Study 3 EVERY CHRISTIAN’S GREATEST NEED
(Scripture Portions: John 14: 15-18 and 25-25; 16: 1-15)
Every Christian’s greatest need is to enter into the secret of a victorious life and of power in service. What is this secret? It is found in Ephesians 5:18: “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead be filled with the Spirit.” When we become Christians, when we are born again, we receive the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-8; Romans 8:9); we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16); we are baptised with the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13); we are sealed with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). But, having received the Holy Spirit, our need is to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Carefully consider the following references in the Book of Acts 2:4; 4:8 and 31; 6:3; 7:55; 9:17; 11:23-24 and 13:9. There are so many angles from which we can approach this study, but here are five progressive truths about the Spirit-filled life.
1. To be filled with the Holy Spirit is to be possessed, controlled and dominated by the Holy Spirit.
Perhaps you will have wondered why in Ephesians 5:18 the apostle Paul contrasts drunkenness with being filled with the Spirit; man’s most debasing vice with God’s greatest and holiest provision? The Ephesians would not be in any doubt as to what Paul had in his mind, for it was a pagan belief that God dwelt in the blood of the grape, and that therefore the more wine a man drank and the more he became possessed or intoxicated with that wine, the more he would become possessed of his god. Paul is therefore telling the Ephesians that whereas at one time they thought that by becoming drunk they were becoming god-possessed, now they must become intoxicated and become truly God-possessed – Spirit-filled. They were not to be filled with the wine from some earthly vineyard, but they were to be filled with the Holy Spirit who had been sent from heaven (Acts 2:4). To be filled with the Holy Spirit, then, means to give Him full control of our lives; it means that the human personality becomes controlled by the divine personality. In Luke 5:26, John 2:7, 16:6, Acts 5:3 and Ephesians 3:19, we have examples of the use of the word “filled”. Look up these references and you will see that the word “filled” means to “grip”, “possess”, “control”. The divine personality does not obliterate the human personality, but rather He possesses, controls and energises it that it may fully function to His glory. To be filled with the Holy Spirit, then, means that He takes full possession of our body (Romans 6:13; 12:1), our mind (Philippians 2:5), and our spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
2. To be filled with the Holy Spirit is God’s provision for every Christian from the moment of conversion.
Many new converts do not realise this and do not enter into a life of the Holy Spirit’s fullness at the time of their conversion. In some cases, due to lack of instruction, they never understand or enjoy this wonderful provision which God has made for every one of His children. Think of this. The Christian is a reincarnation of Christ – he is one in whom the life of the risen Lord Jesus Christ is being reproduced. How is His life reproduced in us? By the Holy Spirit. His desire for us is not simply life, but abundance, fullness of life – look up John 10:10, and the way to experience John 10:10 is by Ephesians 5:18! We look upon the Spirit-filled life as the abnormal life meant only for a few of God’s children, but God’s plan is that it should be the normal life of every one of His children. It is not a luxury and it is not optional. It is a necessity, and therefore God presents it to us in the terms of a command (Ephesians 5:18).
3. To be filled with the Holy Spirit is the secret of victorious living and fruitful service.
Will you pause and do a little honest, heart-searching before the Lord? What is the reason for all the weakness, fruitlessness, faithlessness and failure in our spiritual experience? Why are our lives so much less than we expected them to be and that God desires them to be? Why is so much of our service ineffective and producing so little fruit? There is only one answer: we are not filled with the Holy Spirit.
4. To be filled with the Holy Spirit is not a once-and-for-all experience never to be repeated.
It is important for us to be clear about this in order that disappointment and defeat may be avoided. There is an initial infilling with the Holy Spirit, which may take place at conversion but which often takes place subsequently to conversion, but this infilling of the Holy Spirit must be constantly repeated. Some of the same disciples who were filled with the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:4 were again filled with the Holy Spirit in Acts 4:31. The tense of Ephesians 5:18 is present continuous, and the literal rendering of the last part of that verse is, “by being filled with the Spirit”. We may grieve the Holy Spirit and lose, not His presence, but His filling – look up Ephesians 4:30, and when this happens we need to be filled again.
5. To be filled with the Holy Spirit requires the fulfilling of certain definite conditions.
- There must be REALITY, sincerity, earnestness, seriousness.
- REPENTANCE comes next. This includes confession, turning from all known sin, and cleansing (Proverbs 28:13; 1 John 1:9).
- RESTITUTION may be necessary. So far as it is within our power, wrongs must be put right (Luke 19:8).
- There must be a definite RECEIVING of the Holy Spirit, not of His presence, for if we are Christians He is already within us, indwelling us, but of His infilling, to possess us. We may ask for this infilling – look up Luke 11:13.
- RELIANCE. Having asked that God will graciously fill us with His Spirit, we must dare to believe that our prayer is not only heard, but answered (1 John 5:14-15).