Study 7 SPIRITUAL INTOXICATION!
(Scripture Portion: Ephesians 5: 1 – 21)
In Ephesians 5: 18 a contrast is made between the person who is under the influence of alcohol and the person who is under the controlling influence of the Holy Spirit. We as Christians are not to be drunk with the wine that comes from any earthly vineyard but with the new wine of the Kingdom which comes from the heavenly vineyard, from Him who is the True Vine (John 15: 1). There is a purpose in setting these two commands in contrast. It was a pagan belief that God dwelt in the blood of the grape, so that in drinking wine man was drinking God into himself. Drunkenness was therefore held to be a sacrament in which a man was supposed to be under the control of the god who filled him. Paul reminded the Christians at Ephesus of this pagan belief, and then he pointed them to the true way of being God-possessed. Concerning the Spirit-filled life, let us notice the following truths:
- The Spirit-filled life is a command. In Ephesians 5: 18 there are two commands, both of which require obedience; they are not optional, they are imperative.
- The Spirit-filled life is a command to every Christian. The experience of the Holy Spirit’s fulness is not for a select company of believers, but for every born again person. Notice the word “all” in Acts 2: 4 and 4: 31.
- To be filled with the Spirit is more than being indwelt by the Spirit. The Christians at Ephesus were “sealed” by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1: 13; 4:30), and thus they were indwelt by the Holy Spirit, as every Christian is (1 Corinthians 6:19), but we may be indwelt and not filled by Him; we may possess Him without His possessing us.
- To be filled with the Spirit is not a matter of excess, but of sanity. The word “excess” means “riot”. The most spiritually sane people in the world are those who are filled with God’s Spirit. The Lord Jesus is our example.
- The Spirit-filled life is to be the normal experience of God’s children. Ephesians 5: 18 means “Go on being filled…” God’s plan for every one of His children is that they may be filled with the Holy Spirit so that they may live lives that are glorifying to Him in all their personal (Ephesians 5: 15-21), domestic (Ephesians 5: 22-33 and 6: 1-4), and business (Ephesians 6: 5-9) relationships.
- Being filled with the Spirit is not our getting more of Him; it is His getting more of us. The Holy Spirit is a Person, and to be filled with Him means to allow Him to take full possession of our personalities.
- The Spirit-filled life is marked by certain definite and easily discernible characteristics. Just as a drunken man can easily be recognised, so can a Spirit-filled Christian be recognised; the same characteristics are true of both. What are they? – look up those that are mentioned in Ephesians 5: 14-21, and then consider the following.
1. A Drunkard is Possessed by an Immense Sense of Well-being.
So is a Spirit-filled Christian! He is exhilarated, exuberant. The Greeks have a word for it – “Euphoria”, which means “an immense sense of well-being”. The first Christians were accused of being drunk (Acts 2: 15); the early disciples were noted for their intense joy – look up Acts 13:52.
2. A Drunkard is Recognised by his Face.
So is a Spirit-filled Christian! Many of our faces are shadowed instead of shining! There should be a radiance about us, as there was with Moses (Exodus 34: 29); with Stephen (Acts 6: 15); with the Lord Jesus (Luke 9: 29) – and look up Psalm 34: 5, and compare Psalm 40: 3 with Ephesians 5: 19-20.
3. A Drunkard has a Characteristic Savour about him.
So does a Christian! You can smell a drunkard! – now look at Ephesians 5: 2. Our Lord Jesus Christ was as holy incense before the Father and before the world; Christians, by being filled with His Spirit are to be, and may be, the same. The Spirit-filled life is God’s provision for making our lives beautiful, graceful and gentle.
4. A Drunkard can be Detected by the Way he Walks.
So can a Spirit-filled Christian! Our walk is our manner of life, and according to Ephesians 5: 15 a drunkard’s walk is careless, whereas the walk of the Spirit-filled man is very circumspect – that is, disciplined and consistent. The drunkard cannot walk straight, but the Spirit-filled Christian is enabled to live before God and the world in a way that is upright and honest in every respect.
5. A Drunkard is Betrayed by the Way he Speaks.
So is a Spirit-filled Christian! Many a drunkard has a stammering tongue, and often his speech is impure and foul. A Spirit-filled Christian will be very careful in the words he uses and in the matters of which he speaks, and, of course, a Spirit-filled Christian will be a testifying Christian – look up Acts 4: 20!
6. A Drunkard is not Responsible for his Actions.
Nor is a Christian! A drunkard does many foolish things because he cannot help it, and a Christian, if he is filled with the Holy Spirit, will produce from his life fruit which is supernatural (Galatians 5: 22-23), and works which are, humanly speaking, impossible – see what Peter said in Acts 3: 12.
7. A Drunkard is Known by the Company he Keeps.
So is a Spirit-filled Christian! A drunkard will make his way quickly to the bar; the Spirit-filled Christian will seek the fellowship of God’s people – look up Acts 4: 23. How can we become Spirit-filled – possessed and controlled by the Holy Spirit? Think of the drunkard again. How does he become a drunkard? By drinking, and drinking and drinking again – and this drinking for us involves three things: (l) A Real Thirst (Isaiah 44: 3; Matthew 5: 6; John 7: 37-39); (2) A Great Capacity (Psalm 8l: 10); and (3) A Simple Faith (Luke 11:13; 1 John 5: 14-15).