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About this series
The Holy Spirit
Experiencing His Power and Presence 24/7
Who is the Holy Spirit? Is He more than "The Force?" For many believers, a relationship with the Holy Spirit rarely factors into our day-to-day lives. The truth is, experiencing His power and presence unlocks spiritual living to an entirely new level. This series will help you understand how the indwelling of the Holy Spirit deepens intimacy with God. In the process, you'll experience empowered living that reveals and activates your unique spiritual gifts in ways you never imagined possible. As a follower of Jesus Christ, you have access to power and resources that can change your life forever, but depending on your background, being "filled with the Spirit" can mean all sorts of different things. But, when you sift through all the various ideas, opinions, and statements about the work of the Holy Spirit, at the end of the day, HIS top priority for your life is you living out a "spiritual life" through practical means. If you want to know deep joy, understand how to invest your life in things that bring you deep and lasting satisfaction, and experience the presence of God like never before, you must allow the Holy Spirit to dwell richly in you, to reveal your unique talents and gifts for His purposes.More from this series
In some circles if they say, “Are you a Spirit-filled Christian” they mean, “Are you a committed Christian” like are you really seeking to live the life? In other circles if they say, “Are you a Spirit-filled Christian” they want to know do you speak in tongues?
In other circles if they say, “Are you a Spirit-filled Christian” they want to know have you had a second blessing of some kind of the Holy Spirit. In other circles, if you’re a Spirit-filled Christian it is have you ever come to that point of yieldedness, of surrender of, sort of, the Romans 12:1 and 2 lifestyle.
And so people use the word “Spirit-filled” depending on theological and denominational backgrounds in a lot of different ways. They use another phrase too called the baptism of the Holy Spirit that means also a lot of different things in a lot of different groups.
And I won’t go into the whole background but I was being discipled with a group that had this unbelievable commitment to God’s Word. I mean super committed to God’s Word like if you weren’t memorizing three to five verses a week you were just not, like, even close to where you needed to be.
And then I would go home in the summer as a new Christian and there was another group of people that were really, really committed to the experience of life in the Spirit.
And so I don’t know anything and it’s like, it was like ping pong, you know? And I was just, like, trying to figure out, “So what’s the Bible say, what do these terms mean? I don’t know what it means to be filled, I don’t know what the baptism is, I don’t know what the…” And I was just confused.
And so I went on a two-year journey and I literally started from the beginning and if the word “Spirit” or “Holy Spirit” showed up in the Bible I studied it.
And I took every verse in the Bible – it took me two years. I later learned there were things called concordances. I mean, there’s really an easier way to go about this than I did. But I, you know, I didn’t know. And I just was praying for two years, “God, I want all that you have for me and I’m hearing lots of voices so what I know is You wrote this.” And so I went on a journey.
I want you to open your Bibles to Acts chapter 2. The Church is born and the Jews are going to receive the Holy Spirit. It’ll be birthed, they’ll be baptized in the Holy Spirit, and what you’re going to find is they will be filled with power.
Follow along, verse 1. “When the day of Pentecost came they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound like a blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And they saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and they began to speak in tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
“Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. And when they heard this sound a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one of them heard them speaking in his own language.
“Amazed and perplexed,” skipping down to verse 12, “they asked one another, ‘What does this mean?’ Some, however, made fun of them and said, ‘They’ve had too much wine.’ But Peter stood up with the eleven and raised his voice and he addressed the crowd: ‘Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain to you, listen carefully to what I say. These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine o’clock in the morning! No, this is what was spoken of by the prophet Joel: “In the last days God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.”’”
And so Acts chapter 2, it’s the Jews. Did they speak in tongues? Yes. When did they receive it? After salvation. They were believing Old Testament followers of Jesus, they were waiting, they’ve now come to Christ, they believe in Him, the Church is born, and Peter’s role? He’s present when it’s received.
Turn to Acts 8. These are the only four passages that talk about the filling or the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Acts chapter 8, I want you to notice that now chapters 1 through 7 are the growth of the Church. The first decade or more. Some believe up to almost the first twenty years, apart from those who came to Christ, and then were dispersed and went to other places, the Church was primarily Jewish.
Remember the big command? “Go into all the world; make disciples.” That wasn’t going well. Remember when Jesus ascended, “You’ll be My witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, uttermost parts of the world.” That was not going well.
In other words, they didn’t go very far. And what you find is, in the sovereignty of God, He allows some persecution to come in chapter 8.
And so in chapter 8 the Church is persecuted and as they are persecuted they move out. They run for their lives, apart from the apostles. And as they go, guess what they start doing? It says they preached the Word.
Samaritans, if you don’t know what they were, they were a half-breed. They were people that couldn’t show that they were fully Jews and they inter-married and so they were despised. Jews hated Samaritans.
You might remember the story when Jesus wanted to cut through some Samaritan territory and they wouldn’t let him. They were off-limits people.
I mean this is like the Ku-Klux Clan and the NAACP, okay? I mean that’s the kind of attitudes they had toward one another.
And you need to know that because it helps explain what happens. Acts chapter 8, let’s pick up the story in verse 14.
They’d been spread, they’re running for their lives, they’re persecuted. “When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the Word of God they sent Peter and John to them.”
So they went to Samaria, they started preaching, these Samaritans trust in Christ. Well now they got a problem. These people that we hate since we’ve been little boys and little girls believe in Jesus the way we do. So we’re going to send Peter and John from headquarters to find out what in the world happened. I mean what could God be up to? He certainly doesn’t love them.
“When they arrived they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them. They’d simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.
“Now there’s a magician there named Simon. And when he saw that the Spirit was given by the laying on of hands of the apostles, he offered them money and said, ‘Give me also this ability that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.’ And Peter said to him, ‘May your money perish with you because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money. You have no part or share in this ministry because your heart is not right with God.’”
All I want to do is just get the facts down. Acts chapter 8 – Samaritans. So they’re, this is a mixed group. But speaking in tongues is not mentioned. It may be alluded to, there was some manifestation because this magician saw some manifestation of power that he thought he could buy by the laying on of hands. It occurs after salvation. And it’s, Peter again is present.
And what you need to understand is, what’s going to happen is if the Samaritans come to Christ, and it isn’t authenticated by headquarters and by Peter, we would have had two churches. Those people would have never stayed under the same umbrella.
And so they respond to the Word and Peter and the apostles come and they say, basically, this is legit. These people believe like we believe. They don’t need to go through Judaism. Salvation is by grace through faith, the free gift of God through Jesus, they received the same way we did.
And so he says this is for real and when he prays for them then God manifests in some manner, doesn’t say exactly how, that they are now a part of the body of Christ.
Skip to Acts chapter 10. The movement of the book of Acts, the outline is in verse 8 of chapter 1. “Where you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem,” okay? “Judea,” that’s happened. “Samaria,” right? Well now we’re going to get to the Gentiles, chapter 10.
Peter, who is the epitome, he’s, “Upon this rock your words, your faithfulness, your team, I’m going to build My church.” He’s the point person. They look to him and the other key elders there.
And so Peter is, in the book of Acts, the primary leader in the expansion of the gospel to the Jews. Later we’ll find Paul will be the primary personality in the expansion to the Gentiles.
Peter, little by little, is beginning to break the cultural rules and the cultural laws. He’s gone down to a tanner. You don’t, a tanner is a person that smelled. There was raw skins and hides that they used. And so a good, orthodox Jew would not only not go to a tanner but would never stay in his home.
But Peter is beginning to see some things differently and he’s beginning to realize that this gospel is beyond Judaism and he’s seeing it with the Samaritans and some of the things that were kosher he realizes God’s changing the rules. This gospel is to go beyond.
And so little by little he’s, sort of, breaking some of the cultural rules and some of the traditions. And then something happens to him. Chapter 10 he goes down to meet with this tanner. And lunch is being prepared and so he goes up on the roof, most of the homes in that day are flat on top. And he goes up on the roof, kind of waiting. And he goes into a trance.
And God speaks to him and you, probably maybe many of you remember this story. And a sheet comes down with all the kind of animals that are unclean for a Jew. It comes down once, the Spirit of God speaks to him and says, “Kill and eat.” He says, “Never, Lord.” It comes down a second time. Same thing. A third time. And then the sheet goes away. And he has this vision.
And at the end of the vision the Spirit of God says to him, “Don’t you call anything unclean that I call clean.” And this is going to set Peter up for what’s going to happen because something has happened elsewhere.
So let’s pick up the story. Cornelius is a centurion. And he has a household of all Gentiles. And he was one day praying and God hears his prayer. And an angel says, “I want you to send for this man, he’s down by the seaside staying with this tanner named Simon, his name is Peter. Go get him and bring him here. He has a message for you from me.”
So a couple of his cohorts go down. They now knock on the door shortly after Peter has the vision and the Lord says to Peter, “Invite these men in.”
So now he’s going to eat with Gentiles. God’s sort of given him baby steps, training wheels to do some things he’s never done before. He invites them in the house, can’t do that. He eats with Gentiles. Then he travels back with them and he takes a few Jews with him.
And what you’re going to find out, that’s going to be very important to authenticate what happens. Because if you think Jews and Samaritans hate one another, Jews hate Gentiles at a whole different level. A Gentile was called a “dog.” They thought, to a Jew a Gentile was subhuman. You wouldn’t eat with a Gentile, you wouldn’t walk into the house of a Gentile. They were unclean.
So now Peter is sort of scratching his head and he goes back, he takes this walk, and he goes to Cornelius’ house and in verse 30 of chapter 10 we’re going to pick up the story where Peter says to Cornelius, by the way, Peter doesn’t know what’s going on. I mean he’s thinking, “What’s the message? What am I supposed to say? I don’t get it.”
So he comes in and when he comes in the guy bows down and Peter says, “Look, I’m just a man too.” And so Cornelius explains beginning in verse 30. “Cornelius answered, ‘Four days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon. Suddenly, a man in shining clothes stood before me and said, “Cornelius, God has heard your prayers and remembered your gifts to the poor. Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. He is a guest in the home of Simon the tanner who lives by the sea.”’
“So I sent for you immediately and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here.” He fills his house with his relatives and his friends. “Hey! An angel came, sent for a guy, there’s a big message. You’ve got to come over.”
So Peter walks in, “Now we’re all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us. Then Peter began to speak.” The lights are coming on. “I now realize how true it is that God shows no favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear Him and do what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ who is Lord of all.”
And then skip down to verse 44. At verse 44, “While Peter was still speaking these words,” he starts preaching the gospel, “the Holy Spirit came on all those who heard the message. The circumcised believers, who had come with Peter, were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, ‘Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.’”
Acts 2. The Church is born, baptism, filled, Peter, authentication.
Acts chapter 8. Mixed group. They hear. They don’t have the Holy Spirit yet. They check it out. It’s legit. Now they’re under the umbrella of the mother Church. They pray for them. There’s a manifestation. Now they get the Holy Spirit.
Acts chapter 10. Cornelius. They don’t get to pray. They don’t get to talk. They don’t get to explain. While he’s preaching, boom! It happens. And the Jews are going, “Wait a second. This is just like Acts 2. They got what we got the same way we got it. I guess, I guess God loves Gentiles.”
Now, notice there’s one other passage. Acts chapter 19. This is sort of one of those, “I wonder what’s going on?” passages. We’re now in the apostle Paul’s ministry. And there was a group of people, apparently, who were zealous and John the Baptist said, “Behold, I am the forerunner of the Messiah. And one is coming greater than me.”
And some of his disciples got so fired up about telling people about the Messiah they went on a missions trip. And while they were going on their missions trip to tell everyone about how the Messiah is going to come, the Messiah came.
And He not only came but He died and He rose again. And not only He died and rose again but the Church has been born and they must have gone on a long missions trip so Paul meets them and when Paul meets them he has this dialogue, “Hey, where are you guys from and…” Well let’s pick up the story.
Chapter 19 verse 1, “When Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ ‘No, we have not even heard there is a Holy Spirit.’” Now that’s a good one, isn’t it?
“So Paul asked, ‘Then what baptism did you receive?’ They said, ‘John’s baptism,’ they replied. Paul said, ‘John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the One coming after him, that is in Jesus.’ On hearing this they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them the Holy Spirit came on them and they spoke in tongues and they prophesied. There were about twelve men in all.”
Now here’s what I want you to see. In the confusion about the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the filling of the Holy Spirit, what it means, does it involve tongues, is it at salvation, is it after salvation – most of the theology will take one of these passages and say, “Look. This is how it happened in Acts 2 so this is how it should happen with us.”
In other words, I remember being on a basketball team, we were playing basketball throughout South America, and we had guys from all over the country. And one guy named Tim, super guy, little point guard, could just shoot tremendously. And he came from a certain theological position that was just, he was, I mean, he was like, this is the way it is.
And I was on my journey and learning a lot at the time and so he said, “Look, we have to do it like the New Testament church. We need to do it just like the book of Acts.” And it’s interesting.
And then I didn’t know this then, I studied later, because then he gave me one of these different parallels and said, “This is how the spiritual life works and this is what it means and this is why because of Acts 2, or Acts 8, or Acts 10, or Acts 19.”
My question would be: Which one of the churches in Acts do you want to be like? So do you pray and get the Spirit later? Does it happen at the same time? Do you believe and then get it?
See, you know why I put that there? You can’t build a theology out of Acts that’s prescriptive. It’s descriptive. It’s describing how the Church was birthed. And what I want you to see is the baptism of the Holy Spirit always includes the inclusion of a new people group. It’s the only time it ever happens.
It happens when the Jews are brought into the body of Christ and it’s created, it happens when the Samaritans are brought into the body of Christ, it happens when the Gentiles are brought into the body of Christ.
And then you, kind of, have a group that never heard there was one. And so there’s no consistency. Like, when did they receive? After salvation, after salvation, at conversion, at conversion.
My only point is I want you to hear is there isn’t a consistent pattern in the New Testament in the book of Acts that says the baptism and filling and this is what it means.
The epistles are written, letters to give us instruction to say, “This is how the theology of God’s Church is to be directed and to be followed.” The book of Acts is a history of how it happened and how it laid out.
So those are great experiences but the consistency is the authentication of people groups in the body of Christ. The book of Acts is descriptive not prescriptive.
If it was prescriptive and we want to be like the church in the book of Acts then we should all go and worship at synagogues. And only meet from house to house in churches. We should all have very important, some dietary laws that they were still keeping for a period of time.
There are a number of things in the book of Acts that we might keep doing. Maybe we should all pool our resources. And live out of one part of a community, which they did for a season of time in the early part of the book of Acts because of the pressure that they were under.
God is describing, in the book of Acts, the birth, development, growth, maturity of His Church and the work of the Spirit in that. And so in summary here’s what I’d say: Baptism is not the same as filling, baptism doesn’t always occur after salvation, the baptism doesn’t necessarily require us to speak in tongues because in Acts 8 it doesn’t say. And then that the early church experience is not normative but the New Testament epistles tell us exactly how the filling of the Spirit works.
So with that, that’s what I want to do. Let’s look at the clearest New Testament passage. And, by the way, here’s what I can tell you. In my personal journey, there’s a lot of things to argue about. This isn’t one of them. Man, I’ve done ministry here and all around the world with Reformed, Dispensationalists, Pentecostals, Baptists, Methodists. I’ll tell you what. The Bible is really, really clear that Jesus is God, salvation is by faith alone, there’s a virgin birth, He’s coming back, there’s the Trinity.
There’s – the box that is absolutely clear for all of us Bible believing Christians is very clear and unmovable. There’s going to be different perspectives about how you grow spiritually and there’s going to be people that will look at the book of Acts through this lens or that lens.
I will tell you what. What we’re going to see is the real evidence of being filled by the Spirit will not be an experience. The real evidence of being filled by the Spirit will be fruit. It will be what happens in your life.
Read through the book of Acts quickly and what you’ll find is it’s not an experience that anyone has that marks the Church when they’re filled. When they’re filled with the Spirit go through all those verses I listed for you. They are bold, they are courageous, they are pure, and they love lost people.
That’s what being filled with the Spirit always produces. It produces this amazing forgiveness of their enemies, this passion for people that are outside of Christ, this boldness that is supernatural, and they have all kind of different experiences.
So with that let’s look at the New Testament passage that is crystal clear that commands us, tells us, what it means to be filled with the Spirit, how to know if we’re filled with the Spirit, and with that turn, if you will, in your Bibles to Ephesians chapter 5. Ephesians chapter 5.
Ephesians chapter 5 is going to give us first the context. In verse 1 he says, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children; and live a life of love just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering, a sacrifice to God.”
And so in chapter 5 the first three chapters He’s given us the doctrine. Chapters 4 through 6 he’s going to say, “Since you now know who you are in Christ,” remember chapter 4 opens up, “now walk in a manner worthy of your calling.”
And then it’ll teach us in chapter 4 who we are in Christ, teach us how we get equipped by the Church, teaches us how to put off the old, put on the new, have our mind renewed. And then cites five specific areas where we need to go into spiritual training with regard to truth, our emotions, our tongue, our relationships.
And then chapter 5 opens up and notice the command is to walk in love, walk in love the same way Jesus is. Now skip down to verse 8. The walk continues. He says, “For you were once in darkness but now you are in the light; live or walk as children of the light.”
And so “walk” just means your habitual practice. How do you live? And so you’re to walk in love, you’re to walk in the light. He’s going to talk about purity and especially sexual purity.
And then skip down, I put it in your notes, verse 15, “Be very careful, then, how you walk,” this is a warning, “not as unwise but as wise, making the most,” or literally, “bind up the opportunities because the days are evil.”
And then here’s the warning: “Don’t walk as unwise people in this world but walk as wise people,” then notice the word, “therefore, do not be foolish but understand the will of the Lord.” In other words, this is God’s will. This is not an option. Here’s God’s will. “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery,” negative command. Positive command: “Instead, be filled with the Spirit.”
And then, well, how would you ever know if you’re filled with the Spirit? Here’s the evidence: “Speaking to one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, sing and make music in your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
And so on your notes you’ll see the context, it’s be imitators of God, walk in love, walk in the light. And then you have the command. And the command to be filled literally means to be controlled. Substitute, get that word. To be filled means to be influenced to the point that the Spirit is in control.
The Spirit is in control of what comes out of your mouth. The Spirit is in control of your thinking. The Spirit is in control, influencing your behavior. The Spirit is in control of your priorities. The Spirit is in control in giving direction about your money. The Spirit is in control about forgiving people that have wounded you and hurt you.
And then notice as you look at this, the command to be filled is in the plural form so it’s for all believers. In other words, if we were in Texas it would say, “You all be filled.” It’s not just you. It’s you all. This is for everybody in the Church.
And then notice it’s in the passive voice. You can’t fill yourself. Grammatically here would be a good translation. “Allow yourself to be filled by the Spirit.” Allow yourself to be controlled by the Spirit. So only He can do it but you have a part and I have a part in that process.
It’s in the present tense. That means what? Allow yourself to continually, habitually be filled or controlled by the Holy Spirit.
Now you might, in your notes, jot, if you will, Colossians chapter 3 verse 15 and following. It’s a very interesting passage. He says, “Let the Word of Christ richly dwell in you.”
And then it’ll go on to say, “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart, giving thanks for all things out of reverence for Christ. Whatever you do,” he’ll go on to say toward the end of that chapter, “do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.”
When you are filled with God’s Word, when you are filled with the Spirit it has the same outcome. See the evidence of being filled with the Spirit, our experiences may be different. They may be very emotional or not very emotional. They may have some manifestation of the Spirit that’s visible or a manifestation that’s not visible. That’s what we learn from the book of Acts. It can look different for different people.
But here’s how you know if you’re filled with the Spirit. Here’s the evidences, number one, in your speaking.
Jot in your notes, if you would also, Luke 6:45. Just from the lips of Jesus, “The good man out of the good treasure in his heart speaks forth what is good. The evil man out of his heart speaks forth what is evil. For that which fills the heart proceeds out of the mouth.” If you ever want to know what’s really in your heart, just listen to your speech. Listen to your tone of voice.
See there’s a lot of people who would say, “There’s this experience or that experience; you’ve got to do this, you’ve got to do that.” I will tell you what, you want to really know whether you’re controlled by the Spirit or not? Just listen to your speech.
Your words are like an MRI telling you what’s going on in your heart before God. And so when the Spirit of God, using the raw material of the Word of God, is influencing your life, your speech, your tone of voice.
All those verses that, you know, kind of, Christians today we really are, you know, we’ve got this list of four, or five, or six sins that we think are really, really bad and then God has this other list that we say, I mean, how bad can gossip be? Or being critical. Or disunity. Or putting people down. Or sarcasm. Or speaking evil of someone. Or passing on untested information.
Go look those up in the Bible. Some of those that I just said are among the seven deadly sins of Proverbs. But see what happens, you know, as, what, they got a new TV show, I won’t mention its name because I don’t want to get it on tape for anybody, anywhere, ever.
But the TV show about the, sort of, pseudo-Christians that live in the South and talk behind everyone’s back and…
Somehow we think that what comes out of our mouth doesn’t really matter. When you are controlled, you want to know if you’re filled with the Spirit? Examine your tongue.
James would say when you want to change your behavior, when you want to get a hold of some issues that are hard to get a hold of, chapter 3, what’s he say? He said, “There’s something in between your lips that’s powerful. It’s called your tongue. And as your tongue goes, so goes your body. Like the rudder of a ship, the rudder, so goes the ship. Like just put a bit in a horse and you can make a powerful horse go this direction or that direction.”
When you’re wrestling with issues in your life that have to do with attitudes or heart issues you can actually begin to direct your life by going into discipline about how you speak about certain things.
I’m going to be positive. “Let no unwholesome word,” Paul would say in Philippians 2, “proceed out of your mouth but only such a word as is good for edification.”
See being filled with the Spirit gets real practical. The experiential part can look different ways for different people. Depends, I think God often gives us experiences that we need.
Early in my Christian life, because I didn’t know anything and I really wondered about God I had multiple, what I would call, very supernatural experiences. On the missions field I’ve had some very supernatural, wow-God, experiences.
But I don’t have those all the time. In fact, what I’ve learned is the more and more and more mature I’ve gotten over time is God expects me to actually believe His Word and walk by faith and not live on dependency on experiences to keep my faith propped up.
Now I’ve got to tell you, privately, I want all the yummy, supernatural, wonderful, outside the box experiences I can get. I do. I mean, “Oh, God, please.” But faith is in what? What did Paul say? We don’t walk by sight but by faith. See maturity is you begin to deal with real life where the rubber meets the road.
The second is singing. What? In your heart. Have you noticed that when you’re intimate with God have you found that, you know, there’s just a song in your heart?
There’s something about taking truth from your mind to your heart and your emotions that music does. Ask yourself what kind of music do you listen to? What comes out of your mouth? What do you sing?
The third test is thankful. When you’re filled with the Spirit, what’s it say? It says, “Giving thanks for all things.” You know what that really does? That forces you to a level of a picture of God’s goodness and sovereignty that’s off the charts.
I’m going to, it doesn’t mean I say, “Praise the Lord, isn’t it wonderful, I just wrecked my car.” You know, “Praise the Lord, my best friend’s biopsy report came back positive.” It’s not this glad-handing, praise the Lord, speak something to existence.
This is saying, look, if God is good and He is sovereign, in a fallen world you can be like Job and tell Him how disappointed you are and you can be like the Psalmist who laments and you can tell Him how angry you are and how much it hurts. And then you work all that through and then you say, “And Father, in light of your sovereignty and goodness and faithfulness and power I want to thank you. I want to thank you that You will use this for my good.
“I want to thank you that the evil of the world and the enemy and all the things that I don’t understand is I choose to give thanks in things and for all things because they don’t come to me randomly.
“Every issue that ever comes into my life is either ordained by You or it’s gone through the filter of Your grace. And You’re going to use this in me and through me or those I love. And all of life isn’t about now. There is a heaven that is real and some scores will be only settled there. I trust You.”
When you learn to say thanks in all things and for all things, by faith, you are saying you trust a good and kind and sovereign God.
And I will tell you when you do that the only person that can give you that power is that holy, living, indwelling person that’s manifesting the love of God in your heart. And the holiness of God in your heart. And the power of God in your heart.
And the Holy Spirit isn’t just some neutral, religious vapor. The Holy Spirit takes the written Word of God and as you renew your mind He takes the written Word and makes it the Living Word in your heart and it births inside of you the reality of His presence.
If you don’t have the raw material of God’s Word the Holy Spirit has little to work with to transform you. That’s why trying hard does not work. The Bible doesn’t say, “Don’t be conformed to this world but try really hard not to be.” Does it?
What’s the Bible say? “Don’t be conformed to this world; be transformed, metamorphosised, from the inside out by the renewing of your mind.” Why? So you can be disciplined and legalistic and tell people how much you know? What’s it say? What’s the end of that verse? “So you can be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you might test or taste or prove or demonstrate what God’s will looks like, the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God.”
And so when you’re controlled by the Holy Spirit it affects your speech, it affects your heart and your attitude and your joy level and your song. It develops this gratitude. 24/7. For all things.
And then the last one, these, as you study them carefully, they’re harder to fake progressively. I mean I can say the right thing in my heart and not be doing so well, right?
Well it’s hard to sing, I can sort of try that one. To give thanks it gets tougher. But notice the last one. It’s submission. Submit to one another in love.
It’s the Spirit of God. Jesus, “Not My will, Father, but Yours.” It’s giving preference to one another in honor. It’s treating others the way you would want to be treated.
See the Spirit of God filling you and filling me dramatically changes us and makes us more and more like Jesus. At the end of the day being filled by the Spirit is just by His power, through His Word, in the context of community is just making you more and more like Jesus.
And you know what? Here’s the deal. You can be filled with the Spirit at 9:10 in the morning and unfilled with the Spirit at 9:20. Can’t you? “It’s 9:10, I just sang a song, the kids are doing well, everything is fine, someone just cut in front of me, I can’t believe that guy!” …and unfilled.
The flesh wages war against the Spirit. “You’re filled with the Spirit, just read the Word, so thankful for my mate, she said this, I feel rejected, now I’m pouting, now I feel bitter, now I feel resentful, now I’m thinking how to pay him back. I think I’m going to not be not very affectionate at all. I’m going to be really quiet, I’m going to make him pay.” You’re not filled with the Spirit!
So what do you do? It’s not magic. When you recognize that what’s coming out of your mouth doesn’t represent the Spirit’s control, when you recognize the thoughts in your heart are not the Spirit’s control, when you recognize that you’re complaining and whining and negative and critical. You just, that’s the flesh.
When you recognize that it’s about you and your rights and your program and your agenda and your way, that’s not the Spirit. But you know what? This is not like some magic formula. You know what you do? The moment you catch that you stop and you say, “Father, in the name of Jesus, I want to ask You to forgive me for grieving that holy, tender Spirit living within me that’s Your presence. I’ve sinned. And I ask You to cleanse me. And You said that if I confess, if I acknowledge, if I agree with You about what I’ve done You are gracious and faithful and You’ll forgive my sin and cleanse me from all unrighteousness, according to Your promise in 1 John 1:9”
And then you say, “Lord, will You, will You give me the power to now take the right next step?” And the right next step might be, you know, “Kids, I don’t want you running out in the street but screaming the way I did and calling you those two names isn’t what Daddy is supposed to do and I want you to forgive me because God has.” Or, “Honey, you know, when you said that I just want you to know…”
You know what? When you confess your sins to one another that you might be, what’s the Bible say? Healed.
See, the issue in terms of principles to remember is not getting more of the Holy Spirit. It’s Him getting more of you. I have a picture and I want you to imagine with me just a house, the outline of a house, okay? And then put boxes inside the house of different rooms in the house. The play room, the living room, the hobby room, the bedroom, the kids’ room, your work room. Just you are the house and the just compartments of your life.
And then in the bottom left hand corner I want you to put, you scribble a little picture of a furnace. You know, a furnace in a house? And, you know, I put “H.S.” there. Holy Spirit.
And in a house, what you know is that you have all the heat that’s generated comes from the furnace, correct? And there’s a duct system that goes into every room. Right? And there are little vents. You know?
And if you’re like me, if you don’t use some of the rooms and you don’t want to heat them or you don’t want to cool them, what do you do? You go and you shut the vent. Correct?
Here’s what I want you to know. Here’s the word picture. If you’re a follower of Jesus and you’re born again the Holy Spirit lives in you. Okay? He dwells in you. The Father and Jesus make His abode by this indwelling person with this unlimited power that raised Christ from the dead. So you’ve got all the power you need.
Now what happens is “progressive sanctification” is that the duct system is already in your house. Your work life, your thought life, your sex life, your money life, your relational life, your hobby life. And the duct system is there.
And as God begins to speak to your life, pretty soon what you do is you, sort of, for some of us, it was pretty obvious, in some areas – work life or relationship life. We open the vent and the heat of the Holy Spirit, right? If you open the vent, takes what, about thirty or forty-five minutes that the influence of the heat that’s being generated in the furnace travels up the ducts and then it begins to influence the temperature of that room.
And what many of us have is a very patchwork affair. And so God is working in some areas of your life and there’s some where the vent is closed. And for some it’s a secret. It’s a pornography issue, or it’s a thinking issue, or it’s a workaholic issue, or it’s an alcohol issue, or it’s a prescription drug issue, or it’s a bitterness, “I can’t forgive so and so” issue.
And that vent is closed. And there’s bitterness that happens in that. And so being filled with the Holy Spirit has to do with being yielded. Being, it’s recognizing where God wants to work and it’s that living sacrifice. It’s, “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, in view of God’s great mercy to offer your body as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to Him.” That’s your reasonable service.
It’s that Romans 6, presenting your bodies. Recognizing you’re dead to sin but alive to God and presenting your members to Him.
And so being filled with the Holy Spirit is primarily an issue of obedience, yieldedness, and surrender. Obedience to what you know. Yieldedness to open the vent and say, “Oh, Lord, I have carried around and when I sit really quietly and when I get really close to you…”
And by the way, the reason that many of us struggle with prayer is that it’s very hard to pray when you want to hang on to stuff that when you know, if you’re really quiet and you’re really honest, the Holy Spirit keeps bringing it back up, right?
That’s why some of you are busy a lot. Silence is deathly painful. Because the only one in the room is you and God.
And when you sit quietly, you’ve never forgiven him. He walked out nine years ago, you haven’t forgiven him. “Yeah but, yeah but, yeah…” You haven’t forgiven him. You’ve got to deal with this issue. You don’t eat because you’re hungry. You’re eating to medicate yourself. I don’t want that for you. You can keep taking that blood pressure medicine and doing this and doing this and doing that and doing that. I want to bring healing to your soul.
See we have a lot of, sort of, Christian-acceptable sins that are killing us in our relationships and in our bodies, in our hearts and in our souls. And Jesus wants to live in you more fully and part of it is just going through and opening the vent and saying, “Okay I want You to influence this area.”
And surrender is just, “You tell me what it looks like to obey You and I’ll do it.” And I don’t know. And see that’s why everyone wants a formula, everyone wants, “Do these three things,” read so many chapters, pray a prayer, do this, take a walk, take a silent retreat.
You know what? I don’t know what God wants you to do. But He lives inside of you. Don’t you think He’d tell you if you asked Him? Don’t you think He wants to?
What if you believed He loved you so much that anything hard you’re supposed to face He’d be real gentle and He would do it for your good. And whatever embarrassment, or humiliation, or struggle that He’d be with you in it and that He’d want to make you whole.