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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: The Holy Spirit and Us

Don Stewart :: How Does a Person Become Filled with the Holy Spirit?

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How Does a Person Become Filled with the Holy Spirit?

The Holy Spirit and Us – Question 14

One of the most important things for a believer to realize is how to be “filled” with the Holy Spirit. Indeed, learning how to be filled is a “must” for all believers. There are a number of important points that need to be made.

Filled Means to Be Controlled

When we speak of someone being “filled” with the Holy Spirit, it has the idea of being controlled by Him instead of our own desires. Thus, we give the Holy Spirit freedom to work in the ways in which He chooses.

We do not mean that the Holy Spirit literally comes into our bodies and fills us up as one would fill a glass with water. The Holy Spirit has no physical form. Fill, therefore, stands for the leading, or control, of the Holy Spirit. He controls us by our own consent.

Sometimes, in a specific situation, the Holy Spirit would uniquely fill or control someone. We read in the Book of Acts where Peter was filled, or controlled, by the Spirit to speak the truth of God to the religious leaders.

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders” (Acts 4:8 ESV).

On this occasion, the Holy Spirit filled Peter to boldly preach the message of Jesus.

The Bible Says Certain People Were Full of the Holy Spirit

Scripture gives numerous examples of people being filled, or controlled, by the Holy Spirit. For example, Stephen was described as a man who was full of the Holy Spirit.

The statement found approval with the whole congregation; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit (Acts 6:5 NASB).

The general tenor of the life of Stephen was that the Holy Spirit controlled him. This would also be a wonderful way to have our life described!

The Bible Commands All Believers to Be Filled

We note that the Bible commands the believer to be “filled with the Holy Spirit.” Paul wrote the following to the Ephesians.

Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, let the Holy Spirit fill and control you (Ephesians 5:18 NLT).

Instead of letting the effects of alcohol control us, we should allow the Holy Spirit to take control of our lives. He is the One who should be constantly guiding us.

The Holy Spirit Guides Our Lives When We Are Filled with Him

Paul wrote to the Galatians about what takes place when the believer is controlled or filled with the Holy Spirit.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:16 ESV).

When we believers allow the Spirit to guide us, we will fulfill God’s unselfish desires – not our own selfish ones.

There Is No Set Formula on How to Be Filled

The Bible does not give any set formula for being filled or controlled with the Holy Spirit. There is not a series of stages that a person must go through. This is important for us to understand. We merely have to submit to Him to be filled.

There Is No Need to Wait to Be Filled

Nor is there a need to wait for the filling of the Spirit. The filling is available to every believer. Some have felt the need to wait or tarry for the Holy Spirit based upon a statement of Jesus. He said.

And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high (Luke 24:49 NRSV).

But this statement of Jesus was directed at His disciples. They were told to wait in Jerusalem until the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit would initially descend in a unique way upon all believers. This was a once–and–for–all occurrence. Once this had happened, there was no need to wait to be filled with the Spirit. The filling of the Spirit is something which we immediately receive.

A Believer Is Filled When He or She Obeys God’s Commandments

How, then, does a person become filled with the Spirit? We must obey the things God has commanded of us in the Bible. The key to being controlled by the Holy Spirit is obedience.

We Should Study God’s Word

The Bible instructs the believer to seek to please God. When we turn our life over to God we place ourselves in a position to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. We then can find out what God requires of us by studying His Word. Once we understand what God wants us to do, we can be filled with the Spirit by obeying His commandments.

We Are to Confess Our Sins

Sin gets in the way of the filling of the Holy Spirit. When we sin, the fellowship between God and us is broken. We need to confess our sins and yield to Him so we may again be filled with the Spirit. The Bible says.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9 ESV).

Confession of sin is a necessity.

Filling Can Be to Different Degrees in a Person’s Life

It is important to realize that people can be controlled, or filled, with the Holy Spirit to different degrees. Our desire should be to yield every part of our life to the control of the Holy Spirit. However, many believers hold back some part, or parts, of their lives and do not allow the Holy Spirit’s control. Therefore the filling, or control, of the Holy Spirit is not what it could be.

Our goal, therefore, should be to allow the Lord to control each and every area of our life.

Summary – Question 14
How Does a Person Become Filled with the Holy Spirit?

One of the ministries of the Holy Spirit toward the believer is that of “filling.” In fact, it is one of the most important things which the Holy Spirit does in the life of the Christian. This being the case, we must learn what it means to be filled with the Spirit.

The filling of the Holy Spirit has the idea of letting the Holy Spirit control our lives. This is in contrast to controlling things ourselves. The filling can be a continuous style of life, or it can refer to a specific occasion where the Lord comes to us in a unique way. Whatever the case may be, it speaks of God leading and guiding us; we are not guiding ourselves.

Scripture tells us that certain people were filled with the Holy Spirit. This means that they were controlled by the Holy Spirit to the degree that He guided them in their words and deeds. As these men and women were controlled by the Holy Spirit we too should constantly be under His control.

It is God’s desire that all believers be filled, or controlled, by the Holy Spirit. However there is no set formula for this to occur. In other words, there are not a number of stages we must go through before the Lord controls or fills us with His Spirit.

Neither does the believer have to wait to be filled with God’s Spirit. Indeed, filling occurs immediately when we submit to Him.

To discover what God requires of us we must study His Word. It tells us what we should do as well as what we should not do. When we obey the instructions we can be filled with the Holy Spirit.

When we sin against Him, we must confess our sins so that the Lord can continue to control us. We will continue to commit sins. Make no mistake about this. Sinless perfection is something which we will not achieve in this life. When we do sin we must confess our sins and then ask the Lord for the strength not to repeat that sin.

Finally, it is important to realize that the Holy Spirit can only control us to the degree that we allow Him. Indeed, it is ultimately up to us as to how much control we will allow Him to have. Thus, our goal should be to allow Him to control every area of our life.

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What Are the Results of Being Filled with the Holy Spirit? Next Section →
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