Be filled with the Spirit

(Ephesians 5:18-20)

It never ceases to amaze me how some scriptures have been taken out of context or have been abused to uphold some position that they are not really supporting or even suggesting. This scripture today is one of those.

Be filled with the Spirit
Be filled with the Spirit

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, always and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father. (Ephesians 5:18-20)

Let’s have a quick look at this and then see what is the really important point in this section of scripture.

Prohibition

While we believe and tr to be pure in heart, mind and soul, there are some who take this to extremes and use scriptures like this one to justify their extremism.

For example, the first part of this section says, “…do not get drunk with wine for that is debauchery.” It does NOT say, “Thou shalt not drink.”

There are people who refuse to drink on the basis of scriptures like this and who look down on anyone who does partake of alcohol. But it was not forbidden in this or any other scripture. Jesus Himself drank some wine. Paul encouraged Timothy to partake of a little wine for the sake of his health and the many ailments he had with his stomach. Jesus and the disciples partook of both bread and wine at the Passover and the last supper.

So there is no evidence from the Bible suggesting that any person cannot drink alcohol. Drinking alcohol is not a sin, regardless of what some people think or believe.

However, for anyone who has a problem with alcohol or thinks they might have a problem with it, then they should abstain. Also a person can simply choose not to drink alcohol for any other reason at all. For example, I do not drink alcohol because I choose not to do so, but not because I think it is a sin to drink. I just feel it is better to stay away from alcohol because I feel it is preferable to always be in full control of my faculties.

The key in this scripture is that a person should not drink to a state of drunkenness because then it is debauchery. When drunkenness takes over, then it is sinful and can lead to worse things.

This scripture is not a ban on alcohol or drinking but rather suggests moderation is a better course.

Receiving the Spirit

Which brings me to the second point in this scripture often taken out of context.

There seems to be a prevailing thought among some Christians that to be filled with the Holy Spirit is like filling a glass with drink. You might have the glass half full or half empty or any degree of being partially full or empty.

It seems to me as though they think once you receive the Holy Spirit it sort of slowly drains away and needs to be topped up.

Scriptures like this one today where it says, “…be filled with the Spirit…” are taken out of context to suggest that after receiving the Holy Spirit you may need to get it again. An example often quoted is the Apostles.

We know that the Apostles and early disciples all received the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost after Jesus had returned to the Father. But later we see this scripture:

And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:31)

This scripture is taken out of context to suggest that the Apostles and others, who had already received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, were again re-filled with the Holy Spirit.

I can confidently say that when a person receives the Holy Spirit it remains with them for life. Consider these scriptures

For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable. (Romans 11:29)

And;

For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for it is not by measure that he gives the Spirit (John 3:34)

In the first verse we see that when the Holy Spirit is given as a gift, it remains with the person to whom it is given. God’s gifts, once given, are permanent. His gifts are irrevocable and cannot be taken away, and most importantly God does not take them back.

Then in the second verse we see that the gifts given by God, and especially the gift of the Holy Spirit, are not given by measure. You don’t just get a half-filling of the Holy Spirit, nor does it somehow drain away like like water from a leaky bucket.

No. When God gives the gift of the Holy Spirit he is given in full measure, running over even.

Be filled with the Spirit

But coming back to the context of these verses in Ephesians 5, we see Paul telling the people to be filled with the Spirit. He then goes on to explain what he means by that statement.

Look at the remainder of the verses as quoted above, and which I will quote again.

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, always and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father. (Ephesians 5:18-20)

Paul is saying that to be filled with the Spirit is to show the kind of joy, love, thankfulness and brotherly affection that is evidence of the fruits of the Spirit. He says to show the fruit that the Spirit is bringing forth in your life in your relationships with others. Show them the love, the joy, the thankfulness and the blessings that you have received from the Lord through the Holy Spirit.

This is what is important in these words: to be alive in the Spirit.

And be careful that you do not take these things out of context for these words have also been used to justify the movement in some charismatic churches that promote being “drunk in the Spirit,” with all manner of strange behaviours. This is not what it means to be “filled with the Spirit.”

Being filled with the Spirit is about the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control that are the fruits of the Spirit. These are the fruits of the Spirit described in Galatians chapter 6, and there is no self-control among those who are drunk in the Spirit.

So be truly filled with the Spirit and seek these joyful blessing of the Lord and show them to your brothers, sisters and all those you come into contact with as you walk in Christ Jesus.

You might also like:

Ask In Faith And It Will Be Done
The Barren Fig Tree
Abide In Me
Thank You Jesus
Ask And It Will Be Given You
Serving Jesus
A New Commandment
How To Love Jesus
Just Ask
Pentecost And Receiving The Holy Spirit
Receiving The Holy Spirit
Baptism And Receiving The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit At Work
Living In The Family Of God
Live In Harmony
Brotherly Love
Walking In Love
Sustaining The Church
Walking In Love With Others
Power Of Love
What Is Love
Taught By God

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