Helping you grow closer to God
Download the Chip Ingram App
Stop Faking It! Resources on sale now.
About this series
Stop Faking It!
Live Without Hypocrisy
Nobody likes a hypocrite, and nobody wants to be one. But for some reason, living an honest, authentic life is tougher than it sounds. God calls us to walk as "children of light," but many of us find ourselves living shadowy lives of part-time spirituality, and then wonder why our hearts feel cold and our prayers go unanswered. If you'd like to know how to live a winsome, whole and holy life, join Chip Ingram for this series from Ephesians 5.More from this series
We all think we have to be something else, portray something different than who we really are, so that people will love us and accept us and make us significant.
We all hate hypocrisy. We hate it when we see it in other people, we despise it when we see it in the Church, and we actually hate it when we see it in us.
Now, it would be nice if hypocrisy was like a virus or like bacteria, and you could go to the doctor and say, “I have a bad case of hypocrisy,” and he could write a prescription and say, “Here you go. Take care of it. Three pills, like penicillin, you’re done.”
But hypocrisy is a lot more complex than that. It has to do with your heart and your mind and your attitudes and your relationship with God and your relationship with people.
But there is a doctor who can solve the hypocrisy issue. If you’ll go ahead and pull out your teaching notes, I’d like to give you Jesus’ personal prescription for dealing with hypocrisy in your life and in mine.
Number one, He says, “Begin within.” Picking it up in Luke 6:39, “He told them this parable: ‘Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into the pit? A student is not above his teacher; but everyone who is fully trained, will be like his teacher. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye, and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, “Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,” when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye?’”
Then, here’s our word. “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Jesus says, “You want to deal with hypocrisy? Begin within.” Start with yourself. Refuse to compare yourself with other people, refuse to evaluate what is wrong with other people.
See, what we all do, I know I have hypocrisy, but I find five or six other people that have it a little bit worse than me, and I look at all of the stuff they need to change. And Jesus says, “That’s a bad prescription.” Begin within.
Well, where within do you begin? He goes on, He says, “Start with the heart,” verse 43, “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.” Okay. “Each tree is recognized,” or, “known by its fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn bushes, or grapes from briars.”
That’s just common sense. We all get that. Here’s the application: “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart; and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart;” – principle: “for out of the overflow of his heart, his mouth speaks.”
Jesus said that if you want to deal with hypocrisy, don’t focus on externals. Don’t try and just clean up this or that. Or don’t try and just appear a little bit differently. Start with your heart. Just like what the sap is in a tree. If it’s a cherry tree, and inside the cherries, it will produce cherries. Whatever is in your heart will end up being produced in your speech, in your attitudes, and in your behavior.
So Jesus says, “If you want to change, if you want your words and your actions to align, to be integrated, to deal with hypocrisy, first, begin with you. Second, start with your heart.” And then He gives a little motivation. He says, “Weigh the consequences.”
Picking it up in verse 46, He says, “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” What’s the problem here? “Why do you talk, talk, call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ but you don’t walk, walk, do what I say?” What do we call it when people say one thing, but live a different way? Hypocrisy. Now, notice the spirit in which He is going to say the next line.
This is not a God with His arms crossed and finger pointing. He is going to give some motivation. He is going to say, “Let me show you the value of living a life of consistency.” Look at the very next line.
He says, “I will show you what he is like who comes to Me and hears My words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house who has dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck, and the house could not be shaken, because it was well built.”
So there is a consistent life, there is an authentic life, and there are tremendous benefits when difficulty and pressure and financial loss and relational breakdown and world events occur, to a person, who is walking authentically with God, He says, “There is stability.”
So He says, “Begin within, start with your heart, weigh the consequences, hear the great reward of living an authentic life.” And then, just so we get the flip side, then notice what He ends with. Then He goes on to say, verse 49, “But the one who hears My words and does not put them into practice, this is like a man who built his house on the ground without foundation; and the moment the torrent struck, that house, it collapsed, and its destruction was complete.”
Do you hear what He is saying? You come to Jesus and you say, in my heart of hearts, I hate hypocrisy. I don’t like it in the Church, I don’t like it in the job, I don’t like it in me. Jesus, will You give me a hand? Will You help me eliminate hypocrisy in my life?
And Jesus would say, “Absolutely. I’ll tell you what, three things to do. One, begin within. Two, start with your heart. And three, weigh the consequences. Get motivated by the great reward of authenticity, and be motivated by the huge price tag of hypocrisy.”
So, what’s the sixty-four thousand dollar question? If He says, “Start with your heart,” and something has to happen in you first, the sixty-four thousand dollar question is, “How do you deal with hypocrisy in your heart?” How does it work where God changes you, from the inside out?
If you’ll turn the page, let’s look at that together, and that’s basically the topic of our time this morning: how to overcome hypocrisy in your heart. And the answer you’re going to find is in Ephesians 5, verses 17 and 18. Just so you get the flavor and the context, let’s pick it up and follow along together, beginning in verse 15.
He says, “But be very careful, then, how you live, not as unwise but as wise, making the most of the opportunity, because the days are evil.” Here’s our passage, “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” And then he gives us the Lord’s will, verse 18, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery, instead be filled with the Spirit.”
There’s a negative command, “Don’t be drunk with wine because it produces this lifestyle.” Positive command, “Instead, be filled with the Spirit,” and then it will produce some things, notice the evidences when you are filled with the Spirit: “Speak to one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, sing and make melody 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 when your life corresponds with the Spirit of God, winsomely, lovingly, righteously, compassionately, and with holiness, when you live it out like that, you become the instrument of God that gives an invitation to people that are living in chaos and hurt and pain, that Christ is the answer.
And so what is at stake, here? The context is, How in the world do you live that kind of life where you honestly mimic God, and you walk in love, as children of light? The answer to “how” is verses 17 and 18. And the answer is this command to be filled with the Spirit.
So pull out a pen, if you would, I’m going to put you to work here a little bit. We’ll do a Bible study together. Let’s do some research in this passage and find out: what does it mean to be filled with the Spirit? There is a command here. The meaning of filling literally means to be controlled by. When we think of being filled with something, we tend to think of a pitcher of water or a cup of water and we pour it in and as it comes up to the top we say, “The cup is filled.” That’s not the picture that you want in your mind.
The idea of this Greek word has the idea of saturation. And saturation to a point that the idea is this substance is so saturated, it’s controlled by what is in it. That’s why he gave the negative expression.
What happens when a person is drunk? When they put a substance in their body – wine or liquor or beer or alcohol – and it gets into their blood system, what does it do? It alters everything, doesn’t it? So the alcohol gets in your system, there is an external force that gets inside of you, and when it gets inside of you, it changes how you think; it changes how you speak, that’s why they ask you to say a few words; it changes your physiology, whether you can walk or not; it changes your emotions.
I have seen people who were the shyest people and you get four or five shots in them and, whoa! They are the life of the party. I have seen other people that are really outgoing, and after they have been drinking for two or three or four hours, they just sit in a stupor, like this, in the back.
Do you now understand what he is trying to get to? Just as wine goes into the body and impacts every aspect of your thinking, your speech, your emotions, your attitudes, and even your physiology – in the same way, allow God’s Spirit to so saturate and be in control of your heart and your mind, that it will affect your speech, your attitudes, your emotions, and your relationships.
Here’s the picture I want to give you: To be filled with the Spirit is a lot like, let’s pretend you’re the sponge, okay? And, as a sponge, to be filled with the Spirit is to be so submerged, and the influence of God’s Spirit, which is holy, God’s Spirit that produces – what? Love and joy and peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, right? Self-control. When you are filled with the Spirit, if someone pushes in on you, this filling turns out to – what is the controlling factor in this sponge? It’s what the sponge is saturated with.
And instead of the flesh influencing your thinking, your behavior, your body actions, the Spirit is in control and you can extend forgiveness, you can have a flare of anger, but not sin.
When you find yourself walking into a business meeting and someone takes part of your territory, and takes your idea, and presents it as his own, and you are filled with the Spirit, you can exhibit patience and kindness and goodness and appropriately go back and deal with that issue, instead of blow up in that meeting, “What are you doing over here?!”
You see, when you are filled with the Spirit, it influences, in fact, let’s look beyond. It’s in the plural form. This is not for superstars. By the plural form, it’s really “You all be filled with the Spirit.” It’s for all believers. Every believer is commanded by God, to have the Spirit control you 24/7. Every moment of every day, it is God’s will for His Spirit to fill you, or be in control of your life.
Third, notice, it’s in what is called “the passive voice.” And what that means, grammatically, it’s something that happens to you. Literally, it’s “Allow yourself to be filled with the Spirit.” This isn’t about trying hard and pulling up your bootstraps and, I’m going to try really hard to be a good person. No, no. This is allowing the Spirit of God access and control.
You no more, this sponge can no more get wet on its own, but it cooperates as I put it into the water. Your responsibility is to allow God to saturate your life with His control in your heart and in your mind. And then, finally, notice, it’s in the present tense. It means, “Yes, start and continue to be filled with the Spirit, every moment of every day.”
I remember studying this really intensely and I was into it. And I was going to teach on this and I was excited about sharing it and I got up and had this great time with God, you know? I want to be filled with the Spirit, and I’m going to get to teach on this really soon, and I want to learn about it. And I had a good time of prayer and a good time reading the Bible.
And I found myself just walking out to the car because I am going to take Ryan over to the church. He had some sort of music practice. And I’m singing, and making melody in my heart. You ever have one of those days? You’re just filled with joy and, man, God is good and life is good and, I mean, I’m filled with the Spirit. I’m aware I’m filled with the Spirit, and I realized, I’m allowing this to happen. I’m cooperating with the Spirit’s work in my life.
And there is joy and there is peace and so I’m sitting in the car and I have to be at the church as well. And after about ninety seconds, when he was supposed to be out there and then after about a minute, or two, or then three, and I can feel the Spirit, kind of, leaving me. “Ryan! I told you, you knew when you had to get up. What’s the deal?”
And I’m sitting there in the car, like, if you squeeze on the steering wheel it makes it do something. And so, finally, he comes running out and he is late so that means I am going to be late. And not only is he late, but he has this big glass of milk, and he has two pieces of bread and jelly all over. You know, “Hey, Papa! How are you doing?” He is really upbeat. What is he upbeat about? He’s late. I’m going to be late. “Hey, how’s it going?”
And I can just feel the anger coming up. And then, as he says, “Oh, Dad, I hope you don’t mind,” and then he tilts the bread and the jelly goes on my car. That jelly took the Spirit right out of my heart. And so I start and there is a battle here and so I’m thinking, “You know, son, you knew…” I started out calm. “You knew what time we were supposed to leave.” “Yeah, Dad, sorry!” You know, a little milk goes on my car.
And then I’m thinking, I’m going to be late. How many times has this happened? By the time we pull into the church parking lot, he has had lecture number five hundred seventy-three on discipline and what it means and why you’re not on time and, “You need to be prepared and you need to set an alarm early.” And on and on and on. I mean, you know, ya-ya-ya-ya-ya-ya. The kind when kids go, “Oh, Dad, shut it off.”
I was on my A-game. And I pull in and then I had that little flicker of the Spirit that said, “Chip, I am grieved.” See, the Spirit is not a force, the Spirit is a person. It’s the manifestation of both the power and presence of the Lord Jesus actually dwelling in you.
And the Spirit of God said, “I am grieved. My feelings have been hurt. That is not how I treat my children. That’s not how I want parents to treat their children. You are acting out of anger. And the anger of man does not fulfill the righteousness of God.” And now I’m convicted and I’m mad at this kid and I realize that I’m not the…9:05 I am filled with the Spirit; 9:15 I’m filled with the Ingram.
And we pulled in the parking lot and I just had to back away and say, “Son, you were late and a lot of what I said was true. And how I said it was completely wrong. I didn’t talk about the issue, I attacked you, we started with a little bit of jelly and we got into the character and your entire future with God. And I want to ask you, as your dad, will you forgive me? And just before you go to band practice, could we pray for a second together?” And we did.
And then, he got out and did what kids do when parents own their stuff and prompting of the Spirit: “Love you, Dad. See you later.” Ad he’s fine and I’m sitting in the car.
And what I want you to understand is that the filling of the Spirit is a continuous moment-by-moment ministry. You can be filled with the Spirit at 9:05 and you can be not filled or controlled by the Spirit at 9:15. So, how do you know? How do you know when you are filled with the Spirit? Is this just some sort of subjective, Well, when I feel the Spirit, I’m movin’!
Actually, He is going to tell us exactly how you can know. Four evidences of being filled with the Spirit. First, your speech will reveal it. You got that pen out? Circle the word speak. Speak to one another in songs and hymns and spiritual songs. Jesus said, “Out of the mouth speaks that which fills the heart.”
When the words coming out of your mouth are positive, uplifting, encouraging, and filled with truth, the Spirit is in control. When the words that are coming out of your mouth are critical and negative and condescending, and painful to others, the flesh is in control. You can know when you are filled with the Spirit. But it goes beyond your speech. It goes to your private thoughts.
Notice that next phrase, “sing, make melody,” that little phrase, “in your heart to the Lord.” When you are filled with the Spirit, there will be a sense of oneness with God. You will unconsciously find yourself singing. Anybody awakened early in the morning and, literally, had either a hymn or a chorus going through your mind?
That’s the evidence of the Spirit of God operating and working. Anybody been driving in the car and you’re just unaware of it and you’re just thinking and praying and talking with God and thinking about the day, and then you just find yourself singing to yourself? You know what that is? That’s the Spirit of God.
When your private thoughts are honoring to God, when they are righteous, when they are God-centered, and when they are loving, the Spirit of God is in control. You are filled. When your private thoughts, have you ever been at a stoplight and, you know what? I’m a master at this. I can do it, like, a really beat up car and someone who looks very unusual. Have you ever looked over and just started making thoughts like, Huh, I tell you, that person ought to get a job. You know what the whole problem in this country is? And you start down there.
Or, you look to the right, and there’s a really, really nice car. And someone is dressed really immaculately. And then you start making judgmental, critical... Well, you know what? Boy, I’ll tell you what. Boy, that’s a good way to spend your money. You know? And, da-da-da, right? As though you were this perfect person.
You ever find yourself in a meeting, looking around, and evaluating how people are dressed, what they are saying, what their motives are, where they are coming from, and why? And being critical, critical, critical, critical. When you are doing that, you are filled with the flesh. The Spirit is not in control. Your private thoughts will reveal whether the Spirit is controlling you or not.
The third is your attitudes. Notice that little phrase, it says, “Giving thanks to God” – when? For everything! Giving thanks to God in the midst of chaos in the Middle East. For that issue? No. But in a sense that God is in control. Giving thanks to God when you have a difficult health issue. Giving thanks to God when relationships are difficult. Giving thanks to God when one of your kids is really going through a tough time. Giving thanks to God when you are single and you’re desperately wanting to be married. Giving thanks to God that even though you don’t have a job, you have a roof over your head and you have enough to eat.
When you are authentically giving thanks – your attitude toward God – it means the Spirit is in control because you are recognizing His sovereignty and His power and His faithfulness, and you are living under the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
You cannot give thanks, authentically, unless you know who God is and He is ruling your life. And so what happens is you can know when you are filled with the Holy Spirit. Listen to what comes out of your mouth. Begin to evaluate where your private thoughts are. And then look at your attitudes.
And then, finally, notice the last one is your relationships. Final, little word to circle is the words, “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Well, what is submission? Submission doesn’t mean you go along with someone because you already agree. Submission is there is a specific situation and you don’t want to do it. But out of reverence and obedience to Christ, you choose to give up your rights and you yield to love the other person.
This happens a lot of times in marriages where a husband has a great idea and, “This is what we want to do! And, boy, it’s going to be great!” And the wife is thinking to herself, That’s the dumbest thing I have ever heard. We have been down this road. But it’s not a moral issue, it’s not a big financial issue, and then, on the outside, she smiles, and she has a real sense of the presence of God and she says, “You know, I’m going to submit to this. I’m going to go along and I’m going to do this deal. I don’t want to do this. But I love him.”
This is the picture of a husband whose wife turns to him and says, in the middle of Sunday afternoon when there is actually a very good ballgame on, I mean, it’s really a big one. They are all big ones. But this is a really big one. And she says, “Honey, do you think we could just take a walk?” And then you do the good question. “Like, for what?” “Just talk.” “Well, about what?” “Well, nothing in particular.”
And the man does this in his mind, Now, let’s see, I’m going to give up a great ballgame, not a good ballgame, to take a walk to talk about nothing? When the Spirit of God is operating, he says to himself, Does that make any sense to me? No. Would that be an act that would communicate love to my wife? I will choose to submit my will to hers, out of reverence for Christ.
I want you to know, you can know, in a New York minute, when the Spirit of God has you saturated and in control, by the speech that comes out, by the private thoughts that you have, by what happens in terms of your attitudes, and by your relationships.
Now, the big question is: God, how do I allow Your Spirit to control my heart, so that the kind of fruit that You want to produce, every tree, remember Jesus’ comments?
Cherry trees produce cherries. Orange trees produce oranges. Guess what kind of fruit the Spirit of God produces. The Spirit of God produces, first, something inside of you called love and joy and peace in your vertical relationship with God.
And then the Spirit of God produces something in your relationships with others. Goodness and kindness and this sense of caring for other people. And then the Spirit of God, in terms of your own discipline, will produce faithfulness; gentleness, which really means a willingness to yield; and self-control. When those things are being produced, what you know for sure is: the Spirit is in control.
Now, I want to do something. I’m going to take a theological aside, okay? And then I’m going to come back and I’m going to talk very specifically and practically about how, on Monday morning through Saturday night, how to be filled with the Spirit. All right?
But in the Church, there has been a lot of confusion. I heard what you just heard years ago. But there were all kinds of messages out there about how to be filled with the Spirit.
I heard from one group that I needed to have the baptism of the Spirit.
And other people said, “No, you need to be filled with the Spirit.”
And other people said, “Well, it’s all the same thing.”
And then some people said, “You only know if you’re filled with the Spirit,
that if you are filled, then you have this experience, and it’s manifested by this gift or this gift. But if you’re not filled, then there’s this.”
And I got so confused, I went on a two-year journey to try and get more of God. I mean, you name the meeting, I went to the meeting. I went into the back rooms. I let people hit me on the forehead. Whatever book you could read, if there was more of God to get, I wanted to get it.
I did not understand the difference between the baptism of the Spirit and the filling of the Spirit. And I did not understand at all, the role of the gifts in the body of Christ, and how, though very valid and important, the gifts in the body of Christ have absolutely nothing to do with living a more holy life. They are absolutely no evidence of the Spirit operating in fullness in your life. And they are not about how to live a more holy life.
And so what I want to do, on the top of this page, is walk through, very briefly, the difference between the baptism of the Spirit and the filling. So follow along. First, baptism does not equal filling. They are two different things.
The baptism of the Spirit is the non-experiential, unrepeated work of the Holy Spirit, at regeneration – that’s the moment that you are saved – whereby we are placed in the body of Christ (Acts 2, 1 Corinthians 12:13, Romans 8:9). I have given them to you; study them.
The filling of the Spirit, by contrast, is the unobstructed or unhindered control or influence of the Spirit upon every believer’s life. And you’ll notice multiple passages in Acts, because it happens over and over and over and over.
Now, let me give you – baptism is this, filling is this, and then I’ll make a summary and if you are brand new, this is, like, Man, what is he talking about? Don’t worry about it. In a couple of years, it’ll help you. But if you have been around the block for a while, this is critical to know as you want to grow in holiness and have God’s Spirit control your heart and life.
The baptism of the Spirit occurs only once in each believer’s life. The filling of the Spirit is repeated. The baptism of the Spirit never happened before the day of Pentecost. It’s about the Church. No one was baptized, dipped, identified with the Church because the Church didn’t exist; it was Israel.
The filling of the Spirit occurred in the Old Testament; Saul would be filled with the Spirit. I just read in Judges, Gideon was filled with the Spirit and power. David, in fact, was filled multiple times with the Spirit for special use by God.
The baptism of the Spirit is true of all believers. You might jot down 1 Corinthians 12:13: “If you do not have the Spirit of God, you are not in Christ,” that says. The filling of the Spirit is not necessarily experienced by all believers. You can have it at 9:05, it can be gone at 9:15.
The baptism of the Spirit cannot be undone. Jot down Ephesians 1:13. The moment you are saved, the Spirit of God comes into your life, and not only are you sealed with the Spirit, adopted into God’s family, but the baptism of the Spirit is that act, by the Spirit of God, that places you in God’s family. A non-experiential, legal issue that occurs, you are placed in the family of God, called “the Church.”
By contrast, the filling of the Spirit can be lost. So, one results in a new position. The other results in power. Baptism occurs when we believe in Christ; the filling of the Spirit occurs throughout the Christian life. Baptism, there is no prerequisite, except belief in Christ. It’s the day that you are saved. Filling depends on yieldedness.
Now, let me walk through one more thing. So, by way of summary, the baptism of the Spirit and the filling of the Spirit are not the same. The baptism of the Spirit is what occurs when you believe and your placed in the body of Christ. The filling of the Spirit is what happens, moment-by-moment. You have it, lose it, have it, lose it. You don’t lose the Spirit, remember? You’re losing His control over your heart and life, as evidenced by your speech, relationships, attitudes, et cetera.
Now, here is where the confusion comes from. Early in my journey, I had a very godly, young man and the people who helped me were very sincere. This is not a critical word against fellow brothers and sisters who would see things differently. But many people have taken their view of how to live a holy life, or the Spirit’s work, out of the book of Acts.
And what you have in the book of Acts is not a prescription for how the Church should run, but it’s a description about how the Early Church grew.
And so, what I had was a friend who told me, “Look, Chip, don’t you want to be like the Early Church?” And I said, “Yeah.” He said, “Well, look at Acts chapter 2.” I said, “I looked at Acts chapter 2.” He said, “Did they believe in Jesus?” I said, “Yeah.” He said, “Did they have the Spirit’s power?” I said, “Well, no.”
Ninety days later – what? They’re at Pentecost. The Spirit falls. He says, “That’s the pattern. You see, you become a Christian,” he told me, “and then later on, you get the fullness of the Spirit, the baptism of the Spirit, and that’s where you get the power.”
And so I went around looking for the power. What he didn’t tell me and what I didn’t know until later, is if you study the entire book of Acts, baptism and fullness are not the same, number one. Number two, there is no normative pattern for how gifts and the filling of the Spirit align.
As we put the chart up here, and I want you to know, if this is of interest to you, on the bottom of the page, there is a series, four parts, on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. But what you see here is Acts 2, Acts 8, Acts 10, and Acts 19. Those are the four times where the baptism of the Spirit occurs.
And what you see in those four is that in each of those times, you have a different response. You have a new group being formed. The Jews came into the body of Christ, Acts 2. The evidence we have, they speak in this other language, as an outward confirmation.
Acts 8 you have the Samaritans. They are the half-breeds: half Jew, half non-Jew. Jews and Samaritans hate one another. So what happens is, can they really be a part of God’s family? They believe and then Peter and John come down a day or two later and say, “Yeah, God is in this.” And as they bless them, they speak in another language.
Then you have Acts 10, the Gentiles join the Church. And when the Gentiles join the Church, the pattern changes. There isn’t a second experience. As Peter is talking, they believe and the evidence is speaking in another language. And then you have in Acts 19, some of John’s disciples took off on their own and were trying to tell everyone but while they were gone, the Messiah came. And Paul explains to them.
And the point I want to make, very simply, is that when you look at the baptism of the Spirit, the only time it happens is when there was a new group to be placed in the body of Christ. There is not a uniform idea of them necessarily speaking in tongues. And you’ll notice in Acts 2 and Acts 8, it happens after their salvation.
But in Acts 10 and 19, it happens at their conversion. And there is a very key role that Peter has, as being the leader of the Church. And all I want you to see, from that little chart, we can develop it more at another time, is simply this: The book of Acts gives no normative pattern for how gifts and the Spirit’s filling work together. You can’t make one there. You can’t say it happens afterwards. Half of the time it does, half of the time it doesn’t.
The baptism of the Sprit has to do with God building His Church. Nowhere in the New Testament, in any of the epistles that are teaching about how to live out this faith, are we
ever commanded to receive the baptism of the Spirit. Never is there any correlation throughout the New Testament that when you have the baptism of the Spirit, you’re necessarily going to speak in another language. But that doctrine, among people that I love deeply – my mom and dad came to Christ through the Pentecostal Movement, so there is no axe to grind, here.
But you can spend a lot of your life and energy chasing an experience thinking that, When I speak in another language or when I have this moving spiritual experience, then I am filled with the Spirit. You can know when you are filled with the Spirit when the fruit of the Spirit is being manifested in your tongue, your thoughts, your attitudes, and your relationships.
And my heart goes out because I have been on that journey where you go from meeting to meeting to meeting to meeting, trying to get more of the Holy Spirit. Listen carefully, you have all the Holy Spirit you will ever get and you don’t need any more. He doesn’t come in installments. When you prayed to receive Christ, the Spirit of God came into your life. You didn’t get seventy-seven percent of Him, and another twenty-three percent to be named later. You got all of Him. The question will be, that we’ll find in just a minute, is: Does He have all of you?
Now, back to our main topic. What I want to talk about now is, how does it work?
Four principles to help us get there. Number one, the issue, as I said, is not getting more of the Holy Spirit. It’s Him getting more of you. And I came up with a little picture. There’s actually a booklet called, My Heart – Christ’s Home, that was instrumental, written by Robert Munger.
And the picture that I came up with in my mind that really helped me is this picture here: the Spirit-filled life. Do you see the furnace down there in the corner?
Do you know what “H.S.” stands for? Holy Spirit. Good. The furnace is in a house. Okay? What does the furnace do? The furnace creates heat and then do you see all those little blocks? Those are the vents. Imagine those as the vents in your house.
When the furnace creates the heat, it goes through a duct system, and there’s a vent in each room. If the duct vent is open, what happens? The heat, out of the furnace, comes in. And the more heat it begins to change the atmosphere of the room, right? It begins to exert influence over the entire room. But if the furnace is going, it can go very, very strong. But if the duct is closed, say, in a closet, or if the duct is closed in the family room, or if the duct is closed in the work room, the heat of the Holy Spirit can go in different parts of your life, but appear to really not impact some others.
The issue is not getting more of the Holy Spirit. When you pray to receive Christ, He is in you. His power is available. The same that raised Christ from the dead is available. Here is the issue. The issue is allowing Him, beyond the prayer room, and beyond the private thinking and to open every duct as God leads you, and to allow the Spirit’s influence to begin to take control in every area of your life.
And that’s why some of you and some of us have met people, and this is true of your life to a degree; it’s true of my life to a degree. Have you ever met someone and you have prayed with them and there was a real sense, man, they are really in touch with God.
And then you saw, maybe, at work or in a ministry setting, and you thought, Man, this is authentic. God is really working. And then have you gone home, maybe, and just gotten lunch with them or something and you think, Whoa. This guy treats his wife worse than a dog! You know? Or there is a lady, similar situation, and, I mean, she is just cold and mean and harsh with her kids but, boy, could she teach Bible study!
And you look at that and you think, Man, what is going on here? In your life and in mine, we are, at various levels, allowing the Holy Spirit’s control. And sanctification, or walking with God, becoming more holy, living like a child of the Light, is incrementally opening the ducts to every area of your life, including the closet, the stuff that no one knows about, the stuff that is too painful to look at, where you, literally, open the duct and let the Holy Spirit begin to deal truth and life and love and forgiveness and restoration.
And then what happens is the change happens from the inside out. And then outside this thing you are, this house, you begin to exhibit the characteristics of Christ, more and more, in every situation.
And so the issue of being filled with the Spirit isn’t getting more of Him. It’s Him getting more of you.
The second principle is that we are never told to seek an experience or a gift as an evidence of being filled with the Spirit. I’m all for spiritual gifts, I believe God uses them greatly, I am all for big experiences. I want as many as God will give me! Just make sure that your gifts and experiences – don’t equate those with whether you’re filled with the Spirit or not, or you’ll spend your whole life seeking experiences rather than focusing on the Lord.
Third, probably most important, the conditions for being filled. There are conditions. There are three conditions to allow, to open those ducts so the Spirit of God is working in your life. Condition number one is obedience. Yieldedness. Dedication. The apostle Paul, after teaching who we are in Christ, for eleven chapters, in chapter 12, verse 1 of Romans, says, “Therefore I urge you, beloved brothers, in light of God’s mercy, that you present,” a point in time, “your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable,” or logical, “sense of worship.”
And then look at verse 2, “And do not be conformed to this world,” don’t let the world squeeze you into its mold, operating under the flesh, but – what? “have your mind transformed by the renewing of your mind, that your life,” or lifestyle, “might prove,” or demonstrate, “what the will of God is, which is good, acceptable, and perfect.”
And so what you see is the way the Holy Spirit works and fills you, He will transform your thinking, your attitudes, you mind, your worldview, your perception. In fact, you want to really know how to get filled with the Holy Spirit? Let me show you a chart. As I was reading through the New Testament, I came upon a very interesting passage in Colossians 3. Ephesians and Colossians are what are called “twin epistles.” They were written about the same time, to two different groups.
Look at the parallels. Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the Word of Christ richly dwell within you.” Now let’s look at the parallels between being filled with the Spirit and being filled with God’s Word. When you are filled with the Spirit, what is true of you? “Speaking to one another in hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs.” When you are filled with the Word, “teaching and admonishing one another with psalms, hymns, spiritual songs.” Does anybody see a parallel here?
When you are filled with the Spirit: singing, making melody in your heart to God! When you are filled with the Word: singing with thankfulness! See the parallel? When you are filled with the Spirit: always giving thanks for all things. Filled with the Word: giving thanks through Him to God.
When you are filled with the Spirit: submitting to one another. When you are filled with the Word: whatever you do, do all in the name of Jesus, submission implied. And then after that, both epistles talk about what relationships and family and children look like when you are filled with the Spirit. Do you see the parallel between being filled with the Spirit and being filled with the Word?
The Spirit doesn’t do some mystical work where He just changes you. He uses the raw material of God’s Word. Even Jesus said – what? “Man will not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”
Let me tell you something, upfront. If you are not in God’s Word on a very regular basis, not just to read it, but to read it, to think about, to digest it, and obey it, you will not be filled with the Holy Spirit. It is impossible. The raw material of the Spirit of God is the Word of God.
It’s so that you can have your mind renewed, every morning, or every night, or both, so that the Spirit of God could put truth in your mind and you will know the truth and truth will set you free.
The first condition to being filled with the Spirit is obedience to God and to His Word. The second condition is an undefeated life. And that doesn’t mean perfection. What I mean is when you know about sin, I’m sitting in the parking lot, I just sinned. I blew up at my kid. God has convicted me. I have a choice. I either repent of that sin, or I say, “You know what? I’m tired. He deserves this. I know I was wrong. Get in there, have your music practice. I’m a pastor. The heck with you, kid.” I have quenched the Spirit.
I have news for you. Spiritual fruit is not going to be born until I deal with that. I either apologize to him, confess to God, the word is repent. The word repent means just to have a change of mind. I was wrong. This is wrong behavior. This is not godly. Repent! Seek forgiveness, be restored, ask Him to fill me afresh.
If you’re involved in activities that you know are wrong, you will not be filled with the Spirit. If you’re involved in a relationship that you know is sinful, you will not be filled with the Spirit. If you are not handling your money in a way that God has made clear to you in how you should handle your money, you will not be filled with the Spirit.
If you’re watching material or reading material that you know doesn’t honor God, and you have this twinge of guilt and you know it’s wrong, if you keep doing it, you will not be filled with the Spirit. Ephesians 4, 30 and 31, notice what it says, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Don’t grieve Him, don’t make Him sad, this is about a relationship. What does it say? “Get rid of all bitterness and rage and anger and brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.”
And then I love the next verse, “And be,” positive, “kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another,” – how? “just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
Condition number one, obedience to God and His Word. Condition number two, an undefeated life. That means you deal with known sin. Condition number three is a dependent life: John 15. It’s the picture of the vine and the branch. It’s this dependency, that you need God. It’s practicing the presence of God. It’s talking to Him as you’re getting dressed and when you’re shaving and in-between times and while you’re driving the car.
It’s this link, all the time, of, I need You. Galatians 5:16 says, “Walk,” or, “live by the Spirit and you will not” – what? “fulfill the desires of the flesh.” Notice it’s a walk. You take a step and stumble, you take a step and stumble. God understands. This isn’t about perfection. This isn’t about having it all together. It’s about obedience to God and His Word, it’s about dealing with what He shows me, and then living with a sense of dependence, like a child to a father.
And the final one, here, is remember this is not mechanical. It’s relational. This is not about, Okay, I want to be filled with the Spirit. Three chapters a day, one at night. Let’s see, I’m going to pray for seven point five minutes. “Dear God. I love you. I love everyone. Bless the world.” Good deeds, I’m going to do two good deeds today, and, oh, I got a tract. I’m going to tell someone about Christ. “Here, have you heard about Christ?”
Go try that, when you think about building a relationship with another human being, what do you do? Time, commitment, conversation, listening, scheduling time away to be together, a connection of the heart. Does it involve discipline? Sure. Do you always want to spend time with someone you want to get close to? You don’t always feel like it, but you do it.
But it’s not about legalism or rules. It’s about a heart relationship. The best picture I can give you is just, I am committed to building an intimate relationship with my wife and with my kids. But it’s not like, Okay, Mondays, I give her candy. Wednesdays, I send her flowers. “Hi, honey, how are you?” You know, it’s not mechanical.
Do we set aside Fridays? A date each week? Yes. Do we commit to, every day, having a time where we really talk? Yes. Do we sit down and do some planning about what we are going to do with our money and our time? Yes. Do we plan a couple, or three weekends a year to get away? Yes. But it’s about your heart. It’s about wanting to be close. And God longs to be close to you. He wants to fill you with the Spirit. He wants to saturate your life with His love and His joy and His peace.
But before you walk out the door, you are at the fork in the road. You can be run by you, or you can yield to the Spirit of God, right now, and begin a journey of being filled with the Spirit. And it will change your heart and you will increasingly become less and less hypocritical.
Will you bow your head and just privately talk with God? And ask Him, God, ask Him, God, if You will show me the first step to be filled with Your Spirit, from what I have heard today, I will do it. You pray that and sit quietly, and He will show you.