This is the last post in the sermon series "The Care and Keeping of the Soul." We have learned about our financial and physical health, our spiritual health, reading the Bible, living generously, and the power of prayer. This final sermon taught us about the Holy Spirit.
The scripture passage for today was Ephesians 5:15-21. In verse 18, Paul tells us to be "filled with the spirit." Rev. Singleton took the time to tell us what this means, and how we can have it happen in our lives.
The first question is "What is the Spirit?" Paul is talking, here, about the Holy Spirit. Christians believe that God is present as one God, but that he has chosen to reveal himself in three different ways. The first is as the Father. This is God as the all-powerful authority. You see this persona throughout the Bible and it's not too hard to understand. The second way was his revelation as Jesus Christ. In this persona, God came to earth and lived as a human being in a human body. What an amazing mystery! The third way is even more amazing. In John 16:7, Jesus tells his disciples "But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you." He was talking, here, about the Holy Spirit. Acts 2 tells how this Spirit did, indeed, come to the disciples, after Jesus had died and been raised up to Heaven, as tongues of flame that hovered above their heads and enabled them to preach in languages they didn't even know! Even better, Peter assured those who were listening that this Spirit was available for all of them! “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:38-39). The Holy Spirit is not God overseeing us, or even walking next to us. In the person of the Holy Spirit, God is actually dwelling inside us!
Getting back to Ephesians, Paul gives us some hints on how we can have the Holy Spirit in our lives. He contrasts getting drunk on wine with being filled with the Holy Spirit (vs.18). We understand drunkenness as being "under the influence" of alcohol. If someone is drunk, the alcohol alters the way they perceive things, and the way they behave. Being filled with the Holy Spirit means to be under the influence of God!
So what does this "indwelling influence" look like? I have never seen someone with a tongue of flame over their head, as the original disciples experienced in Acts 2. I have also never spoken in an unknown language, although I believe that it is possible to do so. Jesus described the indwelling of the Spirit as being filled with "living water." (John 7:38). He said that we would receive this water through belief in him. The thing is, belief requires action.
I can believe I am capable of running a marathon, but unless I am willing to work at it, my belief will do nothing. I would have to change my diet, buy the proper shoes, and train hard physically. I would have to let some other activities go in order to find time to train. Since at this point I don't run at all, I would need someone to come alongside me and teach me how to run correctly, and someone to encourage me to keep going when I was sore and discouraged. Since I'm a musician, it might help me to have a good playlist to listen to while I was running.
Belief in Jesus also requires us to do some work. We have to change the things that are coming into our soul. This might include media influences, activities that keep us from spending time with Jesus, or even people that are bad influences on our lives. We have to make time to read the Bible and pray. We need people who can teach us about God, and people to encourage us and pray with us when things get tough. We need music that draws us to worship God.
Being filled with the Holy Spirit is an ongoing thing. We need to continually be refilled. It is not something that is done once and then we forget about it. We should be continually growing and learning. We need to surrender our own will, and submit ourselves to God's will.
If you missed any of the other posts in this series, I would encourage you to use the links in the first paragraph of this post to go back and read them. Together, they make up a tool kit for living the life that God meant for you to have.
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24