Recently I did a Bible study on the Holy Spirit and it was like no other study I have ever done. To say that it radically changed my life; my perspective, my understanding and the living out of my faith would be an understatement!
For much of my life the Holy Spirit has been more like an afterthought; he just didn’t seem to rank up there with God the Father and God the Son. I understand why Francis Chan titled his book on the Holy Spirit, Forgotten God (which by the way is an excellent read). To be honest, this was really how I saw the Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 1:18 was a common verse that was used in my upbringing when talking about the Holy Spirit. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit . . . (NLT)
The emphasis most of the time was that we shouldn’t get drunk. In fact, this was always the verse that our youth pastor would use to reinforce the fact that we shouldn’t drink.
I had never looked at this verse in any other way until I did this study.
In one of our lessons we read, Ephesians 1:18 and I asked the question (a question I hadn’t planned on asking but later realized it was the leading of the Holy Spirit), “What does Paul compare being filled with the Holy Spirit to? Silence filled the room, you could hear a pin drop.
Then someone hesitantly said with a question in their voice, “Being drunk?”
Immediately, I followed it up with another question, “So what is someone like when they’re drunk? (Not speaking from practical experience or anything.) As we began to answer the question we were stunned at the similarities: 1). They are no longer in control 2). They are bold 3). Their perspective is changed 4). They are uninhibited. (Maybe you can think of some others.)
When we allow the Holy Spirit to FILL our lives we are no longer in control – He is, we become bold in our faith and uninhibited in sharing Christ with others, our perspective changes as we begin to see things the way He sees them and we are no longer controlled by fear, worry or self-centeredness.
The following verses shed even more light on what it looks like to be filled with the Spirit.
. . .Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (NLT)
It’s interesting that many of our songs have come from bar songs and I think it was another reason why Paul chose this comparison. A person who is drunk sings meaningless empty songs but a follower of Jesus who is filled with the Spirit will sing with a purpose and make music in their hearts to the Lord.
Wow! This was a whole new way of looking at these verses. We were all amazed as we began to really see the point that Paul was making here. It’s not just that we shouldn’t be drunk but we should be filled to over flowing with the Holy Spirit – to put it another way, we should be drunk on the Holy Spirit, intoxicated with Him!
Have you ever thought of being filled with the Spirit like this?
When we ask God to forgive us of our sins and to come into our lives, He promises to send His Holy Spirit to dwell within us. Unfortunately, many of us have the Holy Spirit living in our lives but are inhibiting Him from filling us.
It’s like a glass of milk when you add chocolate syrup – it sinks to the bottom and you really don’t see any difference in the milk. It’s only when you stir the milk that you experience the change – it looks different, smells different and tastes different.
In the same way we must “stir up” the Holy Spirit in our life in order for change to occur. The “stirring” comes when we surrender to Him; to His work, His way, His purpose.
So let me ask you, if you were given a breathalyzer test on how drunk you are on the Holy Spirit, where would you fall on the scale?