What Does It Mean To Be Filled With The Holy Spirit?

The older I’m getting, the more I enjoy and count on a slower-paced routine. The last couple of weeks have been a bit frazzled, so I thought it might be a good time to get caught up on a few of these short, Spotlight on Scripture booklets from John MacArthur that I’ve accumulated over the last several months rather than dive into another thick book in the queue.

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What Does It Mean To Be Filled With The Holy Spirit?
Spotlight on Scripture
By John MacArthur
Grace to You, 2016, 11 pp.

I enjoyed this short booklet, which expounds on the meaning of being filled with the Holy Spirit. Of course, our Pentecostal and charismatic brethren have built an entire belief system based on the experiential “gifts of the spirit” (glossolalia, healing, prophecy). MacArthur is an outspoken cessationist when it comes to questions about the apostolic gifts, but he only briefly alludes to that controversy in this booklet.

“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” – Ephesians 5:18-21

MacArthur states that being filled with the Holy Spirit is a conscious choice on the believer’s part to yield moment by moment to the leading of the indwelling Spirit (p. 3) and that this involves three facets:

Pressure – Illustrated by wind billowing the sails of a ship, a yielding believer allows the Holy Spirit to move/carry him/her in the proper directions.

Permeation – A yielding Christian allows the Spirit to work in all aspects of their being like an Alka Seltzer tablet completely permeates a glass of water. The more we study and prayerfully reflect on God’s Word, the more the Holy Spirit can make the Word a part of us.

Domination – A Spirit-filled Christian allows the Spirit to control and direct every emotion, thought, and act of the will.

Practical consequences of being Spirit-filled as stated in our passage and discussed in the booklet include:

  • Singing to the Lord
  • Giving thanks to the Lord
  • Submitting to other believers

This excellent, little booklet challenges us to abandon our claim to control over our life and begin to submit to the filling of the Holy Spirit. You can read the entire booklet for free at Grace to You, here.

Postscript: One thing I’ve learned over the years is the more we know the Lord, the more we are humbled by His holiness and grateful for His grace. The proud, judgmental Christian who believes they’re filled with the Spirit may need the genuine filling of the Spirit most of all.

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27 thoughts on “What Does It Mean To Be Filled With The Holy Spirit?

  1. Good post, Tom . Yes, I agree with a slower paced routine. We have a Pentecostal Church in town, but they are a bit secretive. But they do have a very loud public service at a grocery store parking lot in the summer, telling us that we all need to get saved. ( especially folks like me, former Catholics). In the Newfoundland dialect, the word saved is pronounced as “sauved”, and the word lawyer is pronounced as “liar”. 🤗

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Sally. I’m a cessationist like MacArthur and I have many concerns regarding behaviors that Pentecostals and charismatics term the gifts of the Spirit, but I generally don’t go out of my way to debate the topic here at WordPress. I view this as a secondary issue. I would argue, though, that the prosperity gospel is widely taught throughout the Pentecostal-charismatic movement and may obscure the genuine Gospel of grace in many instances. Are people in such churches genuinely repenting of sin and trusting in Christ as Savior or are they souls looking for religious ecstatic experiences and temporal wealth and health? It’s a slippery slope.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Amen! “One thing I’ve learned over the years is the more we know the Lord, the more we are humbled by His holiness and grateful for His grace. The proud, judgmental Christian who believes they’re filled with the Spirit may need the genuine filling of the Spirit most of all.”

    Humility is important. So what is the humble, non judgement Christian to do when their brothers judge them about the “genuine filling” of the Spirit? This could be a double edged sword.

    Blessings!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Michael. I see the yielding to the leading of the Spirit as something that’s between the Lord and a believer. I know many churches use particular behaviors as litmus test proofs of whether an individual is filled with the Spirit. I very much disagree with that viewpoint, but that’s a 3000 word post.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. The United Pentecostal church I went to believed: 1. You must speak in tongues to prove salvation. 2. You Must be baptized in water to be saved. 3. There is no separate Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is called ‘Oneness’. Ty Mr. Tom.:)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Bonnie. I believe there’s so much error in the Pentecostal/charismatic movement (including those heterodox teachings you point out) and that it leads to all kinds of spiritual dangers and excesses. One need only watch TBN for an evening.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks, brother. Woke up this morning and the sting site is itching like crazy. Should probably go to urgent care later today for another drug regimen. Such a bother.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks, Jimmy! Picked up some anti-itch Benadryl at the store. Hoping that takes care of it instead of going to urgent care. Life’s little nuisances! 🐝We have So Cal weather today. Sunny and 87. Family is coming over for dinner so cut the front lawn and running around. 11K steps already. How’s your Saturday looking?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Wow 11 k already! My Saturday started slow I had several simultaneous things with counseling going on…when it rains it pours so I stayed up late on phone and texting which cut through sermon prep time. I woke up late too (10) since I slept at 5. Prayers would be appreciated…

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I was exposed to the wrong teaching regarding the Holy Spirit. BUT GOD in His faithfulness removed me from where I was. The Holy Spirit leads us into all truth . Praise God .
    Thank you Tom

    Liked by 1 person

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