Living a Spirit Filled Life

The key to rightly living the Christian life is being controlled by the Holy Spirit, who provides energy for walking “worthy of the calling with which you have received”

Ephesians 4:1-6 (HCSB)Therefore I, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love, 3 diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope at your calling— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

Unless you are controlled by the Spirit of God, you can never walk in humility, love, unity, light, and wisdom. The life of God in the soul of man is the only way anyone can live a righteous life. To walk without the Spirit is to walk without wisdom

Ephesians 5:15-17(HCSB)15 Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise— 16 making the most of the time, because the days are evil. 17 So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

The filling or controlling of the Holy Spirit is a profound reality in the believer’s life, and understanding it can change your life. So let’s look at what it means to be filled with the Spirit?

Ephesians 5:18(HCSB)18 And don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless actions, but be filled by the Spirit:

First, this phrase is not commanding empty Christians to acquire something they don’t already have. Each of us possesses the entire Holy Spirit from the time we repent and believe: Romans 8:9-11(HCSB)9 You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God lives in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. 10 Now if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, then He who raised Christ from the dead will also bring your mortal bodies to life through His Spirit who lives in you.

Second, Paul’s phrase is not equating fullness of the Spirit with baptism with the Spirit. Holy Spirit baptism is not an extra experience you need to seek; it is something you have from the moment you are saved. This baptism is a theological reality, an act by which Jesus Christ through the agency of the Spirit places you into the Body of Christ.

When we use the word fill in English we normally think of something being placed into a container such as milk being poured into a glass, water being run into a bath tub, or gasoline being pumped into a gas tank. But none of those examples conveys precisely the meaning of to fill or be filled as does the Greek pleroo, a form of which is used in Ephesians 5:18 .

A directly parallel passage to Ephesians 5:18 is Colossians 3:16(HCSB)16 Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God. This text explains in a slightly different way the meaning of the command “be filled with the Spirit.” The Apostle Paul says, “Let the message of Christ richly dwell among you.” One can be filled with the Spirit only when controlled by the Word. It is knowing truth and obeying it.

Through Jesus, the old covenant was fulfilled and the new covenant of grace began and Christ now mediates on our behalf. Although the temple was completely destroyed in A.D. 70 by Roman soldiers who occupied Jerusalem, God’s Spirit departed the sanctuary nearly 40 years earlier during Christ’s crucifixion. Matthew records this extraordinary event in his rendering of the gospel of Christ: Matthew 27:50-51(HCSB)50 Jesus shouted again with a loud voice and gave up His spirit. 51 Suddenly, the curtain of the sanctuary was split in two from top to bottom; the earth quaked and the rocks were split.

The curtain that separated the inner sanctuary from the rest of the temple was torn in half at the moment Christ died. At this point in time, the Spirit of God left the inner sanctuary of the temple and He never returned. So where did the Spirit of God go after departing the temple? Paul answers this question in his first epistle to Corinth: 1 Corinthians 6:19-20(HCSB)19 Don’t you know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 3:16(HCSB)16 Don’t you yourselves know that you are God’s sanctuary and that the Spirit of God lives in you?

Romans 8:11(HCSB)11 And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, then He who raised Christ from the dead will also bring your mortal bodies to life through His Spirit who lives in you.

Acts 1:8(HCSB)But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

The Spirit departed the temple in Jerusalem and now makes His home in the hearts of those who believe in Jesus Christ. This is what is known as the “indwelling of the Holy Spirit” and signifies our adoption into God’s family:

Romans 8:15(HCSB)15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!”

1 John4:13(HCSB) This is how we know that we remain in Him and He in us: He has given assurance to us from His Spirit.  When a person becomes a Christian, a new creation begins. 2 Corinthians 5:17(HCSB)17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.God’s people once worshiped in a temple made by human hands, but now worship directly through communion with the Holy Spirit: John 4:23(HCSB) 23 But an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. Yes, the Father wants such people to worship Him.

These verses are telling us that the believer in Jesus Christ has the third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, living in him. When an individual accepts Christ as personal Savior, the Holy Spirit gives the believer the life of God, eternal life, which is really His very nature and the Holy Spirit comes to live within him spiritually. Titus 3:5(HCSB)He saved us—not by works of righteousness that we had done,but according to His mercy,through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit.
2 Peter 1:4(HCSB)4 By these He has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires., The fact that the believer’s body is likened to a temple where the Holy Spirit lives helps us understand what the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is all about.

Living a holy life that both personally satisfying and holy may seem like an impossible task for us to fulfill. Indeed, if we attempted to do so by our own strength we would undoubtedly fail. God does not expect us to do it by our own power and might. The reason He sent His Spirit into our hearts is so we could live the life He desires for us to live. We need the Spirit’s help so we can overcome the weaknesses born of the flesh.

What a great comfort this is for those who struggle with our day to day lives, or with an addiction. It is not a battle the Christian faces alone. God has given us the power through the Holy Spirit to overcome this foe. The Spirit searches our hearts and intercedes before the Father on our behalf. Do not underestimate this gift you have been given. The Holy Spirit is a mighty weapon that you can rely upon in overcoming great adversity. He is working in and through you to help you in the sanctification process:
Sanctification, or in its verbal form, sanctify, literally means “to set apart” for special use or purpose, that is, to make holy or sacred. Therefore, sanctification refers to the state or process of being set apart, i.e. made holy.
Sanctification is the process of being set apart for God’s work and being conformed to the image of Christ.  This conforming to Christ involves the work of the person, but it is still God working in the believer to produce more of a godly character and life in the person who has already been justified. Philippians 2:13(HCSB) For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose. Sanctification is not instantaneous because it is not the work of God alone.  The justified person is actively involved in submitting to God’s will, resisting sin, seeking holiness, and working to be more godly. Galatians 2:22(HCSB) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. Significantly, sanctification has no bearing on justification.  That is, even if we don’t live a perfect life(because we can’t), we are still justified.

Where justification is a legal declaration that is instantaneous, sanctification is a process.  Where justification comes from outside of us, from God, sanctification comes from God within us by the work of the Holy Spirit in accordance with the Bible.

Seek the wisdom and power of the  Spirit which is a treasure beyond anything this world can possibly offer and is a source of great power and strength. If you are in the midst of a battle, you may feel like giving up because you think this enemy is too great to overcome. You can overcome sin and addiction through God’s power if you have faith. Understand and recognize that it is when you are at your weakest point that God is strong. His power is made perfect in your weakness: 2 Corinthians 12:9 (HCSB)9 But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.

It is hard to imagine that we can boast about our weaknesses, but Paul had a different perspective, as the above Scripture reveals, than many of us have today. He discovered that God’s power was greater than the many struggles he personally encountered. For Paul, he understood that God’s grace was sufficient in every situation and he experienced great joy; even in times of relentless struggle. And you can experience the same happiness in your life as you lean on God in your time of need.

In order to do so, you will have to live “by the Spirit” of God rather than seeking to satisfy earthly passions and desires. This is not always easy since our sin nature desires what is contrary to God’s moral law. Fortunately, we have been crucified with Christ and can now walk in righteousness: Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (Galatians 5:24, 25) How do we “keep in step” with the Spirit? We must offer our bodies as living sacrifices holy and blameless. Romans 12:1(HCSB)Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. 

This undoubtedly requires tremendous effort and patience. It does not come naturally which is why Paul has to tell us to do it! However, as we renew our minds with God’s truth and reject the many lies, then we will inevitably become transformed. We renew our minds through God’s revealed truth in scripture. God’s holy word works in unison with His Spirit to sanctify our lives. By submitting to both, we will live a Spirit filled life!

God’s pattern for spiritual growth starts with understanding what the Bible says and what it means. The meaning of the Scripture is the Scripture—if you don’t know what it means, you don’t have the truth. So the process of spiritual growth starts with understanding what the Bible says.

True sanctification begins with renewing your mind. You must know the truth, plain and simple. There’s no premium on ignorance in sanctification. You’re not going to get there through some emotional or mystical experience. Spiritual growth won’t happen by osmosis—it requires the discipline of constantly putting God’s truth in your mind.

Don’t confuse childlike faith with childish thinking. There are no shortcuts in sanctification—a lack of biblical knowledge will always retard your spiritual growth. Apart from the truth of Scripture, there simply is no mechanism to restrain your sinful flesh. Legalism can’t do it. Religion can’t do it, False doctrine can’t either. The only certain method for true spiritual growth starts with absorbing God’s eternal truth.


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