The Fullness Of The Spirit!
Reading: Ephesians Ch. 5v18.
There is an amazing mediocrity of what passes for the normal Christian life today! Have you noticed that? If you have, you are not alone. On the other hand, perhaps you have not noticed that. If I may be so bold, if you have not noticed, why not?
A great deal of what passes for current Christianity consists in denouncing other people's vices and faults. - Henry H. Williams.
Question! Are you satisfied with your own Christian life?
I have never met a soul who has set out to satisfy the Lord and has not been satisfied him self. Watchman Nee, Leadership: Vol. 9, no. 3.
If you say to me, well, yes, I am satisfied with the Christian Life I am now living! May I then ask another question!
Why is it that so many Christians are not living lives that match up to the Scriptural principles? Why is it that so many Christian Lives are not marked by joy, peace, patience, power, goodness, and a rich and abiding love one towards another? Scripture declares! Cal: 6v10. "As we have, therefore, opportunity let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith." Why? Because it’s an indicator of the Spirit Filled Life! You say, but I have been wronged then forgive as you were forgiven your wrong. I have been hurt; don’t hurt others!
I suppose that if all we had were the Scriptural accounts of how Christians Lived then we would be able to dismiss our behavior now. We could simply say that this kind of living was only possible in that age. But we cannot so easily dismiss it. The uncomfortable truth is that we have people today who are experiencing a rich and deep life in Christ. No, this life is not something, which was reserved for some so-called apostolic era. There are those who experience it today and indeed many more that could, but they let the world the flesh and the Devil get in the way.
This is no new problem. The history of the church is filled with examples of those who have addressed this very issue. Still in our bookstores today are writings by people like Andrew Murray, William Law, R.A. Torrey, Watchman Nee, Oswald Chambers, Thomas Boston and Thomas Watson and many others like them from years ago addressing this issue.
They saw in their day what we see in ours, few going on with God while the majority languishes in mediocrity. Is this experience of a full and rich life in Christ reserved only for the few? Is it not possible for all?
Many have concluded that it is only for the few. This is an easy conclusion to draw, and it is very tempting to do so. If we draw this conclusion then we can excuse our lack. But this conclusion has absolutely no basis in Scripture.
The Christian life is not a life that can only be enjoyed by an elite class of super-saints while the rest of us languish; in banality. (Which means lacking originality, depth, and inspiration; trite and drearily predictable).
The Christian life, marked by the power of the Spirit, is for everyone.
The real truth of the matter may be that the modern evangelical church is lacking in power because of an under emphasis on a personal, powerful, and dynamic relationship with the Holy Spirit.
1. Listen To Paul's Sensible Instruction! Ch. 5v18a.
"And be not drunk with wine"
The apostle addresses a malady in Christian life: "Do not get intoxicated with wine." You might think it odd to begin here, but the apostle is beginning where we live. Why do people get drunk? I'm sure there are many reasons. Some drink too much in order to forget the past. Perhaps others get drunk to escape the present. A vast number do so on a regular basis in order to feel some sense of joy, and there is a certain sense of joy, or happiness, or light-heartedness that comes from that state of intoxication. I suspect that this need for forgetting the past, escaping the present and a sense of happiness has always been why people indulge excessively in intoxicating beverages. Of course, the problem is; what it does besides those things. The judgment is impaired, both physical and mental. The intoxicant takes control and causes you to loose control. You do things you normally wouldn't do because you feel uninhibited. And it gets you into trouble. That is why I say this is sensible instruction, because one thing intoxication with wine will do is make you non-sense-sic-al, Remember Noah, he got drunk on the wine of his success and many are doing the same today.
The fact that in spite of the many problems associated with excessive drinking, and that so many people engage in it should be conclusive evidence that there is a very real underlying need. All of us need to be able to deal with the failures of the past. All of us need to be able to deal with the stresses of the present. All of us need to experience joy and a sense of happiness and well being, these are all real needs. They are also all perceived or felt needs. We are uncomfortably aware of them, sometimes painfully so. That is the very reason why so many people resort to a state of intoxication of one kind or other to give them a high.
But God is giving the Christian a better way. He calls us to a lifestyle where we do not get intoxicated on anything but the Holy Spirit. He knows that there is a better way. That is why He does not stop with a prohibition only. He doesn't simply tell us what not to do, He tells us what to do. He tells us what behavior to avoid as well as what behavior to put in its place. He sees the need in our lives and provides the perfect supply for that need. The issue is that we have genuine needs. The answer is to be filled with the Spirit and fulfill your needs.
2. Listen To Paul's Spiritual Instruction! Ch. 5v18b.
"But be filled with the Spirit"
What has been missing for so many believers is a dynamic relationship with the Holy Spirit. As a matter of fact, in many churches the work of the Holy Spirit is almost totally neglected in teaching and practice. This should not be so. The Bible emphasizes the power, person, and work of the Holy Spirit throughout. You see Him at work in both the Old and New Testament.
The entire book of Acts is an account of His work. It could be properly re-entitled “Acts of the Holy Spirit.” So why is His work so underemphasized?
And I say Spiritual Instruction because for every problem in the life of a believer there is a Spiritual Instruction; there is a Spiritual Answer.
So often our way of dealing with a problem is carnal, I tell you what, so seldom will we admit it. My brother and sister, and I take this thought very deeply into my own heart, for every problem we face, let it be a problem in the personal, in the home, with the family, in the work place, with friends, with finance, with relationships or anything else you may think of there is a Spiritual Solution! And let me say this with some force, you get your way out of your problem with a carnal solution don’t be surprised if you pay a dear price, don’t be surprised if you lose heavily.
1 Corinthians Ch.3v1-23. Read it all and read it often. The Holy Spirit needs desperately to be in control at all times.
The human body is a most remarkable machine. It can maintain a constant temperature of 98.6 degrees no matter what the weather is outside. Whether a man is at the Arctic Circle or the equator, his body temperature is about the same. There is an inner mechanism that makes the difference. The Holy Spirit dwells within the Christian to achieve this kind of stabilisation in terms of spiritual health. Whether we face good times or bad, whether we are tempted or receiving spiritual nourishment, the Holy Spirit keeps us stable within. Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997).
Perhaps it is because some are afraid to really give Him control. Perhaps they really do not understand His work. Perhaps the enemy of the Holy Spirit has sought to steer Christians away from an encounter with Him. Whatever the reason, the result has been a mediocrity in the church and an anemia in the saints. Whenever I first became a Christian, there were very few modern translations of the Scriptures. Like many of you, I grew up with the King James Version. There it talked about the Holy Ghost. Ghosts are spooky, ethereal, nebulous apparitions. Perhaps some people's believe in the Holy Ghost is like that. Well, we need to understand He is not!
Of course, a more appropriate translation is Spirit, not ghost. Even so, we must remember that the Holy Spirit is a person. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. Father, Son, and Spirit are the triune God. So what we are talking about is God the Holy Spirit. We are not simply talking about some strange apparition. We are talking about a manifestation of the living God. And the Holy Spirit is not only a person, but He has a very real work to do in our lives.
Just as the Holy Spirit was actively working in creation, so He is working in our lives as well. He convicts us of sin, reveals Christ to us, draws us to the Savior, regenerates us, and indwells us. He seals us, anoints us, fills us, and intercedes for us. He leads and guides us. In light of all this, we should get to know Him better.
What we are called to do is to be filled with the Spirit. The command in our English language seems very simple and straightforward. However, the verb, which is translated be filled is much more rich in the original Greek language.
The verb, plerousthe, is a second person, plural, present, imperative, passive verb. This is one lesson in Greek grammar that's worth understanding.
a. The verb's mood is imperative. That means that it is a command. Be filled with the Spirit is not simply a suggestion. A true Christian must be filled with the Spirit. This is not some kind of optional spiritual delicacy to be tasted at our convenience. This is God's command to us.
b. The verb's tense is present. In our English language we speak of things in three tenses: past, present, and future. The Greek verbal system is much more complex. The present tense used here refers to a continuous action. We could translate this to read, “be being filled continuously.” It is an action, which begins and is carried on. We are not called to simply be filled once. We are called to maintain the state of being filled continuously with the Spirit of God.
c. The verb's voice is passive. That means that another act upon the subject. Being filled with the Spirit is something that the Spirit does to us. He comes upon us. Our role is one of surrender. We simply give up and let the Lord have control.
d. The verb is in the second person. It is addressed to you.
e. The verb's number is plural. It is not simply addressed to you, but to all of you. It includes everyone. Whatever your situation in life, whatever your education, whatever your occupation, it doesn't matter. All are to be filled with Spirit.
What we are talking about is a dynamic relationship of being encountered and filled by the Spirit of the living God. This is what Jesus was referring to in John Ch.14v17 as He spoke of “the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you.” Jesus promised the Spirit to us.
He is also called the promise of the Father. In Luke 24v49 we read, “and behold, I am sending forth the promise of my Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
In Acts Ch.1v8 the promise continues: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Of course, in Acts 2 we see the fulfillment of that promise as the Holy Spirit came upon the people and they were baptized in His power. Concluding his sermon at Pentecost, we read in Acts 2v38-39: “And Peter said to them, `Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself.'“ It should be obvious that God wants every believer to live in the power of the filling of the Holy Spirit. This promise is for every believer the Lord calls to Himself. It is for you!
Being filled by the Spirit will produce His life in us. Jesus spoke of this life in John Ch.7v37-39: “Now in the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, `If any man thirsts, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the Scripture says, from his innermost, being shall flow rivers of living water. But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive, for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.'“ These rivers of living water speak of the life of the Spirit. When you come to Jesus, you're invited to drink the living water of the life of the Spirit. Then this living water becomes a river of living water, not only flowing into you, but also flowing out through you. In 1 Corinthians Ch.12v13 it says, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” The invitation is clear. We are to drink deeply of the Spirit of God.
So how do we obey the command? There is only one route. It is the way of surrender. It all begins there. We must be willing to surrender ourselves completely to the Lord. It is at the place of absolute surrender that we receive the power of God's Holy Spirit. If we hold back ourselves in any way, then we risk grieving the Spirit. In short, we must abandon ourselves to the Spirit just. as a drunkard is abandoned to the influence of the drink. Just as the drink controls the one intoxicated, so the Spirit must control us. And that means we must let Him take control. We do that by surrender. We will continue in future messages to talk about the effects of being filled with the Spirit. But today we challenge you to hear the command of God to be filled with the Spirit.
We also challenge you to obey that command. Is there something you have been holding back? Is there some area of your life you have yet to surrender? Are you willing to allow the Spirit of God to take control of you? Are you willing to let Him set the conditions? If you are willing to surrender your life completely to the Lord in a practical way, He can fill you and keep you full. Do it without delay!
Religious instruction, however sound, is not enough by itself. It brings light, but it cannot impart sight. The assumption that light and sight are synonymous has brought spiritual tragedy to millions. The Pharisees looked straight at the Light of the World for three years, but not one ray of light reached their inner beings. Light is not enough. The inward operation of the Holy Spirit is necessary to saving faith. The gospel is light but only the Spirit can give sight. - A.W. Tozer, Born After Midnight. Christianity Today: Vol. 41, no. 5.
I have a glove here in my hand. The glove cannot do anything by itself, but when my hand is in it, it can do many things. True, it is not the glove, but my hand in the glove that acts. We are gloves. It is the Holy Spirit in us who is the hand, who does the job. We have to make room for the hand so that every finger is filled. - Corrie Ten Boom in Each New Day. Christianity Today, Vol. 38, no. 1.
The Spirit Is The Comforter--He Ministers To us!
The Spirit Is The Conformer--He Moulds Us!
The Spirit Is The Controller--He Masters Us!
The Spirit Is The Challenger--He Motivates Us!