I was watching a bit of the world-champion Lakers parade Monday.  Yes, I am something of a Lakers fan, was thrilled with their victory over the long time nemesis Celtics, and enjoyed a bit of the parade.  But as the float carrying the Lakers passed by, they showed two young ladies.  These young ladies were going berserk.  They were screaming, yelling, jumping & flailing.  The broadcast team had some fun and made a few comments about these ecstatic young ladies. 

Then commentator James Worthy throws out this comment that blew me away: “They must be filled with the Holy Spirit!”

WHAT?!  You gotta be kidding me!   Arggghh!  Filled with the Spirit?  Is that what people really think it means to be Spirit-filled?!?! 

At Bethel Grace, we aim to make Spirit-filled disciples.  Does that mean our worship services should be filled with a bunch of jumping, ecstatic, hollering people?  More than a few churches on the evangelical landscape are under the erroneous mindset that these are indications of the Spirit’s fullness.

Is that what it means to be filled with the Spirit?  Nooooo.  Yeah, I’m sure James Worthy was just poking some fun, but why make that association?  Evidently, there are some things misunderstood about the fullness of the Spirit.

Here is what the Bible has to say about the matter.  This is quite the opposite of what “Big Game” James had to say… 

Ephesians 5 15Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19speaking to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. singing and making music in your heart to the Lord, 20always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  21Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

An interesting contrast set up in verse 18.  Being drunk and being Spirit-filled.  It’s very interesting.  In both drunkenness and being Spirit-filled, a person gives themselves to the influence of something else.  Drunkeness puts you under the influence of alcohol, leading to reckless living.  Being Spirit-filled puts you under the influence of God, leading to joyful, loving, worshipful living. 

Notice that the evidence of the Spirit’s fullness is not found in a private mystical experience.  When we are filled, we are not catapulted into some on-high moment of emotional exhilaration.  We maintain a sound mind and our lives are set aglow with God’s grace. 

When I am filled with the Holy Spirit, my life is controlled by the Holy Spirit who already dwells within me.  I yield to the Holy Spirit who lives inside of me and then he takes control of me and he lives through me.  His influence permeates my behavior, my attitude, my decisions, my speech, my prayer, my affection for people, my worship of God.   The Spirit produces a number of attractive, God-honoring qualities in the life that he is filling.  This passage in Ephesians identifies several: community worship, heartfelt praise, abounding gratitude, and humble submission.

As much as I appreciate James Worthy’s basketball skills, I think I’ll stick to Scripture for my understanding of what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit. 

Be filled with the Spirit, Bethel Grace, and we will experience the great benefits as individuals and as a community!

~Jeff

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