“Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life.
Instead, let the Holy Spirit fill and control you.”
(Ephesians 5:18, NLT)
Thoughts… If you are a believer, the Spirit-filled life is not an option, it’s a divine expectation. Spirit-filled living is a Christian essential.
In the New International Version of the Bible, when Paul says, “Don’t get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery (meaningless, valueless, even self-destructive living), instead be filled with the Spirit,” he was speaking to believers who’d come out of the pagan culture of Ephesus.
In their pagan worship and ritual, one of their idols was Baccus, the god of wine and drunken orgies. And they believed that to commune with their god and be led by him they had to get drunk. In their drunken stupor, they believed they could know his will and how best to serve him. And often, the sick bi-product of their out-of-control intoxication was to engage in sexual immorality with temple prostitutes.
Just as depending on wine was a destructive counterfeit to Spirit-filled living in Paul’s day, so we need to be careful in our culture today where alcohol is the drink of choice to help people relax, feel confident, or take away the pain of whatever ails them, and make them feel good, that we don’t buy into that deceptive line. I am not preaching against drinking, because I don’t believe the Scriptures explicitly forbid it. But unfortunately, there are a lot of Christians today whose drinking habits are no different from unbelievers.
It is still God’s desire that we depend on being filled with his Spirit to make us confident, competent and joyful rather than a drink, or a relationship or position or a possession, for that matter. In truth, nothing compares to the Spirit-filled life to satisfy every longing of your heart and enable you to experience the good life. The greatest and longest lasting “high” in this world comes from Spirit-filled living.
Now in this passage, Paul is not referring to that instantaneous infilling of the Spirit like we read about in Acts 2, but rather the ongoing submission of our will to God’s work through an active yielding of one’s life to the Spirit’s control. Spirit filling in the book of Acts was an event, while this filling in Ephesians is an ongoing process. In Acts, it was evidenced by extraordinary, miraculous happenings while in Ephesians, it was evidenced by ordinary, everyday choices that submitted them to the Spirit. In Acts, the Spirit was received by asking in faith, while in Ephesians the Spirit is responded to by yielding in obedience. Both kinds of Spirit infilling are valid, and needed.
Being filled with the Spirit is not just a matter of eliminating sinful or unproductive behavior in your life and then passively waiting for God to supernaturally fill you. Rather, Paul is saying it is about eliminating those things that grieve the Spirit and then replacing them with passions that please him. Living the Spirit-filled life is about the daily choices you make to yield control to him—choices to imitate God and eliminate immoral or questionable practices; choices to find out what pleases God; choices to find out and then do what God’s will is; choices that give the Holy Spirit more of you.
The great evangelist D. L. Moody went to England for an evangelistic crusade, but was met with some professional jealousy. One pastor protested, “Why do we need this ‘Mr. Moody’? He’s uneducated and inexperienced. Who does he think he is anyway? Does he think he has a monopoly on the Holy Spirit?” One wise pastor pointed out, “Moody doesn’t have more of the Holy Spirit than we do, but the Holy Spirit has more of Mr. Moody.”
Make a decision today to allow the Holy Spirit to have more of you! In every area of your life, yield control to him—that’s what it means to be Spirit-filled.
Prayer… Holy Spirit, take control of all of me—mind, tongue, hands, eyes—all my thoughts, words and actions. Have more of me, I pray.
One More Thing… “O Holy Spirit, descend plentifully into my heart. Enlighten the dark corners of this neglected dwelling and scatter there Thy cheerful beams.” —Augustine