Commentary on Ephesians, 5:18 (2 of 2)

Ephesians 5:18

“And do not be drunk with wine, in which is riot, but be filled with the Spirit;”

“but be filled with the Spirit”

“filled”  (Gr. pleroo – 4137)

To fill to the full. To make complete in every way. To be under the control of. 

This is not a command to have more of the Spirit, for we either have the Spirit or we don’t. As believers, we are all indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Thus this is a command to yield control of ourselves to the Spirit. In the Greek this is in the present tense, which means we are to be continuously controlled completely by the Spirit.

Since this is a command, how is this command carried out by us, since it’s the Holy Spirit who is to be in control of us? As I stated above, it’s a matter of yielding. Which means we allow the Spirit to have His way with us. How do we do that? Paul makes the comparison between being controlled (drunk) by wine, and being controlled (filled) by the Spirit. The way we yield to wine, is to drink it. The more we drink of wine, the more under its control we become. As with the intake of wine, we are to intake (yield) of the Spirit. The more we intake of the of the Spirit, the more we become under His control. Thus for better understanding, we can restate what Paul said as follows:

“Do not be under the power of wine, but be under the power of the Spirit.”

The more we yield ourselves to wine, the more we are brought under its power. In like manner, the more we yield ourselves to the Spirit, the more we are brought under His power. In other words, the more we give ourselves to the things of the Spirit, the more of His power we receive. 

Being filled with the Spirit is a matter of saturating our minds with the Word of God, and surrendering our wills to the will of God. It’s a matter of spending quality and quantity time in His presence each day. It’s a matter of being fully committed to God and to carrying out the mission He’s given to us as followers of Christ. It’s about being single-minded, being intent on one purpose in life. It’s a being totally focused on Christ and living to honor Him in everything we think, say, and do.

As we yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit is this way, He performs a miracle within us. As we give ourselves completely to the Lord, the Spirit performs the miracle of conforming us into the likeness of Christ. Yielding involves faith. It involves steps of faith. Our lives are to be a daily, moment by moment, walk of faith, in total dependence upon the Holy Spirit.

If we’re double-minded, with one foot in the Kingdom of Christ, and one foot in the world, we will experience little of God’s power in our lives (James 1:8). Without a sincere and total commitment to the will of God, we will struggle in the Christian life. We have to make up our minds who we’re going to serve. We have to make up our minds what’s really important in life. We have to determine if we’re truly born-again. If we are, if we do in fact belong to God, then there’s no other option but to live completely for the glory of Christ. By biblical definition, a Christian is a follower of Christ. Thus true followers of Christ, follow. As we surrender our heart and will to following Christ, the Holy Spirit will continuously empower us to do so.

Walking in the power of the Holy Spirit is a learning process. It’s a process that continues throughout our lives. The important thing is that He has the whole of of our hearts. If He does, then we will experience His power in our lives, and will continuously grow in Christ-likeness.

In Galatians 5:16 and Galatians 5:25, Paul talks about “walking in (or by) the Spirit.” Is there a difference between being filled with the Spirit, and walking in the Spirit? It’s essentially the same thing. There’s perhaps a slight difference, and it may be viewed in this way: Walking in the Spirit is the outworking of the filling of the Spirit. In other words, if we’re under the control of the Spirit, we will walk in the Spirit. Put another way, as we yield control of our lives to the Holy Spirit, He will empower us to walk in the will of God. The filling of the Spirit may be compared to an electric power source, and walking in the Spirit may be compared to the operation of anything that is plugged into that power source. Thus when we walk in the Spirit, we walk in the power of the Spirit, or by means of the Spirit’s power.

While there’s no “magic” formula for living in the power of the Holy Spirit, there are certain things that we must do. Here are some biblical guidelines, some of which I already mentioned:

1. Be fully committed to living for Christ. With all your heart “keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” (Col 3:1)
2. Saturate your mind with the Word of God. Pay attention to every single word.
3. Be sincerely committed to obeying God’s Word without compromise.
4. Spend much time in quality prayer. We get to know someone by spending a lot of time with them. No different with time alone with God. There’s power in His presence.
5. In true faith, depend totally on the Holy Spirit for enabling power for obedience.
6. Memorize verses that deal with sins that you struggle with, and meditate on them regularly, especially when confronted with those particular temptations. 
7. Memorize verses that motivate you to live for Christ, like promises, and think on those things regularly, especially when tempted with sin.
8. My personal suggestion, read Andrew Murray’s book, “Humility.” Next to the Bible, that book has made a greater difference in my life than any other.