May 1, 2002 - Growing up in the church, I heard people talk about being filled with the Spirit of God. My mental picture was that some people were filled up to their knees and others up to their waists and perhaps others up to their shoulders. If you were really godly, you were filled up to your eyeballs.
by David Jeremiah
But as I began to study this concept, I realized that the word "filled" isn’t like the filling of a glass or a pitcher.
The word "filled" is a word that means to be controlled—controlled by the Holy Spirit. It means to allow the Holy Spirit to have absolute control of our lives in every respect. When we are filled with and controlled by the Holy Spirit, we live in a supernatural way. It is that kind of living that God has commanded of us as believers.
Why do we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit? It’s an absolute necessity because living the Christian life is not just difficult; living the Christian life is impossible. The standards that are set for us as God’s people are not just high and holy. They are high and impossible.
How high are the standards? Here are just three examples of God’s requirements. The Bible says that we are to be "completely humble and gentle."(1) Scripture also says, "Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks."(2) In Second Corinthians we read, "Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."(3)
"Every thought."(3) How in the world can we do that? What God expects of His people is such a high and holy walk that only through the power of God Himself, God in us, can we ever walk such a walk and live such a life.
Joy in the Christian Life
One reason that we must be filled with the Holy Spirit is that apart from being filled, we will never be able to find joy in living the Christian life. We will always feel a sense of failure, a sense of defeat, a sense of not quite enjoying what we think we are supposed to enjoy. The Spirit-filled life is the key to walking in joy with the Lord God, because He empowers us to live as we know He wants us to live.
Defeat the Enemy
Another reason that we must be filled with the Holy Spirit is that we have a powerful enemy. And that enemy is a deceiver, a serpent, a roaring lion that comes after us to devour us. He is powerful, and in our own strength we are no match for him. Only as we are filled with the Spirit of God can we have victory in our Christian lives.
I’ve tried to live the Christian life in my own strength, and I know that it is not only difficult, it really is impossible. But there is good news. God has given us a power that is resident within us, and that power can give us the strength to live the life we could never live on our own. It is not about trying harder; it is about coming to the place where we accept by faith the truth of the Word of God and appropriate the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Some things are required before we can be filled with the Spirit of God:
Desire to Be Filled
Many Christians are happy just to get over the threshold into the Kingdom and no further. Such Christians have the Holy Spirit within them because all believers receive the Spirit of God at the time of salvation. But many Christians have closed off major areas of their lives, areas where God is not welcome. He lives within them, but He does not control them. It is one thing to have the Holy Spirit as resident in our lives, but quite another thing to have the Holy Spirit as the "president" of our lives.
If we are to be filled with the Holy Spirit, we must desire to be filled. The Bible calls this desire a thirst. In the Gospel According to John we read, "In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water."(4)
Search Your Heart
If we desire to be filled with the Holy Spirit, we need to search our hearts and ask God to show us areas of sin, habits, relationships, words, thoughts, that are disrupting our Christian walk. The Bible says that before we can be filled with the Holy Spirit, we have to confess and denounce the sin in our lives.
In 2 Corinthians 7:1 we read, "Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."(5)
Dedicate Yourself to the Lord
We need to dedicate ourselves fully to God. That’s what being filled is all about. To be filled with the Holy Spirit means to yield totally to His control. It means to determine not to quench or grieve the Holy Spirit with any disobedience or refusal to obey His leading. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."(6)
Depend on God
The Bible says, "If we walk in the Spirit, we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh."(7) Walking in the Spirit is trusting every day in God for strength and guidance.
The filling of the Holy Spirit comes as the result of prayer. We go to God and ask Him to control us by the Holy Spirit. We pray something like this: "Blessed Lord, I desire to be controlled by Your Holy Spirit. Here is my sin; I confess it and denounce it. I ask You to forgive me and to control me. I know that You are resident in my life. And now I want You to be the president of my life. I’ll read Your Word. I’ll seek Your counsel. You make the decisions. I’ll do what You tell me to do. Lord God, live Your life through me. I will depend on You every day and walk by means of the Holy Spirit." The Bible teaches that the result of being filled with the Spirit of God will be seen in the normal and natural relationships of life.