A question of application:
- If I am not full of the Holy Spirit, what am I allowing myself to be filled with?
The first verse of Luke 4 states that Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit, and was led by that same Spirit to go out into the desert for a 40-day fast. (Matthew indicates that Jesus felt compelled by the Holy Spirit – that he had to go.)
We all know that the Holy Spirit takes up residence when we turn our lives over to Jesus, and immediately begins his work of teaching and leading and sanctifying us. So, we know that once we are saved, the Holy Spirit is always with us and in us. However, we don’t always allow Him to fill us. (Eph. 1:13-14; John 14:26)
Here, we see a glass half-full. Let’s say that this water is pure, drinkable water, and that it represents the Holy Spirit. The glass represents my heart. If I am only “half-filled” with the Holy Spirit,for whatever reason, then there is room in my heart for something else to take its place. What am I allowing to fill that void, if it’s not the Holy Spirit?
We find the answer in Galatians five, where the fruit of being filled with, and led by the Holy Spirit is contrasted with the desires of our sinful natures:
“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
~Galatians 5:16-26 (NIV – emphasis mine)
If my glass is only half-filled, I am leaving room for the acts of my own sinful nature, which is at war within me against the Holy Spirit’s work. Basically, I leave myself wide open and vulnerable to the enemy’s temptations for me to act on my own fleshly desires.
By contrast, when I am full to the brim, even overflowing, with the Holy Spirit, there is no room for anything except the fruit of the Spirit. Sure, my own flesh will still be there in the struggle, but the enemy will not have a gaping hole in my “spirit tank” to fill with lies. Being filled with the Spirit is my primary weapon in resisting all kinds of temptations – that all of us must face.
Another story that vividly illustrates this is the story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts chapter 5. Ananias, instead of being filled with the Holy Spirit, had allowed Satan to fill his heart with lies. Yikes. I’d rather not go there, if I can help it.
So, this begs the question: How exactly does one become filled, and stay filled, with the Holy Spirit?
I have to admit, I’ve been feeling a little like I have but a “half-filled” heart lately, and I know it has been evident in my actions and speech. However, instead of beating myself up and wallowing in shame, I choose to come boldly before the throne of grace to receive mercy, and ask for a new filling of the Holy Spirit. I commit to doing this as often as necessary.
You see, when we are filled, the Spirit tends to pour out of us like water, in the form of using us to minister to needs of all kinds around us, and it’s essential to get back under that ever-flowing tap, and get a free refill as soon as our level gets a little low. We are, after all, finite beings, weak and unskilled in what God asks of us. We need a daily shower to keep ourselves fresh, and ready to face what God has for us in every moment of everyday.
One last thought before I leave you.
This is not something I am going to do, as much as it is something I am stepping aside for, so that the Holy Spirit has room to do it within me. I am not going to “try harder” to be filled, and bear fruit. That would be like an apple tree using a sheer act of its will to produce an apple, when all it needs to do is soak up the sun, water, and nutrients; and stand still for a good pruning.
I am going to ask to be filled, then stand still and allow Holy Spirit to have his way in me. As many times as I need to.
I know there are some holes that beg questions, but this is still fresh in my mind and very raw. The Lord is moving and working in me, and I am being pruned as we speak. I do not have it all together, nor do I claim to have this process down, but I am learning and growing. At this point in my life, I couldn’t ask for more.