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Be Filled with the Spirit

By Matthew Black, Pastor

Text: Ephesians 5:16-21

Date: Sunday, February 8, 2009


Tabernacle Baptist Church

7020 Barrington Road

Hanover Park, Illinois 60133


Introduction: Open your Bibles to Ephesians 5:16-21.  Our message this morning is entitled “Be Filled with the Spirit”.  We are entering into a new section in the book of Ephesians.  The first 16 verses speak of being imitators of God.  Verses 17-20 speak of the Spirit-filled life.  After this, there are two more sections of Ephesians.

Ephesians 5:22-6:9 speak of family and work relationships.

Ephesians 6:10 to the end of the book speaks of spiritual warfare.

It is my desire after the Ephesians series to go through the life and doctrine of Christ in the book of Matthew. 

This morning we are going to talk about the Spirit-filled life.  For the Christian, there is no other life.  Romans 8:14, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”  God gave you the grace in salvation to yield your life to Christ.  This “filling of the Spirit” is the same ongoing yielding to the Spirit’s leading.  This leads us to holiness. 

I have proved before the PROMISE that we will all be brought to some measure of holiness before we die.  Today we are going to talk about the PRACTICE of holiness or conformity to the image of Christ. Theologians call this process “progressive sanctification”. 

The Promise of conformity to Christ is everywhere in the Bible.

  • “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son…”, verse 30, “Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified” (Romans 8:29-30).

  •  “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen” (Jude 24-25).

  • “The very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24  Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it”(1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).

  • “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).

  • “God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:13).

  • “Ye are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). 

  • “Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 2:8-9).

The Practice of this conformity to Christ’s image is what we are concerned about today.  The pathway to the joyful, victorious, life of Christ being lived out of you is to choose to be “filled with the Spirit”.  We are going to talk about what that means today and specifically how you can that from Ephesians 5:16-20.  Will you stand with me as we read God’s Word this morning? 

Ephesians 5:16-20, “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16  Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17  Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. 18  And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 19  Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20  Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ  21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.”.

[Prayer for Guidance]

We know that God promises that we will be conformed to Christ’s image. 

I.          The Person of the Spirit-filled life.  God Himself dwells in you.  It is a reality!  We as Christians are God’s dwelling place.  We are His temple.  The Holy Spirit is not a substance, a force, or an influence.  He is the third Person of the Triune Almighty God! 

God dwells with us and in us!  And because this is true, we can grieve the Holy Spirit of God where His power is extremely convicting.  And if we do not respond to Him then, we can also quench the Spirit of God, where we actually lose the “joy of our salvation”.  This is a temporary measure of chastening.  He brings us back into His arms.  This is primarily the operation of the Spirit of God.  He is a Person!  

A.   By the Spirit, we are baptized into the Body of Christ at regeneration.  The Spirit-filled life is not possible whatsoever without the initial work of regeneration, spiritual resurrection that unites us to Christ and to His people.  We see this in 1 Corinthians 12:13, "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit".  The “baptism of the Spirit refers to the work of the Spirit in regenerating us and uniting us to Christ, which is how we become Christians in the first place”.[1]  We are made alive into the Body of Christ and drink of the Spirit.  He is now our satisfaction and sustenance.

Clarification:  This is a good place to make a distinction between the baptism of the Spirit and the filling of the Spirit.  Spirit Baptism refers to the work of God in regenerating man, changing him, giving him a new nature, and uniting him or her with the Christ’s people, the Body.  Spirit-filling is the choice of the believer to yield to the Spirit of God who causes us to walk in holiness (Ezekiel 36:27).  

B.   We are indwelt by the Spirit of God, and we are therefore to “be filled with the Spirit”.  I love Galatians 5:25.  Paul says, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”  Brothers and sisters, we live in the very presence of the Spirit of God.  We are God’s temple, His house, His dwelling place.  So if God lives inside of us, let us also walk according to Him.

Illustration:  It’s kind of like saying—I own a house.  If we live in the house, let us also sleep in the house.  Or a car.  If we own a car, let us also drive the car. 


The joy fo the Spirit-filled life is that we are indwelt by God, baptized into His Body by the Spirit of God, who through Christ promises: “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5).  If you are a Christian, your daily task is Spirit-filling.  Why?  Why do we need Spirit-filling?  That brings us to our next point.

II.       The Purpose of the Spirit-Filled Life.  We are filled with the Spirit in order to know and do God’s will.  Verse 17, “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.”  The natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God because they can only be discerned through the Spirit (2 Corinthians 2:14).  But the purpose of God’s Spirit in us is to first ILLUMINATE to know God’s will, and then to EMPOWER us to DO God’s will.

A.   The Spirit’s purpose is to illuminate us so that we might KNOW the mind and will of God.  In the same chapter, Paul says in verse 9 (I Corinthians 2), “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 10  But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 11  For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. 12  Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.”

B.   The Spirit’s purpose is not only that we know the will of God, but that we also be empowered to DO the will of God.  We see this in Ezekiel 36:26-27, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27  And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.  The purpose of giving us the Spirit was to give us the knowledge and empowering to do God’s will. 

III.     The Picture of the Spirit-filled life is one of control.  Verse 18, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit”.  Paul gives a good example of exactly what it is NOT to be filled with the Spirit.  He says, “Be not drunk with wine”.   Don’t yield your self to this substance that will control you.  He’s not just picking on the sin of drunkenness.  This could be applied to any sinful thing that controls a person and leads them to excess.  What is this excess?  It literally means to “waste your life’.  It is the very word used of the prodigal son when it says he “wasted his substance with riotous living” (Luke 15:13). 

The exact opposite of wasting your life is being “filled with the Spirit”.  It really has nothing to do with emotions, ecstatic utterances, or sensational experiences.  To be filled with the Spirit is to choose to obey the voice of the Spirit through the Word of God.  This of course leads to “joy unspeakable and full of glory”.  It leads to the “peace of God ruling in your heart” (Colossians 3:15).  To obey God is to be filled with His fullness. 

Paul tells us in his letter to the church at Rome, in Romans 6:12-14, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13  Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. 14  For sin shall not have dominion over you”.

IV.     The Path to Spirit-Filling.  Paul says just like you make the choice to stay sober, you must choose to listen to and obey the Spirit of God.

A.   You must make the choice to be filled with the Spirit.  How do you do that?  You trust the sovereign God who runs the world and resides in you to reign in the circumstances of your life, just like He rules the world. 

God’s Spirit reminds you of the Word of God. Paul says to “be filled”.  The idea is “be being filled”.  Keep on being filled.  Make the choice to obey the Spirit’s voice each moment.  We can test the Spirit of God against the spirit of our own heart and the spirit of this world only by the Word of God.  Is there a subjective element?  Yes, that is why you must test your leading by the Word of God. 

B.   Understand the ministry of the Spirit, by the acronym S-P-I-R-I-T.

1.      S   - Spirit’s ministry is to…

2.      P   - Promote Jesus through you.  The Spirit’s ministry is to exalt Christ in the hearts of all believers.  He will not draw attention to Himself, but to Christ.  Look at John 16:13-14, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself”.  Now look at verse 14, “He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.”

3.      I   - Illuminate the Word to you.

§         John 16:13, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth”. 

§         Ezekiel 36:27, “I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them”

4.      R   - Reprove sin in you.  He’s going to convict you of sinful areas of your life.  He is come to convict “of sin, righteousness, judgment” (John 16:8).  You came to Christ because of His convicting power; you will also grow in Christ because of His convicting power. It is just as Galatians 5:16 says, “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.”  Walking in the Spirit is really the meditation on the Word of God and with the Spirit’s help, applying it to every situation in life.  Psalm 119:11, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”

5.      I   - Ignite you for service.  The joy of the Lord is your strength.  Acts 1:8, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”  Remember the “joy of the Lord is your strength” for service.  That’s in the book of Nehemiah when they were rebuilding the wall.  You need the Spirit of God to fill you with the joy of being reconciled to God, and you will not lack motivation for service!!

All of this is to…

6.      T   - Transform you into the image of Christ.  Look over at 2 Corinthians 3:18.  When we look into the Word of God as a mirror and live it out and mirror it in our lives, the Spirit of God transforms us more and more into the image of Christ.  2 Corinthians 3:18, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”  A life of Spirit-filled living is a life of blameless and holy living.  You will look like Christ if you yield to Him progressively throughout your life.

V.        The Picture of Spirit-Filling.  What does the Spirit Filled Life look like?

Choose to let the Spirit minister to you by choosing the following things.

A.   Separation from sin, verse 18, “be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit”.  This is a decision to be controlled by God’s Spirit rather than sin.  You will always be a slave to something.  You are either a slave to God or slave to sin.  Choose to be filled with the Spirit in your separation from sin!

B.   Singing—joyfulness about God’s control, verse 19, “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord”.  When you are obeying the Spirit, you are going to be totally given over to God’s control, and no matter what is happening, you can sing of God’s person.  The Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs are God-centered.  We are filled with JOY that God is in control, such joy that it moves us to singing! 

Application: Do you have a song service in this church of a time of Spirit filled JOY that is expressed in melody and rhyme to God?  Choose to be filled with the Spirit in your singing!

C.   Sincere Thankfulness for God’s control, verse 20, “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”. A complaining heart is NOT filled with the Spirit.  Choose to be filled with the Spirit by having a thankful Spirit, knowing God is in control of all things. 

Application:  What is it that we complain about?  [wait for answers]  That includes, dirty diapers, layoffs, stubborn spouses, harsh bosses, lazy co-workers, difficult neighbors, crazy drivers, discouraging sickness, your own never ending tiredness, and insanely FRIGID weather.  Do you complain about these things?  You cannot complain and be filled with the Spirit at the same time.  Choose to be filled with the Spirit by having a thankful Spirit. 

Clarification:  That does not mean you are thankful because of all things, but for and in all things.  It is these things that test your love and stretch your dependence on God’s Spirit.

D.  Submission to others under God’s control, verse 21, “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” Choose to be filled with the Spirit in your submission to all those in authority over you!  Joyfully submit to your supervisors and bosses.  Joyfully submit in your family relationships.  Wives submit to husbands.  Husbands, submit to God by loving your life and leading your wife in humility and gentleness.  Spirit-filled and led children submit to their parents.

Application: That brings me to an important point.  There is no such thing as the stage of “teenage rebellion”.  That idea was invented to excuse irresponsible parents.  Teenagers who love God NEVER rebel.  In fact they are the most fervent people God has ever used.  Think of those who died young in Christ’s service.  David Brainerd, Jim Eliott,

E.   Study of the Word. This last one we get from the parallel passage in Colossians.  Look over at Colossians 3:16.  Paul wrote this while he was under house arrest in Rome.  Instead of saying “be filled with the Spirit” he wrote a parallel idea.  He said in Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”

Conclusion:  Are you choosing to be filled with the Spirit?  Let me close by saying that the Christian life is not one ongoing revival, but it ought to be, and it can be.  We ought to seek with all our might the filling of the Holy Spirit.  Does this mean we seek charismatic experiences.  What danger there is with those who confuse experience with obedience.  Being filled with the Spirit means you choose to “walk in step with the Spirit”.  It means you listen to His voice, which is the Word of God applied to your heart and your situation.  Separate yourself from sin,


[1] James Montgomery Boice.  Ephesians: An Expositional Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2006), 188.

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