Being Filled with the Holy Spirit
“Be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).
God wants every aspect of the believer’s being to be under the complete control of the Holy Spirit.
Pleroo, the basic Greek word for “be filled,” offers three shades of meaning that illustrate what Paul’s command to be Spirit-filled means. First, the word describes the pressure of wind filling a ship’s sails and moving the vessel across the water. That parallels the Holy Spirit’s leading us down the pathway of spiritual obedience. We aren’t primarily motivated by our own plans and desires, but we allow the Spirit’s gracious pressure to move us in the right direction.
The well-known pain reliever Alka-Seltzer effectively illustrates the second meaning, permeation. If you drop two Alka-Seltzers into a glass of water, they immediately fizzle and soon transform themselves into clear bubbles throughout the water and permeate it with a distinct flavor. That’s how God wants the Holy Spirit to fill our lives, so that there will be no doubt in others’ minds that we possess the distinct and pervasive savor of the Spirit.
Pleroo’s third and primary shade of meaning is that of domination or total control. In Luke 6:11 the scribes and Pharisees “were filled with rage” when Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath. Jesus said, “Sorrow has filled your heart” (John 16:6) when He described the disciples’ reaction to the news that He was soon departing. In those two examples, pleroo denotes an emotion that thoroughly dominated the people’s thoughts and excluded everything else.
In regard to earthly concerns, such overwhelming feelings can be wasteful, foolish, and even harmful. But it is beneficial and completely in agreement with the Lord’s will when we yield every thought, feeling, and action to the absolute domination of the Holy Spirit. This yielding will occur in our Christian lives only when we obey another of Paul’s commands, “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you” (Col. 3:16). In practice, the Spirit-filled walk is a matter of knowing God’s Word and obeying it.
Suggestions for Prayer
Ask God to forgive you for the times when you have not allowed His Spirit to completely fill and control your life.
For Further Study
Read and compare Isaiah 6 and Revelation 1:9-18.
What reactions did the prophet Isaiah and the apostle John both have to the notion of God’s overwhelming power and control?
What other general similarities are present in their visions?
From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com.