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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
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.