(A study on the Holy Spirit)
Dr. Silas C. Nair
VIII. WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT FROM
PENTECOST TO THE LORD’S RETURN
E. THE FILLING OF THE SPIRIT
The difference between the baptism and filling of the Holy Spirit.
There is much confusion on this doctrine. But the language of scripture is very clear. “Which things also we speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (1 Cor.2.13).
We already saw that baptism in the Spirit is the work of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, whereby He fused all believers into one body of Christ. This is a historical act of the Spirit, which is never repeated.
“And be not drunk with wine, in which is excess, but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph.5.18) is a command given to the believers. There is never a command to be indwelt by the Spirit. There is never a command to be sealed by the Spirit. There is never a command to be baptized by the Spirit. But there is a command to be filled with the Spirit. Spirit filled life is not optional.
This doctrine is vital in understanding about Christian life and ministry. There are those who rely solely on experience and build their doctrine on this. This is wrong. No experience validates the scripture. It is only when scripture validates an experience it becomes true.
Paul divides mankind into three groups: 1) Natural, 2) Carnal and 3) Spiritual. Natural man does not have the Spirit of God in him. He is unregenerate. The carnal man is one who is saved and the Spirit indwells him but he is controlled by the carnal nature. He speaks like a spiritual man but walks like a natural man. The Spiritual man is one who is controlled by the Spirit.
It is also necessary to distinguish between Christian maturity and fullness of the Spirit. Even a new Christian can have the experience of the fullness of the Spirit without being a mature Christian. Maturity is gained only by experience and it takes time. It is also possible that a mature Christian may not be filled with the Spirit if he has not yielded his life to God.
The Lord said that a believer should abide in Christ. There are those who abide in Christ and those who do not. There are those who walk in the light and those who walk in darkness. There are those who walk by the Spirit and those who walk by the flesh. There are those who walk in the newness of life and those who do not. And there are those Christians who are filled with the Spirit and those who are not.
Christians are commanded, “you be being kept filled” or “keep being filled”. This ought to be a continuous experience of all believers. But this is not a second work of grace or a second blessing as some teach. Because being filled by the Spirit is not a one-time experience, but it happens again and again.
In the book of Acts we find that the disciples were filled with the Spirit time and again. Peter was filled with the Spirit on the day of Pentecost and later (Cf. Acts 2.4 and 4.8). The believers were filled with the Holy Spirit (4.31) Stephen who was filled with the Spirit even before he was chosen by the Church was again filled with the Spirit before his martyrdom (6.5; 7.55). Paul and Barnabas were also filled with the Spirit time and again (9.17; 11.24; 13.9,52).
It is not possible for a Christian to reach such a stage where God has nothing more to do with him or for him. Therefore the exhortation continues to be: “be being continuously kept filled with the Holy Spirit”.
Alcohol transforms, control, and influence a man and produce an entirely different kind of life than the normal. It is not because of the man, but because of the power of the liquid to influence him. Likewise the life of a Spirit controlled man is different. (Lk.1.15; Acts 2.12-21; Eph.5.18 etc).
The word ‘filled’ is used of sails in a ship full of wind. As the sails full of wind moves the ship forward, a Christian full of the Spirit is carried on by Him. When the Lord told the disciples that he is going away, their hearts were filled with sorrow. It means they were dominated by sorrow. A Spirit filled man produces a new walk, a new talk and a new manner of life.
Lewis Sperry Chafer in his book: “He that is Spiritual” enumerates seven manifestation of the Spirit, which is true only of a Spirit filled Christian. They are:
1. Spirit produces Christian character. This is the fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Gal.5.22,23. This should be studied in contrast to the deeds of the flesh in Gal.5.19-21.
2. Spirit produces Christian service. The Lord on the last day of the feast said: “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink, He that believes on me, as the scripture has said, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water. Human energy cannot produce this. We are not saved by service but saved for service (Eph.2.10). Christian service is the result of a work done by God in one’s life. Unless the Lord works in us, He cannot work through us. It is God who works in us to will and to do his good pleasure (Phil.2.12,13). Christian spirituality is not gained by service but it is unto service. When one is really spiritual all the effort is diverted from self struggle to real service.
3. Spirit filled Christian is taught by the Spirit. Jn.16.12- 15; 1 Cor.2.12; 1 Jn.2.27. Growth is dependent on knowledge and grace (2 Cor.3.17,18; 1 Pet.2.2; 2 Pet3.18).
4. Holy Spirit promotes praise, worship and thanksgiving. Eph.5.18; Jn.4.24. “Be filled with the Spirit speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all thing to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God”.
5. Holy Spirit leads and guides. Rom.8.14; Gal.5.18. This leading depends on our willingness to go where he leads us in his infinite wisdom. He guides the believer in his walk and sphere of service (Acts 8.27-29; 13.2-4; 16.6,7; Gal.5.16,25).
6. Holy Spirit witnesses with our Spirit. He witnesses to God (Rom.8.16) and to our spirits (Gal.4.6) that we are sons of God.
7. Holy Spirit intercedes for us. Rom.8.26; Jude 20. Holy Spirit provisionally emancipates the believer from a life of bondage in sin to a life of freedom in righteousness (Rom.8.2, 12, 13; Gal.5.17,22,23). He anoints the believer giving him spiritual discernment so that he may understand the word of God and impart spiritual power to do the work of God. (Jn.14.26; 16.13 cf. 1 Jn.2.20-27; 1 Cor.2.9-14 etc.)
The purpose for which a person is filled with the Spirit
Fullness of the Spirit is not an end in itself. It is not simply to have an experience. It is always for a purpose. The Lord Jesus told the disciples that when the Holy Spirit comes upon them they shall receive power and then they shall be witnesses to Him (Acts 1.8). The power of the Spirit is to witness for the Lord Jesus. On the day of Pentecost 3000 souls were converted to the Lord as a result of the Spirit filled ministry of the disciples. Again in Acts 4.31 it is mentioned they were all filled with the Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness and multitudes were added to the Lord. The deacons were filled with the Spirit and a number of priests were converted (Acts 6.3, 7).
Be filled with the spirit (Eph.5.18). And the result is speaking, singing and thanks giving to God the Father in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
How can I be filled with the Spirit?
This is a question asked by many sincere Christians. There are no easy or stereo typed answers for this. All the sins of a believer mentioned earlier are hindrances for a person to be filled by the Spirit. All sins should be confessed and forsaken. There should be a desire to live holy lives and glorify the Lord in all things. The members of the body and the body itself should be yielded to the Lord so that the Spirit may do whatever He may please to do. As one obeys the Spirit in the known areas of his life new areas to be yielded will come to light. An yielded life is thus taken control by the Spirit and He fills and uses that individual for His service.
To be continued.....