Paul wrote in Eph 5:18, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.” I knew one pastor who struggled to understand why the Lord put these two seemingly different commands together in one verse. How does one equate being drunk with wine to being filled with the Spirit?
I thought, how cute. That pastor was clearly never a drinker (to his credit). I, on the other hand, as a not-so-accomplished drinker immediately understood this verse.
Herein lies the replacement principle for every drinker.
Instead of being under the influence of alcohol, we should be under the influence of the Holy Spirit. When we’re under the influence of alcohol, we talk differently. We act differently. The same is true when we’re under the influence of the Spirit. We talk differently than the world talks. We act differently than the world acts.
Interesting to me about that verse is that all believers who are saved have the Spirit but notice that not all Christians are filled with the Spirit, meaning that not all are under the full influence of the Spirit.
Notice, too, the present tense imperative, be filled, be always filled, be controlled, be influenced by the Spirit, or keep on being filled with the Spirit. This isn’t a one-time action, but a constant, continual effort on our parts.
So what is the evidence of someone who’s filled with the Spirit today? When we think of people being filled with the Spirit in the Bible, we usually think of those at Pentecost, but there were other saints who were filled with the Spirit long before Pentecost. What is the evidence of His filling in the dispensation of grace?
The evidence of being “Spirit-filled” in this dispensation of grace is found in the verses following Ephesians 5:18.
Eph 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Eph 5:19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Eph 5:20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Eph 5:21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
First, singing and joy are evidences of the Spirit’s filling. When Paul says speaking to yourselves, some have said that he means that believers should speak these things to each other, which is true enough, but I also think he means that you do these things within yourself.
Second, a thankful, trusting attitude is evidence of the Spirit’s control. Giving thanks for all things both good and bad. Thanks is an expression of gratitude; an acknowledgment made to express a sense of favor or kindness received. Romans 1:21, talking about unbelievers, said “neither were thankful.” A lack of thankfulness to God was always the seedbed of sin. In Isaiah 14 — the heart of Lucifer was not content because he was neither thankful nor grateful for being the anointed cherub that covered the throne of God. Genesis 3, the heart of Eve was deceived by the serpent into thinking that God was holding out on her when she could have just said, “No thanks. I’m thankful for all that I have.” Singing, joy, and a thankful heart is the polar opposite of an unbeliever, and this is evidence of being filled with the Spirit in the age of grace.
And finally the evidence of the Spirit’s control is seen in our relationships, submitting ourselves one to another, exhibiting the humility of Christ, “lettingnothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.”
Some would argue that evidence of being filled with the Spirit actually continues all the way to the end of the letter. That more Spirit-filled evidence may be found in wives submitting to their husbands, husbands loving their wives, children obeying their parents, children honoring their mothers and fathers, fathers not provoking their children to wrath, servants obeying their masters with fear and trembling from the heart as unto Christ, masters doing the same unto their servants, believers putting on the whole armor of God and… praying always.