Yesterday we talked about how God has given us every spiritual blessing in Jesus. There is absolutely nothing he withholds from us. Through the Holy Spirit, we receive these abundant blessings. Paul tells us the Holy Spirit is a guarantee of our inheritance.
“In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13–14, ESV)
The Holy Spirit gives us the ability take hold of the promises. The greater the measure of the Spirit in our lives, the greater the realization of those blessings.
Having the Spirit vs. Filled with the Spirit
There is a distinction between having the Spirit and being filled with the Spirit. As I write this, I have a cup of coffee on my desk. The cup is full for me to enjoy. There is a difference having a cup half full and having a cup completely full. I will much more enjoy a cup that is full and warm than a cup that is mostly empty and cold. It is similar with the Holy Spirit. A person who has received Jesus as Savior and is baptized has the Spirit. Their salvation is assured. But fully taking hold of God’s blessings happens when we are filled with the Spirit to a greater measure.
Another image is that of a ship with a sail. When the wind fills the sail, the ship is moved forward. It is the wind that propels the ship. The more the wind fills the sails, the greater velocity of the ship. When the Spirit fills our lives, he moves us forward. And the more he fills our lives, the more he will move us forward.
Keep in mind that the ship does not produce the wind. God makes the wind available. All the ship does is make the sails available to be filled by the wind. That is our role. It is not to produce or manufacture the Spirit of God in our lives, but simply to make ourselves available to the Spirit to have his way and to fill us to full measure.
Pauls prayer in Ephesians is for us to be filled with the fullness of God. He says, “I pray you:
to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:19, ESV)
Emptied to be Filled
Later he says he says:
“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,” (Ephesians 5:18, ESV)
The implication is that we fill ourselves with things other than the Spirit. Some of us may fill ourselves with wine, but others of us fill ourselves with our work. It is not on wine alone we make ourselves drunk. We tend to be busy people. Why are we so busy? It makes us feel important! We believe we can find fulfillment and meaning in all our activity. The problem is if we are so full of one thing we can’t be filled with the other. Fulfillment in Christ does not come with being busier. It doesn’t even come through doing more for him. It comes by emptying ourselves so that we might be filled by him.
If you go to the buffet, all the food looks so good. It is hard to choose what to eat. You want to eat it all. You choose one thing and then another. Eventually, you become so full you can’t eat anymore. There is no room in your belly.
There are many of us who feel empty today. We are depleted, exhausted, and overwhelmed. But consider that the issue may not be that you are empty. In truth, you are filled with all the wrong things. God gets crowded out. You have the Spirit but are not filled with the Spirit.
At the beginning of a new year, we often put new expectations on ourselves. This year is going to be different. I am going to work harder. I am going to accomplish more. I load myself up with further expectations. Often I also take on the expectations of others. So we make our “great new year” about filling up our already full lives with more. We are setting ourselves up for failure.
It is dramatic changes that lead to dramatic results. Maybe instead of doing something more this new year you need to do something less. If you are anything like me, you are carrying self-imposed burdens that God never intended you to carry. It’s time to empty yourself of them. Let go of the expectations of self and the expectations imposed by others. See how the more empty you become, the more the Spirit fills you.
- What is the difference between having the Spirit and being filled with the Spirit.
- Why do we live such busy lives? How do we let go of the busyness?
- What do you need to empty yourself of this day?
- Share your comments.