Copyright Rev. Stanley L. Derickson Ph.D. 1992





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 TO DO!


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 leading.


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 filled.

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.


Can't I sin just a little bit and still be mostly controlled by the Spirit? No.

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 slightly.

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?


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
FAITH                         DOUBT/WORRY
MEEKNESS                      OUTWARD/KNOW IT ALL


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 situations.


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 of filling.

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 He desires.

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!