The filling of the Holy Spirit provides a thought-provoking topic for discussion in groups of Christ-followers. More than a few conversations have centred around the ‘evidence’ of the Spirit’s presence in the life of new and more mature believers.
In Ephesians 5:18-21 Paul urges the entire congregation with a “Don’t” and a “Do.”
The don’t – “Don’t get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery.” He does not say, “Don’t drink wine,” but rather “Don’t get drunk on wine.” This is not the first time the Bible has addressed the issue of excessive alcohol. Read through Proverbs, a book of ‘condensed wisdom’ and you’ll find more than a few references on the subject (e.g. Prov. 23:20 ‘Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor….’ When wine controls an individual that individual loses control. In a season with M.A.D.D. (Mothers against Drunk Driving) joining police forces in roadside checks, the topic hits the headlines. Paul warns against the ‘uncontrolled conduct’ which results when one’s mind, will and emotions are impaired progressively.
The do – “Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” The Spirit of God will control your mind, your will, your emotions if you surrender yourself to Jesus Christ. The fruit of the Spirit is not ‘self-improvement’ but the result of God’s transforming power in the life of a Christ-follower.
What’s the effect of this filling? 4 aspects evidence the Spirit’s presence.
#1 Speaking – not just any words, but with spiritually-saturated text, namely psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.
#2 Singing – not just any lyrics, but God-centred praise.
#3 Thanksgiving – not just in October (like Canadians) or November (like Americans), but always and for everything in the name of the One for whom we are the most thankful–our Lord Jesus Christ
#4 Submitting – not just within a marriage but mutual submission within the local body of believers. Preferring one another, affirming others and their situation ahead of our own.
Why reflect on this passage during the season of Advent? I would suggest three of the four Christmas hymns, portrayed for us in Luke 1 and 2 provide Scriptural evidence of the Spirit’s indwelling. Though pre-Pentecost, the Spirit of God impacts Mary, Zacharias and Simeon in their speaking, singing, thanksgiving and submitting. Reread Luke 1 & 2, as we are in our home this week, and you will overhear these saints, filled with the Spirit of God, quoting the Word of God as they contemplate the Son of God.
That’s what this Christmas season should be all about, should it not? Saints, that is genuine Christ-followers, filled with the Spirit of God, in obedience to Ephesians 5:18, quoting the Word of God (Colossians 3:16,17) as we contemplate the Son of God. I’m expecting to commit to more speaking, more singing, more thankgiving and more submitting this year. I trust that if our paths cross, you’ll recognize that I am even more amazed than ever that the Father sent the Son to save me. I pray you too will join me in these Spirit-filled activities!