“Be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18). When Paul penned these words to his fellow Christians in Ephesus, he was expecting that all Christians (that includes you who say you follow Christ) are under the control of, living by, being guided, empowered, and directed by the Spirit. But many Christians are not aware of what living a Spirit-filled life really means.
In my sermon last December 9, I told our church about these four observations on Paul’s command, “Be filled with the Spirit.”
It is necessary, not optional. This is not just from Paul. It is God’s command. And like all other commands of God, we need to obey. God is not making here any suggestion or proposal to us. He is not asking us after commanding this, “What do you think?” Since it is God’s command, we have a decision to make. Will you obey or not? The answer to that question will be quick and easy for you if you believe that all of God’s commands are good – for his glory and for the good of your soul.
It is moment by moment, not a single event. This command is in the present tense in the original language. What does it imply? It means that to be filled with the Spirit is not a one time deal. It must be a daily and continuous experience of a Christian. It is not just about being emotionally or spiritually high after a Sunday worship service or during a youth camp or a revival night, but also while doing your laundry, cooking for your spouse, finishing a project at school, working in your office, talking with a friend, or using the Internet.
It is for all Christians, not a select few. The form of the verb in the original is plural. Paul was not telling this command to one individual or to a group of leaders in the church. He was telling this to all Christians in Ephesus. All Christians are sealed by the Spirit (Eph. 1:13). This work of the Spirit is available to all as promised by God (Acts 2:17-18). Whether you are 12 years old or 62 years old, whether you are a pastor or an errand boy, whether you are single or married, whether you are educated or not, whether you are seminary-trained or not. The Spirit-filled Christian life is not a super-Christian life, but the normal Christian life. So make it part of your daily prayer to ask God to fill you with his Spirit. Because…
It is God’s work, not ours. The command is in the passive voice. This form is very different from an active or middle voice. When the voice is active, it will look something like this, “Fill yourself with the Spirit.” That is, you are the doer of the action. But this is not what this command is about. It is like this, “Let God do the work of filling you with his Spirit.” To be Spirit-filled, then, is to put ourselves in a position wherein we cease to resist God’s work but allow him to direct us, control us, lead us, guide us, empower us. That’s the Spirit-filled Christian life.