“Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit,”(Ephesians 5:18)
Have you ever wondered why the apostle Paul contrasts being “ever filled with the Spirit” with “don’t be continually drunk with wine”? Couldn’t have Paul used a better illustration? Well, a person inebriated with alcohol doesn’t have control over his motor skills and speech skills. Alcohol does have control over him, but only while he is drunk. You don’t stay drunk once you get drunk. You have to continue to drink to stay drunk. In the same manner, Being filled with the Spirit is not a one-time event; being filled when we’re saved, and that’s the end of it. Being filled with the Spirit is a repeatable thing – a mandatory repeatable thing. This is a daily relational experience, and a command to be ever-filled with the Spirit. It is not a suggestion. “Ever be filled with the Spirit” is the norm of the of the Christian life. The fact that it sounds so radical , so elite, so special shows how far we are from the expected norm, which is Christlikeness. Nobody can fill themselves. But there is a volition here; there is a choice like a door with a handle on my side. And I must be willing to open that door; I must be willing to allow God to fill my life with Christlikeness. I must make the choice of availability I must make the choice of intentionality. I must make the choice of understanding the gospel and its consequences, and implications. “Allow yourself to ever be filled…” would be a way to put it.
There is a fight among Christians about what it means to be filled with the Spirit. And you know in some circles, that means speaking in tongues, in some that means raising your hand often in church; dancing in the Spirit; being slain in the Spirit. I believe that’s a question we cannot answer from our experience, not even from our denominational traditions, but from a parallel passage in Colossians 3:16. It’s not a word parallel, but a structure parallel, and it says a command – “Let the word of Christ richly dwell in you”. This is exactly the theological parallel that the apostle Paul has, “Ever be filled with the Spirit”. You see, we think it’s some personal experience focus. We think it’s something we do at a time of great excitement, or collective worship, or some real big event like a revival crusade, when in reality, “ever being filled with the Spirit” is the nitty-gritty of the moment by moment conscious Christianity. And that’s what makes it so hard; it’s not the big event that’s the big deal. it’s the daily event that is the big deal. Christ is in the details; Christ is in the choices; Christ is in the heartfelt prayers and concerns as we walk through life. We err if we think “be ever filled with the Spirit” is some kind of emotional feeling, when in fact it is simply our intentional, and available Christlikeness.