Monday, August 24, 2015

The necessity of the Christian life - being Spirit-filled

Note: Credit for today's image is from
Ephesians 5:18 "And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit"

For today's post I wanted to lay out in short order some of the major New Testament passages that speak on the subject of the Spirit-filled Christian life. The Book of Acts certainly gives us concrete illustrations of such (such as Peter, Paul and Barnabas), however we also need explanations and clarifications of such events and experiences, which is why we turn to the Epistles.

1. Romans 8:5  "For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit."

In Romans 8:1-5 the Apostle Paul lays out a full description of the Spirit-filled life with regards to how it operates  - namely by the law or power of the Spirit.  Much like an aircraft "operates" by the law of lift in counteracting the "law of gravity", the Spirit-filled Christian relies upon the indwelling Spirit to influence him or her to govern their drives, emotional life and thought lives by the Spirit's work of filling and leading them.

2. 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 "And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ.2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, 3 for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?"

The distinctions made between "carnal" and "spiritual" should not be taken too sharply to refer to two classifcations of Christians, but rather two ways in which Christians can operate.  All Christians have the indwelling Holy Spirit and all Christians have the new nature. However some Christians choose to rely upon their soulish realm of mind, emotions and will in living their lives, rather than the Holy Spirit inside their human spirit.  The terms "spiritual" and "carnal" define the source from whence the Christian is operating or being influenced. The goal of the Spirit-filled life is always to submit one's soulish realm under the influence of the Holy Spirit in the human spirit. Remember - the Spirit-filled life is not a matter of you getting more of the Spirit, but rather Him having more of you.

3. Galatians 5:16 "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh."

Paul here is explaining the Spirit-filled life in another fashion as that which defines the Christian's manner of living or walking. It is in this chapter of Galatians we see both the primary moral emphasis of the Spirit filled life (Galatians 5:22-24, 26) and the supernatural aspect undergirding the moral fruit (Galatians 5:25). 

4. Ephesians 5:18 "And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit."  

This passage is the clearest one in all the New Testament that demonstrates the obligation every Christian has to be Spirit-filled.  Here we see the heart of this teaching - namely being under the influence and control of the Spirit. In context we see how the filling of the Holy Spirit is to be a constant and repeatable experience of the Christian, whereby they consciously submit themselves to the Spirit's leading through the scriptures.  Ephesians 6 of course lays out the practical outcomes of the filling of the Spirit in the realm of marriage, raising children, employment and spiritual warfare. 

5. Colossians 3:16 "Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God."

This passage functions as a parallel to Ephesians 5:18 and ties together the Holy Spirit's ministry inside the Christian's human spirit to the Holy Spirit's ministry to the Christian through the scriptures.  It is a manifest impossibility to be Spirit-filled apart from exposure, study and submission to the Word of God.  Being that Paul wrote Ephesians and Colossians at almost the same time, we can see why his remarks are so closely related.  

6. 2 Peter 1:4-5a "For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. 5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence...."

Though we may not necessarily see the term "filling in this passage", yet this is Peter's way of describing the same reality.  Both the primary moral dimension of the Holy Spirit's filling and ministry and its attendant supernatural aspect is described fully here in 2 Peter 1.  

Years ago author Jack Taylor described the Spirit-filled life as the "much more life".  As Peter dsecribes the Spirit-filled Christian in these verses, he is speaking of someone who sees the need to "add" onto their faith.  

Closing thoughts

The hope is that the reader has gotten initiated to this very important and often neglected area of the Spirit-filled Christian life.  The reader is encouraged to look at the passages in today's post to bring into sharper understand this crucial truth for Christian living - the Spirit-filled life.