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Filled with the Spirit

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.     (Ephesians 5: 18)

What does the command to be filled with the Spirit indicate?

The command indicates that man has a degree of responsibility in being filled with the Spirit.  God has promised that He will pour forth of  His Spirit upon all mankind. (Acts 2: 17)  The Spirit is available now, for those that believe and obey.  (John 7: 39; Acts 5: 32)  Call upon Him to give you the gift of the Holy Spirit by repenting and being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sin.  (Acts 2: 38, 39)


Who was said to be filled with the Spirit in the New Testament?

John the Baptist, Elizabeth, Zacharias, Simeon, Peter, apostles, Paul, disciples at Antioch were filled with the Spirit.  (Luke 1: 15, 47, 61; 2: 25-34; Acts 2: 4; 4: 8; 9: 17; 13:52)  Jesus was said to be full of the Spirit as was Stephen.  (Luke 4: 1, Acts 7: 55) 


What does “filled with the Spirit” mean?

When the Scriptures state that a person is “filled with the Spirit,” it means that that individual  has received the Spirit to the greatest extent possible for that individual and he is yielding to the influence and leading of the Spirit. This evidently is an on-going process because the disciples at Antioch were “continually filled” with joy and the Holy Spirit.   (Acts 13: 52)

If three containers, a pint jar, a quart jar and a galleon jar, are filled to the brim with water, we would say that each one is filled with water.  This does not mean that each one contains the same amount of water.  Similarly three individuals that are “filled with the Spirit” are not necessarily equally spiritual.  We realize that the Holy Spirit is not a physical entity but even the Scriptures speak metaphorically about the Spirit being “poured out.”


What factor dictates the degree of filling?

The Scriptures speak of us as being a “vessel” or container.  If our vessel is filled with another element, then of course there will not be room or space to be filled with the Spirit, again speaking metaphorically.  Jesus our Lord and example is said to have “emptied Himself,” being made in the likeness of man.  (2 Corinthians 4: 7; Philippians 2: 7)


What is the key in coming after Jesus?

Jesus said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself.”  Only when we minimize self can we maximize being filled with the Spirit.  God gives grace to the humble but resist the proud.  The grace of God that brings salvation to all men can only be received by those who have denied themselves thus preparing themselves to receive it..  Is it any wonder that Jesus begins the beatitudes with “blessed are the poor in spirit.” (Matthew 5: 3; 16: 24, 25)


Does “filled with the Spirit” indicate an ability to perform miracles?

No, John the Baptist was “filled with the Spirit” yet did no miracles.  Elizabeth, Zacharias and Simeon did no miracles.  Being filled with the Spirit is not specifically about doing miracles or even speaking in tongues.   (John 10: 41)  In the first century, before the will of God was fully revealed, speaking in tongues was often the confirming sign of receiving the Spirit, but now that the “perfect” has come (complete revelation of God’s will), the partial confirming gifts have been done away.  (1 Corinthians 13: 8- 11)


Is the filling with the Spirit a one-time event?

No, the apostles were filled several times; the filling appears to be a continuing event.

 (Acts 2: 4; 4: 8, 31) 


Is the filling with the Spirit synonymous with the baptism of the Spirit?

The apostles were baptized with the Spirit and also filled with the Spirit but the two are not synonymous.  John the Baptist was filled with the Spirit but not baptized with the Spirit.  The baptism of the Spirit occurs when God pours His Spirit out upon man so richly and abundantly that they are figuratively immersed in the Spirit.  The “filling” refers to receiving the Spirit and yielding ourselves to the Spirit.


Is filled with the Spirit emotionalism?

In Corinth a situation developed which created confusion and disorder in the church.  Gifted people were speaking at the same time and some were speaking in tongues without interpretation.  Paul told them to be silent if another is speaking or if while speaking in tongues there is no interpreter for the spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet.         (1 Corinthians 12: 26-34)

One might get the idea that the two are synonymous from observing some TV evangelist.  This is indeed unfortunate and misleading.


What characteristics or actions are associated with the filling with the Spirit?

Sometimes the filling seems to be associated with a one-time prophetic utterance and of course with others it is associated with a life long experience.


Can you be filled with an evil spirit?

Yes, Satan filled the heart of Ananias to lie to the Holy Spirit.  (Acts 5: 3)


With what emotions can you be filled?

The Scriptures speak of being filled with awe, rage, fear, sorrow, wonder and amazement, jealousy, joy and confusion.  The point being that filled with the Spirit is not some mystical experience for the chosen few.  Matthew 9: 5; Luke 4: 28; 5: 26; 6: 11; 16: 6; Acts 3: 10; 5: 11; 13: 45; 19: 28; 19: 29; 2 Timothy 1: 4


With what other qualities can you be filled?

·         Jesus was filled with grace and truth.   (John 1: 17)

·         The Romans were filled with knowledge and goodness.   (Romans 15: 14)

·         Paul prayed that the Ephesians would be filled with all the fullness of God.   (Ephesians 3: 19)

·         The Philippians had been filled with the fruit of righteousness.  (Philippians 1: 11)

·         Paul prayed that the Colossians might be filled with the knowledge of His will. (Colossians 1: 9)


How can you be filled with the Holy Spirit?

I don’t have a “thus sayeth the Lord” nor do I claim special knowledge but I would suggest:


What does Paul associate with being filled by the Spirit in Ephesians 5: 18 and following?

The context would indicate that the following are characteristics of being filled with the Spirit.


How can we know if we are filled with the Spirit?

Some would say that speaking in tongues is the sign of the filling.  But this is not true because even in the first century all who were in Christ did not speak in tongues. (1 Corinthians 12: 30)  The more accurate answer, I believe, is that the Spirit will produce fruit in our lives.  If this fruit is present and increasing, we can be sure that the Spirit dwells in us.  LOVE- JOY- PEACE- PATIENCE- KINDNESS- GOODNESS- FAITHFULNESS- GENTLENESS- SELF CONTROL  (Galatians 5: 22, 23)


If you could choose only one word that characterizes being filled with the Spirit, what would it be?

Submission.  In the secular world submission is a one-way street, but it should not be so in our thinking.  We submit one to another.  Nor should we think that submission is only for women and children.  “Deny yourself” and  “take up your cross and follow me,” is the admonition our Lord gives us all.

Sometimes when I write articles such as this, I feel very hypocritical.  This writer is not a paragon of virtue, but is struggling just like everyone else.  Thinking about being filled with the Spirit helps me and I hope and pray it helps you.

May God bless you and keep you and shine His light upon you and fill you with the Holy Spirit.


God Bless.

Arland  Pafford  


Plain Talk 

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Oakdale, CA 95361


Last Update   11/07/12