Dear Visionary Leader:
I want you to imagine a man who buys an automobile. He’s never owned an automobile before and he doesn’t truly understand an automobile. He saves enough money to buy a brand new automobile. He shows the car off to his friends. He shows them the beautiful paint job. He shows them the soft upholstery. He has them sit in there and listen to the stereo and to Sirius Xm. He shows them all the amenities of this automobile.
Yet, there’s one thing he doesn’t understand about it: He doesn’t understand that it has an engine in it. So, everywhere he goes, he has to push the car. Now, every so often, he’s going downhill, so he can get in and coast.
But, that doesn’t thrill him too much, because he knows he’s going to have to push it up the next hill. Over time this automobile that is supposed to be a blessing to him has become a burden to him. Rather than the car carrying him, he is pushing it. He’s very proud of it-very grateful to have it-most of the time.
Then one day, somebody says to him: “You know, there’s something you don’t understand about this automobile.” This person shows him a thing called an ignition key and say, “Put that right in there and turn it.” And, he turns it, and hears this surge of power. He says, “What is that?” “Well, that’s the engine. That’s the motor. Now, put it in drive and push that pedal down.”
Message Continues In Visionary Coaching
And, when he does, it roars away in a surge of power. And, he says, “Why, this is wonderful. This is glorious. Why didn’t somebody tell me this sooner?”
Well, you might say, “This is a lame story. Nobody could be that dumb.” You would be correct, unless it is the Christian who does not understand the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
Now, friend, when God saved you, God gave you a faith with an engine in it. And, there are many people who are pushing their faith, rather than letting their faith carry them. And, the faith-the salvation-that was meant to be a blessing, has almost become a burden to them. And, they’re grateful they’re saved, but secretly, they think, “This is such a difficult thing, being a Christian.”
Well, today, I want us to discover the ignition key to this thing called Christianity. Look, if you will, in verse 18: “And be not drunk with wine, in which is excess, but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). Do you see that? “Be not drunk with wine, in which is excess, but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). May I ask you a personal question? Now, it’s not polite to ask personal questions, most of the time. For example, how much money do you make? Or, how much did that dress cost? You’re not supposed to ask that kind of questions. But, I want to ask you a personal question: Are you being filled with the Spirit, right now? Now, don’t answer it out loud. But, answer it. Are you being filled with the Spirit, right now? Now, I did not ask, “Does the Holy Spirit indwell you?” He indwells all Christians. I did not ask, “Do you believe in the fullness of the Spirit?” I didn’t ask that. I didn’t even ask, “Have you been filled with the Spirit?” I didn’t ask that. The question that I asked you is a very personal question: Are you being filled with the Holy Spirit right now? That’s a personal question, isn’t it?
I hope that you can understand that being saved is not a matter of what you do for God, but it is a matter of what God does through you, by the fullness of the Holy Spirit. “Be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).
I. We Need To Understand The Reasons for Being Spirit-Filled
The first thing I want to give you, and I want us to think about, are the reasons for being Spirit-filled. There are several important reasons.
A. Our Obedience
The first reason is our obedience. God has commanded it. This verse-Ephesians chapter 5, and verse 18-is not a suggestion. It is not a request. It is a command of Almighty God.
Now look, if you will, at the verse, very carefully. “Be filled” (Ephesians 5:18). That’s what we call the imperative mood. Do you know that when something is imperative, that means it is necessary? I might say to you, “It is imperative that you do this thing.” This is not optional equipment. This is not a suggestion. It is a command from God. The Christian who is not Spirit-filled is living in rebellion against God. Now, it is in the present tense. So, that’s the reason I asked you, not, “Have you been filled?” but, “Are you filled?” Be filled, right now, in the present tense. “Be ye being filled” (Ephesians 5:18).
Furthermore, it is plural in number. That means the command is not just simply to the pastor, or to the minister of music, or to the soloist, or to the missionary. “The promise is unto you, and to your children, and … as many as the Lord, our God, shall call” (Acts 2:39). Every boy and girl who knows Jesus ought to be Spirit-filled. Every evangelist ought to be Spirit-filled. Every layman, every laywoman, ought to be filled with the Holy Spirit. “Be [ye]”-all of us-“filled with the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). It is plural. It is plural in number.
It is passive in voice. Now, what does that mean? He doesn’t say, “Get filled.” He says: “Be filled” (Ephesians 5:18). It is not what we do; it is what He does in us and through us.
Moreover, the verse says: “Be not drunk with wine … but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). We camp on the first part of that verse, “Don’t be drunk with wine.” I don’t think a person ought to be drunk with wine. Yet, it a greater sin not to be filled with the Spirit than to be drunk with wine.
Now, I know that most of you are disagreeing with me right now. You’re saying, “No, no, no, no. Getting drunk-that’s far worse than not being filled with the Spirit.” But, I will disagree with you. It is a greater sin not to be filled with the Spirit than it is to be drunk with wine. The Bible teaches that the sins of omission are greater than the sins of commission. It is a greater sin to fail to do what you ought to do than to do what you ought not to do.
Why is this? Because, if you’re doing what you ought to do, you cannot be doing what you ought not to do. But, if you’re doing what you ought not to do, you will not be doing what you ought to do. The sin of omission is a greater sin than the sin of commission.
I’m not putting a premium on getting drunk, or I’m not making light of getting drunk. The Bible says, “Don’t be drunk” (Ephesians 5:18). I’m not putting a premium on drunkenness at all. I’m just simply saying that: Why should we be Spirit filled? Number one: obedience. It is imperative. The Bible says that it is imperative that you be filled. It is a command to obey, as well as a blessing to enjoy.
B. Our Obligations
Now, here’s a second reason: not only our obedience, but our obligations. Have you ever thought about the obligations that are yours, as a Christian? Have you ever thought about what the Bible commands you to do? How are you going to do what the Bible commands you to do? You don’t have the strength to do what the Bible commands you to do.
1. In Your Worship Life
In Ephesians 5:19-20, we read, “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In our worship life, we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Why? Because “God is a Spirit; and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).
On the one hand, have you ever been in a worship service where people are trying to worship God in the flesh? It’s just carnality. How tedious and how tasteless that is. On the other hand, you’ve been in worship services where those who are leading the worship are filled with God’s blessed Holy Spirit, and the congregation, the people, are singing praises to God, and they’re worshiping God in Spirit and in truth. The only way you can truly worship God is to worship Him in the Spirit.
2. In Your Wedded Life
Worship not only in your spirit life, but in your wedded life. In Ephesians 5: 22, we read, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” Now, the Bible teaches that a wife is to respect and love and be submitted to her husband, as if he were Jesus Christ.
Paul does not mean that the wife is inferior to the husband. Many women are superior to their husbands. Men and women, before the Lord, are all equal. Yet, the Bible says that wives are to submit to their own husbands. Well, it’s not in human nature to do that.
You may say, “Why does the Bible always tell the hard things to the woman?” Paul not really give the hard stuff to women, but to the men. In verse 25 we read, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” Now, the wife is to submit to the husband as if the husband were Jesus Christ; but the husband is to love the wife as if he were Jesus Christ. And, how does Christ love the Church? Well, He loves the Church sacrificially. He died for the Church. He gave himself up for the Church. A husband ought to love his wife so much that he is willing to die for her, and shows it by the way he lives for her. And, incidentally, most women wouldn’t have any difficulty submitting to a husband who loved her enough to die for her and showed it by the way he lives for her.
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church” (Ephesians 5:25). I can’t do anything as Jesus did it. I don’t have the ability to do anything Jesus did. The only way I can do what Jesus has done is for Jesus in me to do it. Isn’t that right?
My wife, Sheri, does not mind being second in my life, because Christ is number one in my life. When Jesus Christ is enthroned, and I’m Spirit-filled, I will love her better than I could if she were number one in my life. When she’s number two, she receives far more love than if she were number one, because God is loving her.
3. In Your Work Life
In your work life, you need to be Spirit-filled. In Ephesians 6:5, we read, “Servants”-the word, literally, is slaves-“be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ.”
Do you know what that means in plain English? You serve your boss as if he were Jesus Christ. You say, “I can’t do it. Why, he’s not a Christian. He’s not right with God. How could I serve him as if he were Jesus Christ?” In Ephesians 6:6, we read, “Not with eye service, as men pleasers, but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with good will doing service as to the Lord, and not to men.” You work for him as if he were Jesus Christ. And, when we go to work, tomorrow morning, and we walk through the door, we ought to come through with the same enthusiasm for that man and that business as we have when we go to church.
I want to let you in on a secret: If Christians would begin to live like that on Monday, people would start believing what pastors preach on Sunday.
Do you know this? They would be quicker to believe the Gospel. What better place could there be to witness for Jesus Christ than the job? Your job is your temple of devotion. It is your lamp stand for witness. What better place to let your light shine?
The boss would say, “You know, I don’t understand these Christians. They’re here on time. They work with a smile on their face. They’re very careful. They’re honest. They wouldn’t steal a thing. I can trust them with the entire business. They seem to be devoted to the business as if they own the business. You would think they think I am the Lord the way they serve here.”
When a man goes to the employment agency, and he needs somebody to work for him, he ought to say, “By the way, if you have any Spirit-filled Christians, send them over. Those are the kind of people I want.”
Usually, this is not human nature to do that. Human nature is to get by with as little as you can and get as much as you can. Get all you can, and can all you get; sit on the lid, and poison the rest, is the motto that most people have.
4. In Your War Life
And then, look in your war life. Skip on down to chapter 6 and verse 10: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God” (Ephesians 6:10).
It’s all still in the context of being filled with the Spirit. We’re in a battle. We have an enemy. He is real. He is malevolent. He is cunning. He is sinister. He is active. He has marshaled all the forces of Hell against us and our families. He wants to sabotage our lives. He wants to bring devastation to our homes, to your health and to our happiness. You have an enemy, and you’re no match for him. He is stronger than you are. He is powerful. But, the Bible says: “Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). The only way you’re going to win in this warfare is to be filled with the Holy Spirit of God.
5. In Your Witness Life
And then, not only in your war life, but in your witness life. We read in Ephesians 6:18-19; he says: “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit”-he’s still on the theme of the Spirit–“and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; and for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel.“
How important it is that we be filled with the Spirit! I can preach truth, but only the Holy Spirit can impart truth. Thus, I am dependent upon the Holy Spirit. Whether we’re witnessing on the street, in the business, in the classroom, in the home, or from the pulpit, we must be filled with the Spirit of God!
C. Our Opportunities
Now, turn to Ephesians 5, again, and back up just a little bit. Look, if you will, in Ephesians 5, verse 14: “Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See, then, that ye walk circumspectly”-that means looking around; circum means “around,” spectly means “watching, looking”-“not as fools but as wise”- If you’re not Spirit-filled, you’re not wise.
“Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore, be ye not unwise but understanding what the will of the Lord is”-what is the will of the Lord?-“And be not drunk with wine, in which is excess, but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:14-18). What is he saying? The key is in verse 16: “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16).
Is there anybody who would deny that these are evil days? If that was true in Paul’s day, how much more true it is in our day. We’re up against the organized, mobilized, demonized forces of Hell.
And, it comes in every way. Sometimes it’s a frontal attack. Sometimes it is very subtle. There is a war.
While there is a war, there has never been a greater day, a greater age, a greater opportunity to preach the gospel of Jesus than right now. There is more hunger for the gospel now than ever before. There is more openness to the gospel than ever before. As the night grows darker, the saints grow brighter, and the hungers are more intense. And there are people who are looking, waiting, wondering, “Can we find a way? Is there an answer?” We know that there is an answer is in Christ. We had better not let this opportunity slip through our hands like sand falling to the ground. Christianity has not failed; it just hasn’t been tried. When all fails, go back and read the directions. The key to all of this is to be Spirit-filled, so that we might reproduce ourselves.
II. We Must Undertake The Requirements for Being Spirit-Filled
How are we to be filled with the Holy Spirit? Now, this is a command, and everything that God requires of us He teaches us what to do. Now, He says: “Be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). Do not think of the Holy Spirit as a substance. The Holy Spirit is a person. Refer to the Holy Spirit as Him. Jesus said, “When He is come, He will teach you all things” (John 14:26).
We should not depersonalize the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is a person, and you are a temple. Let me give you a key verse here: 1 Corinthians chapter 6 and verse 19: “What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?” (1 Corinthians 6:19). Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.
A. A Complete Commitment
Now, to be filled with the Holy Spirit-number one-means a complete commitment to Him. That is, you have opened the door of the temple; you have welcomed Him in; and you have given Him the key to every closet and to every room.
I know that there are a lot of people who have said, “Holy Spirit, my body is Your temple. Come in and bless me, and fill me, and take control.” But, the question is: Have you given Him the key to every closet? I mean, Is there any area in your life that is off- bounds to the Holy Spirit? Have you given Him the key to your business life? Have you given Him the key to your date life? Have you given Him the key to your social life? Have you given Him the key to your financial life? Have you given to Jesus Christ every key? Now, there must be a complete commitment to the Holy Spirit. He is a person. And, to be filled with the Holy Spirit just simply means, “Lord, I am committed to You.”
The Holy Spirit has one ministry, and that is to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ. When the burning ambition of your heart, and in your life, is to exalt the Lord Jesus, and you have given Him the key to every room, then you are filled with the Holy Spirit.
B. A Continual Control
But now, listen: Not only must there be a complete commitment, but there must be a continual control. This verse of Scripture literally says, “Be ye being filled” (Ephesians 5:18). That’s the reason I asked you that personal question: “Is the Holy Spirit filling you right now?” I didn’t ask, “Have you been filled?” But, “Are you being filled?” Have you ever thought about it? Why did he say: “Be not drunk with wine, in which is excess, but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18)? Why didn’t he say, “Don’t steal, but be filled with the Spirit”? Or, why didn’t he say, “Don’t commit adultery, but be filled with the Spirit?” Why did he take the particular sin of drunkenness and use that in contrast?
Well, I’ve already answered part of the question. He does it by contrast. As I’ve said, being filled with the Spirit and being drunk with wine are antithetical. On the day of Pentecost, the Apostles were accused of being drunk with wine. And, Peter said, “We’re not drunk as you suppose.” That is, they were drunk on the Holy Spirit. So, God is using the Holy Spirit’s fullness, in comparison to drunkenness. Not only in contrast, but also in comparison. Because, being filled with the Holy Spirit is a lot like being drunk.
Yet, Paul says, “Don’t be drunk with wine, but be being filled” (Ephesians 5:18). And, that’s the problem with many folks who have been Spirit- filled: They’ve sobered up. We need to continually be dependent upon the Holy Spirit.
C. A Conscious Claiming
There is a complete commitment; a continual control, where you are saying, moment by moment, “Lord, I’m Yours”; and then, thirdly, there’s a conscious claiming. Actually, you must just claim this fullness just like you received the Lord Jesus: by faith. “As ye received the Lord Jesus, so walk ye in him” (Colossians 2:6). How did you receive him? By faith. How do you walk by faith? You just simply say, “Lord, I thank You. I open myself up, and I thank You that, right now, You are filling me. And, I claim by faith-I don’t look for a feeling-I am claiming the filling.” When we live this way, we will be filled with the Holy Spirit of God.
III. We Must Utilize The Results of Being Spirit-Filled
This passage of Scripture gives three basic results of being filled with the Holy Spirit. And, they show up in all of our relationships of life. It’s very easy for you to tell whether or not you are being filled with the Holy Spirit of God, because you’ll see it in your relationship- number one-to God; number two-to circumstances; and number three-to other people.
A. In Your Relationship to God: A Spirit of Adoration
First, let us look at our relationship to God. There will be a spirit of adoration. In Ephesians 5:18-19, Paul says: “Be filled”-and then, in verse 19, he says-“Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.”Do you know how I can tell when I’m Spirit-filled? I just constantly want to be praising God, constantly wanting to say, “Jesus, I love You,” and constantly singing and praising the Lord.
B. In Your Relationship to Circumstances: A Spirit of Appreciation
Next, Paul says, “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20). A Spirit-filled person is humbly grateful. A flesh-filled person is grumbly hateful.
When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we are just simply thanking God for what He is doing. That’s one of the reasons that you’re praising Him: because you are thanking Him for what He is doing in your heart and in your life. Paul doesn’t say, for some things; he says, “for all things.” He doesn’t say, sometimes; he says, at all times. “Giving thanks unto God always for all things” (Ephesians 5:20).
C. In Your Relationship to People: A Spirit of Accommodation
The Apostle Paul wraps it up regarding our relationship to other people with a spirit of accommodation. In Ephesians 5:21, we read “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God” (Ephesians 5:21). Wouldn’t life be wonderful if we could just learn how to do that? If I could just submit to you, and you could just submit to me?
Have you learned something of the spirit of submission? Let me tell you something, very quickly. You have about all of God that He can trust you with. The key to success in our lives, is the fullness of the Spirit. But, the fullness of the Spirit is only to those who are under the control of the Spirit and submitted to the purpose of the Spirit. Submission. If you’re not interested in the brakes, God’s not going to show you the accelerator.
Until The Last Person Has Heard,
Dr. James. O. Davis
Global Church Network
Cochair / Global Networking