2001-07-16 - A More Excellent Way
1 Corinthians 12:30,31 All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak in tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they? But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.
"I recently visited a chat room that banned me basically because I was considered not filled with the spirit because I do not supposedly have the evidence shown by speaking in tongues. Of course I know this is NOT biblical. but it does raise the quetion..what does it mean to be filled with the spirit..Wanna take a stab at it..Please..thanks!!"
What does it mean to be filled with the Spirit is an awesome question and one that is not handled easily in a short space. So I would like to skip the temptation to make comments on the circumstance that occasioned your question and get right to the question.
There are, I think, a couple of meanings, in Scripture, to being filled with the Spirit. One would be possessing the uncommon gifts that come from the Holy Spirit. For example, the author of Revelation twice makes a special mention of being, "in the Spirit," that can only be viewed as uncommon, Revelation 1:10, 4:2.
However, being filled with the Spirit mainly as applied to the believer can be learned from Hebrews 6:4, 5, "For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come." Being filled with the Spirit means being a Christian or trusting and resting in the gospel of salvation personally. Those who do so are filled with the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:4-6
Being filled with the Spirit is what is also called in the Bible our renewed nature which is produced by the Holy Spirit and conforms us to Jesus Christ. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." John 3:6, See also Galatians 5:17, Matthew 26:41.
This is also the message of 1 John 4. Verse 15 of that chapter reads, "Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him and he in God." Earlier verses of this chapter encourage us to test spirits to see if they are false or true. "By this you know the Spirit of God; every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God." 1 John 4:2 This is exactly what the Christ does and this is why we say that a Christian is filled with the Spirit because God abides in him or her through His Spirit and we can identify this Spirit in others by seeing who confesses Jesus Christ. Only someone who is filled with the Spirit will confess the truth of Christ and the gospel He offers.
The Christian has the same Spirit dwelling in Him that Christ has. "But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him." 1 Corinthians 6:17 The Spirit filling us and dwelling in us is one of the reasons we are conformed more and more into the likeness of Christ. (Romans 8:9) The same Spirit that is in Christ is also in us conforming us to His will. The same can also be seen in Romans 8:14-16. "For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, 'Abba, Father!' The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God."
So I end where I started. Being filled with the Spirit means being a Christian because everyone who is a Christian is filled with the Spirit and everyone who is filled with the Spirit is likewise a Christian. It seems almost too simple, but I think that this is the teaching of the Scriptures. Being filled with the Holy Spirit is the experience of every believer, however, it is also true that there seems to be various degrees with which the Spirit is poured out on individual Christians. This seems clear from Elisha asking for a double portion of the Spirit that was in Elijah. 2 Kings 2:9.
The gift of the Spirit to us is one of the great blessings of our faith in Christ. Christ Himself even pointed this out in John 16:7. "But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you." It is the Spirits work to do many things regarding our faith and walk with the Lord. His filling us is essential to His work in us and for us.
Soli Deo Gloria,