Written Word

How Can We Live A Spirit-Filled Life?

When you read the New Testament and see the spiritual vibrancy in the life of the early church do you wonder, ‘Why is my life so empty? How can I live under the Spirit’s influence?’

When we were converted to Christ we received the Holy Spirit. The Spirit identifies us as being God’s children and is the deposit guaranteeing our future inheritance in heaven. Without the Spirit we cannot belong to God. (Acts 2:38; Galatians 3:14; Ephesians 1:14; Romans 8:9)

Though every disciple has been given the Holy Spirit, not every disciple lives a Spirit-filled life. The instruction to ‘be filled with the Spirit’ (Ephesians 5:18) was written to those who had the Spirit. This was a call for them to grow in their faith, to mature. Several points need to be noted. First, the instruction is not optional. It is not something we can take or leave. It is imperative! Second, unlike our conversion, which is unrepeatable (we cannot be born again and again and again), being filled with the Spirit is a continuous process. We are literally to keep on being filled with the Holy Spirit. Third, being filled with the Spirit is not something that automatically happens to us; it is something we are responsible for appropriating. We are expected to co-operate with God who is at work within us.

How Do We Become Filled With the Spirit?

In the same way one becomes filled with wine – by continually ‘drinking’. How this ‘drinking’ is done can be seen in two examples given by our Lord. He said, ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.’ (Matthew 5:6) How do we hunger and thirst? Jesus employs graphic language to describe how one is to pursue righteousness. We’ve all experienced hunger and thirst at some time in our life. Even when we are exhausted we won’t rest until we have satisfied our cravings for food and drink. The point Jesus makes is this: we are to pursue the will of God with the same determination as a person would pursue food and drink. We have to do it! That is why an appetite must be acquired for spiritual things. This is achieved by exposing ourselves to the will of God through our personal reading of his word, Bible study and prayer.

Satisfying Our Thirst

The Spirit-filled life is discussed by the Lord in the gospel of John. He says:

On the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.’ By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believe in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified. (John 7:37-39)

Jesus invites the thirsty to come to him and drink. But who are the thirsty and how do they drink? The thirsty are those who desire to live for Jesus. They desire to do the will of God on earth as it is done in heaven. When we desire to do the will of God, we come to Jesus to ‘drink’ and out of us, Jesus said, will flow ‘streams of living water.’ This refers to the power of the Holy Spirit within us. And though our intake is small, the result is ‘streams of living water’ flowing from within us. To those who desire to do the will of the Lord, the Spirit gives a super-abundant display of his presence in our life.