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Heart To Heart

What does it mean to be filled with the Spirit?

“So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit” Eph 5:17-18

As Pentecostals, we have a strong spiritual heritage in connecting with what the Holy Spirit is doing. It behooves us therefore, to understand what it means to be filled with the Spirit.

The concept of living a Spirit-filled life has been misunderstood in a few ways, which we must be aware of so that we can do better on this front.

Firstly, it is misunderstood as something that is optional. This means that some of us may think that “if you have it, well and good, and if you don’t, never to worry”.

This is not true. In the original language, the phrase was used as an imperative. In short, it is a command, not a ‘suggestion’ or ‘recommendation’. We tend to like the sound of being ‘politically correct’ so as not to offend. But the Word tells it as it is. When God says ‘be filled’ – He is saying it as a command to us to get it done.

Secondly, we can misunderstand it as a ‘one-off’ event. However, this is not so. Again, the original language reveals to us a continuous tense. This means that we are to be “continuously filled” with the Spirit.

Thirdly, we tend to think of being filled in the Spirit as a car with a ‘near-empty’ petrol tank, where we go to Him when we feel ‘less-than-full’ or even ‘drained of petrol’. However, this analogy may not be adequate when perceived in the light of a life lived in alignment with God. What may be more precise is that instead of us seeing ourselves “filling up” and “having more” of the Holy Spirit, we should, in reverse, be seeing the Holy Spirit “having more” of us – i.e., we need to continually surrender to His work and ways.

Fourthly, we confuse Spirit-giftedness and the baptism of the Holy Spirit with living a Spirit-filled life. Gifts can be activated and strengthened. The baptism of the Spirit is one-off. Having the gifts of the Spirit do not make one mature. Being filled with the Spirit however, becomes evidenced in maturity. In other words, you will be able to discern the extent of surrender by the extent of maturity, which is likely to happen over a period of time.

Maturity and transformation are marks of the work of the Holy Spirit when a person is being filled. Let’s endeavour, as a church family, to be continually filled with His Spirit, in surrender to His will and in alignment to His purpose for our lives!

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