How To Be Filled With The Spirit

Bible Book: Ephesians  5 : 18
Subject: Holy Spirit, Fullness of

Paul commanded, "Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit." Please note the grammatical structure - "be filled." Three things are very important to a clear understanding of what Paul meant.

One, Imperative Mood - This is a command - "Be filled with the Spirit" is just as much a command as "be not drunk with wine."

Two, Passive Voice - "You be filled" - not fill yourself. We don't attain the fullness by self-improvement - we obtain it by faith.

Three, the command is not to be baptized nor indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Paul tells us that we have already been baptized by the Spirit into the body of Christ. That happened to us the moment we trusted Christ as Savior (1 Corinthians 12:13). And we have already been indwelt by the Spirit. This also happened when we were saved. To be filled by the Spirit is not to have the Holy Spirit come into our lives again. He has never left us since our conversion.

The Greek word for filled in our text is "pleroo" - It means "to pervade." That which pervades controls. As one who is "drunk with wine" is controlled by that intoxicant, we are to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. Every Christian is either controlled by the Holy Spirit or by the old nature of Adam called "the flesh." (See this author's book, Building The House Of Power, for an at length delineation of the difference in the works of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and in the believer's life - Baptizing, Indwelling, Filling, Sealing, Equipping.)

The fullness of the Spirit is God's provision for victory over our sinful nature and for power in His service. The way of fullness is clearly presented in the Scriptures. I do not suggest that this is a sequential order, but these principles are necessary.

i. Aspiration

Aspiration speaks of a hunger and thirst for God. Matthew 5:6 - "Blessed are they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled." John 7:37 - "If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink." Psalm 42:1-1 - "As the dear panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God." Psalm 63:1-2 - "My soul thirsteth for thee, my  flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary." We must have a sense of need and a desire, else we will not be filled.

ii. Information

Paul gives us information in Ephesians 3:14-30. Many never realize that such a thing is promised and possible. They seem to be content with themselves as respectable, mediocre Christians living in bondage, defeat and fear.

Years ago while in a revival meeting, I was invited to go fishing with a man of the church. At dawn the next morning, we made our way to a small pond in the middle of the woods that was filled with large Bream fish. The limbs of the tall trees extended out over the pond and through the years leaves had fallen into it, settled to the bottom and deteriorated. Consequently, the water was as black as coal and stagnant.

Now come with me to a different scene. We turn on a narrow winding road across a beautiful pasture, somewhat hilly. After several hundred yards, we begin to approach a mountain in the distance. Arriving there, we see a high rock cliff on the side of the mountain and from underneath the cliff we see a stream of water gushing out into a large pond. The bottom of the pond was covered with white sand and the water crystal clear.

Question - From which pond would you prefer to drink - the one with the black stagnant water or the latter? Be informed that there is a difference. You don't have to drink the stagnant water of self-effort, doubt, fear and frustration. You can be fulfilled and satisfied by the crystal-clear water of life Jesus offers. There is a fountain already in you - just remove the clutter and junk and by faith receive the promise of the fullness of the Spirit and it will begin to flow.

I. Acknowledgement and Abandonment of  Sin

Lazarus was raised from the dead, but when he came forth he was bound with the grave clothes. Jesus commanded, "Loose him and let him go" (John 11:44). We have been raised and given new life, but the old life of our sinful nature is a problem to acknowledge. We must be set free from the grave clothes of our old Adamic nature, but we cannot set ourselves free. If we could do so, we would not need the power of the Holy Spirit. However, we must acknowledge and confess known sin in our lives and be willing for the Holy Spirit break its power and bring us into conformity to the image of Christ. Sinful habits we can't break, the Holy Spirit can and will if we yield to His control. John said, "If we confess (say the same thing) our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 john 1:9). We must be willing to agree with the Holy Spirit as to what is sin. We cannot have the blessing of the fullness and have an attitude of tolerance toward sin. The Holy Spirit is grieved by sin. There are no compromising Christians who are Spirit-filled.

II. Abdication of the Throne of Our Lives

Consider these three statements: (1) Conversion is not the last act of surrender, (2) it is not the last act of surrender but the first. (3) We must daily, by faith, take the position of death to the self-life.

A. The Holy Spirit was Given to Magnify Christ

Our motive in asking for the fullness of the Spirit must be pure-that Christ may be glorified in us. John the Baptist said, "He must increase and I must decrease" (John 3:30).

B. Jesus Must not only be Present and Prominent, but President

We must acknowledge and yield to His authority.

III. Appropriation of the Promise

All of God's dealings with us are on the same principle - Faith.

Galatians 3:14 - "That we might received the promise of the Spirit by faith." We are saved, justified, sanctified by faith - and we receive the Holy Spirit's fullness by faith.

Remember, we don't receive Him again; He is already present within us. We don't receive more of Him, He is not a measurable substance-He is a person. He doesn't receive more of us-He is Lord in us or He is not. He doesn't become a little more Lord each day, but He changes us and gives us victory over sin in our lives as we cooperate with Him and "grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18).


If you are willing to be filled, ask God to fill you and believe that He does. You will see the evidence in the fruit of the Spirit produced in and through you (Galatians 5:22-23).