ďThe Spirit-Filled LifeĒ†††††††††† Ephesians 5:18-21†††††††††††††††† November 6, 2011

 

SCRIPTURE INTRO:One of the things I hoped for about my mission trip

†† to India was that it would somehow be beneficial to my work here.

I went primarily to serve other pastors as a representative of Christ Covenant.

†† But I also hoped they would help me in ways that I could pass on to you.

 

None of the pastors I taught had the formal education that I have,

†† but all of them are serving in circumstances that are much more difficult

†† than anything I have ever experienced or will experience.

Small churches surrounded by hostile opposition from Hindu neighbors.

†† Many of these pastors bi-vocational, living extremely simple lives.

 

They asked lots of questions and their questions intrigued me.

Because they gave me a glimpse into what they considered important

†† in their pastoral work.Many of their questions about the work of the Holy Spirit.

That was not my assigned topic.My assigned topic was worship and sacraments.

†† I would often say:Thatís a good question, but thatís for another training session.

†† Thatís for your class on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit.

†† Weíre studying worship and sacraments.

Sometimes that would be ok.But other times they would argue with me and say:

†† No, answer the question.We need to know this.This is important.

 

So I found myself trying to answer questions about the baptism of the Holy Spirit,

†† and the fullness of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit in worship.

†† Some of those questions have stayed with me, stimulated my thinking.

I thought, if our brothers and sisters who are on the front lines of the kingdom

†† consider this to be of great importance, then I should too.

 

So I want to spend a few weeks, three or four or five, Iím not sureó

†† on the work of the Holy Spirit.Since that is such a huge topic in Scripture,

†† weíre going to narrow our study to one subjectó

†† what does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit?

Why must you be filled with the Holy Spirit?

 


 

INTRO:Is your church Spirit-filled?

Every so often I get asked that question.Iíll be talking to a stranger.

†† They will find out Iím a pastor and ask me what church.

When I tell them Christ Covenant Presbyterian Church that confuses them.

†† Christ what?Presbyterian?

†† I can see the suspicion in their eyes.

So then there is the follow-up question:

†† Well is your church Spirit-filled?

 

When someone asks that question I know they are from a Pentecostal background.

†† What they want to know is what happens in our worship services.

Do people speak in tongues and prophesy?

†† Do they whoop and holler and get slain in the Spirit?

†† Are there healings and anointing?

I know thatís what they mean and I know that if they came to our service,

†† they would be disappointed.

 

But I usually just say:Yes.Our church is Spirit-filled.

†† Because I believe it is.I hope and pray it is.

That is very sobering question.

†† It really gets to the heart of the matter.Itís like asking:Is your church alive?

†† Is it connected to the Holy Spirit in a vibrant way, or just going through motions?

†† Is it operating in the power of the Holy Spirit?

 

Now let me ask you a question:Are you Spirit-filled?

Well, Iím a Christian.I believe in Jesus.I believe in the Holy Spirit.

†† I know Iíve been born again.I know the Holy Spirit lives in every Christian.

†† Thatís certainly true.

 

But if the Holy Spirit is in every Christian, then why does Paul command Christians

†† to be filled with the Holy Spirit?Be filled.

Doesnít that indicate you might not be filled?

†† Or perhaps that you can be filled more than you are?

†† Or at least that you need to pay attention to filling?

 

This matter of being filled with the Spirit was important to Paul pastorally.

He gave the Ephesians this command at a very significant place in his letter.

†† Heís just about to give them some of the most practical and difficult

†† instructions about the Christians life.

Those famous passages that we all know so welló

†† Wives submit to your husbands.Husbands love your wives.

†† Children obey your parents.Fathers do not exasperate your children.

†† Slaves obey your masters with respect.Masters do not threaten your slaves.

These are the relationships that shape the character of our livesó

†† before all this Paul says:Be filled with the Holy Spirit.

†† Itís a matter of great importance.

 

Iíd like to start with a basic question:

What does being filled with the Holy Spirit look like?

 

Many of our Pentecostal and charismatic brothers would say that being filled

†† with the Spirit has certain outward manifestations, certain signs and gifts.

†† Iíve already mentioned some of thoseótongues and so forth.

Obviously we donít believe that, but why not?

 

The Apostle Paul tells us in this passage what the Spirit-filled life looks like.

He tells us by means of a very carefully chosen contrast.He says:

†† ďDo not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery.

†† Instead, be filled with the Spirit.Ē

 

Isnít that interesting?That Paul introduces this command to be filled with the Spirit

†† by giving a command not to get drunk.I read a sermon this week that used this

†† verse to preach on the sin of drunkenness.It was a good sermon.

But I donít think thatís the big point Paul is making.

†† Heís pointing out that there are certain aspects of drunkenness,

†† that, in contrast, enable us to understand the filling of the Spirit.

 

What are those?Three points

1.The Spirit-filled life is a life of self-control and balance.

2.The Spirit-filled life is a life of tremendous stimulation.

3.The Spirit-filled life is a life of steady joy.

 

Letís look at each.But before we do, I want to give credit where credit is due.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones and Tim Keller have sermons on these verses that I am

†† borrowing from very heavily.All the insights I share come from these men.

†† Iím just standing on their shoulders.

 

 

MP#1The Spirit-filled life is a life of self-control and balance.

In the Roman world of the first century, drunkenness was a way of life.

†† Substance abuse was a characteristic of paganism.It was rampant.

These Ephesian Christians Paul was writing to had lived that lifestyle.

†† But they were putting that aside.Even though still a temptation and struggle.

†† So Paul tells them not to get drunk, instead to be filled with the Spirit.

He draws a deliberate contrast.Whatís the contrast?

 

Paul says:ďDo not get drunk with wine, which leads to debauchery.Ē

†† That word is translated different ways in English.

†† King James Version says:ďWherein is excess.ĒAlso ďdissipation.Ē

A Greek dictionary defines it like this:

†† ďbehavior which shows a lack of concern or thought for the consequences of an

†† action, senseless deeds, reckless deeds, wastefulness, exhaustion, prodigality.Ē

In fact, this is the very same word used in the parable of the prodigal son

†† when it says that he wasted his inheritance in riotous living.

Paul says thatís what drunkenness leads toóbeing wasted in the complete sense.

†† Energy wasted.Mind wasted.Resources and opportunities wasted.

 

Being filled with the Spirit is the very opposite.

Itís a life of absolute balance and self-control.

†† Where drunkenness leads to thoughtless, reckless deeds.

†† Being filled with the Spirit leads to thoughtful, careful deeds.

Instead of your energy being wasted, your energy is used and directed.

†† Instead of a lack of self-control, you have greater and greater control.

 

Have you ever heard someone with a classically trained voice?

There was a couple in our Florida church whose daughter sang opera in New York,

†† and London and Paris.She was in the big-time with major roles.

Whenever she would come to visit her parents, she would come by the church every

†† day to practice scales, because she liked acoustics of the sanctuary.

My study was some distance away but I would hear this voice doing what a normal

†† voice cannot do.And the impression was of a voice under complete control.

†† Perfectly balanced.No energy wasted.Capable of whatever she demanded of it.

 

Thatís what wows us about great athletes on the field or courtó

†† the things they are able to do because their bodies under tremendous control.

They make it look effortless but we know itís takes tremendous energy

†† used in perfect balance.

The Spirit-filled life is a life of control and balance.

Thatís not the first thing that comes to mind when most people talk about being

†† Spirit-filled.They think wild and crazy.Not thinking carefully.

Just feeling and acting under some kind of intuitive spiritual influence.

†† But Paul goes out of his way to make it clear that itís not that at all.

†† Itís not at all like the out of control actions of a drunk, but just the opposite.

 

The Spirit-filled person is someone whose life is marked by balance.

His time is under control.His body is under control.His tongue is under control.

†† His emotions are under control.He is using his gifts and seeing fruit.

†† Heís thoughtful about where heís going, where he is leading his family.

High feeling and emotions donít count for anything if there is not a corresponding

†† life of balance and thoughtful control.

Paul speaks in Romans of having zeal without knowledge.

 

Are you so busy that your life is out of balance?Are you going in so many

†† directions that you are neglecting or giving little attention to good things?

†† Are you suffering burn out and exhaustion?

That kind of busyness is not motivated by the Holy Spirit.

†† Just before this Paul says that we are to be wise and redeem the time.

†† That means God wonít give you more in a day, week, month than you can handle.

 

If you have more than you can do, if itís exhausting you and you arenít balanced,

†† then you are doing things God didnít give you to do.

You gave them to yourself to do.Somebody else gave them to you.

†† Not the Holy Spirit.

Sit down and ask:What has the Holy Spirit given me?

†† What am I commanded to do?What are the priorities in the Word of God

†† for me and for my family?Where does God say to spend my time and energies?

 

A friend of mine once told me that he sensed his family was entering a stage

†† of life where they were going to be pulled in a thousand different directions.

All sorts of demands were going to come from outside the home,

†† and even new expectations and demands from his children themselves.

He said:Weíve prioritized.

†† Weíve put at the top things that easily fall awayó

†† supper together and church on Lordís day.Going to let other things fall away.

Thatís the idea.

†† The Spirit-filled life is a balanced, controlled, thoughtful life.

MP#2 The Spirit-filled life is a life of tremendous stimulation.

We can take this contrast with drunkenness a step deeper.

Paul is saying that you get from the Holy Spirit

†† the things that other people go to the bottle to get.

Why does a person drink to excess?

†† There may be family patterns and genetic propensities to alcoholism.

†† But on a more conscious level, why does a person drink to excess?

 

A person says:I have a big problem.I need a drink.

†† I have painful emotions.I need a drink.Drink gives me calmness and meaning.

†† I have to tell a person something unpleasant.I need a drink.It gives me courage.

Iím lonely but Iím wound tight.I need a drink.

†† It makes me open and soft so for a time I can feel close to people.

The drunk telling a stranger at the bar all his problems is not just a stereotype.

†† Itís a reason some people drink.To enable them to let down walls and get close

†† to people in a way that they otherwise wouldnít be able to do it.

Drink gives you things you need for lifeómeaning, courage, vulnerability.

 

How does it work?Alcohol works by depressing your awareness of reality.

†† It narrows your vision.It makes you see less and care about less.

It makes you think less about the ramifications of your situation or

†† things you have to do that are difficult.Alcohol is a depressant.

 

The problem or pain you are facing is like a huge monster with claws and teethó

†† This monster is looming over your little house, about to crush it.

Alcohol reduces your ability to see the big picture.

†† You donít see the big monster, you donít see his claws and fangs.

†† Or if you see them, for a while you donít care.Your vision is narrowed.

Suppose a person is losing his job or facing a financial disaster.

What does he do?He uses something that narrows his vision so he doesnít

†† have to think as much about reality.Surely you can see that this doesnít

†† have to be alcohol.Could be other thingsóTV, shopping, eating, fantasy.

 

Being filled with the Holy Spirit means that the Holy Spirit himself

†† gives you the meaning and courage you need for life.

But he does it not by limiting your vision, not by depressing your awareness.

†† He does it by expanding your vision, by stimulating your awareness.

He doesnít shut out the monster.

†† He helps you see a bigger reality.

There is a sovereign Lord of history who loves you and cares for you.

†† Heís not only in charge of your house, heís in charge of the monster.

Thatís one of the lessons of Job.Satan said:Let me have him.

†† God said:Satan, you may do this, but nothing more.Had him on a chain.

 

The Holy Spirit raises your sights so that you see an even bigger reality..

†† There is a sovereign Lord of history.

Heís working all things together in your life for good.

†† His sheep hear his voice.No one can snatch them out of his hand.

†† Nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ.

 

Alcohol works.Other vision limiting habits and practices work.

†† Obviously they work or people wouldnít use them.

†† But they only work for a time.Then wear off and reality comes crashing back.

Thatís another differenceóthe Holy Spirit doesnít wear off.

†† Because he works through the truth.Truth does not change.

 

Colossians 3:16 is a very helpful parallel passage.

In Ephesians Paul says:Be filled with the Holy Spirit and speak to one another

†† with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.Sing and make music in your hearts

†† to the Lord.

In Colossians 3:16 he says:Let the word of Christ dwell in your richly as you

†† teach and admonish one another and as you sing songs, hymns and spiritual

†† songs in your hearts to God.

 

You can hear that Paul is communicating the same idea.

†† Being filled with the Holy Spirit and letting the word of Christ dwell in you richly

†† are the same thing.They have the same effect in the heart, filling it with singing.

 

Let me ask you a question:How do you deal with worry?

†† Do you use alcohol or something else to depress

†† your vision so you see less and less of reality?

Or, do you seek the stimulating vision of the Holy Spirit.

†† Through the truth to do you allow your vision to be lifted so that you

†† see your problem in all its reality, but at the same time see the bigger reality

†† of the Lord on his throne, ruling over every detail in love?

 

Get a hold of the truth.Take hold of and claim the precious promises of God.

†† Recite them, believe them.††

MP#3The Spirit-filled life is a life of steady joy.

All the Bible commentaries make the point that this command to be filled is in the

†† present tense and that can indicate a progressive action.

The idea is that being filled can be an ongoing thing.

†† Keep on being filled with the Holy Spirit.

 

Weíll see next week that there is a sense in which a Christian can lose

†† the filling of the Spirit for a time, but it can be recovered.

And it doesnít have to be lost.

†† Itís a condition that a Christian can continue in and should seek to continue in.

†† Thatís another contrast that is important.

 

You canít stay drunk.Some people try.They go on benders for a long time.

†† But eventually it goes away.It canít be sustained.

†† Itís a momentary feeling of relief from problems but then itís gone.

The filling of the Holy Spirit can be ongoing.

†† In fact, thatís how you can tell you have spiritual joyóit lasts.

 

Paul says that the filling of the Spirit is characterized

†† by singing and making music in your heart.

In always giving thanks to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

†† If your joy is gone when things go poorly, then you arenít experiencing

†† the fullness of the Spirit.If youíre constantly up and downó

†† exhilarated when things going well, crushed when they arenít, no filling.

 

How do you know if the focus of your life is on God or just on his gifts?

†† The test is this:How do you deal with unanswered prayer?

When God hasnít answered, especially when he says Noówhat is your response?

†† Do you say:Iím out of here.Christianity is not working for me?

†† Iíve had it.The only way I can get peace is if God gives me what I need

†† and works out this situation as I see fit.

If thatís your response, then you arenít filled.

 

In John 16 Jesus says that when he gives you his joy, no one can take it away.

†† Itís based on who you are in him.

In Psalm 4 David says:

†† ďYou have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound.Ē

What could give greater joy than a life of material prosperity?

†† David says that itís knowing that the light of Godís face is shining upon you.

Thereís a theme verse at the top of our bulletinóreference is incorrect.

†† Itís not Jeremiah 6, itís Habakkuk 3:17-18

†† The prophet wrote it during a time of great stress and hardship.

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines,

†† though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food,

†† though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls,

†† yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.

 

Whatís being described here?Itís not a life of super highs.

†† This is not a spiritual mountaintop being described.

†† Itís not an ecstasy of high emotions.

†† Itís not a grin on your face all the time.

Itís a life of steady joy.

 

Itís a deep undercurrent that keeps you up when things are bad

†† and keeps you grounded when things are good.

Why?Because you know that God is your Savior.

†† Because you know you are in Christ.

Because you know that the Sovereign Lord of history is in control

†† and that he loves you and cares for you.

Because your vision has been stimulated and raised above crops in the field

†† and the threat of a poor harvest to the Lord of the harvest, Lord of all.

 

And when he answers your prayers with a noóeven thenó

†† you hold on to him and trust him.Thatís being filled with the Spirit.

 

Andree Seu is a columnist for World Magazine.

†† Let me read you a portion of her article in the October 22 issue.

 

Scott and Janet Willis lost six children in a single day when a piece of metal fall off a truck and punctured the gas tank of their minivan . . .

 

I hope the Lord does not test any of us this wayóand yet here is.

†† Thatís what a Spirit-filled life looks like.

Not miraculous gifts and propheciesóbut a life of balance, control, vision,

†† and steady joy.


 

Are you Spirit-filled?

Do you have a life of balance and self-control?

Do you have a life stimulated by the truth?

†† Do you see and respond to the big picture of Godís sovereign love?

Do you have a life of steady joy?

†† Not based on what is happening to you right now, but who you are in Christ?

 

If you see those thingsóeven a littleórejoice.

†† If you donítórepent.And be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Thatís the encouraging thing.Itís not something you do.

†† Itís something done to you as you open yourself to his work.

So as we come to the Table, ask the Lord Jesus, who sent the Holy Spirit

†† to fill us afresh.