“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,” (Ephesians 5:18, NASB95)
Being filled with the Spirit is not like taking an empty glass and pouring something into it as someone might a pour drink of alcohol which he would in turn pour into himself. It is not a case of drinking one glass after another as some might do to get drunk. This is the wasteful and even destructive way that some choose to handle life’s issues, as they bury themselves in a bottle or some other vice.
Every believer receives the Holy Spirit of God as a permanent resident at the moment of his or her salvation. There can never be any more or less of the Spirit in a believer, just as God who is perfectly infinite can never divide Himself and become less infinite. Consider just a few of these verses….
Earlier in Ephesians Paul wrote, “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,” (Ephesians 1:13, NASB95) … “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30, NASB95) In these two verses we read that at the moment of our salvation we were sealed, and this sealing is enduring to take us into the presence of God.
In 1 and 2 Corinthians we read, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19, NASB95) And, “[God] also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.” (2 Corinthians 1:22, NASB95)
The instruction of verse 18 has nothing to do with the presence of the Spirit in the believer, but, rather, with the believer’s relationship with the Spirit. Before we trusted Christ for our salvation, Christ was not in our lives and our direction did not come from God. (See Crusade circle #1: Self-Directed Life, Christ outside).
But there are many believers who know that they know that they know that they are saved because of the free gift of Jesus Christ on the cross, but in their daily lives they find that they do not, either regularly or at times, submit their lives to His Word nor wait on His leading. They might think they are doing a lot for God, but in their doing they really are working it out in their own wisdom and seeking to do it in their own strength. In living this way signs start to appear in us such as are listed in the next circle (See Crusade circle #2: Self-Directed Life). This is the kind of life that Paul is exhorting the Ephesian believers NOT to live; one that is directed by the desires of the flesh and not living in the Light which is Christ.
The objective of our walk is be walking as Spirit-filled believers. This is what Crusade’s third circle represents. It is not that we have more of the Spirit, but that are lives are centered in Christ, that we hide His Word in our hearts, spend time in prayer, and seek His leading in what we do. It is walking in a close relationship with Christ.
Realistically, we all have times where we resemble picture 2 than picture 3 in some part of our life. But the great gift of God is found in the power of God to easily move us back to picture 3 simply by our recognizing what is going on, admitting it to God, and turning our eyes back to Him and by faith walking trusting Him to direct our steps.
The reason that these pictures have stuck with me, and so many others for so long, is that they address the simple question, “Who is on the throne of your life?” Sure, Christ might be in your life, but who is on the throne? When we start to lose our joy, anger increases, patience goes away, and our thoughts turn to that which is not good it is a sure sign that self is sitting where Christ ought.
For those who might read this post and who are still at circle #1 with Christ on the outside, God has told us that all we have to do is ask. Jesus was sent by the Father to die for our sins and give us life. Ask God for that forgiveness and believe that He will keep His promise. Having believed and asked we are told that Christ moves in and that He will not leave. Then tell a Christian friend or pastor and begin the process of growing in Him as He does the amazing work of growing us.
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:16–23, NASB95)