What Being Filled with the Spirit Is

The Low Down on Fillin' Up

Without the truth of who the Holy Spirit really is followers of Christ, and thus the church, will never be all God wants us to be. For this reason, Scripture is filled with admonitions for us to be intimately in relationship with or filled with the Spirit. This week, we learn what it means to be filled by the Spirit and what it takes to make it happen.

Todd WagnerSep 21, 2003
Ephesians 5:18

In This Series (3)
What Being Filled with the Spirit Does
Todd WagnerSep 28, 2003
What Being Filled with the Spirit Is
Todd WagnerSep 21, 2003
What Being Filled with the Spirit Isn't
Todd WagnerSep 14, 2003

Father, protect us from the foolishness of thinking that if we can't be the one that makes a big splash, a significant number, you must not think we're significant; like, "If I'm not going to be a significant part of the worship experience at Watermark this morning, like Todd is for the next 40 minutes, then I must not be significant to him." God, I rebuke that spirit in our church. I am so thankful for the men and women who right now are laboring in ways that only just a few parents are going to know.

I'm so grateful for the men and women who labored this week in a quiet way behind the scenes, brainstorming about some different elements, the men and women who were here early this morning setting up their children's area, setting up in here, warmly welcoming people, putting signs out, what seems so insignificant compared to what we just heard sung we can lose a sense of awe at how you use us.

Father, we want to just agree with you that it's not our stage or our percentage; it's our hearts you're looking at, and it's our desire, consistent with yours, Lord, that increasingly there would be a number of people here…all of us…who would be available to you in the way you want us to be available, knowing that as we do that, every one of us will receive the exact same reward.

I'm thankful, Lord, that you've gifted me and enabled me to have a 40-minute difference this morning. I really am, but, Father, if I ever start to think I'm more significant than somebody who had a widow's mite availability to you this morning, I pray you'd take me out, and I pray that whenever you have a person who has a widow's mite giftedness to be available this morning and so they wouldn't give it, I pray you'd take them out. I pray you convict them to action.

We just want to be your folks, Lord, and we want to walk in your ways in a way that would be so significantly different than the way the world operates the reality of who you are would be screamingly obvious to them. Thank you, Lord, that we can talk to you this way. We sure love you and are grateful for what you've given us the opportunity to consider, and we want to consider it truly and honestly before you. Use us now and make this time key in our lives, that we might be the church we want to be. In Christ's name, amen.

We are in the middle of a really great three weeks. These three weeks we've titled The Lowdown on Fillin' Up. Now what are we talking about right there? I want to let you know something. If I only got to teach one message to believers the rest of the days I am here on this earth, it would be the message I'm going to teach today, because without the truth I'm going to share with you this morning, we will never be the people God wants us to be.

We will never be his ambassadors, his ministers of reconciliation; we will not experience the joy, the fullness, the power; we will not be able to be his witnesses in the way God wants us to be; we will continue to be irrelevant as a church, unholy as a church, hypocritical as a church, godless in our marriages, absolutely overwhelmed in our personal lives, and a dishonor to him if we don't get our arms around what I'm talking about this morning.

Now, if you're here this morning and you don't know Christ and you're not sure what it means to live in relationship with him and why it's an amazing thing that God wants to be your friend, I'm going to explain to you why you have been so disturbed by the church and seen the church so irrelevant and seen the church so insignificant and the fact that people make a profession for Christ makes no apparent difference.

I hope you learn today what we seek to appropriate in our lives that will enable us to be more of what we ought to be so you can see more of who he is. This message is central to everything we're about. We cannot say we purpose to be fully devoted followers of Christ and bail out on this truth.

Last week, we talked about the lowdown on fillin' up, and we told you what it was by teaching you what it wasn't. We taught you the different things…being baptized in the Spirit, indwelt by the Spirit, sealed by the Spirit, to be growing in the fullness of the Spirit. Those are things that happen in congruence with, spontaneously at the same time as you coming into relationship with God through Jesus Christ by faith.

Yet there's this command in Ephesians 5:18, which we're using as the basis for this series, which says, "And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation…" It dilutes who you are. It puts you in a different state, an altered state that will not be holy. You will be licentious and foolish and loudmouthed and arrogant or absolutely lazy. We don't know what it is, but it's less than what you should be.

In contrast to that, I want you to be filled with, controlled by a different Spirit, so to speak…the Holy Spirit. "…be filled with the Spirit…" We taught you last week that this particular verse… Grammar matters. We showed you that's an imperative. It's a command: be. It's plural. "All of you, continually…" It's a perfect present, passive; meaning, let it happen to you. It's something you receive upon you. B receives from A is the passive. A does to B is the active.

You receive the power of the Spirit's working in your life. "You…all of you…continually, consciously, be being filled with the Spirit." Now listen. We acknowledge that is a difficult concept to get your arms around, so I want to remind you the three applications we ended with last week, and then I'm going to show you dozens of verses in your Bible that are synonymous parallel verses to Ephesians 5:18.

First of all, let me remind you, as we said last week, of some truths. Every believer has all of the Spirit already in their life, so whatever it means to be filled with the Spirit, it doesn't mean "Go get what you lack." If you know Christ, you know the Spirit, have the Spirit, are baptized in the Spirit, are sealed with the Spirit. Please don't miss that. The command, then, in Ephesians 5:18 is not to go get what you don't have, as the English word would lead us to believe, but to let what you have have all of you.

We said, secondly, that believers don't sin because of the Spirit's absence; we sin in spite of the Spirit's presence, which is what Paul absolutely pulled his hair about when he talked to the Corinthians. He went through and told them in 1 Corinthians 3:16, "Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? [So how can there be such unholiness associated with you when the Spirit is supposed to be there?] "

When he talks about the immorality in their lives in 1 Corinthians 6:19, he said, "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is [already there] in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? [Why don't you let what's there have an evidentiary effect in your life?] "

Now watch these other verses that talk about the fact that the Spirit is there. "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body…" It doesn't matter if you're Jew, Greek, male, female, slave, free. "…we were all made to drink of one Spirit." It's there. He says a little bit later, in Ephesians 1:3, it's already there. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ…"

He didn't withhold it from you. You don't need to seek it later. You don't need to have it because you don't have it. So being filled means something else. He goes on to say in Ephesians 3, "Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us…" He said in 2 Peter, "…seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness…"

You don't lack it so you need to seek it; you need to have it and use it. You have it. Make yourself available to it. Then there's another point we talked about last week, and it's going to launch where we're going to go. For us to be the people God created us to be… This is so significant and huge. I'm going to tell you how last night I was rebuked by a 3-year-old.

The reason I was rebuked by a 3-year-old is because I did not live in the truth of what I'm about to teach you this morning. For us to be the people God created us to be, we must continually appropriate the power he gave us to do it. You must continually…all of you…be increasingly, consciously, available to the Spirit's work in your life.

Now watch this. Let me give you dozens of verses, and we're going to move fairly quickly. I'm going to go through slowly at the beginning to explain some things to you, and then I'm going to show you the absolute barrage of Scripture to this point. Why do you think God takes his care and his time to tell you something once? Because he loves you and wants you to know where life and truth are. For him to repeat himself in a number of different metaphors and expressions 50-plus times in the Scripture, at least, you might start to go, "This must be pretty significant."

If you're here and you want to know why you cannot love your wife as Christ loved the church; if you're here and you want to know why you cannot say no to your addiction to pornography; if you're here and you want to know why you consistently lose your temper and act in a way that defames Christ and discourages all those who are around you; if you're here this morning and you cannot make your marriage work; if you're here this morning and, as a single, cannot walk consistently in humility and purity, I'm about to tell you why that is.

It's either because you don't know Christ or you don't know what it means to be filled with the Spirit. This is a huge message. Let me give you one synonymous cross-reference. It's in John 14:21. "He who has My commandments and keeps them…" You go, "Wait a minute, Todd. Are you telling me that if I don't do what God tells me to do he won't love me and I don't love him and he won't disclose himself to me? Is that what you're saying?" No.

Again, it's another verse where the English is a little bit confusing for us. It's not wrong; it's just confusing because it's a loaded term. When I tell you he says, "Keep my commandments," you're going to think you're going to obey what I'm going to say, but if you can imagine two lovers kissing in a way that they're going to be geographically separated…

Think of a soldier going off to war, and she gives him a token, a memento, and she says, "Keep this near you always. Keep me in your heart and know that I love you." He goes, and he thinks about her, and he keeps the memory of her alive so he doesn't fall prey to all that his platoon buddies do and she doesn't begin to date around while he's gone, because they keep their love for one another alive and active by meditating continually upon the care, concern, and intimacy they have enjoyed together. That's the idea.

That's why I wrote in parentheses "meditate on" or "keep thinking about." That's what the word is intended to mean in John 14:21. "Therefore, he who has my commandments and keeps on thinking about them is the one who loves me. He who loves me in this way will be loved by my Father, and my Father will love him, and I will love him, and I will increasingly make myself known to him, because he is constantly seeking me in the context of relationship and meditation."

Here's another one. John 15: "Abide in Me…" This is the concept. When you think of abide, you mean you're connected to. What am I showing you right here? I'm showing you a bunch of verses now that are consistent with the command in Ephesians 5:18 in ways that are less mysterious to us. "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches…"

I love what Keith Green said in the 1970s, a guy who was in the early waves of Christian music. He sang a song where he said, "Remember he is 'da vine' and you are 'da branch.'" Where we get in trouble is we sometimes think we so love the Divine One that we're going to go produce "da fruit" for him, but that's not the concept. He says, "No, man. You are a branch. If you snap that branch off, if there's some fruit there hanging low, it might stay there for a while, but it's going to wither and die because it's separated from what it's connected to that gives it life."

Jesus says, "…apart from Me you can do nothing." Because you are a branch. If it's not connected to "da vine" it won't do what "da vine" does. See that? So many of us fail, because we come here every week, and we are intentional about listening, worshiping, honoring Christ, and we just leave here and go, "Man, I love the Divine One. I love God. I'm going to serve him this week."

It's like we salute and snap off, and we go home and live out of our professed desire to honor him, but we don't stay in relationship with, abide with, constantly meditate upon that relationship with him, and as a result, we do nothing but defame him, discourage others, and wonder ourselves if it's real.

Let me give you another one: Romans 6:11. I have some of my high school friends down here. I think about tenth grade is when they start throwing those things called logarithms at you, which I still to this day have no idea. I'm sure some actuary is going to want to take 10 minutes of my time and explain why they're important in a minute, but I can't remember why logarithms were important. I just remember that they were confusing as all get out.

The word logizomai is where we get the term logarithm from. It's the word translated in this verse before you consider. "Even so [logizomai, calculate, figure] yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus." What he's saying is, "Why do you have to figure, consider, or calculate yourself to be? Because you know you're not. Your flesh is still alive. Your flesh still hears that siren song, and you're drawn to the music, and you're swayed and pulled to go toward that shore where you're going to shipwreck and die."

What you have to do is say, "You know what? I know that seems right, but I'm going to consider myself, calculate, figure myself to go, 'That's no longer who I am.'" There's a great story by a guy named Augustine, who many folks know if you've been around Christendom for very long. He was a very influential figure in the early church. Augustine was extremely licentious, very immoral. He loved the ladies.

He was one day walking down the street after he had come to Christ, and one of his old lovers saw him, and in her sweet little seductive voice, she said, "Augustine, come over here. It is I." Augustine responded with Romans 6:11 burned in his heart. He said, "Ah yes, but it is no longer I." What he was saying was, "I'm going to figure this is not the same old Augustine you knew. Does that voice still sound sweet? Would that experience still have its moment of glory? Absolutely. For us to try to pretend it doesn't is both dishonest and extremely dangerous."

What Augustine said was, "I'm different. I'm new. I know I still feel like that. I still want to go over there. It's familiar. It's attractive. It's joyful in its fleetingness, but there's something different in my heart now, so I consider myself to be dead to that. It's no longer I."

Romans 12: "Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living [that's easy] and holy [not-so-easy] sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship." Why am I showing you these verses? Romans 6:11 and Romans 12:1 are other verses where God is instructing us to understand what it means to be filled with the Spirit.

You consider, in relationship with God, yourself to be dead to sin. You present yourself as a living sacrifice. Does anybody here want to crawl up on an altar and die? I don't, but that's what I do in response to what he has done for me. Christ died for me; I live for him. So I'm going to present myself daily, continually, all throughout the day. "I'm available to you." It's not what I want. I want to get away from here. I don't like death. I don't like sacrifice. I like me.

He says, "If you love me, you'll do this," which, it says, is your spiritual service of worship, which really means in light of all that God has done, it's the only reasonable thing you can do, which is everything. Now watch this. Remember I told you about how be filled is a passive verb? Romans 12:2: "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed…" Don't go transform yourself. " [You] be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is…"

Do you want to know how you can bear the fruit of what the world would say, "That is good. That is acceptable. That is perfect. That is divine. That is holy. That is different. Who are you people?" How does that happen? It happens by being filled with the Spirit, which is to say consider yourself dead, which is to say to keep his commandments, which is to say be transformed by the renewing of your mind. You have to be in the Book, in the Spirit, in the Word, in community, in relationship.

Watch this. Let's keep moving. "Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day." How is our inner man being renewed? By continually, increasingly, making itself available, abiding with God in Christ by faith in relationship.

Again, Paul writes in Galatians 2:20, "I have been crucified with Christ…" Synonymous verse with Ephesians 5:18. Why? Look at what he says. "I have been crucified with Christ…" Was Paul actually crucified with Christ? Of course not, but he was by faith. "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me."

What he's saying is, "Christ died for me. I live for him. Does it feel like that sometimes? No. It feels like I'm living for Paul, but I have to decrease so he might increase." Watch this. This is, again, a synonymous idea with "Be filled with the Spirit." Do you want the lowdown on fillin' up? Don't get hung up on that verse. See the compendium of biblical truth on this.

"But I say, walk by the Spirit…" Which is to say what it means to be filled with the Spirit. "…and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh." Again: "Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called…" Why? So humility and patience. You'll show forbearance to one another in love. You'll be diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

See all that's there? Walking worthy of the calling with which you've been called, walking in the light, abiding with Christ, considering yourself dead, yielding to him, and presenting yourself as a living and holy sacrifice…all consistent with the idea of being filled with the Spirit. Want some more?

He says, "But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self…" Which is to say, "Be filled with the Spirit." Not what you want to do; what he does. "…in accordance with the lusts of deceit…"

Watch this. Look at the passive word again. "…and that you be renewed…" Be filled. Be transformed. Be renewed. "…in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth." Sounds consistent with "So that you might prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect."

Watch this. "Do not grieve the Holy Spirit [that's already there in your life] …" You make him sad when you don't do what he wants to do. The Spirit is a person, just like the Father and the Son are persons of the Godhead. They have emotions, feelings. They are entities and individuals unto themselves who are consistently one with one another, as God reveals himself to us.

"…for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light…" I could take you to 1 John where it says, "Walk in the light." What does that mean? It's the same as "Be filled with the Spirit." Watch this in Philippians: "Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus…" This is not just a mind game, but this attitude is "It's not my life but his. The life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith." Jesus said, "It's not what I want to do; it's what God would have me do."

The Son said when he was here, as the perfect God-man… How could a man be perfectly living the way God wants him to? Answer: he can yield himself completely to what God wants, and we can be fully pleasing to God. As Christ continually yielded to the Spirit, so can we. So what was Christ's attitude? "Father, not my will but your will be done." What do you want? Have that attitude of humility, brokenness, and dependence in you that you have in him.

Philippians 4:8: "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, [let your mind] dwell on these things." I think that's synonymous with being filled with the Spirit.

Is it consistent with what God wants? Is it honorable? Is it lovely? Is it of good repute? Is it full of the excellence of Christ? Then you dwell there. As your mind dwells there, you keep, you abide. Colossians 1:9: "For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will…" What does that mean? You're lacking something? No. It's the exact same idea.

"I'm praying for you, Watermark, friends, followers of Christ in Dallas and the world, that you would continually have in your heart what Christ has given you and that you wouldn't be filled with lust and filled with anger and filled with distraction and love of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the concern for many things but you would be about being who God wants you to be as his agent on this earth."

Again, Colossians 3, where it goes on to say, "Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth." That's consistent with being filled with the Spirit. Don't think about now. You believe and live as Christ would have you live. A little bit later in chapter 3: "Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self…and have put on the new self who is being renewed…" See it there again? Look at it a little later in verse 16. "Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you…" It's a metaphor. It's another way to say, "Be filled with the Spirit."

Moving on in the New Testament. Here's one. Have you ever heard this one? "Good Lord! Pray without ceasing? Are you kidding me?" Have you ever felt like that? "How do I do that?" Let me unpack that and demystify it for you. To pray without ceasing doesn't mean you're going through your prayer list constantly in your prayer closet, and to heck with carpool. That's not what it means. It doesn't mean don't go to work. It means live consistently in communication, dependence upon, relationship with God.

Do you know when I talk to folks all the time, I'm just sitting there listening? "God, how can I serve and honor this person right now?" There are times that I'm not. Guess what times those are: when I'm not being filled with the Spirit but I'm filled with "How can I impress? How can I work this? How can I be this? How can I be that? How can I be self-serving?" Uh-oh.

"Lord, let me just check myself. That's not what this is about. I want to desire to be your man. How do you want me to love this person based on how you wired me? I don't need to act right now like so-and-so would act. I need to act right now as you want me, as you uniquely made me to act."

Look at this: " [Fix your] eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith…" Again, if being filled with the Spirit is too confusing for you, then fix your eyes on Christ. "What does Christ want me to do right now, as if he's cheering me on right now? What would he have me do?" There are so many verses that are there and are available to us.

"Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time…" To humble yourself before God. That's what it means. To walk in the light. That's what it means to be filled with the Spirit. Then, if you're done with the New Testament, you can jump to the Old. I'll just show you a few of the many that are in the Old. It was the same call back then. Though they weren't indwelt with the Spirit the way we are today, the call to live in relationship with God was still there.

"This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth…so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it…" Then he says in Psalm 1, "Don't walk in the counsel of the wicked, stand in the path of sinners, sit in the seat of scoffers, but delight yourself in the law of the Lord, and on that law you will meditate day and night."

He says a little bit later in Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." Be filled with the Spirit. And even guard your heart. Don't let your heart wander. Don't let it go toward you. Don't let it go toward self-exaltation. Guard your heart. Keep it in relationship with God, because where your heart is, there your life will be also.

Man! Do you get the idea that God wanted us to get something? Yeah! If it was in there once, it would be enough for me to go, "Okay. All right. I'll work on that." He's screaming it from Genesis to Revelation. He's saying, "Apart from me, this can't happen. I don't want a bunch of willing people who say, 'You are God; we will go.'"

Then we get out there, and our Creator says, "Walk with me. I will be with you always, and when I'm with you, don't hurt me, don't step on me, don't crush me, don't grieve me. Do what I would have you do. By faith my power and presence will be there. Will you let it?" That's the question.

Now let me give it to you in yet another way. What I'm going to do is give you three Ms to unpack some more of what it means to be filled. The first one is simply this. When we show our little slide right there… See that little homeboy down there in the corner? He has his little sailor cap on. This week he's on a boat. Why is he on a boat? Because of this particular metaphor that I think illustrates what it means to be filled. It is the concept of being moved by.

When I talk to you about my Bible, about God's Word being significant and unique among all books that were ever written and recorded by men, you need to know something. This book was written by 40 different authors over 10 different civilizations over 1,500 years on three different continents, yet it is consistent. There is one story, one theme, one problem, one solution. How could that be?

It talks about topics you wouldn't bring up at a dinner party because no one can agree together, yet it does it over all of these different civilizations in three different languages. You have shepherds writing it, you have kings writing it, you have scholars writing it, you have prophets writing it, yet they all say the same thing. How could that be? Answer: because those 40 different human authors were all moved by one author.

All Scripture, this book claims, is inspired by God, God-breathed. The pneuma of God, the Spirit of God, the breath of God guided these men in their own unique personalities, their own unique histories and experiences, to allow them to perfectly produce what he wanted them to produce for the purposes of having one book that he wrote that he made available to us, that we might know him and how we can honor him. This is the concept. These men were filled with the Spirit.

Second Peter, chapter 1, talks about this. He says, "But know this first of all [as a matter of primary importance] , that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation…" You shouldn't yank it out of context. You shouldn't yank it out for your own little world to interpret. It should be illumined by the presence of the Spirit in your life.

Verse 21: "…for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will…" In other words, it did not come because Paul wanted it to come. He didn't see a sunset and get so inspired that he wrote Romans. That's not the idea. What Paul did is he, like Peter, like Matthew, like Jeremiah, like Moses, like David… They, it says, were moved by. The word is phero. They were phero-ed along. They were moved along. How? By the Holy Spirit who spoke from God.

Now watch this. How do you know your Bible is what your Bible claims to be, that it is inerrant in its original autographs, that there is no error in there relating to geology, biology, chemistry? There is no error in there in any of those areas. It's not just a good moral book; it is right everywhere or it's not from God. Some people might say, "Well, the Bible is not a science textbook," and that's exactly right. It's a good thing, because those things change about every five years anyway.

But where it speaks to scientific things, it will be right when it's rightly understood. These men got it right because the God who was there, the God who created, the God who made, carried them along in their writings. How can imperfect men write a perfect book? How can fallible men write an infallible book? Answer: because these men were moved by the Spirit of God. Here's a cross-reference for you. In Acts, chapter 27, Luke is writing of an experience Paul had.

"But before very long there rushed down from the land a violent wind…and when the ship was caught in it and could not face the wind, we gave way to it and let ourselves be [phero-ed, moved] along. Running under the shelter of a small island called Clauda, we were scarcely able to get the ship's boat under control. After they had hoisted it up, they used supporting cables in undergirding the ship; and fearing that they might run aground on the shallows of Syrtis, they let down the sea anchor and in this way let themselves be [moved, phero-ed] driven along."

What does this mean? The reason so many of our lives in this room are absent of what God wants our lives to be, the power, is because we are in irons with God. My sailor friends know what I'm talking about. We have gotten ourselves pointed right into the will of God, and the little sail of our life is flapping. That's what's called being in irons.

What we need to do is get ourselves turned so we can be driven along by this power, that God will move us the way he wants to move us, almost in an invisible way. As we allow our lives to be available to him, we will experience life as he intended for us to experience it. You will be moved and empowered and enabled as you make yourself available to God's will and word in your life.

So, when you ask yourself, "Why right now am I having such a hard time loving this person?" I will tell you it's because you are bent on self-will, self-exaltation, self-pleasure. It's about you at this moment, and you are in irons with God, so your life seems to be fighting against the current. Though sometimes you find an eddy and make some ground and find some rest and it seems pleasant, that you're doing what you want to do no matter which way the current of God's call on your life is going, you know things are not as they should be.

When you look at other people's lives, as some folks in this room who don't know Christ will do, and say, "That guy's life seems to be marked by something my life is not marked by. There's a joy that passes understanding. What is it?" it is because they are obediently abiding with Christ and being moved.

Even though they are not prospering as you would think that man should prosper or even though their life is not defined by all of the things we think a man's life needs to be to be joyful, there's something in his life that you look at and you go, "What is that?" It's the Spirit's presence moving them in obedience and fullness of joy.

I'm going to show you a video clip, and I'm going to give you your second M. I want you to watch this video clip. I'll talk you through it right now. You tell me what is consistent about each of these individuals you're about to see in that clip. Here we go. Watch this. See if you can figure out the consistent element.

As a young man, I grew up in St. Louis. I saw this guy play all the time. Look at him: The Wizard. There he is: Ozzie. He started every season with a handspring and a backflip. I saw him make many of these plays as a kid going down to the ballpark. Get up, Oz! There he goes. Look at this fellow. Float like a butterfly; sting like a sledgehammer to that brother. That's what he does.

Who's that? Cassius Clay, Muhammad Ali, gold medal winner and five-time heavyweight champion of the world. There he is. I was going to do this for you myself, but I decided to let Michael go ahead. There he is. Look at him move. That brother can dance. What was consistent about each of those video clips you just saw? Everybody in it was doing something spectacular while they were…wearing a glove. I mean it. Think about it.

You have me over to your house. Let's say you're not feeling well, and I go, "I'll tell you what. I keep some of these in my car. Do you have a good sharp butcher knife? Let me put this glove on right here. I carry this thing around. You can either baste a turkey or we can numb you up, whatever you want to do right here." I could put this glove on. Would you let me do surgery with you if I put this glove on? You'd best not.

How about if you have some geraniums in your backyard? You have some flowers, some tomatoes, and I come over there and say, "Hey, how about if I put these gloves on and go back and till around a little bit?" I'll kill every green thing you have. You walk yourself over here. Let's say I notice there's a little crack on the outside of your home, and I have some good work gloves, and I say, "I'll tell you what I want to do. I'm going to get outside, and I'm going to get to work. I'll take that little circular saw here. I'll get this plane. I'll get this drill working, and I'll see if I can't fix up your house for you." You'd better not let me go.

What do you have in that one picture with The Wizard? You have a baseball glove. In fact, let me just show you this. If you take that glove… It's just a dead cow that's lying there. How about this? Catch! Dadgummit! That glove did nothing it was supposed to do. It did not catch the ball, but you watch this. You get that glove, and you fill it with the right thing, and it can all of a sudden do amazing things. That glove will pick it up right there.

See? You get that glove on, it can move. It can go where it needs to go. It can catch it. You put me in this glove, and I'll be able to catch balls that are thrown reasonably to me, but you put this glove on Ozzie Smith… What is this glove? It's a dead cow. The Rangers, when they take the field, don't go, "Okay. Go, guys, go. You play short?" and throw it out there. No. They want that dead cow to be filled with A-Rod. You fill that glove with Ozzie Smith, and the whole stadium is filled with awe.

That's the second one. It's meshed with. To be filled is to be meshed with. Let me give it to you first this way, and then I'll close that glove illustration. It says, "Immediately one of them ran, and taking a sponge, he filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink." That sponge was immersed in the wine, and it was filled with the wine, completely identified with the wine. At that moment, when you felt that sponge, you would experience that wine.

Now let me tell you something. Gloves that are filled with the right thing… You get a brilliant surgeon inside of one of those little rubber surgical gloves, you have blessing there. You get the right construction man wearing that glove, they'll build you a house you'll marvel at the rest of your days. But what happens when a glove is not malleable; in fact, if a glove is not available to the hand that is put in it?

What if you had a surgeon who came in to do surgery and it was a really stiff glove? He couldn't bend his fingers. What's the very first thing you do with a baseball glove when you get it? You oil that sucker up. You break it in. You put rubber bands around it. You put a ball in there. You stick it under a mattress. You sleep on it. You rub it again, because that glove has to be available to the hand that fills it for it to be used the way it was supposed to be used.

Notice a glove doesn't ever come back and go, "Did you see that play I made? It was unbelievable. Can you believe how lucky they are to have me on their team, this little piece of leather?" The glove doesn't ever do that. The glove doesn't ever take its orders and then leave its master to go get the thing done by itself. It says, "Fill me up, A-Rod, and we will make history together. You put your hand in me, Michael Jackson, and everybody will talk about that glove the rest of the days of my life."

Here's the deal. I don't know what your glove looks like. I don't know whether you're a dancing glove, an athletic glove, a working glove, a surgical glove, but I know you are made by God, and when you are filled with the presence of God in your life, your life will do something, as it's meshed with God, that it will never do apart from that relationship. If you're wondering where that power is in your life, I'm telling you, it's an absence of the presence of God.

We found out today… Kyle celebrated that one family that's leading us. One of the ways the glove fills their life is they help people who are considering adoption or have entered into adoption to help them completely relate to those kids and love those kids in such a way that there seems to be no difference if they were their own biological kids, even as God intended. That's the way the hand fills the glove of their life.

Paul says it this way: we are just broken-down earthen vessels, but we are filled with this exceeding power and this light that makes us glorious. Meshed with. Watch this clip. See if you can tell me what's consistent about each of these.


What happened? What was consistent with each of those clips? Everybody was…what? What happened in the first one? You have an individual in the first one who came before the Wizard, and then all of a sudden, they were filled with fear. They ran down the hallway and dove through glass. How about the second one? They're going down the Barbie aisle. You have Tour Guide Barbie driving the car, and those guys are sitting there with their mouths wide open.

What are they being filled with? A little lust. "I'm a married spud. I'm a married spud. I'm a married spud." How about the third one? You have Lucy, and she's around this very famous individual, and she's just filled with awe and intimidation, unworthiness. "I-I-I-I know you are." Then the last one. What's he filled with? Frustration, anger, and it defined the actions of every single one of them.

Let me tell you what it means to be filled with the Spirit. The context is to be mastered by. Don't be mastered by alcohol, and don't be mastered by lust. Don't be mastered by anger. Don't be mastered by intimidation and fear. Don't be mastered by anything other than the Holy Spirit that will bear a different kind of fruit. You won't run in fear.

He has given you the spirit of boldness, not intimidation and cowardice. He has given you a spirit of peace and gentleness, not of anger. He has given you a spirit of brotherly love, not intimidation at another human being because they happen to have a different level of accomplishment or fame or finance than you. Love them. Let me just show you some folks in Scripture who were filled with something else.

It says, "They were all struck with astonishment and began glorifying God; and they were filled with fear [at what they saw] ,** saying, 'We have seen remarkable things today.'"** God doesn't want you to be filled with fear. There's another place in Luke 6 where it says they were filled with rage. The idea is Luke is observing what happened. These people are filled with rage. Think of the riots in LA. It's not the way people should act, filled with that kind of hate, that kind of aggression.

Here's another one: "…they were taking note of him as being the one who used to sit at the Beautiful Gate of the temple to beg alms…" They saw that this guy was no longer begging. He had been made whole by Peter and John, and it says, "…they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him." They were shocked. Their mouths were open. They were just stunned.

Here's another one in Acts, chapter 5. Ananias and his wife came and presented gifts to the body of Christ and said, "Hey, we've brought everything we have, because it's what God would have us bring." They said they had done the work the Spirit wanted them to do, but they didn't. They said, "Why has the unholy spirit filled your heart? Why have you lied to the truth of God and not made yourself available to God to do what God wanted you to do?" It's one thing to grieve the Spirit; it's another thing to say you did it in the name of the Spirit.

I had a guy this week I was having breakfast with, and he talked about a time in his life that he had taken his family to go serve the Lord somewhere. He felt called to go to Europe. He connected with a great ministry, and he got over there, and he just realized the cost of living that was there, the fact that he didn't know the language well yet. They were overwhelmed with the potential and the opportunities they had to serve.

He said he got in the shower, and about 45 minutes later, he was just paralyzed with fear. He couldn't move. He said, "I've never had that experience in my entire life. I was so overwhelmed, because I kept thinking about all of the realities of what I was up against. I literally had to be rescued from the shower because I was just frozen in there." Until he got out, spent some time with the Lord, and was filled not with the emotion of fear but with faith.

I told you I was rebuked last night by a 3-year-old. I was in a car. I was backing out of a parking space. There were all these long lines of cars, and I was just letting them know, "I have my back lights on. I need to get in so I can get in that line with you." My wife goes, "There's a car back there! There's a car back there!" I said to her, "I can see there's a car back there! Do you want to drive? Is that what you want? Do you want to get over here and drive? I can tell there's a car. I want to let them know I'm coming out so I can get in and we can go."

I don't even think I did it that nicely. My little 3-year-old son right behind me just said, "Daddy, you're not being very kind to Mommy." I smacked him clear through the back of that… He'll never do that again. No. Do you know what I did? I just took a second, and I said, "Would you all please forgive me? Because you're right. What I just did was wrong. I have no reason I can justify. I'm wrong. Will you forgive me? Sweetie, will you forgive me for talking to you in that tone?"

I had to deal with it. I had to right then go, "You know what? I was filled with defensiveness. I was filled with pride." It was 10:30. I wanted to get home and spend some time thinking about today, and all of these other things were filling my life. It was about me, and I had to clean it up, because I wasn't being mastered at that moment. What would Christ have done? Not what I did.

So I thank him. I hope my kids always do that, say, "Dad, right now you are not the person I know, a person who is being moved by the Spirit, meshed with the Spirit, mastered by the Spirit, filled with the Spirit. That's not the way he talks to his wife." That's a loving kid. I have a loving wife who does the same thing, and I'm a better man for it.

Here's what it means very quickly. Let me just give you active things. This is what it means. How do you get filled, then? How do you get moved by, mastered with, meshed with? Very simply. Look at this one.

First of all, you have to desire it. You have to want it. What I mean by that is simply this. It says in Proverbs 13:4, "The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the soul of the diligent is made fat." The idea there is you can say all day long you want to be filled with the Spirit, but do you do the things that would lead to that happening?

Are you in the Word? Are you in community? Are you in prayer with God? Are you meditating on his Word? Have you memorized his Word? Are you humbling yourself consistently and daily with him? Do you have times when you get away alone with Christ, you meditate, you journal? The Scripture says in Matthew 5, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness. They'll get what they want." You have to want it, though. Do you really want it?

Secondly, you have to defer to the Spirit's presence when it's there. John the Baptist says it this way: "He must increase; I must decrease." It's not about me. I have to become less of Todd Wagner. That doesn't mean stop being my personality and we become a bunch of robots who all talk in the same tone, look the same way, and act the same way. No.

God wants you to be uniquely you, but uniquely you with him in it. So you defer to his presence there. "I urge you…" We saw this already. You become who you're supposed to be, and you present yourself. Defer to him. "It's not about me. I'm yours, Lord…everything I have, everything I am, and everything I'm not."

Thirdly, the discipline of death or "Deny yourself." In Luke, chapter 9, and also in Mark, chapter 8, it says this. It's the same verse that shows up. It says, "And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, 'If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.'"

Here's how I've paraphrased this verse. This is my paraphrase. "If anyone wants to follow me, do something as crazy as dying on a cross, continually. If they want to walk in my steps and lead a life that says to others, 'I'm learning how to live life by obeying the life of Jesus, the Christ,' then let them say no to self-interest, selfish agendas, even self-preservation and human understanding and say yes to God in whatever he asks, no matter how unreasonable it may seem to you or to others." See?

In that moment, should you let that jerk get the best of you because he gets the last word and flips you off or should you respond to that and teach him a lesson? Take up your cross. When you're wrongly accused, do you utter threats in return or do you not take into account a wrong suffered, not act unbecomingly, not seek your own, not being provoked, bearing all things, believing all things, enduring all things, letting the Spirit never fail in your life? That's going to feel like you're dying, gang. Do you know why? Because you are.

Then here's the fourth one. It's one I practiced last night after I told my wife in no kind way that she should stay on the passenger's side and let me stay on the driver's side. You denounce your sin. First John 1:9 is a verse for believers. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us from our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

So what I did is I said, "Let me clean up the mess I just made. I want to agree with you, Cade, that you being 3, me being 40, you saw what I was not willing to admit, that what I just did was ugly and unkind, inconsistent with who I am as a vessel available to Christ. I agree that that was ungodly and un-Christlike and, therefore, need to agree with you that it was wrong. Will you all forgive me? I renounce and denounce that behavior. It's inconsistent with who I should be."

Do you see how that happens? See this verse that is so misaligned and so full of foolishness and fanaticism that people do this to the Spirit? If you do this to the Spirit, you do this to the Christian life. We have to let him in, and he has to reign in our lives for us to be the church he wants us to be, for you to have the life he wants you to have. Let's pray.

Father, we wore this out because you wear it out in your Word. I pray that, as a body, we would learn your Word so that we can meditate on it day and night, so that we might be careful to do according to all that is written in it. No matter how it feels, we want to consider ourselves to be dead to sin but alive to Christ. We need to abide in you, Father, to live in constant relationship.

So as we leave here in just a moment, we don't want to be individuals who salute you and say we're going to go be good Christians this week. No. We want to leave here, saying, "Father, we are your lovers, your people, and we want to walk with you in a way this week that the world will marvel at us as you fill our lives and as we are meshed with you and mastered by your will and Word and way."

Father, I pray for our nonbelieving friends who are here this morning, that they would understand why they see such joyless, unredeemed, fruitless believers: because we have scorned your Word and your way, and we have sought to be obedient little boys and girls and not Spirit-filled, actively abiding followers of Christ. We want to be, so we denounce our sin; we desire, Lord, your presence; we defer to you being there; and we deny ourselves, and we say, "Lord, we must decrease and you must increase for us."

I pray that we would be known as a Spirit-filled body, free from all the baggage, junk, and foolishness that has wrongly been associated with that term, and that marriages would be redeemed, relationships would be restored, purity would be established, faithfulness would be exhibited, sacrifice would be joyfully ours as consistent with what it looked like in Christ. We say as a proclamation and a prayer, "Holy Spirit, reign in me."

About 'The Low Down on Fillin' Up'

The Holy Spirit is the most misunderstood, misrepresented and ignored member of the Trinity. Because of the many misconceptions about who He and is, along with the fanaticism and foolishness too often associated with His ministry, too many followers of Christ avoid the constant relationship with Him necessary to honor the Lord. So what does it really mean to be 'filled with the Spirit'? In this three-part series, Todd Wagner takes a look at Ephesians 5:18, 'Do not be drunk with wine...but be filled with the Spirit.' If you wonder what it means or what it looks like to be continually filled with the Spirit, then this series is for you.