Sunday Sermons

Sunday Sermons

Be Filled with the Spirit

Be Filled with the Spirit

How qualities make a person “spiritual”? Those who love God have a deep desire to be spiritual, and God has desire for us is the same. He has given us many blessings toward that end, including the Holy Spirit. In this lesson, let's explore what role the Holy Spirit plays in the process of becoming a spiritual person so that we can more accurately discern our own level of spirituality, and strive to grow therein. 

Ephesians 5:18 “And do not get drunk with wine…but be filled with the Spirit”

Note that these are Christians being addressed, are people who already believed and were baptized (Ephesians 1:13; 2:5-6) and are said to have been sealed with the Spirit of promise (1:13). Such individuals are exhorted to be filled with the Spirit, therefore, being filled with the Spirit is not a one-time act, but a continual choice that we make. Obviously, that being filled with the Spirit is a choice that we each are given.  We can choose to fill ourselves with wine or other intoxicants or we can choose to filled ourselves with the Spirit. What a blessing that being filled with the Spirit is not something that “just happens” or something that we must sit around wasting precious time, waiting for it to happen. Beginning to be filled with the spirit is just a decision away.

Even The Spirit-Filled Struggled

There are times in the Bible when the Holy Spirit miraculously came upon an individual or individuals (Acts 2:1-4; 10:44). It is tempting to think that such an event would solve all our problems, that we would instantly have the right mindset and that serving God would be effortless from then on, yet this is clearly not the case. The Bible is filled with examples of various people who miraculously came into contact with the Holy Spirit yet did either not improve much or completely fell into sin.

  • King Saul: 1 Samuel  10:6; 18:12
  • King David spoke by inspiration and yet committed adultery: Psalm 51:11
  • Peter was an apostle, God spoke through Him, he worked miracles, yet he sinned: Galatians 2:11-13
  • Timothy had the Spirit, yet was warned about becoming timid and was exhorted to keep on preaching the word: 2 Timothy 1:7; 4:2

So it would be fallacious to think that men like the apostles and prophets who had miraculous gifts of the Spirit did not have to work hard at being pure and good or that they did not have to struggle against lust, anger, fear or despair, or work on controlling their thoughts. Paul worked miracles and God spoke through him, yet he still had to buffet his body (1 Corinthians 9:24) and control his thoughts (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). Be encouraged knowing that exerting a lot of energy to keep sin at bay, is no indication of being without the spirit. Satan often targets those who stand to accomplish much for God's glory. Stand firm. Stand strong.

The Indwelling Spirit

When I find passages that speak of Deity, like the Holy Spirit dwelling in the Christian I always find that this situation is a mutual relationship, that is, the Christian is also said to dwell in the Deity (John 15:4 “Abide in Me and I in you”). So the language is speaking of a close relationship with God, Jesus and the Spirit rather than the Spirit or Jesus in me pulling spiritual levers, so to speak, and controlling in my life. I say this because the previous passage likewise speaks of “us” abiding in Jesus. Clearly, we are not literally in Jesus and controlling His thoughts or actions. So the Spirit or Jesus abiding or dwelling in me never meant that God is controlling me against my will. So what might it mean? A parallel passage to Ephesians 5:18 “be filled with the Spirit” reads, “Let the word of God richly dwell within you” (Colossians 3:16). Hence the way that the Spirit leads, encourages, and fills believers is when we embrace His message and make it our own — when I love what He has said and act upon it, making it the number one reason why I do or don’t do this thing or that. Jesus manifested such a close relationship with the Father when He was constantly citing Scripture or bringing people back them. Another way of stating this, is that doing His will becomes our food and reason for living. 


Being lead by the Spirit, walking by the Spirit,
indwelling of the Spirit,
Sealed by the Spirit

We have a choice in this process.

Romans 8:9



Ephesians 1:13


Ephesians 4:30

1 John 3:24


1 John 2:3-5


What the Spirit Does

  • Gives a very convicting message about sin to the world: John 16:5-11
  • Points us in the path of regeneration: John 3:3-5
  • Brings enlightenment about what is really important: Ephesians 1:17-18
  • Tells us all about the life of Jesus: John 15:26
  • Has delivered all truth through the apostles: John 16:13
  • Points and encourages us in the path of purity and character: Galatians 5:16
  • Gives us clear direction concerning the transformation process so that we become more and more like Jesus:  2 Corinthians 3:18
  • Assures us that our prayers are always heard and every detail, even unspoken yearnings are heard by God: Romans 8:26-27

Galatians 5:16-26

In these passages I find that there are predictable results of either obeying the teachings, will and desires of the Holy Spirit or instead complying with the desires of the flesh. These passages also teach that these are two different paths that can never be combined (5:17). (Ideas for the following chart came from a similar chart found at


Walking/Led by the Spirit
Filled with the Spirit

Walking by the Flesh

  • You generally feel happy and calm.
  • You feel full of light.
  • Your mind is clear.
  • You want to love the Lord and others.
  • You want to be generous.
  • You are hard to offend.
  • You are forgiving and kind.
  • You are confident in what you do.
  • You don’t mind others seeing what you are doing.
  • You want to be with people who love you, especially family members and other Christians.
  • You are glad when others succeed.
  • You want to help others, even those opposed to you.
  • You're willing perform the work of the Lord.
  • You look for things to do in the local congregation.
  • You want to pray and read the Scriptures.
  • You aspire to do all the Lord's will consistently.
  • You are calm and in control when you speak.
  • You want to help others and don’t mind if no one sees you or if you don’t get any credit or praise. You don’t mind doing things "behind the scenes".
  • You think and speak good about others.
  • You have empathy for those in need who are hurting.
  • You rest in the a moment by moment realization  that your thoughts and actions are open before the Lord.
  • You feel unhappy, depressed, frustrated and confused most of the time.
  • You feel weighed down/ full of darkness.
  • Your mind may be muddled.
  • You feel empty, hollow and cold inside.
  • You are selfish, possessive, and self-centered.
  • You are usually on the defensive.
  • You become discouraged easily.
  • You are secretive and evasive.
  • You want to be alone most of the time.
  • You avoid others, especially family members and other Christians.
  • You are often envious.
  • You may want to get even or show others up.
  • You are unwilling or may feel unworthy and unwilling to perform the Lord’s work.
  • You may not want to pray or study the Scriptures.
  • You may feel that the Lord’s requirements are unrealistic, bothersome, restrictive or senseless.
  • You like listening to people who claim that one can be right with God without obeying God.
  • You may be a slave to your appetites.
  • Your anger gets the best of you.
  • When you help others your main desire may be to have your actions acknowledged.
  • You are critical of others, especially those in positions of leadership or authority.
  • You often question the motives of others and secretly delight in hearing about their failures or problems.
  • You are defensive, feeling that what you think and do is "nobody's business".
  • You don't want anyone's help evaluating your progress, or looking for areas to grow.


Mark Dunagan |
Beaverton Church of Christ | 503-644-9017