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Controlled by the Spirit

Posted on May 19, 2020 at 10:10 AM

Dear Saints,

Perhaps the best-known scripture concerning the personal leadership of the Spirit is Paul’s command in Ephesians 5: 18, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit”. Although often abused by religious folks wanting to control others (i.e. condemning alcoholics and addicts or other believers who are deemed to be less spiritual), this verse is a key to the practice of spiritual enlightenment needed in our everyday lives. Like all the commands in Paul’s writing this the command to be filled with the Spirit gives us insight into the best lifestyle possible in this world. It is a more detailed explanation of the promise Jesus gave his disciples concerning the Comforter guiding and leading us.

 

The grammar of this command is important to understanding its meaning. Written in the imperative mood we realize that being filled with the Spirit is not really an option. Written in the present tense means that being filled with the Spirit is to be a continuous rather than occasional experience. And the passive voice means that being filled with the Spirit is something that is done to us, not something we can do to ourselves. Based on the grammar a better translation of this verse might be, “Stop allowing yourselves to be drunk with wine and wasting your life, but continually allow yourself to be controlled by the Spirit.”

 

The contrast between being drunk with wine and being filled with the Spirit is meant to illustrate the control the Spirit has in our lives. Just as the wine controls all that the drunk man says or does, so also is the Spirit of God to control our lives. Being “filled” with the Spirit, then, is not that we get more of the Spirit than we already have, but that the Spirit gets more of us than he had before. In all that we do or say on a daily, continuous basis we are to allow the indwelling Spirit of God control our every move. While it may seem awkward at first, we have the privilege to “walk in the Spirit” just as Jesus did while he was here in this world.

 

Elsewhere Paul cautions us against the two main obstacles that keep us from being controlled by the Spirit. In Ephesians 4: 30 he says, “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God…” and in 1Thessalonians 5: 19 he warns, “Quench not the Spirit…” Both are written as a command to stop grieving and stop quenching the Spirit which imply that our natural tendency is to do both. We grieve the Spirit when we follow our own plans rather than the control of the Spirit and we quench the Spirit when we follow other people’s plan rather than the Spirit. The only one that has the right to plan your life is Jesus who died for you and gave you his Spirit living in you to direct everything you do and say.

 

The key to the spiritual enlightenment we need to live a healthy and productive life in this world is to allow ourselves to be controlled by the indwelling Spirit of God. This is referred to as “walking in the Spirit” and guarantees we will not fulfill the desires of the self-centered flesh. Like hearing God speak to us being filled with the Spirit requires the exercise of faith. We must believe that he wants to control our lives for our own good and that he will direct us personally in all our decisions. The spiritual enlightenment that comes from being controlled by the Spirit is an exciting lifestyle that allows us to be Christ to others.

 

John

 

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