What does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit?
Ever feel disempowered in putting the needs of others before your own? Or do you find it hard to sustain a spiritually meaningful life? If so, Scripture provides hope. It says we have a Helper.
This Helper is the Holy Spirit who is the means by which we have power to live the spiritual life. So being filled by the Spirit means we allow the Holy Spirit to control our will. We should not view “by the Spirit” as indicating content, as if we need to keep filling up on the content of the Holy Spirit. Rather, we are to be filled with God’s fullness, which likely includes His moral attributes.
Furthermore, being filled with the Spirit does not make us morally perfect. The present tense of “be filled” suggests we are to “keep on being filled,” which means sinless perfection is never achieved during our life on earth. Instead, we are to allow the Spirit to continuously fill us with all of His moral attributes (e.g. Gal 5:22–23a) during the course of our entire life.
In describing how this is achieved, we must reject the idea that our human performance fills us with the Spirit. Scripture is clear that no one is righteous—no one seeks God (Rm 3:10–11). So legalistic rituals will not help us live the Spirit-filled life.
Instead, the Spirit’s performance on behalf of us enables us to co-operate with Him in cleansing ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit (2 Cor 7:1; Heb 12:14) so we can exhibit the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22–33a). The Spirit helps us by battling Satan’s purposes (2 Thess 2:6–8), encouraging us we are His children (Rm 8:16), and interceding for us (Rm 8:26–27). All of these activities encourage us to persevere in co-operating with the Spirit by letting Him control our lives.
James clarifies the results of faith should produce good works of righteousness (Jas 2:14–26), which means we are not to be passive. Because of this, we are to read, meditate on, and obey Scripture. It’s through Scripture the Father sanctifies us (Jn 17:17).
Also, we are to pray without ceasing (1 Thess 5:17). And we are to worship together because it provides encouragement (1 Cor 14:26), biblical teaching (Acts 20:7), and sometimes discipline (1 Cor 5:4–5). Overall, the body of Christ provides encouragement to help us persevere in our effort to live the Spirit-led life (Eph 4:1–16).