Sunday, April 01, 2007

FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT

Ephesians 5:18

"Do not get drunk on wine...instead, be filled with the Spirit"


Paul is teaching the young church in Ephesus how they are supposed to live now that they are Christians. They have undergone a radical change. The old man has died and they have experienced new birth. They are now very different from their friends and neighbors. Paul says they are to live differently. They are to live lives worthy of the calling they have received (4:1). They are to no longer live as the rest of the Gentiles do (4:17). They are to put off the old man and put on the new man which is created to be like God (4:24). They are to be imitators of God and live lives of love (5:1, 2). They are to live as children of light (5:8). They are to live wisely (5:15). But how are they supposed to make such dramatic changes in their lives? How is it possible? We come to the peak of Paul’s teaching on living the Christian life in 5:18, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.”

It is fascinating how Paul juxtaposes getting drunk and being filled with the Holy Spirit. Drinking parties and drunkenness were a normal part of the lives of the Gentiles in Ephesus. When Paul draws the contrast and comparison between getting drunk and being filled with the Spirit, his readers would quickly make the connection. When a person is drunk he is not in control of himself; he is under the control of the alcohol. He cannot think well and he makes very foolish decisions. He loses his inhibitions and does all kinds of things he would not do if he were sober. Paul tells his readers they should not be filled with wine anymore; instead, they should be filled with the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit should be the one controlling the Christian person. The Holy Spirit helps the believer think and make wise decisions. The Spirit counsels the Christian regarding the kinds of things he should and should not do. The Holy Spirit is the person who fills the follower of Christ and enables him to do all the things Paul has been exhorting him to do.

So, how does the Christian change from doing all the things he used to do and begin doing the things that God wants him to do? He obeys Paul’s command and makes sure he is filled with the Holy Spirit. This is the essence of Christianity. This is the thing that makes the difference between Christians and non-Christians. That which makes a person Christian and that which makes him so different from unbelievers is the Holy Spirit who has taken up residence in his life. This is how Christians have a relationship with the Almighty God. This is how we are authentically connected to Jesus Christ. This is the thing that makes non-Christians think we are lunatics. They say, “Those crazy Christians! They claim God has come and taken up residence in their lives! They actually believe God is living in them and guiding their lives! That is certain proof that they are insane!” It is also certain proof that God has truly given us rebirth and new lives in Christ!

Are you aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life? Do you know what it means to listen to his counsel and follow his directions? Do you recognize his voice? If not, then how do you really know you are a Christian? If so, then you have assurance that you are a child of God!

1 Comments:

At 4:44 AM, Blogger bluecollar said...

"That which makes a person Christian and that which makes him so different from unbelievers is the Holy Spirit who has taken up residence in his life."

Wonderful truth! His leading and guiding; His convicting of sin; His conforming us into the image of Christ; His causing us to hunger for God's word.

A great post!

Please keep it coming!

Mark Pierson

 

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