Grace Family Bible Church

Being Filled With the Spirit

By: Scott Morton


This is a subject that confuses many people in Christianity, as there are many different definitions that are given to this term. Some people point to the idea that this means that a person has the sign gifts present in their life, as evidenced by the statements in Acts 2. This is not the case, as can be seen in the statements that Paul makes in 1 Corinthians 13, as these gifts were going to be temporary and have now been done away.

Others assign other meanings to this, as they try to state that a person is able to have God intervene on their behalf due to the fact that they have been filled with the Spirit.


Rather than spend time on what people say that it is, we are going to look at what the Bible states about this. The Apostle Paul makes a mention of this phrase in Ephesians 5, which is going to be the main text of this article.


Ephesians 5:18-21

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; [19] Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; [20] Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; [21] Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.


Paul makes a statement that the believer is to be filled with the Spirit. The contrast that he uses is not to be drunk with wine, wherein is excess. The issue is not the drinking of wine, as he tells Timothy to use wine for his stomach, as a medicine (1 Timothy 5:23). The issue with alcohol in this passage is drunkenness. This is what the Bible condemns, not the use of alcohol in small amounts. Some of the passages that speak of drunkenness being condemned are Proverbs 23:19-21, 29-35, 31:4-7, and Leviticus 10:8-11. Alcohol, when used in large amounts, has turned people away from God and the purpose that He has for them, which is the reason that it is condemned (Amos 2:11-12).


The issue that Paul is trying to address is control. Alcohol can be a dangerous thing due to the fact that it can take control of a person's life. When a person allows alcohol to have this kind of control, it causes havoc in many areas of a person's life. This is something that God never intended for us and why it is such a problem. If this describes your life, it is important that you get some help with your use of alcohol. God will be able to provide an answer for you if you are willing to look in His Word to find it.


There are many different things besides alcohol that can take control of a person's life. Some of these are sorrow (John 16:6), wrath (Luke 4:28), fear (Luke 5:26), envy (Acts 13:45), and indignation (Acts 5:17). As you can see, these things are not good things to have control over your life. When these things start to have control, they can cause a person to make bad decisions and then they will have to reap the consequences of their actions.


The Spirit is what is supposed to be leading an individual. We can see in the gospels that the Spirit can lead an individual (Luke 4:1) and can apply pressure on an individual (Mark 1:12). It also has to be more than the Spirit actually being part of us. This is because we already have the Spirit in us (Ephesians 1:13, 4:30) when we believe the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Paul is telling us that this is something more and it is important for us to look at this passage in order to see what he is speaking about.


When we compare this passage with a similar passage we see something interesting. Let us take a look at this passage:


Colossians 3:16-17

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. [17] And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.


Looking at this passage we can see that the end result of these two things are the same thing. However, there are two different things that bring these things about. In Ephesians 5 Paul states that a person needs to be filled with the Spirit. Here in Colossians 3, Paul states that a person needs to let the word of Christ dwell in you richly with all wisdom. These two things are the same thing. When a person lets the word of Christ dwell in them, they are filled with the Spirit.


Paul received the message that he communicated to us by direct revelation from the Lord Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:11-12). Paul was told that he was going to fulfill the Word of God (Colossians 1:25). We are told to hold fast to the form of sound words (2 Timothy 1:13-14). All of these verses describe the word of Christ. When we hold fast to the truth of the Word of God rightly divided (2 Timothy 2:15) that Paul has communicated to use, we are allowing the word of Christ to dwell in us richly, which means that we are filled with the Spirit. This is what Paul means when he states the following verses:


Philippians 3:15-16

Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. [16] Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.


This is why Bible study is so important, because it allows this to be true in our lives. Hopefully you are able to attend a local assembly in your area or have access to materials found on websites such as this one.


There are some things that come about as a result of being filled with the Spirit. We will spend the rest of this article discussing this material.


The first of these is the idea of speaking to yourself is psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, making melody in your heart. The first objection is that someone is going to say that singing is not speaking. However, we are going to see as we go through this that singing is a form of communication.


The primary purpose of singing is to glorify God. This idea can be seen from looking at verses such as Psalm 95:1, Isaiah 42:10, and Jeremiah 20:13. An example of this was the creation. By looking at Job 38, we see that the angelic host was singing during these events (Job 38:1-7). Satan was also created with a built-in orchestra (Ezekiel 28:11-13). The initial job that Satan had (then called Lucifer) was to lead the angelic realm in the praise and worship of God.


This shows why singing can often be used as a measuring tool of the heart of an individual. James 5:13 shows that a person should be singing when they are happy. This is easy, because a person can easily do the right thing when things are going right. It is more difficult for an individual to do this when things are going bad. An example of this is the following verse:


Acts 16:25

And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.


Paul and Silas had been cast into prison in Philippi. It would have been easy for them to have been down about their circumstances and to have given up. This is not what they did. They instead started singing and giving praise to God. How many of us can say that we have given praise and honor to God when things are not going right in our lives? Our pattern was able to do this, as he knew that all things work out to the glory of God. This is why singing is an act of personal worship that we should not ignore (Psalm 137:1-4).


Singing can also be used to lead people away from what God would have them to do. Singing can be used as part of a false worship system (Exodus 32:15-25). This is important to note, as not all singing bring glory and honor to God. This does bring up an interesting point to note then, because we should then know what singing we should avoid, as we should want to praise and honor God.


Paul gives us some information related to singing in 1 Corinthians 14:15 related to singing as he is discussing the gifts. He reports that he prays and sings with the understanding that he has. This means that his prayer life, as well as his singing, reflected the information that had been communicated to him directly by the Lord Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:11-12). If this understanding is important, then we should seek to have this information as part of our life. This is why it is important for us to study the Bible rightly divided (2 Timothy 2:15) in order to make sure that we can have the understanding that would bring the praise and worship to him.


It is important to note that this is going to bring about a sense of joy. This is what helps to bring about the thankful attitude that we are now going to discuss, which is the second part of being filled with the Spirit.

It is important for us to be thankful as we are going through our lives. Paul records that this is the will of God for us (1 Thessalonians 5:18). That should be enough for us to know that it is a necessary part of the functioning of an individual. However, there are some problems that people have with this.


Sometimes it is hard to be thankful based on the circumstances in your life. When things are going bad for people, they do struggle with the idea of thanking God for what they are going through. It does seem strange to state that you are thankful for something bad happening to you. It is takes the example of the Apostle Paul to see how this is supposed to work.


I don't think that there is anyone who can disagree with the fact that Paul had a hard time during his ministry. By reading the book of Acts and his description of some of the things that he went through in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28, we see that there was a lot of suffering that Paul went through during his ministry. It is hard for us in the United States to really appreciate what Paul was speaking about. We do not have to fear for our lives for preaching the gospel like he did. If anyone had a right to not be happy in their circumstances, it would be Paul.


However, we see that Paul learned some things about being able to deal with circumstances. In 2 Corinthians 12, we see that Paul starts talking about a thorn in the flesh that he encounters. It appears that this was something that he wanted to have removed from himself, as he reports that he prayed three times in order to have it removed (2 Corinthians 12:8). The answer that he received shows the point of being thankful:


2Corinthians 12:9-10

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. [10] Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.


Paul states that he can glory in this fact, because it is allowing the power of Christ to show in his life. This is the glorious truth that we see in Galatians 2:20, as it is the life of Christ that is living out of us. We are thankful for the things that are problems in our lives, as it helps us to be able to show the effect that Christ has in our lives.

Thankfulness is also to be a part of our prayer life. Philippians 4:6-7 gives an important teaching about prayer. It states that we should offer all things up in prayer. It also includes the idea that thanksgiving is to be a part of our prayer life as well. We are to be thankful of all the things that we have in our life. This also includes food, as all food is good for us, as long as it is received with thanksgiving, as it has been sanctified by the Word of God and prayer (1 Timothy 4:4-5).


The last part of being filled with the Spirit is the concept of submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Submission refers to placing oneself under someone or something. In order for us to demonstrate this filling of the Spirit, this the last thing that needs to be present. We must submit ourselves to God.


There is a model of how this is to work. This model was the Lord Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry. He instructs His disciples about how if they are going to be placed into positions of authority, they need to be more like a servant (Matthew 20:20-28). He even gives them a picture example of this, so there would be no mistake what He was talking about (John 13:1-20).


God has always had it in His mind that there would be subjection of man to Him. We see that the heathen are going to submit to God as they hear His Word (Psalm 18:43-46). This does not mean that they will all be saved, as later in the Psalms there is a warning that they should have submitted sooner than they did (Psalm 81:15). James is also writing to the 12 tribes scattered that they need to submit themselves unto God (James 4:7).


We are to submit to Christ, who is our Head (Ephesians 4:15). Ephesians 5:24 also affirms this truth, as it discussed how the church is subject to Christ. This subjection occurs by the fact that we have the doctrine committed to us in this dispensation that we are to adhere to. The Word is the manifestation that we have to look at, as we do not know Christ after the flesh (2 Corinthians 5:16). Paul also writes about our subjection to the Word in 2 Corinthians 9:13.


This is why Paul gives the instructions of 2 Timothy 2:15 to us. It is important for us to be able to study the Word of God in order to have a full understanding of the doctrine that has been committed to us. Paul also gives us instructions related to making sure that we stand true to the sound words that have been committed to us.

I hope that this brief study has helped you gain a better understanding of what it means to be filled with the Spirit.