A natural question for Christians to ask is what does it mean that we are to be Spirit-filled? In Ephesians 5:18, Paul teaches us that we need the Spirit’s influence so that we might bear more fruit of the Spirit. The Spirit:
- baptizes us into the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13),
- seals us (Ephesians 1:13),
- reconciles us (Ephesians 2:16), and
- we are given the Spirit as a guarantee (Ephesians 1:14).
Yet we in the Christian church appear to be empty of the Spirit’s influence in our lives because we bear so little of His fruit. Paul gives four evidences of the Spirit’s filling:
1 – Encouraging one another through worship – Ephesians 5:19
Ephesians 5:19 states that Spirit-filled people are singing people. Corporate singing is the biblically evidenced manifestation of the Spirit’s presence. Your voice is intended to encourage those with the truth you sing, NOT necessarily your vocal quality.
2 – Worshiping God through singing – Ephesians 5:19
Spirit-filled people are singing people. A Spirit-filled church is a singing church. While you and I are beneficiaries of singing, a Christian church’s primary audience is not you or me. These
songs are offerings of praise to our Triune God. When you begin to think to yourself I wonder what others around me are thinking of me, you have turned your audience from God to others.
3 – Giving thanks to God at all times – Ephesians 5:20
Some have interpreted Verse 20 to mean “unconditional praise” is the key to spiritual victory. They praise God for acts of evil or horrific sin. John Stott writes, we are to “praise God for being God; it is not praising him for evil….God abominates evil, and we cannot praise or thank him for what he abominates.” The fullness of the Spirit rules out a grumbling, complaining, discontent spirit.
4 – Submitting to one another – Ephesians 5:21
One more manifestation of the Spirit is found in Verse 21. The supreme model for submission is that of Jesus washing his disciples feet, submitting to His Father’s will. Sometimes we meet believers who claim to be Spirit-filled, but they’re brash, assertive,
and self-promoting. We have a responsibility to one another by living in a state of honoring others above ourselves.
I conclude with one application, be filled with the Spirit , that has four parts:
1) This is a command, not a suggestion.
2) It is a plural command intended for the entire church
3) It is a passive command, meaning allow the Spirit to influence you. No ritual or formula.
4) It is a present tense command meaning it is not a once and for all, but rather we are to be seeking the Spirit’s filling on a daily basis.
What would Grace Life look like if you were Spirit-filled like this? How would you talk differently to each other? Would your singing sound different? Would it be louder? When conflicts arise how would you respond differently? How could you exercise humble submission to another brother or sister in our church body? What would your home look like? How would you interact differently with your child, your spouse or coworker? It’s not the truth we know that matters. It’s the truth that we obey that matters.
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