Our Adversary, Our Armor, Our Obligations
New Relationships with Each Other Because of Our Relationship with Him
God's Will and Way for His Glory and Your Good in Marriage
The Ruling Principle for All Relationships
Be Filled - Not Fooled, part 2
Be Filled - Not Fooled, part 1
How Do You Define Love? The Divine Way or the Deceiver's Way?
Walking in the Light: What it Looks Like and Why We Do It
A New Life Resolution for a New Year
Let me tell you a little bit of what my heart is even sometimes in the way I teach. Two weeks ago, we looked at what I said was, I think, the most important verse in the New Testament. You can make a lot of cases for a lot of different verses like that, but this verse is the key to the Christian life. It's the key for the way we can reach people with the gospel.
It's also the key for how we, as a body of believers, need the Lord, how we can be sustained in our lives in righteousness. What I want to do is simply go back and redress some things I had touched on and go back over some different parts of that message and, at the same time, answer some questions I had that came up afterward.
If you were not here two weeks ago, I just dumped a ton of information in your lap about the roots of being filled with the Spirit. What does it mean? Where does it come from? What's the significance? What's the covenantal fulfillment that is symbolic of? So we went all the way through. We went back to Jeremiah. We went to Joel. We went to Ephesians, of course. We were in Colossians. We bounced around a bit, and there was a ton that was thrown on your plate.
One of the things I want to do is very quickly go back and remind you again of what being filled with the Spirit is not. It is not surprising that this is a verse that is so misunderstood. I think Satan would absolutely love us to be confused about this verse, because it is the means through which we can be what God has called us to be.
In Ephesians 5:18, it talks about, coming out of a lot of commands in chapter 5… We said, starting with chapter 4, we're to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which we've been called, and it continues. We're to walk differently than the Gentiles who don't know Christ. We're to walk in the light. We're to walk in wisdom. We're to walk in truth. We're to walk in love. Now we're commanded, finally… The means by which we're going to do all this… Some of these even are synonymous with what it means to be filled with the Spirit.
It comes down to Ephesians 5:18, and he says, "Be filled with the Spirit." In other words, this is the means through which you are going to be able to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you've been called. I don't doubt there's a believer here tonight who wants to do that, but I am sure, if I asked people to stand up and say, "This is what it means to be filled with the Spirit," there would be all kinds of confusion.
There are some of you guys who are still probably convinced that to be filled with the Spirit means you are given some second blessing, some supernatural pouring out that will once and for all change you, put you on a level that most Christians are not. If you will, you'll become a varsity Christian, and you'll be able to do things the JV can't do. You'll have an empowerment. You'll have an ability not every single Christian has. There are probably some people who think, "That's what it means. I have to seek this thing out."
There is what is called the doctrine of subsequence, which I firmly disavow and stand against. It mocks the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. It flies directly in the face of what Christ says in Ephesians, chapter 4, and in 1 Corinthians, chapter 12, where he says, "There is one baptism. We have all been baptized into one body. There is one baptism, one Spirit, one Lord." He goes through with seven different things there in Ephesians 4.
The doctrine of subsequence teaches that after you have received Jesus Christ, you must then receive the blessing or the baptism of the Holy Spirit, that it is a second, a subsequent blessing you receive when you earnestly seek it, and most folks will tell you it is evidenced by speaking in tongues. Let me just say a little bit again. I think Satan is thrilled to death with that misconception.
I think he's thrilled to death for two reasons. First, because most Christians think because they've not received that second blessing they're not able to really live like Christ would have them live. I think he's also thrilled because of the division it causes within the body. I think he's also thrilled because what happens is if we think being filled with the Spirit is evidenced by the fact that we talk in ecstatic languages…
What most folks mean when they talk about speaking in tongues… It's not the biblical gift of tongues. I'm not teaching on that tonight. We have plenty of resources here at this church if you want to know where we stand doctrinally on that. I myself have done that. Joel, Acts, the Holy Spirit, the gift of tongues, what it was, what it will be, what it never was. You can get that thing.
I think he's thrilled to death that most people think the greatest evidence of the Holy Spirit is that you go into your closet, if you don't want to violate the principles that are laid out in 1 Corinthians 14 about when you do speak in tongues… Only two or three should do it, one at a time, and it should always be interpreted.
Most churches will grant that, but then what they'll do is talk about you have people who are really filled with the Spirit speak in what's called a prayer language, which I, frankly, don't find in the Scriptures. What they'll say is, "Listen. This is my way of communing with God. This is my way of having an intimate prayer life with the Lord. I do it privately so it doesn't need to be interpreted, because it's just between the Lord and me."
You know what? Satan has to be thrilled if the greatest means through which a Christian can evidence the fact that they are filled with the God of the universe is that they go in a closet and mumble words they themselves don't understand that nobody else can hear. If that's what it means to be filled with the power of Christ, I don't think he's threatened by it.
If what it means to be filled with the power of Jesus Christ is to break out laughing hysterically, like what is going on now in many churches… The Toronto Blessing is what it's called, where people literally will get what's called the spirit of hilarity or they'll be filled with joy, and congregations will begin to laugh, and it'll sweep through them.
I'll tell you what will happen: exactly what Paul says will happen. The world will come and look at you, and they'll think you're idiots. They'll go, "What are these people laughing at? They're not filled with the joy of the Lord. They're like a bunch of little schoolgirls who have put their heads on each other's stomachs and started giggling, and it just kind of spread through the room." If that's the awesome power of Jesus Christ, I don't think Satan is much concerned.
He would love for us to think it's just for really special believers to get it. I think he'd love for us to think that if you're really filled with the Spirit you'll speak privately in your house in a way that will bless your prayer life. I think he'd love for you to think that if you were really filled with the Spirit you'd walk around with a smile, giggling all day long, but that's not what Jesus said you should look like if you're filled with the Spirit.
So, what does it mean to be filled with the Spirit? I don't think it's a coincidence that this verse is so awkward for us, that it's so distorted and so difficult. People go, "Would you tell me how I can be filled with the Spirit?" Let's just very quickly go back, and I'm going to remind you again what it is not, and then I will help you, hopefully, put a handle on this verse so you can grab it.
I said last time that being filled with the Spirit is not some second blessing. It's not some esoteric little thing that a special group gets. It's not an advanced state of spirituality. I said it was not a commitment to live a holy life. Being filled with the Spirit is not you saying, "I am going to go live for Jesus, and I will be filled with his love."
I had a guy come up afterward (this is one of the things I want to respond to), and he said, "Golly, you know what? There are times… I don't want to feel like sinning. In my mind I don't." He just goes ahead and quotes Romans 7, basically. He says, "I don't feel like in my flesh that I want to avoid what I know I should avoid." He says, "How come sometimes when I desire to live for Jesus I cannot? I want to. I want to be filled with the Spirit."
I simply said to him, "Listen. It is impossible to defeat the flesh by the will of the flesh." You can't do it. You can't take that which is lusting after sin and have that be what is going to pull you away from it. It's a tug-of-war with two people pulling the same direction. Even though your mind is saying, "Golly! Flesh, don't feel that way," your flesh is sometimes going to feel that way.
What the Scriptures say is not to listen to your flesh, but it says to transform yourself by the renewing of your mind so you can prove what the will of God is in your life, the way you live, that you might live in a way that is good and acceptable and perfect. The Scriptures, I told you before, have given you no program to condition and to improve your flesh. You are not told to curb your flesh; you are told to crucify your flesh. Die.
Somebody came up to me afterward and said, "Wait a minute. Dying sounds like something I have to do." That, gang, is where it gets you to a little place where you are going to be a person who lives by faith. Next week, we're going to watch a baptism up here, and you're going to see somebody who will do a physical act of identifying with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Romans 6, doesn't talk specifically about water baptism, but it talks about what water baptism is a picture of, that you simply are saying, "I know I'm not dead. I can feel my flesh. I can see it. I know I'm alive, but by faith I have placed myself in Jesus Christ, because if I place myself anywhere else I have placed myself in sin."
This is a fallen world. There's not a single one of us who is not worthy of being judged by a holy and perfect God. So, what you and I have done, as Christians, is we've said, like it says in Ephesians 1… We are in Christ. Literally, sheltered in him. Because we are in him, when God looks at us, he sees the perfection of Jesus Christ.
When I was in Christ, sin was judged. Jesus Christ died. He paid the wages of sin. The wages of sin are death. "By faith, God, I believe you're going to accept me because Jesus Christ paid the penalty for my sins." So I am in Christ. I am dead in Christ. It's Galatians 2:20. It's simply a verse which says, "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 [offered up his body] for me."
Let me give you a quick analogy of what that means. A week ago, I was up in Bowie, Texas, doing some quail hunting. You guys heard on the news about all of the fires that were breaking out in northwest Texas. We were up there, and I had heard about this. In fact, there's an illustration people used to use about being in Christ where judgment is passed over, where there's no longer any wood to be burned.
It was a parallel of a group of folks who were heading out West in a wagon train, and they'd come across these prairie fires. They'd see this wall of fire literally coming at them, and they'd realize that with the wind blowing there was no way they could turn their wagon train around and outrun this fire that was coming. So what they would do is they would light a fire themselves on the opposite side of the direction the wind was blowing, and they would let that fire burn, and it would just rip through the land where it was going to go anyway.
Then after it cooled down a little bit, they would move their wagon train onto the part of the ground that had already been burned, and the fire that was coming toward them would burn right up to the soil that had already been burned. The fire had taken everything it could. There was no more fuel. There was nothing to burn. Judgment had already occurred over this land. They stood where fire had judged the land, so they weren't going to be devoured with the flames that were coming.
We were up in West Texas, and those fires happened to break out on the little lease we were hunting on. The firemen were up there, and they were doing the exact same thing. In order to save the land, they built a fire break. There was all this fire going on over here, and they were over there lighting trees and brush on fire so it would burn right up to the road and they could then stop it when it got there. It wasn't going to blow over the road. They could sit there and manage it and keep it down, so when the fire burned up about 30 yards off the road, it would stop, and it couldn't jump all that way over there.
Gang, what you're doing is by faith you are moving into, as a Christian, the peace God has told you to move into: Jesus Christ. You are saying, "By faith I am in Christ." Now the Scriptures say if you're in Christ… Christ died. So, by faith I am saying, "I am as a dead man," and it is a reckoning, it says in Romans 6. It is a considering, where you consider yourself dead. The Scripture says when you become a believer, the Spirit baptizes you right away when you trust Christ, and that Spirit lives in you.
Then what you begin to do is to let that Spirit… By the Son of God who lives in me by faith, I will let him live. So it is not a matter anymore of what your flesh wants to do, because your flesh isn't dead, but by faith you will reckon it as dead, because now you are a new creature and God will give you the ability to discipline your flesh, because greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world. You're in the world, and certainly Satan is in the world.
There are three enemies you have: your flesh, Satan, and the world. He says greater is he who is in you than any of the enemies you have that are listed there in Ephesians 2. So it's not a matter of you being disciplined enough to not want to sin; it's a matter of you doing what Jesus Christ said you should do. Being filled with the Spirit simply is going to mean you are going to live act by act, moment by moment, decision by decision, as Jesus Christ would live.
You have to ask yourself, "Golly! How in the world do I do that?" Well, you have to know Christ, and you have to know how he thinks, and you have to know what his heart is. Let me just say this. I'm going to come back to that, but I'll set it up by simply saying it this way: To be filled with the Spirit is not you being disciplined. It is not you saying, "I will not sin." That will fail you every single time. If you want to write down one thing to sum all that up, write down this: it is impossible to defeat the flesh by the will of the flesh.
We made it very clear that being filled with the Spirit does not mean to be regenerated by the Spirit. We made it very clear that being filled with the Spirit does not mean being indwelt by the Spirit. We made it very clear that being filled with the Spirit does not mean to grow in the fullness of the Spirit which is in you, because it says already that you were given the fullness of blessing, that you've been given everything pertaining to God.
To be filled with the Spirit, we know, does not mean to be sealed by the Spirit. To be filled with the Spirit, we know, does not mean to be baptized by the Spirit. Those are all different things that were done, most of them, the moment you believed. So, what does it mean? What I want to do is give you some synonyms for "Be filled with the Spirit" that give us more of a handle that we can pick up and move, because to be filled with the Spirit seems like something that's so crazy.
D.L. Moody, who used to preach at the turn of the century, gave an illustration one time. He brought a cup up, a glass. He said, "How can I get the air out of this glass?" He took suggestions from the audience. Somebody said, "Well, you need to suck the air out of it, create a vacuum." He said, "If I do that, if I suck all the air out of it, if I create a vacuum in there, then the glass will implode. So the way to get the air out of that glass is not to create a vacuum. How can I get the air out of there?"
Finally, somebody said, "Well, you can fill it with something else. Fill it with water." So Moody took a glass of water, and as he poured it in, you could see the water level went up, and all the air was chased out of that glass. What you need to do, what I need to do… The easiest way to be filled with the Spirit is not to try to will the air out. It's not to say there's nothing in there, because it will implode, but to say, "I need to replace me with something else."
If you will, when we are growing up, we're constantly trained how to think. The world teaches us right away to look out for number one. If you don't look out for your own best interests, no one else is going to look out for them for you. When you come to know Christ, your mind has to be… It's a battle for the mind. The Scriptures tell you to begin to think with whatever is true, honorable, right. That song we sang earlier, "All I need is you," what is holy, what is pure, what is right, what is lovely, what is excellent, what is full of good repute.
I started to think to myself, "How in the world do you forget what you already know?" I went back and started to think that I've had to move five or six times in the last 10 years. I started to go back, and I tried to remember my phone numbers. I can tell you right now how to call my house: 827-9247. The house I just moved from three months ago is still pretty fresh in my mind: 352-2143. The house before that: 265-9247. I have to think more and more what my old numbers were. Then 526-4717, and then 526-5437. You can go back and remember your numbers.
I can remember my number as a kid. I had it for 18 years: 962-8050. My parents' number: 965-1159. I can remember Lara Perry's number in fourth grade: 526-2604. But I'll tell you what. Now there has been some reshaping and some rethinking that is being done, and when somebody asks me, "What's your home phone?" I don't go, "314-962-8050." It is immediately, "214-827-9247."
When I have an inkling to call my valentine, the girl I have a crush on, I don't call 526-2604. I don't call 821-4030, Pam Townsend. (My wife isn't here tonight.) I call 827-9247. I am conditioned… When I want to call one who I love, who I want to go on a date with, that's the number. The way I got that new number is not by trying to forget the old, but I replaced it with the new.
So many of us try to forget our lusts and try to forget the things we have run over our minds time in and time out again, but the Scriptures say you don't do it by willing to forget. Don't focus on what you're not going to remember; focus on what is true, and eventually, those numbers, if they don't go away completely… And some of them have. Others are still sticking in there, but what has happened is my reflex now is to go to the numbers that are in my life today.
Likewise, what is happening increasingly in my life as I walk with Christ is that when events come across me, what happens now is not that the very first thing I think of when somebody wrongs me is, "How can I get them back and punish them and pain them so they'll never do that again?" That is not the first number which comes to my mind.
By the grace of God, I can tell you that verses about gentle answers turning away wrath, about forgiving even as he has forgiven me, about loving as I desire to be loved come to my mind. That's the first thing, and then I have to make a decision. Am I going to live that way? I have to tell you there are times when I choose not to live that way, when I choose not to dial Alex Wagner (827-9247) but I choose to dial up Lara Perry who broke my heart.
Sometimes I just kind of think… I remember it for what it wasn't. It's back there, and I just choose death, and I pay for it every single time. But when I'm walking according to truth, I'm dialing 827-9247. I'm dialing the one I love. I've replaced this lie with the truth of what is real. So what you do is you fill it up.
One of the ways you can become a person who fills your mind with the truth of Jesus Christ (you'll see that's a synonym for "Be filled with the Spirit") is you focus on what God would have you think like. You're supposed to walk with the mind of Christ. Well, how do you know what's on the mind of Christ? He has given you his Word. If you know his Word, you know what's on his mind, so you can think like he thinks.
I have a good friend here tonight. He and I spent a lot of years in ministry together. We were around a guy named Wes Neal, and he wrote a little book called What Would Jesus Do Now? Synonym for "Be filled with the Spirit." Gang, let me give you one more illustration for this. We used to do a skit for kids. We'd have a picture of a kid who would come back from the camp we happened to work at, and he would get saved.
This kid would trust Christ, and he would want to go back and be a faithful example for Jesus Christ. His friends would come and start to beg him to come out and party with them and play with them like he used to do. He'd say, "I really can't do it," because he knows now he has Christ in his heart, and Christ doesn't want to go and do the things these guys are going to do and that he used to do. God had changed him. So he fends them off as best he can.
During the entire skit, there is following him everywhere he goes the person of Jesus Christ. We have somebody dressed in white to symbolize Jesus who follows him. Everywhere he turns, Jesus will be right behind him. When his friends come in the room and say, "Oh, come on. It'll be great. Let's go. Lara Perry will be there," Jesus is whispering in his ear.
"That's not really the kind of person you want to use to encourage you anymore. Don't be deceived. Bad company corrupts good morals. You need to love those folks. You need to minister to them. You need to love the sinner, but don't be mingled in the sin they're in." He's whispering those truths to him.
It goes on and on and on until finally the kid breaks down and decides to go. When he gets ready to leave, he starts to walk out of his house, and Jesus is following him. He knows, "Boy, I can't go. What fellowship has light with darkness? I can't go over there with Jesus." So he keeps walking. He kind of turns around.
He says, "Jesus, you've got to stay here. I know we made a covenant to never leave each other, that I said I'd serve you, that I'd give you my life as you gave your life for me, but, frankly, I'm making a decision now to go places you're not going to enjoy, and my friends aren't going to like you, and you have to stay here." Jesus says, "Nope. I'm going to go with you."
He says, "No, you're not. You're going to stay here." Until finally, the skit ends this way. The kid tries to leave one time, sneak out the door without Jesus following him. He walks through the door. He's right there. The kid marches him back in the house. He grabs Jesus, his friend, and says, "You're going to stay." He moves over here, and he nails his feet down. "You're going to stay right there," and then he walks out of the house.
What that kid is doing… I believe he's a Christian, but he's saying, "You know what? I choose to live as if, Christ, you're still on the cross. I choose to live as if I'm not dead yet, sin hasn't been dealt with. I want to go participate in my flesh and not be filled with the Spirit and not walk in the light and not walk with Jesus. I want to trap Jesus on the cross." Being filled with the Spirit is to have Jesus with you everywhere you go, to think as he thinks, to choose as he chooses, to love as he loves, to act as he would act, moment by moment.
There was an individual who came up to me and simply said, "There are times I do live according to the Spirit, but the flesh then rears its ugly head." You're going to see some folks who sometimes can be so doggone effective for the gospel, but in a moment, they can turn. You're looking at one of them here.
It's amazing the messages I can preach, and then go home and find myself snapping at my wife. I think to myself, "How in the world can I go from that to this? How can I go from worshiping and singing the way I'm singing to driving like this and being angry like I'm angry on the way home from that service or lusting the way I'm lusting?"
What I choose to do in that moment is nail Jesus back on the cross and say, "You and I are not going to have any fellowship here. I'm going to leave you there." To be filled with the Spirit simply means to keep Christ with you, not to tack him away from you, not to part yourself from him. To be filled with the Spirit… Here comes a synonym. Turn with me to Colossians 1:9. I want to read you some stuff very quickly.
"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 in all spiritual wisdom and understanding…" Right here what you have, where it says, "We're going to pray that you are going to have the knowledge of his will…"
"…so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light."
Do you want to know what a synonym for being filled with the Spirit is? It is right there in verse 9: that you would be filled with the knowledge of his will. That word filled, I will remind you, means three different things. I'll give you three Ms, because they help me memorize what they're for. The three Ms are simply these.
That Greek word pleroo is used of a ship which is moved by the wind. So, when you're filled by the Spirit, you are moved by the wind. You are moved by the Holy Spirit. If you want to look at it here in context of that verse, where it says, "That you would be filled with the knowledge of his will," you could say, "That you would be moved by the knowledge of his will."
In other words, if we go back to our illustration of our kid, that he wouldn't go do what he's going to do, because he is moved not by the pressure of his friends and not by the lusts of his flesh, but he's filled with the Spirit. He is filled with the knowledge of his will. He is moved by what Christ would desire. "What would Jesus do? That is going to move me, as a wind fills a sail and directs a vessel. This is what I'll do, and by faith I'll choose it, even though I don't feel it."
That's the first thing. The second thing it means to be filled with the Spirit is to be meshed with. It was used of a piece of meat that was marinated. That piece of meat, it was said, was filled with the marinating sauce, or filled with the salt, specifically. So, when you are filled with the Spirit, you are meshed with. You are moved by and perfectly meshed with the Spirit. There is nothing you would do that is contrary to what Christ would do. In 1 John 1 it says, "If we say we love Jesus, if we say we walk in the light and yet mingle with darkness, we are a liar."
It simply says you can't be meshed with the light and walk in darkness, because light and darkness can't go together. If you're going to be out there and that kid is going to be saying, "I'm living according to how Christ would have me live," and you're participating in sin, you are making God out to be a liar. He is not holy then. What you, in fact, are showing is that no, you're not. Either you don't know Jesus Christ, you don't know what light is, or you are deceiving yourself.
To be filled with the Spirit means to be moved by the Spirit and enmeshed with the Spirit. Lastly (here's another M), it means to be mastered by. The same word, pleroo, in the Greek is used of people in the Scripture who were filled with rage, who were filled with fear, who were filled with anger. In other words, it is the issue of control. It is the issue of being mastered by. You are told to not be mastered by anything other than the Holy Spirit of heaven.
When that Spirit masters you, you're going to always look a certain way. You caught a glimpse of it there in Colossians 1:9. Turn to Colossians 3. Look at verse 15. If you are moved by, meshed with, and mastered by; if you will, you are totally dominated and controlled by… Fear? Anger? No. Hate? No. Lust? No. But you're filled with the Spirit when you're totally moved, mastered, dominated, controlled by the will of God.
Here comes another synonym for being filled with the Spirit. Look at verse 15. "And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful." Now look at verse 16. This is what it means to be filled with the Spirit. Are you ready? "Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you…" That is exactly the same meaning as "Be filled with the Spirit."
That's a little bit more attainable, isn't it? It's not so out there. It can't be so easily abused. Is the Word of Christ richly dwelling within me? That word dwell (we've talked about it before) means completely made at home. There is no room you won't let him in. He is Master of your household, and he will determine how to decorate each room. He will determine how to have every conversation in that house, in your house, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit, it says in 1 Corinthians 3 and 6; that he abides there and will conduct his affairs there.
Look at what happens when you do this. It says you will be filled with all wisdom. You'll teach and admonish one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. You'll sing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do, whether in word or in deed, you'll do all in the name of the Lord Jesus. You'll give thanks through him to God the Father.
Do you want to know how you can know if you're being controlled by the Spirit? Is everything you are doing glorifying to the person of Jesus Christ? If so, you can have confidence that you are walking in the Spirit, that you are filled with the Spirit, that you are filled with the wisdom of the will of God, that you are letting the Word of Christ richly dwell within you.
Has this become a little bit more manageable to you? I'll give you one more thing. Turn back to Ephesians, chapter 5. Let's read it. I want you to see the similarity here as to why I can say it is the same thing. It says, "And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit…" Ephesians 5:18.
Remember, again, be filled means three things: to be moved along by, to be meshed with, even as your body is enmeshed with alcohol and the way you act is moved by the alcohol which is in you, and you are mastered by it, even as a drunk is mastered by the drink. Now look at what happens if you're filled with the Spirit.
"…speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs…" Sound familiar? Colossians 3. "…singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord…" You will be joyful. "…always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father…"
Sound familiar, that you'll have an attitude of thanksgiving because you know God is sovereignly involved in every area of your life? It sounds like Colossians 1:9. It sounds like Colossians 3:16-17. Then, finally, "…and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ." You'll have an attitude of service. Sound familiar? It sounds just like Jesus. It sounds just like where Colossians 3:18 goes.
Whenever a person is filled with the Spirit, they will be joyful (meaning, it doesn't matter what the circumstances are that are around them), they can have an attitude of thanksgiving, and they will be a servant of other people. They will have in themselves… What did I say being filled with the Spirit means? It means everything you will do will glorify Jesus Christ.
Paul says in Philippians, chapter 2, "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself… Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus…" Be filled with the Spirit. It is something you choose to do by faith.
One of the things you have to do, though, to let the Word of Christ richly dwell within you… That's why you have to read the Book. That's why you have to know what Jesus would do, so you can respond with confidence. The word confidence comes from two Latin words: con, meaning with, and fideo, meaning faith. When you act with confidence, you are acting with faith.
There are going to be times that Gregg Scarato is filled with the Spirit and he looks different than Todd Wagner. With great confidence, he can do it. He says, "Todd, I know you may not think it's okay for me to watch this program, to drink this beverage, to respond this way in this situation, but I know, as I yield myself to the Spirit of Christ which is in me, that this is what I feel free to do." I may not feel free to do that.
Romans 14 says, "Wagner, you don't worry about Gregg. He's doing what he needs to do by faith, with faith. If you can contradict him straight up, if you can show him in my Scripture where it says that's not something you should do, then you go to him as a brother and confront him and bring him back, but if you can't do that, then you let me judge him, because I'm using him uniquely, as I'm going to use you uniquely."
What God wants us to do is grow in our relationship. Have you ever noticed there are not as many black-and-white things in the Bible as we want there to be? I believe it's because God wants us to mature and to grow and to depend on him, but then to make decisions by faith as we go forward.
He doesn't say, "Todd Wagner, this is where I want you to work. These are the movies I want you to watch. These are the movies I don't want you to watch. This is the job I want you to have. This is the address I want you to live in. This is the way I want you to spend your discretionary money. This is not the way I want you to spend your discretionary money."
It's not in there. It's up to me to work it out with other brothers who love me and to pray for them and to take the principles that are in the Scripture and, in the context of a maturing relationship, let the Word of Christ richly dwell within me, and then do what I, with confidence, by faith, think is the right thing to do.
Turn to Galatians and look at chapter 5. Look at what he says. This is what's going to happen if you're filled with the Spirit. See, it's not that intimidating, is it? "Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you…" You can say with confidence, "I'm filled with the Spirit, and what I'm doing is of Christ. It glorifies him. With joy whatever happens, with thankfulness to God, I'm a servant to other people." Look at what it says in verse 16.
"But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh." Aha! Pretty simple. That means you're not going to do what feels right to do; you're going to do what, by faith, Jesus would do, because his Word has revealed it. "For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law." It goes through. That is something we'll come to another day. Jump with me down to verse 22.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit."
The argument is this: if you are in Christ, you are dead, and if you are in Christ, you are resurrected, and if you are alive in Christ because his Spirit was resurrected…in body first resurrected then his Spirit continues to live in you…then you will live by that Spirit. If you've placed yourself in Christ, then you have placed yourself into his death and you will live according to his life. What it means is, by faith, now I'm going to live as this man lives, because it's his life which is living for me.
One more time, Galatians 2:20: "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me…" Let's just stop and make sure we understand Paul. Do I live? Certainly. But by faith I'm saying, "I'm identifying myself with Christ. I died on the cross with him, but he didn't stay on the cross. He was buried, and he was resurrected, and now he lives in me."
It says when Jesus Christ went and was seated at the right hand of God, at Pentecost he sent his Spirit back to dwell in his people, the church, and that includes me. So that Spirit continues to live, and it lives in me. The deal is this: his life for mine and my life for his. This is what it means to be filled with the Spirit.
To wrap it all up, there are four different things that phrase "Be filled with the Spirit" means. It is imperative. It is not an option. If you hope to be victorious in Christ, you cannot do it any other way but by being filled with the Spirit, by letting the Word of God richly dwell within you. It is imperative: be. It is plural: be, all of you. Not just the varsity folks in this room but every single Christian. You be, all of you. Imperative plural.
It is passive: you be, all of you, filled. In other words, it's something that happens to you, and you let it happen. As a ship lets the wind blow it, you let the Spirit direct you. "You, let the Word of Christ richly dwell in your hearts." That means I have to study it so we can get in there so that my new phone number is 827-9247, so that my new way of thinking is not to live for self but to live for others.
It is imperative, it is plural, it is passive, and it is present in its tense. By that present tense it means it's continuing to happen. This is why I told you that sometimes I can preach a tremendous message, and I can go home and bark at my wife or I can drive out of this parking lot in a way that's not honoring to Christ, because I chose to ignore the imperative command, I didn't let him fill me passively, it wasn't something I let happen to me, and in the present I wasn't doing it. I nailed him to the cross and said, "You stay there while I go over here and do this."
Think about this. When a person is drunk with alcohol, how often do they have to continue to go back to that bottle for that alcohol to control them, for their system to be meshed with it? Continually. You can't drink one time and be drunk forever. How many of us have looked to go to a conference or to hear a message or to worship and think, "That ought to keep me through the week" or "That ought to change my life. This is the event that will forever make me different"?
That, gang, is not the idea. It is continual, moment by moment. You have to go back and drink constantly. The source needs to stay fresh. That is why we spend time daily in God's Word. That is why we go there, and our daily bread is sustenance to us. For me, I have to go back there a lot more than once a day. I have to constantly meditate on God's Word, and I have to remind myself of what it would mean to live according to the will of Jesus Christ. Otherwise, I will sober up and act according to the flesh.
That's why you see some people sometimes who look so much full of Christ, and at other times they just sober up and begin to act contrary to how God would have them act. We don't want to be those kinds of folks. There's an old story of a little girl who went to her daddy and said, "Daddy, can we live like Jesus did a day at a time?" and the dad said, "No. That's way too long. You can't do it. Everybody messes up."
"Well, can we do it for half a day?"
"No. That's way too long."
"Well, Daddy, can I do it for an hour?"
"No. That's way too long."
"Well, Daddy, can I do it for just 10 minutes?"
The dad said, "No. You can't do it for 10 minutes." So the child said, "Well, Dad, can I live like Jesus for 15 seconds? Can I do what he would have me do perfectly for 15 seconds?" The dad said, "Yeah, I guess you could do it for 15 seconds." The child looked back at her dad and said, "Well, Dad, how come we don't just live 15 seconds at a time?"
That is a tremendous theological question. What you and I need to do is stay in constant fellowship with Jesus. That's his desire. Not check in with him, get our marching orders, and go. The illustration of a glove is perfect. A glove never says, "What do you want me to do, hand?" takes the orders, and goes. It doesn't stay on the hand for two weeks and go, "Okay. I know what the hand does now," and take itself off and begin to do it.
A glove is worthless except when it's filled with the hand, and a glove becomes a hindrance when it doesn't willfully submit to what the hand desires for it to do. I am a glove. I am a vessel, and I need to stay continually, second by second, moment by moment, in fellowship with Jesus Christ. I want to tell you something, gang. I have not arrived. Sin still attacks your pastor, and I need people to encourage me day after day, lest I be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
When I do make a mistake, I confess it. I go, "You know what? You're right. I was not letting the Word of Christ richly dwell within me. Will you forgive me for walking according to the darkness and not according to the light, for walking not according to the manner with which I've been called but walking like my former self?" And will I again begin to be filled with the Spirit? In other words, to be living as Jesus would live. That's what it means, not according to my power but his power which works through me, Ephesians makes abundantly clear.
Some of you guys are out there, and you're saying, "Hey, I'm willing to do this." I want to warn you. I want to read you a little deal from Tozer. This is a guy who pretty much preached himself off every conference pulpit in the country, so you might anticipate what's coming. To sit there and think, "I want to be filled with the Spirit…" I hope you are, but I have to tell you and be honest with you that it's not as sweet as it sounds sometimes. This is the truth of the gospel, what I'm about to share with you.
It says, "[So many people say they have a desire to be filled by the Spirit], but their desire is a vague romantic kind of [desire] hardly worthy to be called desire. […] Let us imagine that we are talking to an inquirer, some eager young Christian, let us say, who has sought us out to learn about the Spirit-filled life. As gently as possible, considering the pointed nature of the questions, we would probe his soul somewhat as follows:
'Are you sure you want to be filled with a Spirit who, though he is like Jesus in his gentleness and love, will nevertheless demand to be Lord of your life? Are you willing to let your personality be taken over by another, even if that other be the Spirit of God himself? If the Spirit takes charge of your life he will expect unquestioning obedience in everything. He will not tolerate in you the self-sins even though they are permitted and excused by most Christians.'" You know them.
"By the self-sins I mean self-love, self-pity, self-seeking, self-confidence, self-righteousness, self-aggrandizement, self-defense. You will find the Spirit to be in sharp opposition to the easy ways of the world and of the mixed multitude within the precincts of religion. He will be jealous over you for good. He will not allow you to boast or swagger or show off. He will take the direction of your life away from you. He will reserve the right to test you, to discipline you, to chasten you for your soul's sake.
He may strip you of many of those borderline pleasures which other Christians enjoy but which are to you a source of refined evil. Through it all he will enfold you in a love so vast, so mighty, so all-embracing, so wondrous that your very losses will seem like gains and your small pains like pleasures. Yet the flesh will whimper under his yoke and cry out against it as a burden too great to bear. And you will be permitted to enjoy the solemn privilege of suffering to fill up [in your flesh]…" He quotes here from Colossians.
"…[what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions] for his body's sake, which is the church. Now, with [these] conditions [set] before you, do you still want to be filled with the Holy Spirit?" Jesus would say it this way: "If any man wishes to follow after me, [if any man wishes to be filled with the Holy Spirit,] let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me."
What I'm offering you… The wonderful Spirit-filled life is a life of self-sacrifice. It is a life of service. It is a life of thankfulness amidst great pain, but it is a life of great joy, because the Sovereign One reigns in you, and he is working according to his great decree, his divine purposes that you then become a part of. But what I offer you is not easy. Let us not be in any way confused. To be filled with the Spirit is a difficult thing.
To be filled with the Spirit is a trying thing, and you can't do it on your own, you can't do it by the will of the flesh, and you can't do it without the support of others who are around you. Do not forsake your own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but spur one another on. Encourage one another day after day, going back to Hebrews 3, lest any of us be hardened by the deceitfulness of being not filled with the Spirit. Darkness, John calls it. Sin, we call it. Let's pray.
Father, we take this verse that has been so abused, that people have told us that being filled with the Spirit means to do great things, miracles, that the world should see. You tell us the greatest miracle the world is going to see is when you take selfish men and make them lovers and servants of other men.
You tell us, Father, that when we're filled with the Spirit we will be joyful even though circumstances are not what we would choose, even though it means sometimes we go to a cross, and that even in the midst of going to a cross, not only will we have a spirit of contentment and a hope that is beyond our circumstances, but we could be thankful to you, knowing that if you lead us into it, even as you led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan, to starve, that there's some good and some glory that's going to come out of it.
So we have an attitude of thankfulness. Father, we even, being filled with the Spirit, will find ourselves becoming servants of other people, some who will scoff at us and spit on us and take advantage of us, some who will call us weak, but, Father, we thank you, because as we do that, filled with your Spirit, we will know that you will do with us what you've done with your other great Servant who was filled with the Spirit.
You took his name and exalted him to a position that one day every knee will bow before him, and if we are faithful as servants, we'll hear those same fine words: "Well done, my good and faithful servant." So, Father, we make no illusion as to what it means to be filled with the Spirit tonight. It is not sliding into a closet. It is not laughing for no reason. It is a life of self-sacrifice. It is the life of Jesus Christ. It leads to a cross.
Father, may we be filled with the Spirit. May your fruit be more evident in us this week than it was last. We ask for your grace upon our lives, that we would have the courage to sustain it, that we would let the Word of Christ richly dwell within us, that we can have confidence with faith that we are living in a way that is pleasing to you. Thank you, Lord, that that is possible, that you don't send us out to do great things for you but you use us as a hand uses a glove for your glory's sake, amen.
Most people are desperately looking for answers to such age-old human dilemmas as violence, greed and racism; not to mention personal pain and disappointment with our own duplicity and lack of fulfillment. In this series on the book of Ephesians, Todd Wagner challenges us to open our eyes to the truth that Christ has called us to be part of a completely new society called the Church. Our highest calling then is to be men and women whose lives have been regenerated and empowered through faith in Christ. Our 21st century challenges are not unlike those faced by followers of Christ in first century Ephesus. The Apostle Paul, author of this letter to the Ephesians, emphasizes that the problem with the Church then and today is not that God hasn't given it everything necessary to be successful in its mission. Rather, our problem is like that of a wealthy miser who dies of starvation rather than dip into the abundance of resources at his disposal. Allow yourself to be challenged and encouraged by this ancient letter that adroitly analyzes the plight of Christ's bride, the Church, and then paints a vivid portrait of what we can - and indeed do - look like as His redeemed people. This volume covers Ephesians 5 and 6.