Ephesians 5:18: "Instead, be filled with the Spirit."

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18, NIV)

What do we do to become filled with the Holy Spirit? It is a command, but it is a passive command, implying something that we allow more than do. On the other hand, "Do not get drunk on wine," is also a passive command. We don't have much trouble understanding what a person does to allow wine to intoxicate them.

Some say, "To be filled with the Holy Spirit, ask Him to fill you." While this statement is true, it has the same danger of misinterpretation as the statement, "Believe in Jesus Christ" (James 2:14-26). This statement means to trust your life to Jesus Christ and to let the way you live depend on Him, not just to believe facts about Him.

A scripture that tells how we should ask God is James 1:5-8:

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does. (James 1:5-8, NIV)

The word translated "doubt" in James 1:6 more often in the New Testament has the context meaning  judge, discriminate, or dispute. With a similar context with respect to Abraham's faith in Romans 4:20, this word is translated "waver." The idea in James 1:6 contrasts with 1 John 4:1:

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1, NIV)

Paul had a similar idea in 1 Corinthians 14:29:

Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. (1 Corinthians 14:29, NIV)

The words, "weigh carefully what is said," is the translation of the same word translated "doubt" in James 1:6. Thus, we must answer this question, "When are we questioning God versus when we are testing to see if a message is from God?"

Desiring what God wants in contrast to our human nature (Romans 8:5-11) is a critical role the Holy Spirit has in our lives. We need to judge our desires to see if they are from the Hold Spirit. By what standard will we use to judge them? Christians have only one objective standard of God's revelation, the Bible. All other standards are subjective.

The "doubt" in James 1:6 refers to disagreeing with the Bible message, not just intellectually, but also by how we live our lives. Doubt includes discriminating between which parts of the Bible we will accept to follow or discriminating when and where we will follow the Bible. It also entails being bitter and resentful about the circumstances in which God has placed us.

In contrast to doubt, the faith we need to do the asking involves agreeing with God. In involves agreeing with what He revealed to us in the Bible. To confess means to say the same thing or to agree. We need to agree with what God tells us to do in the scriptures, and we need to agree with God when His Spirit convicts us of violating what we should or should not have done.

The faith we need for the Holy Spirit to fill us implies a willingness to do what God wants us to do (John 7:16-19). It involves a willingness to let God correct our lives (Hebrews 12:1-13). It includes a willingness to put our own interests aside and to live as Christ lived (Philippians 2:1-11; 1 John 2:6).

©1999 Perry Vernon Webb. You may quote this page in part or the whole as long as you do not alter the wording and reference this Internet page as the source of the quote.


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