Discovering Your Identity in Christ – A Study in Ephesians – Part 16

Being Continually Filled

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For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14 This is why it is said:

“Wake up, sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Ephesians 5:8-20 NIV

In Ephesians 5, Paul begins where the Ephesians once were and moves to where they are now.  He advises the Ephesians to be careful as to how they live – not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil.

He then goes on to share a Bible passage that is very popular with Pentecostals.    

18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit,”  Ephesians 5:18 NIV

If we focus on Ephesians 5:18, we can see that although Paul focuses on wine in the passage, which leads to debauchery.  Paul is pointing out here that the intoxicated person is the one who surrenders control of his life to a foreign outside power. The text can be applied to any outside controlling force that consumes one’s life.  When someone is drunk on wine, they have surrendered control of their lives to an outside force to influence them.  It affects how they speak, how they behave, how they look, how they think, and how they smell.

What outside force affects the way you speak, behave, look, think, and smell?  Paul says that believers should surrender instead to the Holy Spirit.  The present tense of the text indicates that they should be filled, and KEEP ON being filled, with the Holy Spirit.

As the Holy Spirit empowered the life of Jesus, so He wants to empowers us.  We don’t need to pray loud, get a big group together, have a big prayer meeting, jump up and down, make loud noises, and speak in tongues for the Holy Spirit to show up.  The truth is He is already there.  The Holy Spirit has already showed up.  He is already with and in God’s people.  It is not that we need to make Him show up, but that we need to avail ourselves to His presence because He has shown up!

The language and imagery of the Holy Spirit is that of sailing.  Imagine for a moment that you are out on the ocean in a sailboat.  The wind is blowing.  Your sailboat is on the lake, but your sail is down.  As a result, your boat has no movement or momentum until the sail is put up.  Once the sail is up, it gets filled with wind.  When the sail is filled, the boat gets moved, compelled, and propelled along with great force and power.  This is the image Paul is giving here.  Put up your sail.  “Be filled with the Holy Spirit.”    

The Holy Spirit is like a great wind, and the only reason we may not be moving in life is because you have taken down your sail.  When he says to be filled with the Holy Spirit, Paul is saying to repent of your sin and hard heart because the Holy Spirit wants to fill you, change you,, inform you, and move you.

He is already there waiting on you!  We need to understand that the Holy Spirit is not unwilling to move, it is more that we are unwilling to follow.

If we are walking in sin, like those who are unwise, the fresh wind of the Holy Spirit is still blowing.  He has not stopped.  The Holy Spirit is still moving.

When we miss the moving of the Holy Spirit, it is because our sail is down and we don’t want to hear what He wants to say, we don’t want to do what He wants us to do, or we don’t want to become who He is pushing us to become.

Paul urges, “Be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 

Come Holy Spirit.  Fill me.  I turn from my sinful ways.  Transform my mind.  Renew my thoughts.  Renew in me a strong desire to be filled and fully empowered by You.  In the strong name of Jesus Christ, amen.    

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