The Holy Spirit part 2
How Can I Be Filled with the Holy Spirit?
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
June 7, 2009

Last week we started a new message series here at Sunrise talking about the Holy Spirit. We started out by explaining how the Holy Spirit is not an “it”, not a “force”, not a power… the Holy Spirit is a person. We know Him as the third person of the Trinity, co-equal with God the Father and God the Son, Jesus Christ.

And we talked about how after the resurrection, Jesus spent time with his followers, appeared to individuals and to groups of people, even hundreds of people, and then He ascended back into Heaven. And He promised that when He went, He would send the Holy Spirit in His place. Why? To carry on His work on earth… to live with and live in Christ-followers, guiding us and shaping us and making us more like Jesus.

Today, as we continue with this series, we’re going to talk about what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Because really, there are three kinds of people in this world… those who can count and those who can’t.

No, there are three kinds of people in this world….

Three Kinds of People:

A.    Those living apart from God

Whether they are still a long ways away from God or if they are seeking Him, they are living apart from Him. They haven’t experienced salvation, they haven’t discovered what it means to living in relationship with Him… they are living apart from God. That’s one kind of person.

B.    Believers who are still dominated by their sinful nature

These are people who have decided to live for Jesus, but they are still struggling everyday to live lives that are good and pure and pleasing to God. They are still living under the power and influence of sinful desires and sinful impulses.

C.    Spirit-filled Christ-followers living in victory

It may still be possible for them to experience temptation and even to give into that temptation and sin, but that inclination toward sin is no longer the primary influence in their lives. Instead, they are living lives that are empowered by the Holy Spirit, they are confident and secure in their relationship with God, and they know what it’s like to live in fellowship with Him each and every day.

You actually see all three of these referenced in Paul’s writing in 1 Corinthians 2:12 through 3:3 where Paul writes about spiritual people who are living victory and freedom, he writes about the unspiritual people who are far from God, and he writes about the believers in Corinth who were Christians but were still controlled by their sinful nature,

[See 1 Corinthians 2:12-3:3]

Obviously the goal for every Christ-follower is to move into that third group. We don’t want to live defeated lives enslaved by sin, we want to be set free and live victorious lives.

In fact, let me say this… living lives like that is actually normal for a Christ-follower. It may not be common, but it is normal. It’s the way it’s meant to be. You might tend to look at other people who are living a Spirit-filled life and you might think about how they are living an extraordinary Christian life, but the truth is they are living the normal Christian life. It’s the kind of life that is not reserved for just a few… it’s for all of us. Every one of us here this morning can experience what it means to be filled by the Holy Spirit and to live lives that are empowered by Him. That’s the normal Christian life.

Now, maybe it sounds to you like I’ve been speaking in code so far this morning. What do I mean, “filled by the Holy Spirit?” I mean, that’s kind of an abstract term. And if you’ve never heard it before, you’ve never heard it explained, and you’ve never experienced it yourself… well, it can sound kind of out there.

So before we get to how we can be filled with the Holy Spirit, let’s talk about what it means in the first place.

What does it mean to be filled by the Holy Spirit?

Well, I want you to understand first of all that our understanding of being filled by the Holy Spirit comes right out of Scripture. It’s not as if a group of theologians had nothing better to do so they got together and came up with a new doctrine. No, this idea of being filled comes straight out of the pages of the Bible.

Ephesians 5:18 (NLT)
Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit…

And you see words like that repeated a number of times. So it is a Biblical principle, and therefore something each one of us needs to explore a bit deeper.

Now, we do use different terms to describe it. You may have heard it referred to as the filling of the Holy Spirit, or you may have heard it called the indwelling of the Spirit, or holiness, or Christian perfection, or entire sanctification. You may have even heard it referred to as a second work of grace… kind of a theological term. The first work of grace is salvation, the second work of grace is this filling of the Holy Spirit. But it’s all basically referring to the same thing… having the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life so strongly that it’s palpable, and your response to His presence is to trust Him, to obey Him, to live in fellowship with Him, and to allow Him to work in your life making you more like Jesus. It’s basically allowing the Holy Spirit to have full control and full reign in your life.

Take another look at this verse on the screen. What’s the comparison that Paul is drawing for us here? He’s comparing being filled with the Holy Spirit with being drunk.

Now, I made a commitment when I was a teenager that I would never get drunk. And I never have. In fact, I’ve never even had a drink of any kind of alcoholic beverage. So please, don’t spike my punch at the Christmas party.

But I’ve never allowed myself to become drunk mostly because it’s a commitment I made to God, but also because I don’t like what it means to be drunk. To be drunk with alcohol means that you’re under the influence of that alcohol. You’re under its control. You’re under its power.

And I don’t want that kind of relationship with alcohol. But it’s exactly the kind of relationship I want with the Holy Spirit. I want to live under His influence. I want to live under His leadership… under His control. I want to live under His power and be empowered by Him.

Galatians 5:25 (NLT)
Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.

Romans 8:9-10 (NLT)
But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) And Christ lives within you…

I want you to notice the progress in these verses. First you have the Spirit, then the Spirit of God. Then it changes to the Spirit of Christ, and finally it’s just Christ. Those terms are essentially used interchangeably… that’s how intimately tied together the mission of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are. Now, this passage talks about being controlled by the Spirit.

This is in your notes…

When you become a Christ-follower, you have all of the Holy Spirit. When you are filled with the Spirit, He has all of you.

It’s kind of like if you have a propane stove, you might have a pilot light that’s always on. But it’s not really doing anything, you’re not benefiting from it… it’s just kind of there. But then you turn the stove on, and the flames come to life.

You don’t want to be a Christian who is satisfied with just the pilot light. You want to be on fire for God. You want to be empowered by the Spirit.

So how does this happen? How can I be filled with the Holy Spirit?

How Can I Be Filled?

Understanding that ultimately it’s the work of the Holy Spirit, I participate by…

1.    Desiring Him.

Understand that this isn’t about you controlling the Holy Spirit. It’s about Him controlling you. It’s about you submitting to Him and trusting Him.

Therefore, the filling of the Holy Spirit is not something you earn, it’s not something you deserve, it’s not something you manipulate. It’s a work in your life that is accomplished by the grace of the Holy Spirit.

However, it is something you need to prepare yourself for. And you do that first of all by desiring it. You’ve got to want it. You’ve got to want Him. You’ve got to hunger and thirst for Him. It’s got to be the cry of your heart. You’re not just seeking after the experience; you’re seeking after the Person.

Matthew 5:6 (NIV)
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

John 7:37-39 (NLT)   
On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him.)

So do you desire it? Do you desire the filling of the Holy Spirit? If that is truly the cry of your heart, then I believe God is ready and able to respond to that desire and pour out His grace on you. So ask Him for it.

However, if you’re not there yet, it’s going to take a little longer. It’s going to take some soul-searching. It’s going to take some more prayer. It’s going to take some more time preparing your heart.

As long as the filling of the Holy Spirit is not the cry of your heart, you will probably not be filled. As long as you treat it as something that may be desirable, but are still willing to continue as you are without it, you will not receive the fullness.

 “No man ever got this blessing who felt that he could get along without it.”
~ R.A. Torrey

2 Chronicles 15:15 (NLT)
They earnestly sought after God, and they found him.

The literal Hebrew is “They sought God with their whole desire.”

Jeremiah 29:13 (NLT)
“If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.”

Are you seeking Him with all your heart? Is it truly your desire that the Holy Spirit come to you and fill you? That’s where it begins.

2.    Surrendering everything I have and everything I am to Jesus Christ.

Were you paying attention to what you were singing earlier this morning?

“Take my life and let it be consecrated Lord, to Thee.
Here I am, all of me. Take my life, it’s all for Thee.”

Those are some pretty serious words. Did you mean them, or were you just singing along?

To prepare yourself for the filling of the Holy Spirit means that you make a total consecration… a total dedication of everything you are, everything you have, and everything you’re every going to be. In order to experience the filling of the Spirit, it has to be preceded by an emptying of self.

Galatians 2:20 (NLT)
My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.

Romans 6:11-13 (NLT)
So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.
Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God.

There’s an old hymn that says…

All to Jesus I surrender;
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.

I surrender all, I surrender all;
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.

All to Jesus I surrender;
Lord, I give myself to Thee;
Fill me with Thy love and power;
Let Thy blessing fall on me.

Bu that blessing… the blessing of the Holy Spirit… only comes when you’ve completely surrendered yourself to Him.

Okay, so your primary desire is to be filled by the Holy Spirit, you’ve prepared yourself by surrendering and devoting and consecrating everything to Him… what’s next?

3.    Asking.

My son Nate will be 16 months old tomorrow. So he’s at the stage now where he’s learning to say words and is just beginning to be able to express what he wants to say. You can make out a word here or there.

Well, one of the things he’s going to have to learn to do is ask for what he wants. If he throws a fit and has a temper tantrum, but never actually asks for what he wants, then the last thing I should do is give in and reward his behaviour.

Now, I think I’m a pretty good father. And I love my son. So as he learns to express himself and begins to ask for what he wants, I think what he’ll discover is that I will either provide what he asks for or I’ll have a good reason why I don’t. But he’s going to have to ask politely.

And I think this is such a critical but easily overlooked step in being filled with the Holy Spirit. You’ve got to make the ask. Jesus said…

Luke 11:13 (NLT)
“So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”

In other words, God is just waiting for you to ask. He’s not going to make you beg… He wants to pour out the blessing of the Holy Spirit. If that’s really your desire and if you’ve truly surrendered yourself to Jesus Christ and to His will in your life, then I believe God’s is eagerly waiting for you to ask so He can bless you.

4.    Receiving the filling of the Holy Spirit.

VIDEO – Plug In

Christ longs to fill you with His Spirit. He wants you to be all He created you to be. There’s nothing that would thrill Him more than to see you filled not just with knowledge but with the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit. That is God’s wonderful plan for you! So when you’re ready for it, He will fill you with His presence.

Ephesians 4:21-24 (NLT)
Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life… Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.

1 Thessalonians 5:23 (NIV)
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through.

So those are four necessary steps in being filled by the Holy Spirit. The last couple may happened almost instantaneously. The first couple may take some time before you get to that point. But it’s well worth the time, the effort, the soul-searching.

Now, before we finish up, I want to look at one more question.

What is the evidence of this filling of the Holy Spirit?

That may seem like an obvious question, but what is the evidence? I mean, it’s not like we can split you open and see the Holy Spirit moving into a condo inside. You know… moving van out front, guy there hooking up the cable…

No, being filled with the Spirit is basically a metaphor for sensing His presence in your life in a deeply personal way, walking in fellowship with the Spirit, and experiencing His power and His leadership in your life.

But what is the evidence of this?

Well, some people think the evidence of this filling will be some grand emotional experience. And you may have an experience like that. A lot of people do. But I don’t believe that’s always the case, because God deals with each one of us differently, according to how He has wired us. So that may be the experience of some people, but it’s not the evidence of the filling of the Holy Spirit.

Other people… and I’ve had people tell me this… would say that the evidence of the filling of the Holy Spirit is the expression of spiritual gifts in your life. And typically what they mean is, do you speak in tongues? I actually have a different understanding of what that gift is than they do, but that’s not important for what we’re talking about here this morning. And we will be talking about spiritual gifts in a couple weeks.

But are spiritual gifts the evidence of the filling of the Holy Spirit? Well, no, because every Christ-follower, Spirit-filled or not, is given at least one spiritual gift. And besides, in the New Testament, the church where you see spiritual gifts used the most is the church in Corinth, which is also where you find the most carnal and most dysfunctional Christians. There doesn’t seem to be a correlation there between spiritual gifts and the filling of the Holy Spirit.

So what is the evidence? The evidence of the filling of the Holy Spirit is…

Spiritual fruit.

Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

That’s the evidence of the Holy Spirit. That’s the fruit the Spirit produces in your life. And that’s what we’re going to talk about next week.

So as we finish up here this morning…



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