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Why a person should seek the infilling of the Spirit

By George Holmes

It’s an order: "Be filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18). What a happy command. It’s like saying to a sick person, "Be filled with health." Or to struggling parents with a large family, "Here’s a million dollars." Or to an exhausted couple, "Be renewed with an all-expenses-paid Caribbean cruise."

"Be filled with the Spirit." This is God’s level for our living or dying, working or worshiping, walking or waiting. As a command it offers delightful possibilities and a peak experience. Note the ascent. Being born again is a phenomenal and essential spiritual experience. You thus become a new creation in Christ. You enter the kingdom of God. You are totally alive in spirit, soul and body.

Next, being baptized by the Spirit into Christ’s church brings you into union with every member of that organism. You are grafted, spiritually transplanted, into the body of Christ.

And being baptized in the Spirit by Jesus Christ graces you for a new order of activity in the spiritual realm. By this spiritual enduement you become an anointed witness for God.

But being filled with the Spirit is an ongoing experience of living in a state of spiritual fullness — at any one moment. You overflow like a vessel under a gushing faucet.

Peter was interrogated by the Jewish Supreme Court. The court wanted to know by what power or name he had brought healing to a lame man. Peter on the Day of Pentecost had been baptized in the Holy Spirit. But as he answered his inquisitors, he was "filled [i.e., in a state of being filled] with the Holy Ghost" (Acts 4:8). As his fearless explanation boldly poured forth, the Holy Spirit was filling him, keeping him filled and putting a sharp edge on his words.

Again, being filled with the Spirit was one of the criteria for appointment to the first deacon board. One chosen was Stephen, "a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost" (Acts 6:5). It was as recognizable a condition as, for instance, being "drunk with wine," with which it is contrasted.

Being filled with the Spirit exhilarates, lifts and keeps a person in tune with spiritual reality. He is able to perceive eternal things. As a recognizable condition it is authenticated. For instance, the Spirit-filled "walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise" (Ephesians 5:15). While filled they are less prone to stumble or make foolish judgments. They are held in balance.

They are also kept from wasting time on trivial pursuits because the things of God’s kingdom are kept in bright focus. Spirit-filled Christians make the most of every opportunity.

Husbands and wives, keeping filled with the Spirit, are better able to understand and follow God’s plans for their marriage (vv. 22-25). Likewise, homes and families function more sweetly and are administered in a godly way where parents and children are "filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians 6:1-4). The same can be said of business relationships (6:5-9).

Through the aridity of Egypt flows a stream of life: the river Nile. At certain seasons it overflows and inundates the surrounding desert. Since water is imperative, distant farmers cut ditches to the overflow and bring the water to their own fields. Thus the land is irrigated. In like manner the rich fullness of the Spirit in our hearts overflows into all our relationships and activities. We become channels bringing the sweetness and power of the Spirit into our homes, churches, country and the world.

Prayers gain momentum when we are filled with the Spirit. At the start of each day we need an overflowing refilling. Prayer so often is the connection that brings this to us. Without it our intercessions can become drudgery. Additionally our worship will fall flat unless we are filled with the Spirit because "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). Such worship flows from a heart filled with wonder, love and praise — a heart stirred by the Paraclete and the revelations He brings. It is bowing down in reverence before our Creator, Father and Lord. It is waiting upon God, embracing God, listening to God. The worship experience, however, is not specifically for our benefit, but because of God’s desire to be worshiped. He seeks such worshipers.

Being filled with the Spirit brings our inner receptors into tune with the Almighty; so if and when He speaks, we shall hear and understand His thoughts and desires.

Joy, praise and harmony are brought about by keeping filled with the Spirit. A delightful church is pictured in Ephesians 5:19-21 (The Living Bible): "Talk with each other much about the Lord [this will obviate scandal and gossip], quoting psalms and hymns and singing sacred songs [these are much more edifying than the blues], making music in your hearts to the Lord [even the tone deaf can do this when filled with the Spirit]. Always give thanks for everything to our God and Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Honor Christ by submitting to each other." Problems will be few among such a healthy people.

The list goes on. The blessings multiply. Potential rises.

Being filled with the Spirit will enable us to receive God’s revelation of himself. Who knows God? Can He be known? How can He be known — not as a force or a mythical image like Mother Nature or Father Time — but as a true, real, living, loving Being?

Here are some answers from 1 Corinthians 2 (The Living Bible):

"No one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. And God has actually given us His Spirit (not the world’s spirit) to tell us. ... But the man who isn’t a Christian can’t understand and can’t accept these thoughts from God, which the Holy Spirit teaches us. They sound foolish to him, because only those who have the Holy Spirit within them can understand what the Holy Spirit means. ... We Christians actually do have within us a portion of the very thoughts and mind of Christ" (vv. 11,12,14,16).

The only way, therefore, that God can be known — experienced — is through the agency of the Holy Spirit. Those filled with the Spirit can receive and understand this revelation more fully. It becomes more glorious as the believer remains filled with the Spirit, for "no mere man has ever seen, heard or even imagined what wonderful things God has ready for those who love the Lord" (1 Corinthians 2:9, The Living Bible).

You would think every Christian would see the reasonableness of the command to be filled with the Spirit, but many of us seem to live more after the flesh than the Spirit.

This doesn’t have to be, if we will yield to God. The seeking to be filled, the need to remain filled, lift us out of a listless routine into a constant soaring upward. Then as we minister, pray, worship and serve others, we shall be kept filled with the Spirit.

George Holmes (1913-1999) was an Assemblies of God minister.

From Questions and Answers about the Holy Spirit, compiled and edited by Hal Donaldson, Ken Horn and Ann Floyd (Springfield, Mo.: PE Books, 2001). To order call 1-800-641-4310 and ask for item number 02-3032.

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