Ephesians 5:18-21, And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; (19) Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; (20) Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; (21) Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

I am convinced that the lack of understanding the work of the Holy Spirit in people’s lives has caused much of the failure in the Christian home and the powerlessness of the church. If a parent is not a Spirit filled person, he or she will not be a godly parent. If a husband or a wife are not Spirit filled people, they will not have a godly marriage. Without an intimate, personal, and passionate relationship with the Holy Spirit you are out of fellowship with God and you will utterly fail. In the New Testament there are three commanded responses to the Holy Spirit.

I want to qualify the statement that I just made. I do not want to confuse you, but if you count in the New Testament you will find 16 positive responses to the Holy Spirit. However, only three are in an imperative or a command mode. In other words, in three of the sixteen God says do this, do this, and do this.

The other thirteen seem to be almost automatic if you have done the first three. They naturally follow. For instance, praying in the Holy Spirit, having joy in the Holy Spirit, loving through the Holy Spirit, or worshiping God through the Holy Spirit follows if you have obeyed the three commands concerning the Holy Spirit. So, we want to put our emphasis on these three commands.

1. Ephesians says be filled with Him. 2. Galatians says walk in Him. 3. Revelation says hear Him.

Those are the three commanded responses to the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. In the last article we talked about Hearing the Holy Spirit. The book of Revelation says to hear Him seven times. In this article we are going to talk about The Filling of The Holy Spirit. There has been much false teaching on this subject.

Ephesians 5:18, And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

This verse contains both a contrast and a comparison. A contrast is where you have things that are different. A comparison is where you have things that are similar or alike. The contrast in this verse is between the wine and the Spirit. The contrast here is this: Sometimes unbelievers have the idea that wine or strong drink is a stimulant. It is not a stimulant. You look it up and you will find that wine or strong drink is a depressant. It affects the nerve center, and it affects the brain. It depresses a man’s ability to think, to make judgment, to evaluate, to discriminate, to be under self-control. It depresses these abilities. So, wine is not a stimulant, it is a depressant.

The contrast is this, the Holy Spirit is not a depressant He is a stimulant to all of man’s God given powers. He stimulates the intellect so that a mind controlled by Jesus Christ is sharp, crisp, and able to function. He is a stimulant to our emotions and our affections. No man is capable of such love unless controlled by the Holy Spirit. How do you explain the self-sacrifice of one believer for another believer? No man is capable of that kind of sacrifice except that he is controlled by the Holy Spirit. There is the contrast!
The comparison here is between the two verbs, drunk and being filled. What is a man like when he is drunk with wine? He is controlled by it. What is a man like when he is filled with the Holy Spirit? He is controlled by Him. The point here is this, the command has to do with the Holy Spirit’s possession of the believer so he controls every part. Just as wine controls the person who is intoxicated.

At this point, we are going to have an English lesson. Every verb in the Greek New Testament has a story in it. Greek is very precise. This is the reason God wrote the New Testament in Greek. Example: In English how many words do we have for love? Basically we have one. As a Christian we use the word love and the unsaved world uses the word love and we certainly do not mean the same thing. We are poverty stricken because we do not have another word. The Greeks had four different words for love. That is because their language is the result of centuries of philosophical thinking, where great philosophers were trying to make great distinctions.
Every Greek verb has a story. This particular verb, be filled is: 1. Present tense-happening right now. 2. Passive voice 3. Imperative mood. Let me tell you what that means. Present tense means I am to be continually in this state, or to be continually filled. In other words, this is not something that happens to me in the past and then I leave it behind. Nor is it something that I look forward to in the future. For instance, in the Christian life, I am looking forward to the rapture. That is hardly present, that is future. In the past I look back to the time I was justified. I look forward to when I am glorified. Right now I am being sanctified. That is presently going on. In the present right now I am to be in this state. I do not look forward to it and say I hope I get all my Christian eggs in the right basket and get my act together and actually start getting filled. No, it is present, right now. Right now I am in this state. The second word was passive voice. That word means I am to be surrendered or submit myself.

James 4:7, Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

I am to be surrendered to this state. Let’s talk about active and passive for a minute. Active voice is “I hit the ball.” Passive voice is “The ball hit me.” In active voice, “I” performed the action. In passive voice, “I” received the action.

When it comes to the Holy Spirit’s filling, I just cannot go out and work myself into a filled state. The Holy Spirit is doing the action and all I do is simply submit. I am just passive to it  and let Him fill me. Folks, if you will think about it this way it will help you. I have two arms, two legs, two hands, two feet, one mouth, two ears, two eyes, a trunk, two legs, and the Holy Spirit just wants me to say, “Lord here I am, please take my arms, legs, hands, mouth, ears, and
eyes and fill me. Lord, you just possess everything. Don’t just possesses my eyes, possess my ears. Don’t just possesses my legs, possess my mouth.” Possess all of me and control me, just like wine would control every part of a person that is intoxicated. That is the point here.

Now I can stop the Spirit’s filling!

I can say Lord, “I do not mind that you have control of this portion of my life or this portion, but I have been a shop lifter all of my life and I do not know any other way to make a living and so when I go down to Wal-Mart I do not want you to control my right hand. You say Pastor that is ridiculous. Maybe so, but it is just as ridiculous for the Christian to say, “Lord I don’t mind having my devotions, or going to church on Sunday morning, but I do not want you to control my mouth when I am around the lost and I do not feel like giving them a gospel witness. Think about it!

Filling is just a total surrender and submission!

The third word was imperative mode.

What is another word for an imperative? A command. Folks, listen carefully, whenever the Bible gives me a command then I am responsible. God would not give you a command if you were not responsible. There are some things I do not tell my children to do because they cannot do them. So, I do not make them responsible. So, if I say to my daughters stop talking and eat your cereal. They are responsible. I know they can do that. When God gives us a command He knows we can do that. I am responsible. Let me enlarge on that for a moment. Each person has intellect, emotions, and will. Brain, feeling, and decision making, intellect, emotions, and will.

Every command of God is directed to one part of my personality and one part only.

It is not directed to my intellect because it may not make sense to me to do that. It may not make sense to me to continue to give my ten percent to God when I can hardly pay my bills. It may not make sense, so God’s command is not directed to my intellect.

It is also not directed to my feelings, because frankly I may not feel like going to prayer meeting tonight.

It is always directed to my will. An imperative is a demand from a will to a will!

If I will, guess what, when I get to prayer meeting God’s Holy Spirit will bless me and when I walk out of the door I will say you know it was good to be in the house of the Lord. I am really glad I came. See, now I have feeling and when I give to the Lord like I should and then God makes up the difference by doing supernatural things to provide for me. Then my head says you know it is good to cast your bread upon the waters.

So every command is directed to my will. Friend that is what the Holy Spirit wants. If He gets your will, then He has got you! Satan puts outside pressure on your life to seek to control your emotions so he can eventually control your will, your decision maker.
Now what do you do when you have a person who because of a sinful past have given themselves over to a habit, or a longing, or a love. Folks, the point is God wants your will! You may not be able to give a certain thing, but would you be willing to ask God to take a certain thing? Either way friend He gets your will right? In other words, if you do not have the strength to put it on the altar, ask God to put it upon the altar. He has the strength for it. Either way He gets your will and in time, intellect and emotions will follow. Being filled with the Spirit means I do not have any corks in my life where the living water cannot flow.

Ephesians 5:19-21, Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; (20) Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; (21) Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

There are verbs here that tell you the result of being filled. Verse 19, speaking, verse 19, singing and making melody, verse 20, giving thanks, and verse 21, submitting.

Every one of these is what we call a participle. A participle goes back and elaborates on the main verb. The main verb in this passage is be filled. The elaborations are when you are filled you will do the four things speaking, singing and making melody, giving thanks, and submitting.

Friend, let me just say this if you will not submit yourself to those who have authority over you, you are not filled with the Spirit.

Hebrews 13:17, Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

Ephesians 5:22, Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

God is elaborating here on the fourth point, submission. Someone says, “That is tough.” Let me give you something to think about that might help. Before you can submit to others you have to submit to the Holy Spirit first. Many Christians never understand that and chaos rules and reigns in their life. You cannot work it up on your own because it will never happen that way.

Now, let’s talk about how to have a real relationship with God and being filled with the Spirit. When I met Kim, who is now my wife, I decided I wanted to have a relationship with her. I wanted to be around her. I wanted to talk to her and listen to her. Communication is the most important thing about building a relationship. A relationship is not a one way street. It is a two way street of talk and listen, listen and talk. God speaks to my spirit through His Spirit through His Word. To have communication with God I must first deal with my sin. So, to have a real relationship with God I must do several things:

  1. I have to deal with my sin daily. Remember – talk and listen, listen and talk. I learned several years ago to ask God if there was any sin that stood between me and Him that day, every day. Lord, show it to me. He will. When He does, I need to confess the sin and turn from it, I John 1: 9. I am now free to communicate with God. You know, I found out how gracious and loving God is as He dealt with me through His Word in dealing with my sins. Sometimes it almost literally hurt to see how ugly my life was. The joy of sins forgiven and the degree to which God now opened His Word to me I thought was incredible. Then, “Lord I submit myself to you, please fill me and control me by the Holy Spirit.”
  2. We developed a program here at Hope Biblical Counseling Center several years ago called “How to Have a Daily Time With God.” The premise is to have a notebook called a “Daily Spiritual Diary.” Each day I use a page of the notebook, and write down 1. God’s Message to Me Today. 2. A Promise from God. 3. A Command to Keep. 4. A Timeless Principle (a principle that is good for all time in both Old and New Testament). 5. My Application. 6. Additional  Comments. I recommend you have a notebook for your “Daily Spiritual Diary”.  Folks, the notebook does not lie as I put the date of each day right at the top. It is a record of my faithfulness in my relationship with the Saviour.
  3. Each day I ask God to give me His message for me today. In essence, I want to hear from God for real. “Lord, show me what you have today for me from your Word. Please make it real to my life.”

Folks, God does not bless Bible readers; He blesses Bible meditators, Psalm 1:1-6. Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish. As I am reading down through my Bible, when the Holy Spirit shows me a truth I stop! I read the verse over several times. I break down the verse. If I do not know what some words mean in the verse, I look them up. Listen carefully, the reason I stopped is because I have asked the Holy Spirit to give me His message for me today. God speaks to my heart (meditator) about this passage. Meditating is thinking about the passage. Psalm 119:11, Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. This verse is not about memorizing the Bible for knowledge purposes – it is about putting it in your heart (meditator). I am stopped to listen to God. It is time to stop (not talk), and listen and learn from the Master Teacher. I then write it down in my own words. I then proceed and the Holy Spirit stops me again for a promise, command, etc. I dissect the verse that the Holy Spirit has stopped me on. Psalm 19:14, Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer. I have a page in my “Daily Spiritual Diary” where I write special thoughts from God and meditate on them. I want to have a real relationship with the God of the universe and I want Him to speak to me. I then write down under “My Application” what all this means to me and how I can apply it to my life. I write it down in my own words, sometimes as a prayer.

  1. Now we come to the prayer time. Remember a relationship is about talk and listen, listen and talk. As I come to prayer, I ask God to speak to my spirit today about what He wants me to pray about. “Lord what do you want me to pray about today?” This is very important. Remember I John 2:15-17 where the devil is seeking to control my life through outside pressure through the lust of the flesh (an overwhelming desire to do), lust of the eyes (an overwhelming desire to have), and the pride of life (an overwhelming desire to be). Listen carefully, after asking God what He wants me to pray about today, and praying about it as He speaks to me. I then ask God what He wants me to do today, what He wants me to have today, and what He wants me to be today. Effectively, I have disarmed the devil’s approach by turning these three areas over to God. Folks, would it not be better to pray about what God wants you to do, have, and be? The people who come through our counseling program are always talking about what they want to do, what they want to have, and what they want to be. I know immediately they are being controlled by the devil’s influence on their soul and he is controlling their body and therefore controlling what they ultimately do.
  2. There are three more things I want to ask God about. First of all – who does He want me to witness to today? Then I stop talking (be quiet) and listen to God. Remember a relationship is a two way street, talk and listen, listen and talk. After God tells me who to witness to today, I then ask him who He wants me to encourage today. When He brings up that person I pray for them and then maybe give them a call or write them a note. Thirdly, I ask God what I can praise Him for today. There are many passages of scripture that tell us to praise God.
    However, I want to know what He wants me to praise Him for. Why do I pray about who to witness to today, encourage today, and to praise God for? Because I am focusing on others and not myself. When most Christians pray they have a list and they go down it and it is, “Lord give me this and I want that or let me be this.” It is a self-righteous way to pray and it is not accomplishing anything. It is the focus of the devil to get the Christian to love the world. I John 2:15, If any man love the world the love of the Father is not in Him. Does that mean he
    is lost? No, it means he does not have a real relationship with God. His love is somewhere else-toward the world. When you develop a real relationship with the Saviour, it will be a love relationship. Think about it, the God of the universe is speaking to me and I am listening to Him. I am talking to Him and He is listening to me. What will really effectively increase your faith will happen when you ask God what to pray about, and He tells you and you pray about it and it is answered. When was the last time you had a real answer to prayer? Are you self-
    righteously praying?

I used to play professional baseball as a pitcher. When I would stand on the mound I would look at the catcher and ignore the hitter. When I threw a 92 mile an hour fast ball by the hitter, I was focused on me and the catcher. In baseball terms it was called “he is in the zone.” Nothing else was focused on. I liken that to my relationship with God. It is personal (between me and God), intimate (it is a love relationship, very close to each other), and passionate (there is real desire there). Nothing motivates you more than to know that God will speak to you today and will hear you speak to Him. Talk and listen, listen and talk.

Without the intimate, personal, passionate relationship between God and me, I am doomed to disaster after disaster and failure in many parts of my life. It will always affect my wife and children. If I am living the Christian life in unrighteousness or self-righteousness (seeking to live the Christian life in my own power), I am doomed to a lot of pain and destruction in my life. The devil really does not care if I live the Christian life – either way it is fine with him.

  1. You must learn the submission principle. James 4:7, Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. The devil every day, multiple times a day, will put outside pressure on your life. He does this many times with our lusts. Romans 6:12-19,Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neitheryield (submit) ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield (submit) yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield (submit) yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye
    have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded (submitted) your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield (submit) your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.

So, how do I submit? Every time a lust or outside pressure comes up, which I call the point of spiritual impact, “Lord, I want to turn this over to you. Forgive me for this thought or desire and I want to turn from it. I submit myself to you. What do you want me to praise you for and thank you for!” Philippians 4:4-9. The essence of the submitted Christian life is to ask God questions. Remember James 4:7 says the devil is involved and the only way to walk in the Spirit is to have a submitted life with God. That is where our power comes from, being submitted moment by moment, at the point of spiritual impact. In the question asking with God, use the: who, what, when, where, how, and why method. Lord who do you want me to witness to today? Lord what do you want me to pray about today? Lord, what can I praise you for today? Questions are submission. Remember to stop, think, turn it over to God, and listen. Always ask God questions.

The sadness of the hour in which we live is that many Christians do not have a real relationship with God. Folks, do not think that I have said memorization of scripture is not good. It is, but by itself will create a self-righteous life. If you memorize it, meditate on it. How does God speak to you through the verses? Also, you have to read your Bible to meditate, but you have to stop to study and listen to the Spirit of God when He wants to show you what He wants for you from God’s Word. Do not just keep on going because you have three or four chapters you must read today. You have to stop and listen! A real relationship requires we spend quality time together. Kim is my best friend. She is someone I can talk to and listen to. She is the love of my life. My relationship with the Lord is to be like that as well.

We have a booklet on our web site www.hopebiblicalcounselingcenter.com called, How to Have A Daily Time With God. It will show you step by step how to have an intimate, personal, passionate relationship with the Saviour. Remember, my baseball story. While I was pitching, the infielders behind me would chatter to try to distract the hitter and disrupt their concentration. I was in the zone, just me and the catcher. After the pitch, I would hear an infielder say, “Way to go, hum baby!” When you have a real intimate personal, passionate relationship with the Lord, you are in the zone and humming. When the devil comes along with his outside pressure, you are focused on the Spirit of God speaking to your spirit, and your soul is then controlled by the Spirit of God and so is your body, thus you are Spirit controlled and walking in the Spirit.

When there is outside pressure from the devil, instead of responding to people with anger, meanness, harshness, or other responses, you are responding with the fruits of the spirit, Galatians 5:22-22, “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.”

Once I learned what it was to have a real relationship with God, as a father, I knew I had to teach it to my children. I wanted them to really know the Lord. I discussed it with them about what all this meant. I wanted them to know how to have a real relationship with God. Without a real relationship with God their lives will be a disaster when they leave my house. Many times I would ask my daughters when they were growing up, “What is God speaking to you about?” Their answers were always revealing to me. I did not just hope it would happen. I wanted them to taste of the Lord and see that He was good! We spent time talking about our relationship with God. I would ask them what God was speaking to them to pray about. We talked about it and as they got older they would come with real excitement to tell me what God was speaking to them about or what God had taught them. We would have that excitement and joy together.

I believe the principle of Ephesians 6:4 is very important here. And, ye Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: How would a father provoke his children to wrath? Could it be because he did not teach them to have a real relationship with the Lord? So they learn in their lives, when the outside pressure comes from Satan, how to respond by being controlled by their soul and respond in the dictates of the flesh. One of those is “wrath”, Galatians 5:19-21. The rest of Ephesians 6:4 says, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. It means training with structure. I say again folks, how can a parent get the heart of their child and train them to have a relationship with the Lord if they are living a self-righteous (living the Christian life in their own power) or unrighteous life? It is not going to happen and the end result for the child’s life is the works of the flesh list of Galatians 5:19-21. (Read that list over and meditate on it. Are you or your children in that list?). The kind of life the self-righteous Christian lives is a real grind. It is over and over the same thing – keeping the rules, but not experiencing the power of a real relationship with God. The Christian who lives that way takes on the 19 characteristics (from II Timothy 3:1-5) of the apostate age in which we live. How does it end? “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof:” What a miserable life and a destructive life! It does not have to be that way. We can have victory through the power of the Spirit of God who indwells us and wants us to have a real relationship with Him.

If you do not know what to do and need help because you are caught in the sins of the flesh because of outside pressure from the devil, feel free to contact us. May God help you today to seek to have a real relationship with Him and be filled with the Spirit. For more information click on www.hopebiblicalcounselingcenter.com