Dear Visionary Leader:
In Ephesians chapter 5, verse 17, the Bible says, “Wherefore, be ye not unwise but understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17).
We’re living in perilous times and there are many problems that confront us. We are facing the threatening clouds of war in the Middle East. We are facing a world in which morals are descending at an alarming and increasing rate. We are facing school systems that are infiltrated and injected with atheism.
We are facing countless pulpits with contaminated men who do not believe, any longer, the miraculous in the Scripture. Church rolls are filled with men and women who have never repented of their sin. If you look out in a world in need, you will find out that the play palaces and the temples of sin are crowded with people, and many churches cannot even muster a respectable crowd on Sunday night. In fact, the American Church for the most part decided that Sunday night services were a “thing of the past” and closed them. Rather than reflecting on the lack of thirst of the “saints” to be in the House of God instead of sitting in front of a television. Church rolls are padded, but pews are empty. We see a world that’s being baptized in tears, and yet, very few souls are being baptized in water. And, the sad part of it is this: that while the world has forgotten to blush, the church has forgotten to weep.
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If that was not enough, globally we are confronted with the coronavirus. At time of this writing, the coronavirus has spread in less than three months worldwide. I believe we should be safe, but sensible; factual but not fearful; wise, but not worried; informed, but inspired; clean; but confident!
I. What is the Answer?
What is the answer? What can be done about threatening war? What can be done about descending morals? What can be done about corruption in education, and corruption in politics, and corruption in religion? What can be done about the indifference of people? What will it take to turn our city around? What will it take to turn our nation around? What will it take to bless our world? What should be our response to the coronavirus?
I am convinced we’re facing one of three things: revival, or ruin, or the return of Jesus. I pray to God it will be a spiritual revival it will be the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
But, if it is a spiritual revival, how will this spiritual revival come about? Well, notice again in Ephesians chapter 5, verse 17: “Wherefore, be ye not unwise but understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17). And, what is the will of theLord? Read verse 18: “And be not drunk with wine, in which is excess, but be filled with theSpirit” (Ephesians 5:18). The will of the Lord is that theChurch of the living God be filled with the Spirit of the living God. “Be filled with the Spirit“-this alone is the answer (Ephesians 5:18)!
A. Education is not the Answer
People have tried everything. Some denominations believe that the answer is intellectual. They spend millions of dollars on teaching programs. Students go to class after class with their heads growing full and their hearts remaining empty. Do you know what Mahatma Gandhi’s son said? He said, “In India the missionaries taught our people how to read and the communists are now giving them the material to read.” Education is not the answer. Now, I believe in education, but it is not the answer.
B. Activism is not the Answer
The activist in the Church say, “Well, we’d better all get busy. We’d better work harder; work, work, work. You know, get busy, try harder; a busy Christian is a happy Christian, so get at it.”
A lot of people feel that activism is the answer and so, they work and they work and they work, and yet, they do not find the answer. We might as well tell a sick man to get up off of his bed and do the work of a well man as to tell the church of the living God what she needs to do is to get busy.
C. Emotionalism is not the Answer
The emotionalist says, “Well, I have the answer. We need to get everybody all stirred up, and so with rhythm, music, cheerleader-type enthusiasm, crocodile tears, and all of these kinds of things.”
We try to tell people that if you can just get that certain feeling, then everything will be fine. And so, a man gets himself psyched up until he has a certain emotional feeling, and he goes home and he loses the enthusiasm of the moment. He loses that emotional feeling, and all he has is the memory of an emotion. And, his latter state is worse than his first, because now he is depressed. He says, “I had it, but I lost it.”
Now, there’s nothing wrong with activity. There’s nothing wrong with study. There’s nothing wrong with emotion, but it is not the answer.
D. Phariseeism is not the Answer
Next, there are answers that are given by what I call the Pharisees. They say, “Well, the church is not separated enough, and what we need to do is to quit doing this, and quit doing that, and quit doing the other.”
God knows there are some things we ought to quit. Yet, the Pharisee has a negative religion. His or her religion lies in giving up things. Yet, while he or she prunes his or her limbs, he or she strengthens his or her root, and he or she becomes a bitter, hard Pharisee.
E. A Spirit-filled Church is the Answer
There is only one answer for a world that’s in the need that our world is in, and that is for a Spirit-filled church. “Be … understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine … but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:17-18).
II. What Is The Antidote?
What does it mean to be filled with the Spirit?
A. Continuous Control by the Spirit
The hope of this world is for the Christian, to in continuous control by the Holy Spirit. The emphasis is on the word be filled. Be filled, not get filled. The Bible doesn’t say, “Get filled with the Spirit.” The Bible says, “Be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). The word implies a continuous control by the Holy Spirit.
What is the most important question: “Were you married?” Or, “Are you married?”
You see, the fact that you got married doesn’t necessarily mean that you are married. The fact that you were filled with the Spirit doesn’t necessarily mean that you are filled with the Spirit. And, God’s Word doesn’t necessarily say, “Get filled with the Spirit,” but God’s Word says, “Be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).
Being filled with the Spirit is not a crisis experience. There is a time when you’re not filled with the Spirit, and you do get filled with the Spirit, but God’s emphasis is not on getting filled, but upon the day-by-day experience of being filled. Yesterday’s experience is no good for me, today. I must be filled with the Spirit today.
The Bible implies a continual control by the Holy Spirit-not get filled, but be filled. Are you, this very moment, filled with the Holy Spirit? I don’t care one whit about your experience in the past. I want to know, right now, this very moment, are you filled with the Holy Spirit? If there was ever a time in your life when you were closer to God than you are at this moment, you are a backslider. “Be filled” (Ephesians 5:18). We are to keep a moment-by-moment account.
To be filled with the Spirit means to be continually, moment-by-moment, day-by-day- by-day, being filled with the Spirit. How does a man get drunk? He drinks. How does he stay drunk? He keeps drinking. “Be not drunk with wine, but be ye being filled,” is literally what the Greek says (Ephesians 5:18). “Be ye being filled,” day-by-day, moment-by-moment, letting God’s Holy Spirit fill you.
B. Subjection to the Spirit
We are to be subjected to the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not a substance; the Holy Spirit is a person. And, when the Bible uses the term being filled with the Spirit, the Bible is speaking in the terminology of our bodies being temples and the Holy Spirit as a person possessing every room and the key to every closet. And so, it means “subjection to the Spirit.”
A lot of people talk about getting the Holy Spirit, and they want more of the Holy Spirit. The problem is not for us to get more of the Holy Spirit, for the Bible says God doesn’t give His Spirit by measure (John 3:34). We have all the Holy Spirit we are ever going to get. You can’t have a part of the Holy Spirit. He doesn’t say, “I’ll give you a third of the Holy Spirit.” He doesn’t give the Spirit by measure. It’s not getting more of the Spirit; it is letting the Holy Spirit have full sway in you. It is turning everything over to the Holy Spirit.
You see, when we get saved, we have Him in us, but when we’re filled, He has us- all of us. When a man gets saved, the Holy Spirit comes in to abide, and if you don’t have the Holy Spirit within you, you’re not even saved. For, the Bible says, in the eighth chapter of the Book of Romans, “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Romans 8:9). After that, we are saved; we are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. And, God sends forth His Spirit into our hearts, crying, “Abba Father.” That’s one way we know we’re saved: because of the witness of the Spirit within us.
But while the Holy Spirit comes to abide in every person, He does not preside in every person. And while every person has Him as resident, not everyone has Him as president. But, the idea is to let Him be president, to let Him take over completely. It’s not like filling a bottle with a substance, but it is more like turning the keys of a house over to a person.
We are to be in subjection to the Spirit. Do you know what’s wrong with most of us? We want the Holy Spirit to be in subjection to us. When we chose to move in the Spirit, we will have to face battles.
When the Israelites came out of Egypt and through the wilderness and into Canaan, it is a picture of an unsaved man coming out of the world of sin, through the wilderness of carnality, and into the blessings of the deeper Spirit-filled life. Egypt is a picture of the world, the wilderness is a picture of the carnal Christian, and Canaan is a picture of the Spirit-filled life.
I want to remind us it was not until those Israelites got into Canaan that they really got into warfare. Did you know that? In the wilderness, they just had a few skirmishes. And, the carnal Christian doesn’t have many battles with the devil. It’s the Spirit-filled Christian that has battles with the devil. It was after Jesus was anointed with the Holy Ghost at His baptism that the Bible says that He met Satan head on. When God opens the windows of heaven to bless us, the devil opens the doors of hell to blast us. When the Israelites got into Canaan, it was in Canaan that the Israelites came into conflict with the Canaanite demon-worshipers.
C. Possession by a Person
To be filled with the Spirit not only means that there must be a continuous control by the Spirit and subjection to the Spirit, but to be possessed by a person. Notice what the Bible says, and it’s so important that you understand, “Be not drunk with wine … but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).
Notice carefully: Not be filled by the Spirit, but be filled with the Spirit. Don’t get the idea that the Spirit is standing beside you filling you with love, filling you with power, filling you with peace, filling you with understanding, filling you with wisdom, or filling you with all you need. The emphasis is not on getting filled by the Spirit, but on being filled with the Spirit. We must understand this. It is not an influence, a force, or a power, but rather, another person taking control of us.
1. The Holy Spirit has a Mind
Look in Romans 8 verse 27 we read, “And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit” (Romans 8:27).
One of the marks of personality is intelligence. “And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:27). Now, the Holy Spirit has intelligence. He is a person with intelligence. He has a mind. This is the reason that when Simon Peter and the other apostle were there, and the magistrates came up and talked to them and commanded them not to speak anymore in the name of Jesus, they spoke again. And, the Bible says, “When they saw … they were ignorant and unlearned men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). They spoke like Jesus spoke, and they said, “Never a man spoke like this man. Where did these ignorant fishermen get that knowledge?” The Holy Spirit gave it to them. He has amind.
2. The Holy Spirit has Emotions
And, not only does He have a mind; He has emotions. In Romans chapter 15, verse 30 we read, “Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me”-the love of the Spirit (Romans 15:30).
In Ephesians 4:30, Paul speaks of grieving the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit can be grieved. We read, “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, by whom ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.”
3. The Holy Spirit has a Will
The Holy Spirit has a will. In Acts 13:2, we read, “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, Separate me, Barnabas and Saul, for the work unto which I have called them” (Acts 13:2). In 1 Corinthians 12:11, we read, that the Holy Spirit gives spiritual gifts to every man “severally as he will.”
I have highlighted the mind, emotion, and will-that’s what makes a personality. The Holy Spirit doesn’t have a body. God the Father doesn’t have a body. Yet, God the Father is mind, emotion, and will. This is a person.
I am simply saying that when the Bible says we are to be filled with the Holy Spirit, that is not that we’re to be filled by the Holy Spirit, but with the Holy Spirit. As a person, the Holy Spirit comes into me.
What difference does it make whether I’m filled by the Spirit or with the Spirit? If I’m filled by the Spirit, and the Spirit gives me love, and what I need is patience, then I’m lacking what I need. Or, if He gives me patience, and what I need is wisdom, then I’m lacking again. However, if I’m filled with a person and that person has everything I need, then I will not be lacking at all! What I’m trying to say is there is when I am filled with the Spirit of God, all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Jesus, and Jesus dwells in me through His Holy Spirit.
Thus, I say that the need of Church is to understand what the will of the Lord is, and it is to be filled with the Spirit-not get filled, be filled; not have Him, let Him have you; not get a substance, but let a person come in, move you off the throne, and take over.
We have come to back to the beginning of this message. The coronavirus has spread in less than three months worldwide. I believe we should be safe, but sensible; factual but not fearful; wise, but not worried; informed, but inspired; clean; but confident! What is the will of God in times like these: be filled with the Spirit!
Until The Last Person Has Heard,
Dr. James. O. Davis
Global Church Network
Cochair / Global Networking