Like a luminous pearl, this word stands amidst the many admonitions the apostle wrote in his letter to the Ephesian church.
Paul saw a foolproof solution to the problems that had arisen and stated emphatically: “Be filled with the Spirit!”
What the apostle told the church then, he could certainly say today. Since the letter was addressed to believers, his advice is for all children of God. In this context, our text highlights at least three essential facts:
1. There is a filling of the Spirit for all believers in the Church.
This was confirmed by many witnesses in the Holy Scriptures. Jesus repeatedly told His disciples about being filled with the Spirit. Shortly before ascending to His Father, Jesus clearly stated: “For John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (Acts 1:4). He also stated: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
When the Day of Pentecost finally dawned, “there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.” Luke testified: “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:2, 4). Immediately, they began their Spirit-filled ministry. The Word worked mightily and went through the hearts of the listeners, and they asked: “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Peter answered: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:37-38). Thousands followed his advice, and we read in Acts 4:31: “and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Peter also gave this testimony, since we read in Acts 4:8: “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them….” He spoke through this Spirit to the elders and leaders of the people. We read of Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, whose adversaries were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke. Before being so cruelly stoned, we read of Stephen: “But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55).
2. Not all believers are filled with the Holy Spirit, although all could be.
If all in the church at Ephesus had been filled with the Holy Spirit, Paul would not have had to admonish them. He knew there were various issues that had arisen among those attending the church, but not through those who were filled with the Spirit. In Ephesians 5, he warns people against fornication, uncleanness, covetousness, foolish talking, and coarse jesting. These things could not come from believers who were filled with the Holy Spirit! Unholy things cannot emanate from the Holy Spirit, nor from people filled with the Holy Spirit.
The fact that these things were occurring in the church showed a great spiritual deficiency. Paul addresses this deficiency with the call: “Be filled with the Spirit!” The difficulties arose from selfishness, self-love, indignation, and a big ego. This ego must be sacrificed so that the great “I Am” can fill the heart! He who is empty of himself and ready to devote himself fully to the Lord can be filled with the Holy Spirit.
3. God wants everyone be filled with the Holy Spirit.
This is confirmed in Ephesians 5:17: “Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is!” Paul could testify of this from his own life, for immediately after his conversion, Ananias, a disciple in Damascus, spoke to him at God’s command: “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 9:17).
The apostles from Jerusalem sent Peter and John to Samaria. When they arrived, they prayed over those who had come to the faith that they might receive the Holy Spirit, and they did.
These examples clearly show us God’s will concerning being filled with the Holy Spirit. Just as people freely fill their bodies with wine for their own pleasure, which sometimes causes disorderly behavior, so, in contrast, God wants to fill our hearts and our spirits with His Spirit, so the Holy Spirit can govern, control, and possess us. And out of this comes a holy life!
Therefore, “Be filled with the Spirit!” This is what God wants. And what God wants, we should want too. Place yourself under the will of God, consecrate yourself to Him in full obedience, and you will be filled with the Holy Spirit.