WONDERFUL THING IN THIS PASSAGE – Being “filled with the Holy Spirit” is the Bible’s description of a condition that occurred at many crucial points in the New Testament, always with life-changing and sometimes with world-changing results.
Individuals like John the Baptist, Elizabeth, Zacharias, Peter, Steven, Philip, Paul, Barnabas, and the Lord Jesus Himself were described as being “filled with the Spirit.” He gave them special insight into God’s will and special ability to do His work. At times, whole groups of Christians were filled with God’s Spirit, and the results were similar.
The church began when “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:4). When threatened for preaching Christ, they overcame the first persecution in that fullness: “When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God boldly” (Acts 4:31).
This divine condition enabled the first martyr to face his murderers in perfect peace: “Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven. He saw the glory of God … and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” (Acts 7:55,60). The Apostle Paul began his history-changing ministry when Ananais laid his hands on him and said, “be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 9:17). No wonder he commands all the Ephesians and all of us who read God’s Word: “Be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18).
WONDERFUL THING IN MY LIFE – Because this is so important to God, I often ask myself, “Are you filled with the Spirit?” And in this command, Paul gives me four ways to tell if I am:
“Be filled by the Spirit: speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music with your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of Christ” (Eph. 5:18-21).
There are four things that we can expect of ourselves and that God expects of us when we’re filled with His Spirit:
Spiritual conversations – “Speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.” The idea is not that we will sing to each other but that we will so regularly fill our minds with Scripture and other godly input that it will come out in our conversations. This will replace the “foolish talking and crude joking” Paul warns about earlier in this chapter.
Spiritual worship – “Singing and making music with your heart to the Lord.” We ought to find ourselves singing, humming, whistling, or at least listening to God-exalting music in daily life. This is the natural overflow of a heart filled with God.
A spiritual mindset – “Giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The Spiritual Christian is so awe-struck by God’s goodness toward him that he finds himself giving thanks at all times for all things. We should seek to make this thanksgiving constant in our minds and frequent on our lips.
Spiritual relationships – “Submitting to one another in the fear of Christ.” The Spirit-filled believer can visualize His Lord kneeling before His disciples washing their feet and saying, “you also should do just as I have done for you” (John 13:15). Pride has no place in the heart controlled by Jesus – and love for brothers and sisters has every place.
When we find ourselves lacking in these expectations, it’s time to freshly surrender control of our lives to the Lord Jesus and ask Him to fill us with His Spirit once again.