The doctrine of the Holy Spirit is a mystery to many believers. For some the Holy Spirit is a kind of spiritual energy much like electricity. Being filled with the Spirit becomes impersonal and almost like saying “may the force be with you.” For others, (my Baptist friends might be included in this group) the Holy Spirit is something that is hardly thought of or discussed. We dismiss the topic with “yes, I believe in the Holy Spirit,” but think little of his presence and experience even less of his operations in our lives.
However, for the believer the doctrine of the Holy Spirit and His filling of the believer’s life is of vital importance. Paul tells us in Galatians 5:16 that we are to “walk by the Spirit.” This is a picture of dependence. The Christian live simply cannot be lived out through self-effort and determination. The commands and expectations of Scripture are, quite honestly, beyond us. As the old gospel song reminds us, “I can’t even walk without you holding my hand.” Holiness of life and effectiveness in ministry demands the work of the Holy Spirit within us.
Scripture teaches us that every believer is indwelt with the Holy Spirit. In Ephesians 1:13 we find that we were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise at the moment of our conversion. 2 Corinthians 1:22 emphasizes this same idea “and how has put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. Romans 8:9 goes so far as to tell us that . . . “Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Him.”
If all believers have the Holy Spirit dwelling within them, are all believers filled with the Spirit or walking in the Spirit? The answer is no! In fact, the number of Spirit-filled, Spirit-walking believers seems to be startlingly low. In Ephesians 5:17 Paul commands all believers to be filled with the Spirit. He compares and contrasts it with being drunk with wine. To be drunk is to be under the influence of alcohol, and is sinful. Being filled with the Spirit however, is to be under the influence of the Holy Spirit of Christ. Paul then describes the kind of life that will be lived by a filled believer. Every aspect of the believer’s life will be influenced by the Spirit.
Therefore, to be Filled with the Spirit or to walk by the Spirit is to live under the constant, moment by moment direction, control and guidance of the Holy Spirit. All Christians have the Holy Spirit, but the Holy Spirit does not all Christians. He is present in their lives, but He is not preeminent in their lives. So, the first step in experiencing the fullness of the Spirit is submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
For a sermon on this subject from Open Door Fellowship where I pastor - go to . . .