What does Spirit-filled mean?

The personal presence and power of the Holy Spirit are essential to living a life that pleases God (see – the book of Galatians). The Holy Spirit is also the source of true Christian community and family life. 

  • “Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:18-21, NLT).

Spirit filled is a description of one’s characteran objective, measurable reality. Is being Spirit-filled something God does for us or we do in obedience to Him?

  • Acts 11:24, Barnabas is described as “…a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.”
  • Acts 6:4, the Church is instructed to, “pick out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom.”

Two essentials for understanding what it means to be Spirit filled

1, The meaning of the word filled (Be continuously filled – a present tense command)

  • Wind filling a sail,
  • Filled with emotions like joy or grief
  • A body filled with leprosy
  • A person being full of deceit 

This carries the idea of total permeation. It is to allow the influence of the Holy Spirit to permeate every part of your life.

  • “This is something we are told to be doing all the time namely, to keep ourselves full. We keep our lungs full of fresh air by constantly breathing; we are to keep ourselves filled with the Spirit by constantly exposing ourselves to His active ministry towards us” (J.I. Packer).

2. The contrast with getting drunk (Do not ever be drunk on wine, aorist tense command – never do this)

The person who gets drunk chooses to allow alcohol to be the controlling influence in every function of life… (speech, vision, coordination, and thinking).

  • “A person, and in this case, a community, whose life is so totally given over to the Spirit that the life and deeds of the Spirit are as obvious in their case as the effects of too much wine are obvious in the other” (John Stott).

Bearing the fruit of the Spirit

A Spirit-filled person’s words, attitudes and actions will be expressed lovingly, joyfully, peacefully, patiently, kindly, generously, faithfully, gently, and with self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

Five reflections for individual believers and local Churches

  1. Being Spirit-filled is objectively measurable in specific behaviors and attitudes. Any professed subjective experience of the Spirit must be accompanied by these observable and measurable realities  (Gal. 5:21-22; Eph. 5:18-21; cf. the life of Barnabas and the seven chosen in Ac. 6:1-4).
  2. Expect a Spirit-filled individual or community of believers to show qualities of joy, gratitude and humility.
  3. Expect a Spirit-filled individual or community of believers not to be characterized by complaining, discontentment; lack of gratitude or conceit and arrogance.
  4. When encountering a Spirit-filled individual or community of believers, expect to see love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
  5. The repeated commands used in relation to the Spirit-filled life remind us that although the Spirit produces spiritual fruit (godly character qualities), he does not do this in a way that allows believers to be passive recipients of his work (see: Philippians 2:12-13 “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure”).

Practical steps

  1. Consuming God’s Word – Colossians 3:16,17 reveal the same results of dwelling on the Word as the filling of the Spirit in Ephesians 5:18-20.
  2. Confession of sin – As we are in the Word, it will lead to confession of sin.
  3. Conforming to God’ will – The filling of the Spirit happens in submission to God’s will. It involves humility and implies that we choose God’s will.
  • “As we give ourselves to the study of God’s Word, we shall begin at once to experience the benefit of the indwelling Spirit’s cooperating action. For if as we study we are willing to learn and to be led, the Spirit will become our teacher and enlighten and increase our understanding, so that more and more we shall discern what we should believe, and how we should act to please God” ( J.I. Packer).

Audio message!

Steve Cornell

See also – The Holy Spirit and The Holy Spirit and the Church

About Wisdomforlife

Just another worker in God's field.
This entry was posted in Fruit of the Spirit, Holy Spirit, Spirit filled, Spiritual disciplines, Spiritual growth, Spiritual inventory, Spiritual transformation, Theology and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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