THE HOLY SPIRIT'S WORK IN THE FILLING OF THE BELIEVER
Chafer in his major themes mentions, "The filling of the Spirit may
be defined as a spiritual state where the Holy Spirit is fulfilling all
that He came to do in the heart and life of the individual believer. It
is not a matter of acquiring more of the Spirit, but rather of the Spirit
of God acquiring all of the individual." (Chafer, Lewis Sperry; "SYSTEMATIC
THEOLOGY"; Dallas, TX; Dallas Seminary Press, 1947, p 115)
What a beautiful thought - the Spirit doing all that He desires to do
in my life. I trust that you contemplate that sometime. ALL THAT HE DESIRES
1. Eph. 5:18, "And be not drunk with wine, in which is excess, but be
filled with the Spirit" Being drunk has the idea of the wine controlling
the person who is drunk. Being filled has the idea of being controlled
by the Spirit completely.
As the drunk is lowered, to a lower plain of life and activity, so the
Spirit filled believer will live on a higher plain than the non-filled
person. Not that they are in a fog, but they are being all that God wants
them to be at all times.
Ryrie mentions that the drunk gives himself over to the influences of
the wine as the believer gives himself over to the influences of the Spirit.
In his book on the Holy Spirit he states, in reference to the person
under the control of wine, "he thinks and acts in ways normally unnatural
to him. Likewise, the man who is Spirit-filled is controlled, and he too
acts in ways that are unnatural to him." (Taken from: "THE HOLY SPIRIT";
Ryrie, Charles C.; Copyright 1965, Moody Bible Institute of Chicago; Moody
Press. Used by permission. pp 93-94) This does not mean that the believer
is out of control with joy, peace and longsuffering. It is to say that
the believer is under the control of the Spirit. It means that the person
is doing all that they can to follow and serve the Lord via the Spirit's
How can the believer be filled with the Spirit? This is a question that
needs to be considered.
1. We cannot be filled by asking for it. There is no reference in scripture
that tells us to pray for the filling. We are only told to be filled. This
would indicate that it is a simple act of the will.
2. We cannot be filled by someone else asking for it. In other words
the prayer of the saint in the congregation before the sermon asking for
God to fill the pastor is technically in error. We might ask that the Lord
would move the pastor to seek to be filled before he begins - however that
might take some time for him to get ready for it.
3. We cannot be filled by denying ourselves of food, drink or other
items. There is nothing that we can give up that will bring the Spirit's
filling except for one thing. YOUR CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE!
4. We cannot be filled by meditation. No matter how psyched up we get,
no matter how laid back we get, no matter how quiet we get, we cannot be
5. We cannot be filled by any work that we can do, save a clean life
before God living from day to day in His control, and not in our own control.
You have merely to seek out sin in your life and confess it properly and
allow the Lord to take control.
If you are not willing to submit to the authority of your parents, you
cannot be filled. If you are not willing to follow ALL THE LORD'S commandments
you cannot be filled with the Spirit. If you are not willing to forgive
another, then the Spirit cannot be in control, for you are. If you are
in control, then the Spirit is not, and you are not filled.
If there is anything that you will not allow the Spirit to control in
your life then you are not filled with the Spirit. That might include:
Not following local, state or federal laws: speed limits, safe driving,
copyright laws, etc. Not following whatever rules, or authority God has
placed over you. We have choirs all over the country singing praises to
their God with copied sheets of music, which is strictly illegal. How much
praise do you think that the Lord hears? We have Christians breaking speed
limit laws on the way to church. How excited does God get over such dedication?
Can a person be filled at a time when there is no conflict of interest?
In other wards if God has told me to drink no more and I determine not
to drink. At a point tomorrow I take a drink - was I filled from the place
of being in His control and the point at which I determined to take a drink?
It would seem that yes would be the answer. He had full control until my
will decided to take the drink and disobey - or indeed take back the control
that had been relinquished to the Spirit.
SIMPLE FACTS THAT HURT
Can't I sin just a little bit and still be mostly controlled by the
Can't I use my mind to produce a feeling of filling and not be totally
turned over to the Spirit? No. No matter what physical or mental contortions
you may deem as profitable - they are worthless in relation to the filling
of the Spirit!
Chafer mentions three items of concern before you can be filled. Walvoord
and Ryrie elaborate on these three points as well.
1. I Thess. 5:19, don't quench the Spirit.
2. Eph. 4:30, don't grieve the Spirit.
3. Gal. 5:16, walk in the Spirit.
If you are grieving or quenching the Spirit then you are not allowing
Him to control you. We will look at these in future sections.
The third item of "walk in the Spirit" would naturally relate to walking
your Christian life in the control of the spirit.
Torrey on the other hand lists seven steps to being filled. You need
to realize he is equating baptism and filling and is askew on this doctrine
He bases his first thoughts on Acts 2:38, "Then Peter said unto them,
Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ
for the remission of sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
(The following seven points adapted from, Torrey, R.A.; "BAPTISM WITH THE
HOLY SPIRIT"; Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1972, pp 11-37.)
1. Repent. Acts 2:38 (change your mind)
2. Repent. Acts 2:38 (renounce sin)
3. Be baptized.
4. Obedience. (Based in part on Acts 2:38 and on Acts 5:32.)
5. Have a real and intense desire. Luke 11:13
6. Ask. Luke 11:13
7. Faith. Mark 11:24
Point five, six and seven are looking for Church age truth in Jewish
information. The asking for the Spirit is something that the Old Testament
saint had to do, but we in this age automatically receive Him in His fullness.
You see, Mr. Torrey feels there is more to filling than what is normally
seen. He is speaking of something that we must seek after and ask for.
This would indicate that his filling is a second item that is dependant
upon us, and not God. Indeed, he must have seen baptism and filling as
the same, and that being, a special work aside from the indwelling of salvation.
It is easy to see how his teaching can be used by the pentecostal groups.
1. It is a command. We are to be filled. The term filled in Eph. 5 is
an imperative and something to be done. No rationalizations, no excuses,
no comment, no discussion, no outs, no maybe's, no alternatives, no options,
no AAAHHH but Lord's, no anything. WE ARE TO BE FILLED!
2. Some would ask how often you should be filled. In short the Ephesians
text is in the present tense and several authors suggest that it be translated
as "keep on being filled." The idea is as often as you need it, or maybe
better yet, you are to be controlled continually. The choice of God would
be to be filled once and never have need of it again, however God is realistic
and has set it up so that all may be filled as they have need.
Constantly, should be the goal. It is a continual item of interest to
the believer. Every time you take over control, there will have to be a
resumption of power by the Spirit.
As a person matures they will continue to find new areas of life to
yield to Him, and this will require new commitment to the Lord's control
of that area of their life.
3. Some suggest Col. 3:16 as an equal to the Eph. 5:18 text.
"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, in all wisdom teaching
and admonishing one another, in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs singing
with grace in your hearts to the Lord."
They equate the two passages, because in geometry there is a law or
axiom which states if two things are equal to the same thing then they
are equal. In other words if a=c and b=c then a=b.
I'm not sure what angles and lines have to do with scripture, but there
may be a close similarity between allowing the word of Christ to dwell
richly in you and being filled with the Spirit.
If we are filled with the Spirit we will fill our minds with the thoughts
of Christ and vice versa if we fill our minds with the words of Christ
we will probably be filled with the Spirit.
4. The result of not being filled as a believer, is only one. The result
is sin. To not follow the command of the Lord is SIN. Now, if you take
some time to consider the average Christian that is not walking in the
Spirit, that is, one that is doing his or her own thing - then you have
a sinning Christian. Every person that is living for themselves in the
church is in sin. Need we guess why the average church is unfruitful?
RESULTS OF THE FILLING
1. FRUIT: The fruit of the Spirit will be the main result of the filling
of the Spirit. Gal. 5:16-26 tells us what the fruit of the Spirit are.
I have contrasted these with the opposites.
FRUIT OF contrasted with NO FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT THE SPIRIT ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- LOVE DISLIKE/HATE JOY SADNESS/GET ALONG ATTITUDE PEACE TURMOIL/UPSET/CONFUSION LONG-SUFFERING SHORT TEMPER/SHARP TONGUE GENTLENESS RUFFNESS/TERSENESS GOODNESS LACK OF GOOD/BADNESS/NASTINESS FAITH DOUBT/WORRY MEEKNESS OUTWARD/KNOW IT ALL SELF-CONTROL SUBMIT TO PEER PRESSURE/SIN
WHICH COLUMN DO YOU OPERATE IN? These items of contrast are easy enough
to understand for most of us. We understand the basic meaning of the fruit
of the Spirit. We also understand that the fruit is to be seen in our lives.
This means when you are preaching. This means when you are buying gas.
This means when you are disciplining your children. This means when you
are in a business meeting that isn't going well. This means when you are
taking a test. This means when you are fixing a flat tire. This means when
you are discussing what that mealy mouthed creep said about you at the
business meeting. This means at all times of the day and night, and all
NOW, HOW MANY OF US WANT TO CLAIM THAT WE ARE REALLY FILLED WITH THE
SPIRIT ALL THE TIME? MOST OF THE TIME YES, MAYBE MUCH OF THE TIME YET THERE
MAY BE SOME TIMES WHEN WE AREN'T.
2. PROPER CHURCH SERVICES: Eph. 5 mentions that the filling precedes
the following activities of the church. Eph. 5:18-21, "And be not drunk
with wine, in which is excess, but be filled with the Spirit, Speaking
to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making
melody in your heart to the Lord, Giving thanks always for all things unto
God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Submitting yourselves
one to another in the fear of God." Worship, praise, singing, thanksgiving,
submissiveness (Wow - even submissiveness from filling!).
Have you ever been in a service where you felt that everyone must be
filled with the Spirit? In Denver years ago the pastor came for the usual
Sunday evening service and ask for testimonies. The congregation began
sharing and finally he interrupted, and had us sing another song. Before
he had a chance to go further, another person stood and mentioned that
they had something to share and this kept occurring. About 45 minutes into
the service the pastor mentioned that he was not going to fight what was
going on and sat down and enjoyed what was going on. We finished a little
after the hour and all went away very refreshed (without a sermon!).
While we were home missionaries we were asked to present our work in
a church in Denver. We drove down the night before and enjoyed a very neat
couple's home. We went to church the next morning and found that they did
not have the usual services. They sat in a square around a table on which
the Lord's table was set. They shared from the word, from the heart and
prayed. From time to time we would sing a song, then the service was closed
with the Lord's table.
If you were to be in a group like this on a regular basis you would
learn quickly that to be a part of the worship you would have to be filled
with the Spirit a lot of the time during the week so that you would have
something to share on Sunday morning.
3. SERVICE: Naturally the spiritual gifts would be involved in this,
but the thought of filling would also relate to the natural sharing of
one's faith with those around them. Evangelism would be the natural result
Let's consider a few questions.
Can you be a spiritual person without being filled with the Spirit?
This is a question of semantics probably. The point is this, if you are
constantly filled, then you will be becoming a spiritual person. A new
believer can be filled but not necessarily a spiritual person, in that
he has much maturing to do before he can be walking in the spirit on a
moment to moment basis.
Is it wrong for two believers that have been saved the same amount of
time to be on different spiritual maturity plains? Only if one has been
negligent in allowing the Spirit's control. The Spirit may have need of
great maturity on the part of one for the ministry yet not need the same
depth of maturity for the job of the other. It is the individual's responsibility
to be filled, and allow the Spirit to draw the person to the maturity that
I trust that you will never look down upon a person that has less maturity
than you. Be pleased that the Spirit has done what he has done with you
and allow the Spirit to do the same with all other people. Indeed, they
may not be below you - your opinion of your own maturity may be inflated.
To sum up let me share a quotation from Chafer. "From the nature of
the filling of the Spirit, it may be concluded that the wide difference
in spiritual experience observed in Christians and the various degrees
of conformity to the mind and will of God may be traced to the presence
or absence of the filling of the Spirit." (Taken from the book, MAJOR BIBLE
THEMES by Lewis Sperry Chafer and John F. Walvoord. First edition copyright
1926, 1953 by Dallas Theological Seminary. Revised edition copyright 1974
by Dallas Theological Seminary. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing
House. p 117)
In short it seems to me if you want a simple key to the whole topic
it is this. When you sin, I Jo. 1:9 it and He is back in control. The sooner
you I Jo. 1:9 your sin the quicker He will be back in control. Is this
an oversimplification? I TRUST THAT IT IS NOT!