

  1. Am I leading my family filled with the Spirit?
  2. Am I leading the church filled with the Spirit?
  3. Am I preaching filled with the Spirit?
  4. Am I leading meetings and small group filled with the Spirit?
  5. Am I conducting myself in my relationships filled with the Spirit?
  6. Am I responding to the needs of others filled with the Spirit?
  7. Can others see and sense the Spirit of God in me?

A Work in Progress,

Pastor Gene