ďThe Spirit-Filled Life, part 2Ē††††† Ephesians 5:18-21††††††††† November 13, 2011

 

SCRIPTURE INTRO:Last week I began a short sermon series to look

†† closely at what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

I was motivated to study this because of my mission trip to India last month.

†† The pastors I taught had many questions about the Holy Spiritó

†† and it seemed that many of their questions had to do with this matter of filling.

 

What doest it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit?

†† What does it look like in a person?How do you get it?

†† What is a Spirit-filled person or a Spirit-filled church?

 

So weíre looking at an important passage on this subjectó

†† Ephesians 5:18-21.

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.

Being filled with the Spirit absolutely necessary to accomplish them.

 


 

INTRO:

Back in the summer of 2004 we went on a family vacation to South Dakotaó

†† the Badlands, the Black Hills, Mt. Rushmore.

We were driving through the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, which is in SDó

†† and at one point we were just a couple miles from the Nebraska state line.

We had been making a list of all the states we had passed through on the trip

†† and Nebraska wasnít on our list.So I said:Look, it will take us 10 minutes.

†† Letís drive down this road, cross the line, and we can add Nebraska.

 

So we headed down a county road.

But the minute we crossed the state line, I knew I had made a mistake.

†† It was a tiny Nebraska town with one main street and no stoplights.

†† And it was lined with bars and liquor stores.

Everywhere, collapsed on sidewalks, staggering through the streets, were drunks.

†† Men and women.Dozens of them.In the middle of the day.

The Pine Ridge Reservation is dry and this town, just over the line and outside the

†† reservation, was wet.It was probably the only place to get a drink in 100 miles.

Iíve never seen such a sad display of drunkenness in my life.

†† It was a town full of wasted people.A town making money on misery.

†† I told the kids to shut their eyes, and made a u-turn and got out of there.

 

Paul introduces the command to be filled with the Spirit

†† by giving a command not to get drunk.

ďDo not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery.Instead, be filled with the Spirit.Ē

†† Itís a carefully chosen contrast.

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 contrasts?We looked at them last Sunday.

Being filled with the Holy Spirit is a life of balance and self-control.

†† Itís the opposite of debauchery.Which means recklessness, excess, being wasted.

When a person is drunk he loses control.Heís not aware of his limitations.

†† He makes promises he canít keep.He tries to do things he canít do.

†† He loses control of his tongue, his passions, his body, his money.

†† It leads to a life of exhaustion.

Being filled with the Holy Spirit gives you a life of greater balance and control.

†† The Holy Spirit enables you to see what is really important in your life.

†† Where the Lord wants you to spend your time and energy.

††

Being filled with the Holy Spirit is also a life of stimulation.

Alcohol is a depressant.

When you get drunk it depresses your ability to take in the truth.

†† Thatís why drunks get happy.

†† Alcohol blocks out the parts of the truth that are making them unhappy.

It gives them courage and meaning and vulnerability by

†† numbing them to the big problems looming over their lives.

 

The Holy Spirit is not a depressant.As Martyn Lloyd-Jones says, heís a stimulant.

†† He doesnít limit your vision, he raises it.He doesnít block out your problems.

†† When you are filled with the Spirit you see your problems in all their ugly reality.

But you also see something bigger.

†† You see the sovereign Lord of history who loves you and cares for you.

†† And that gives you courage and meaning and openness with people.

 

And being filled with the spirit is also a life of joy, steady joy.

†† You canít stay drunk.Some people try.But reality eventually comes crashing in.

Paul is talking about a condition of being filled that can be continuous.

†† It can characterize your life.

†† Itís not a continuous mountaintop.Not continuous spiritual ecstasy.

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.

 

That sounds wonderfulóbalance, stimulation, joy.How do you get this life?

†† How are you filled with the Holy Spirit?Thatís the question weíll consider now.

Look at Paulís words again.ďBe filled with the Spirit.Ē

†† Itís a command.Itís something you must do.It doesnít just happen.

†† God expects you to obey him.Obey his command to be filled.

But at the same time, itís a passive command.

†† Itís not: Fill yourself with the Spirit.It is: Be filled.

†† The Holy Spirit himself has to come and fill you.

 

So whatís being commanded?Two things, one positive, one negative.

†† First, put yourself in the place, the position where the Holy Spirit can fill you.

†† Second, do not erect any barriers to his filling.

Letís look at each.

 

MP#1Seek the place of his filling.

What is that place?Where do you need to be for the Holy Spirit to fill you?

†† This becomes more clear when you understand that the Bible uses the phrase

†† ďfilled with the SpiritĒ in three different ways.

 

1.Sometimes Bible uses ďfilled with SpiritĒ to refer to conversion.

When you are saved, you are filled with the Holy Spirit.

†† Remember Paulís conversion.He was struck blind on the Damascus Road.

†† Then God sent a man named Ananias to pray for him.

Ananias went to Paul, who was called Saul then, and said:

†† ďBrother Saul, the LordóJesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming hereó

†† has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit

Ananias prayed, immediately something like scales fell from eyes, was baptized.

†† Paulís salvation is described as receiving his sight and being filled with Spirit.

 

To be a saved person is by definition to be filled with the Spirit.

†† When you are saved, your body becomes a temple of the Holy Spirit.

†† The opposite is to be lost and unfilled.But this filling is a one-time event.

Thatís not what Paul is talking about here in Ephesians.Heís talking to people

†† who are already Christians.And about something that is to be done continually.

 

2.Sometimes Bible uses ďfilled with Holy SpiritĒ to refer to special occasions.

There are special occasions when God empowers particular Christians to do great

†† thingsómeet a great challenge, endure great suffering, witness in a great way.

And in to do that, the Holy Spirit fills them with peculiar boldness and assurance.

†† He gives them words and eloquence donít normally have.

†† He sometimes even gives them physical manifestations of various kinds.

These are rare, mountaintop experiences.

†† These are the spiritual experiences that people write books about.

 

In Acts 4 the believers were facing opposition.New church in precarious position.

†† They were praying together and when they said Amen, the place was shaken.

†† And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word boldly.

Rememberóalready filled, after Pentecostóbut here filled again in power for a

†† particular challenge.The challenge of facing persecution with courage.

 

Acts 7 is a record of the trial and martyrdom of Stephen.

He was given supernatural speaking ability.The hostile court was spellbound.

†† All those sitting there looked intently at him.His face like the face of an angel.

And Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus

†† standing at the right hand of God.ďLook,Ē he said, ďI see heaven open and the Son of Man

†† standing at the right hand of God.Ē

A special filling that brought a supernatural vision and eloquence and boldness,

†† even an altered appearance.It was a special filling for martyrdom.

That reminds me of the story in Harlan Popovís autobiography.

 

Popov was a Bulgarian pastor who was tortured by the Communists.

Once they brought him into the interrogation room and kept him awake and

†† standing for an entire week.Two interrogators working in shifts to torment him.

At the end of week, his will to resist was gone.Physically his face was shrunken.

†† His ankles and lower legs grossly swollen from standing for so long.

His interrogators were preparing for their final push.Sign a denunciation.

†† They ordered him to face the corner, behind him were assembling documents.

 

In that moment he was filled with the Holy Spirit.He knew Jesus Christ was there.

†† He felt circulation return to his legs.Felt blood and fullness return to face.

He had a burst of physical and mental energy.When he turned and faced his

†† interrogators, they were stunned and frightened by his appearance.

This was not the same broken man.Their interrogation ended in confusion.

†† His experience didnít last.When taken back to his cell he collapsed.

†† But was filled with the Holy Spirit for that moment of crisis.

And he remembered it often during his years in prison.

 

Jonathan Edwards tells of a time he rode his horse into the woods to prayó

†† While riding, had a special filling of Holy Spiritófor several hours overwhelmed

†† with a vivid sense of the love and presence of God.That feeling left him.

But the remembrance of it stayed with him for life.

 

There are rare mountaintop experiences of filling.

†† To prepare a believer for a great work ahead or carry through a crisis.

Itís when the truth you know blazes in your heart.

†† When you have a palpable sense of the presence of God, even physical signs.

This is not the filling that Paul is talking about in Ephesians.

†† Because you canít live on the mountain top.You eventually have to come down.

 

3.Sometimes the Bible uses ďfilled with the SpiritĒ to refer to the ordinary

†† experience of an obedient Christian life.Thatís what Paul is talking about here.

†† In Greek, a command in the present tense refers to continuous action.

ďBe filledĒ does not mean once.But be continually filled.Keep on being filled.

†† Itís a condition a Christian continues in, but it must be maintained.

Acts 6 is a record of the choosing of the first deacons.

It says these men were ďfull of the Spirit and wisdom.Ē

†† And in another place that they were ďfull of faith and the Holy Spirit

In Acts 11 Barnabas is said to be ďa good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith.Ē

†† Whatís being described here?Not a special filling, but something constantly

†† present.A condition, a characteristic that a Christian continues in.

 

Barnabas and the first deacons were Spirit-filled men.What did that mean?

It means they were balanced and self-controlledóin words and behavior.

They had courage and peace that came from clear vision, stimulated by Spirit.

†† They saw clearly the problems and challenges of the church,

†† but they also saw that God is on his throne, and Christ is ruling over all.

 

Now all of this has been a round-about way of getting to the original point.

The way you get this ordinary, continuous filling of the Holy Spirit is to put

†† yourself in the right place.And the right place is to simply to be seeking God.

Remember Colossians 3:16, the parallel passage looked at last week?

†† ďLet the Word of Christ dwell in you richlyĒ is just another way of saying

†† ďBe filled with the Holy Spirit.ĒFilled through regular use of means of grace.

 

And hereís the other interesting connection.

†† This is also the way to the rare mountaintop experiences.

When people have true mountaintop experiences with the Holy Spirit they never

†† go looking for them.Thatís been a problem with charismatic movement.

An emphasis on trying to get the mountaintop experience.To feel a spiritual high.

†† But whenever it truly happens, itís when you are seeking God in ordinary ways.

 

When Martyn Lloyd-Jones was a boy, growing up in Wales, there were old people

†† in his church who remembered the days of the famous Welsh revival.

Would tell stories of the Holy Spirit falling in power.Villages coming to faith.

†† He wanted that all his life.Revival and filling of Holy Spirit often his themes.

†† He probably wanted the mountaintop experiences more than most people.

But listen to these wise words of his:

†† Do not merely seek an experience, or manifestations.Seek a knowledge of God, and of the

†† Lord Jesus Christ.Do not seek Ďballs of fireí or any Ďsensation of electricityí going through

†† your body.Seek Him!Say that you want to know him and the power of his resurrection,

†† and the fellowship of his sufferings.

Seek the place of his filling.Which is another way of saying, seek the Lord.

†† Make use of all the means of grace.And then, second, the negative.

MP#2Erect no barriers to his filling

Ephesians 4:30 says:ďDo not grieve the Holy Spirit of God.Ē

1 Thessalonians 5:19 says:ďDo not quench the Spirit.Ē

†† Do not grieve the Spirit.Do not quench the Spirit.

 

Holy Spirit can be grieved.That means he is a person.You canít grieve a force.

†† And even more significant, grief is an offense against love.

†† You canít grieve an enemy, you can only grieve someone who loves you.

Proverbs 10:1:A wise son brings joy to his father, a foolish son grief to his mother.

†† Why do parents sometimes grieve their children?Because they love them.

 

From the time they were little, their parents expressed love by giving instructions.

†† Donít touch the stove.Look both ways.Share your toys.

†† Clean your room.No more TV.Do your homework.

†† Choose good friends.Guard your purity.Walk with the Lord.

Moms and dads say those things because they want their children to live long,

†† blessed lives.Want them to fulfill their greatest potential.

 

But when a child, maybe as a teenager or young adult says:

†† I donít want to do what you tell me.I reject your instruction.I want live my life.

†† When that happens, it brings grief to the parentsí heart.

It may feel like anger.It may be expressed as anger, but itís really grief.

†† Because the actions of the child are an offense against your love.

 

So this command, ďDo not grieve the SpiritĒ contains a wonderful truth.

The Holy Spirit is capable of grief because he loves you.

†† He loves you so much that your actions affect him.††

Thatís a great mystery itself:How the unchanging Spirit of God can be grieved?

†† But he can be grieved and we know that it is because of love.

 

The Holy Spirit is like a parent.He is called our comforter and guide.

†† He expresses his love by giving instructions.

†† He tells you how to live in such a way that you enjoy the greatest blessing.

He gives you a great many instructions in the Word:

He says:Speak the truth in love, put off bitterness and forgive,

†† be generous and hospitable, donít let unwholesome talk come out of your mouth,

†† be generous, obey your parents, love your wife, honor your husband.

And on and on.So when you disobey, it is not so much breaking Godís law,

†† as it is offending against Godís love.Itís saying to the Spiritó

†† you donít know whatís best for me.I want to live my own life.

You canít be filled with the Holy Spirit if you are continually grieving him.

†† Unconfessed sin is a barrier to the filling of the Spirit.

†† What about you?Is there anything in your life that is grieving the Holy Spirit?

 

If there is, you need to deal with it so you can be filled with the Spirit.

And the way you do that, the only way, is to focus on what Iíve just mentionedó

†† the love of God for you.The love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Itís only when you realize that your sin is a sin against love,

†† that it grieves the one who loves you, that you cut the root of sin.

 

I had a large shrub in my yard that I recently cut down.

†† Even though I cut it down, shoots kept growing out of the stump.

†† For about a year I cut them off, but kept growing back.

Thatís what happens when you try to get rid of sin in your life by just saying:

†† This is a bad thing Iíve done.Iíve got to quit.You canít get rid of it just by

†† warning yourself about the consequences.Will keep coming back.

 

You have to cut the root.Thatís what I did with this stump.I dug and chopped

†† until I could rock it.Then I tied a rope around it, and pulled it out with the car.

The way the root of sin is dug and chopped and loosened is by focusing on the love

†† of Christ.When you tell yourself:Iím grieving Lord who loves me.

†† That gives you the incentive and power for real change.

 

Do not grieve the Spirit.And do not quench the Spirit.

Have you ever been at a party or a gathering and watched a shy person?

Maybe this shy person gets the floor for a moment, he or she starts to speak.

†† And for a little while, everybody is quiet.But then two people on the edges of

†† room start to talk pretty soon other people start talking.

And the shy person stops talkingómight not say anything else rest of party

 

Holy Spirit is the shy member of the Trinity.Not disrespectful.John 16.

†† ďI have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.He will not speak on his own, he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.All that belongs to the Father is mine.That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.Ē

The Spiritís purpose is to glorify the Son, not himself.

And one important way he glorifies Christ is by reproducing him in believers.

†† By leading you to victory over sin.

†† By praying for you and teaching to pray.

By showing you Godís will for your life and enabling you to walk in it.

†† Heís called the Counselor because he impresseson you the teachings of Christ.

 

What does this mean practically?

Whenever you feel a prompting to improve your lifeóthat is the Holy Spirit.

†† That doesnít come from youóitís coming from Himólisten to Him.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones says:

†† ďIt is (the Holy Spirit) who prompts you, who leads us, who creates desires within us.You

†† suddenly find yourself desiring to read the Word:the Spirit is at work!He suddenly will

†† stimulate you perhaps to prayer, or to meditation.He will tell you to leave something, and to

†† do something; it is all the Spirit.

Any urge or voice that says:Love this person.Watch your tongue.

†† Be generous.Humble yourself and listen to this person.Trust God.

†† Thatís the Holy Spirit speaking to you.

You know those promptings rarely come like a clap of thunder.

†† They are usually a still, small voiceólike Samuel heard on bed, Elijah in cave.

†† You have to listen.

 

How do you quench Spirit?By ignoring his promptings.MLJ again:

†† ďNot to respond, or to postpone, or to say, Well, I cannot do that now, I am doing something

††† else; or to fail to give yourself to be led by Himóoh!these are the ways in which we

††† (quench) Him.Ē

Just to get too busy and sayónot going to do that now

 

The worst quenching of all is to say:Iím such a failure God canít use me.

†† Iím so bad that God canít use me.

My sins and failures and weaknesses are too big for Him.

†† This situation is ruined.I canít be remedied.

Thatís a denial of the Gospel and the sovereignty of God.

†† It shows that you donít really believe in the power of your Redeemer Jesus Christ.

†† He has come to take sinful failures and turn them into glorified children of God.

 

When you quench the Spirit.When you say Iím too busy.I donít want to change.

†† This is too painful to my pride.Iím too bad.Itís ruined.I canít be used.

When you say any of those things to ignore the promptings then you quench him.

†† The Spirit becomes silent and waits until you are willing to listen.

CONC:Are you erecting barriers to the filling of the Holy Spirit?

†† Are you grieving him?Look at the love of Jesus and repent.

†† Are you quenching him?Start today with something heís told you to do, do it.

And are you putting yourself in that place where he can fill you?

†† Seeking to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship

†† of sharing in his sufferings.Making use of the means of grace.

 

Thereís a hymn, written in the 1800s by an Anglican minister named

†† George Croly.Itís called:Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart.

Itís an amazing hymn, because it presents the filling of the Holy Spirit

in all itís parts.Iím going to read you two stanzas.

 

First one he basically says:Iím not going to ask for the mountaintop experience.

†† Iím not going to ask for dreams and visions of angels.

†† Iím going to ask that you take the dimness of my soul away.

†† Ask that I know you better.

 

Second stanza he says:Make my heart and altar.

†† Let the Holy Spirit be the kindling on that altar.

†† Let your love, O God, be the fire that ignites my love for you.

 

Listen to these two stanzas, and make them your prayer as you come to Table.

 

I ask no dream, no prophet ecstasies,

No sudden rending of the veil of clay,

No angel visitant, no opening skies;

But take the dimness of my soul away.

 

Teach me to love Thee as Thine angels love,

One holy passion filling all my frame;

The kindling of the heaven descended Dove,

My heart an altar, and Thy love the flame.