How to Be Filled With the Spirit
We’re getting to the end of our series here on the kingdom come. And the reason we’ve gone to this together as a church is we wanted to see the theme of scripture, what the Bible is really all about. Sometimes when you pick up the Bible, it can be confusing and it can feel daunting to us because it’s 66 manuscripts put together and it’s not even written in chronological form. So if you think to yourself, “It’s the start of 2020 and I’m going to read through the Bible,” and you start doing that and you realize some of the books share some of the similar stories and the chronology doesn’t mesh well when you read scripture. Like how does this all work?
We’ve gone through the Bible for a bigger picture of understanding when you pick it up, how to have confidence in what you’re reading and what it means for us. Sometimes if you’ve grown up in some sort of religious environment where maybe the Bible stories were taught to you, we’ll hear individual stories, but we fail to see sometimes how the bigger story is communicated through individual stories and scripture. That really the main character in the Bible is the Lord. And if we don’t see it that way, you’re going to miss the grand scheme of what God is saying to us.
If I gave the Bible one word, I’ve shared with us, it’s redemption. And the reason for that is God made us in his image to know him, connect to him, and enjoy him all of eternity. But what happens in the very beginning of the Bible is man rebels. And God at that moment could have judged us in our sin because God is holy. But rather than judge us and sentence us, what God did is he gave us a way of grace. He promised us in Genesis 3:15 he would send a Messiah to rescue us. That God has been in pursuit of our rebellious souls from the beginning.
God’s desire is to redeem us. Jesus comes. He dies on the cross for your sins. And he says to tell us, die on the cross, meaning paid in full. The payment for your life, Jesus makes in full and God now provides for you the place to come to know him. Everyone that goes to heaven does through one means, which is the way of the cross. Jesus says in John 14, which we’re in today, in verse six, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the father, but by me.” Jesus is the means.
If there were another way, then Christ would not have come and given his life for you. But because he is the only way Jesus has given his life so that you can know him and enjoy him for all of his journey, which is the reason for which you were created. That is the grand scheme of scripture. That’s what it communicates to us. That story of redemption for your souls.
Now, we talked a lot about the Old Testament. The Old Testament is a foreshadowing of everything that would be fulfilled in Jesus. Their whole system of worship, in the Old Testament, was a picture of what Jesus would ultimately do for us from the sabbath to the law, to the temple, to the sacrifice of the sheep. All of that is an ultimate picture of Jesus and what he would do for us on the cross. And now that Jesus has come in the gospels, we’ve talked about this together and his crucifixion that happened on our behalf, the New Testament is written as a means to look back at everything Jesus has done for us.
So if you think in terms of the New Testament, just to give you a picture of this, New Testament is not put together in chronological order either. New Testament is not even put together in the way, in accordance to when the books were written. The New Testament is put together like the Old Testament. It’s according to literary genre. So when you turn to the New Testament, the first four books that you get are the gospels. The next book, the book of Acts is a history book. It’s an explanation of how the spirit of God work through the people of God to accomplish the will of God from Jerusalem all the way to Rome. How the gospel spread and the church continued to expand according to what God called us to.
After the book of Acts, you have the epistles. And the first epistles you have are Paul’s epistles. There’s Paul’s 13 epistles, unless you think Paul wrote Hebrews, then there’s 14 epistles. The way they put Paul’s epistles together weren’t even according to chronology in that means. The way they put it in the Bible is according to the size of the book. The largest letter Paul wrote is in the beginning. The smallest letter Paul wrote is at the end. And then after that, you have the books from the other apostles that were written.
All of the New Testament written by the end of the first century. All of it recorded in the first century. And so at the end of the Bible, you have First, Second Peter, Hebrews, Jude First, Second, Third, John and James and Revelation.
And so you see on this screen is it gives you a dating as to what time period these books cover. The gospels, 3 BC to about 38 AD, thereabout. And Acts is the next 30 years after that, from 30 to 60. And then the epistles are written, some of them written during the time period of Acts and some of them written after Acts. But you see how it plays out in that map. And you can Google something like this. It’s easy to find on the internet.
It gives you an idea of how the New Testament was pieced together. And all of these New Testament letters are a response to what we do in light of what Jesus has done for us now. That Jesus has come, he’s been victorious, he’s provided us life, he’s overcome the grave and by his resurrection he’s promised us a resurrection in him. What does that look like?
Well, Jesus, when he’s come to bring his kingdom in the very beginning when God created, he established his kingdom. He was ruler over all things. Bible tells us for six days he created as king. And on the seventh day he sits on his throne to rest that we can enjoy his presence forever. Man rebels. Jesus comes back restores and Jesus brings his kingdom.
I mean, his first statement is “The kingdom of God is at hand.” First thing Jesus says, spiritually, he restores us in him in that way, by giving us spiritual life in him. And he’s also going to return in his kingdom physically for us. And so we’re in that period where his kingdom is already not yet. He’s bringing the introduction of his kingdom. He’s spiritually bringing us new life in him, and physically he will return.
And so how do we live in light of that? In the hope of the gospel, what Jesus provides for us. God built, in the New Testament we especially read this, his group of followers that he calls his church. This represents those that put their faith in Jesus that want to belong to this king and his kingdom. And as a community, we refer to this as his gathering or his church.
And when he comes to build his church, the book of Matthew, the very first gospel, lays this out in a beautiful way. When he first calls his disciples, he pronounces the kingdom’s come. And he says to his disciples in Matthew 4:19 “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” So it’s all about he’s talking to fishermen there and he’s all about recognizing that what God wants us to impact in this world, for his glory, is the lives of others. God wants us to reach people. And he says that in Matthew 16:18. “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail.” That this church lives in victory in Jesus. That we literally are storming down the gates of hell. That we’re not fighting against people. We’re fighting for people. We’re here to reach others.
And then he gives us the great commission and the great commandment. The great commandment is in Matthew 22 verse 37 and 39 where he says, “Love God. Love others.” Meaning, if you love God, the way you demonstrate that love isn’t necessarily by sitting here and saying, “Jesus, I love you. Jesus, I love you,” which we should do that. We should acknowledge our love for the Lord, but your ultimate love for Jesus should be experience and how you love others through your love for him. Right?
So if I love God, I’m going to love what God loves and what God loves is people. God wants us to make a difference for him. And the greatest place that that movement starts is among his people when we gather together. This is where we have our … the anthem cry of what Jesus has done for us. Love God. Love others. And then he ends in Matthew 28:19 and 20. “Go in the world and make disciples.” So in the very beginning he says, “I want to make you fishers of men.” And by the end of the gospels, he then looks at his disciples and says, “Go make disciples in this world. Help people understand what it means to follow after me and give their lives for me.”
Now when it comes to us as a church family, this is, I think important for us to understand is this has always been our heart from the beginning. Guys, I don’t care if we’re a big church or a small church. Our objective here is not to be a big church. Our objective here is not to be a small church. We just want to be a healthy people that make a difference for Jesus. And sometimes when you think about where God has you in this world and the relationships that you have, and you may look at where you’re at, you’re like, “Man, how in the world can I even do that?” It feels overwhelming. When I watch news today, I think about people around me that don’t love Jesus, and here I am. I love the Lord. I’m a follower of the Lord. I want to do what God has called me to do.
Here’s what I want you to know. You can’t change everywhere, but you can make an impact somewhere. And if you wake up every day and your decision is to say this, “Look, you can’t do for everyone, but tomorrow or even today, do for one what you wish you could do for everyone.” That’s it. When you think about in terms of impacting relationships to start somewhere. Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone. But it’s true sometimes when you think about following after the Lord, it can feel overwhelming at times.
I think the disciples felt this way as Jesus continued to share with him his message, this gospel. The king has come to redeem us. When you get to John chapter 14, I think especially in this moment, the disciples are feeling the weightiness of it because Jesus said he’s going to build his church and the gates of hell will not prevail. But here in John 14 Jesus has told his disciples he’s leaving. Their king that they follow, that they’ve given up this trade of fishing and have pursued after him in order to make a difference in this world, that all of a sudden this king that they’re following is leaving. Now what are they going to do? How can they carry this movement forward?
And when you get to John 14, Jesus starts this section of scripture in such a beautiful way. John 14 verse 1 he says, “Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. And my father’s house are many dwelling places. Behold, I go to prepare a place for you that where I am, there you may be also.” So Jesus is bringing them comfort in these moments. He recognizes that they’re on edge when they’ve just heard from their king that he’s leaving and they’re feeling this sense of abandonment. And he says, “Look, don’t let your heart be troubled.” That’s how John 14 starts.
And he tells them, he gives him this promise that you’re going to be with me. And that’s a wonderful, comforting thought. Like you have hope beyond this world, that this is Jesus’ desire for you, that he’s come, that you can have a life in his presence forever. Beautiful thought, right? You’ll see me there. I’ll be running buck naked through the streets. Huh? That’s my plan. I don’t know if I’ll get arrested for that, but Adam and Eve ran naked. We’re not going to practice this today. But that’s a beautiful thought. Right?
And the hope that is to come in Christ. When you look at that, there is some comfort to this, but you got to think in terms of the disciples in these moments. They would say to themselves, “But what about now? That’s great for tomorrow. What about now?” And when you think about all that you called us to do, these disciples, they’re not going to see themselves as these incredible warriors. They’re just fishermen, and in their day that trade wasn’t an honorable position to have. In fact, people thought less of them because of it.
And so Jesus continues on, John chapter 14 in verse 16. And this is where he gives us further promise, not just for tomorrow, but also for today. And he gives us this thought as a church and what God desires for us. He says, “I will ask the father, and he will give you another helper that he may be with you forever. That is the spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it does not see him or know him, but you know him because he abides with you and will be in you and I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you.” So Jesus introduces them to this thought of what significance in this world can they have and where are they going to be able to continue this forward without him?
And so he centers his teaching from this moment on the idea of the spirit. And so if you read John 14 all the way to John chapter 16, you’re going to see that Jesus comes back to this theme repeatedly on the significance of the spirit and how he plays a powerful role in our lives today. And when Jesus begins to describe him, I’m just going to move through this quickly, but I want you to recognize exactly what Jesus is saying here. When he begins this statement on the spirit, the way he introduces him is by referencing him as another helper. And this word, another we don’t pick up as really that significant in our language today. But in the Greek, what it’s explained to us here is another of the same kind. So what he’s saying is, “Look, you think I’m important. Well, I’m going to send another. And it’s not just another, it’s another the same kind as me.”
Meaning what Jesus is recognizing the spirit is the spirit is a … he’s claiming the spirit as deity of the same nature of Christ. The same nature that I possess, this spirit possesses. And here’s the beauty of it. The spirit is going to be with you and he’s going to be with you forever and he’s not just going to be with you, he’s going to be in you. And so Jesus is saying that the significance of his leaving isn’t just about his death on the cross, which is important, but it’s also about empowering God’s people to do more in this world for his kingdom.
Here he is in his presence, but when the spirit comes, it will transcend into all people. So another of the same kind. And in some translations it refers to him as a helper. In other translations it refers to him as a comforter. But what’s important to recognize in these terminologies, if you have comforter or helper … I like the word helper just a little bit more than comforter because I feel like comforter plays into a false understanding of American worship.
If you read it, especially in the King James, I think the King James chooses the idea of comforter. And I think in our culture we’ve sort of redefined comforter to mean something different than what God intends here. When we often use the word comfort, we think in terms of just make me feel better, right? In fact, we create our religious beliefs that way. I’m going to follow God because he makes me feel better, right? I don’t think God necessarily wants you to feel bad. I’m not trying to promote, go out and seek things that make you feel awful. But I think sometimes when we worship God, we make our God about our pleasures and we just happen to call him Jesus, right?
So I’m following God and because it’s convenient and comfortable and it just makes me feel better to do things that look nice and Jesus somehow … Jesus fits in there, right? But this word, comforter or helper means more than just helping you achieve what it is that you want to achieve or comforting you so that you feel good. A better understanding would just to be to say this, it really carries the idea of strengthen. How are you going to do what God calls you to do? Well, he’s going to give you the strength to do it. And maybe right now you can look at the moment you’re thinking, “How in the world am I going to get there?” But reality is what he’s saying is when you’re there, God will supply what you need to carry you through to what he’s called you to.
That God’s not going to leave you insufficient. God is God. And he understands everything you’re going to face before you’re there. And so what he’s saying is he’s going to send another of the same kind. He possesses the same nature as Jesus. And he’s going to be with you and he’s going to be in you and he’s not just simply going to make you feel good. He’s actually going to give you the strength to overcome. So when we talk in terms of storming down the gates of hell, this is why you’re able to do it. Not you, but him.
The spirit will be with you forever. He has truth. He abides in you. What he’s saying us is, “Look, God’s not leaving you as an orphan.” But he says in the very end, “I will not leave you,” right? And then Jesus gives us a reminder and I’m coming in. I will return.
Now, in case you’ve ever had this sort of confusion, especially if you’re familiar with King James version … King James version’s great version of the Bible. It served the church for many years. There’s something interesting that happens in the King James that’s a little distinct from some other translations. It’s worth knowing about. In John 14 if you read on a little further, it says this, “But the comforter,” instead of the helper, King James translates, “which is the Holy Ghost, whom the father will send in my name. He shall teach you all things.” Some people have asked this, if you’re familiar with King James, what’s the difference between the Holy Spirit and the Holy Ghost? And you’ll notice if you read King James, it’ll use words like spirit and ghost.
What’s the difference in that? And some people have actually tried to develop a theology and teaching that spirit and ghost as being two separate things. Here’s what you need to know. It’s not. It’s the same Greek word, pneuma. It is the same Greek word. And the only reason that King James, the King James version switches between Holy Ghost and Holy Spirit is because this Greek word can be translated as ghost and spirit. And when you have multiple people translating and they’re not communicating as to what word they’re choosing for the Holy Spirit, when they’re writing it down, some might prefer ghost and others might prefer spirit. And that is the only reason that they have ghost.
There’s not a separate theology. Ghost and spirit are the same thing. But when you read further about the spirit, the Bible explains a lot of significant things. I don’t have time to get into everything that the spirit does, but I do want to just highlight related to John 14 what the spirit represents.
And if you think about that through scripture, First Corinthians 3:16 says, “You are the temple of God and that got spirit dwells in you.” Meaning religiously people may make a big deal about buildings and these locations as if they’re sacred. And what God says about you is it’s not building at all. In fact, what is sacred is you. That’s where God’s presence dwells. So it says, “You are the temple of God and that the spirit of God dwells in you.” His dwelling place isn’t building. His dwelling place is his people. So you are literally, you’re literally God’s Holy temple on the move. Wherever you go and interact in this world, you are the temple that represents his goodness.
In Romans 8:15, “You have received a spirit of adoption,” meaning you belong to him. When you have the spirit of God, you belong to him. Romans 8:9 gives us this warning and encouragement. “If you don’t have Jesus, you don’t have the spirit. If you give your life to Jesus, you are brought into the family.” You belong. You are adopted. And so the spirit is a reminder of your adoption in him. First Corinthians 12:13, “We have all been baptized into one body.” This idea of fellowshipping in God, that we’re immersed in him, now we’re connected to him.
In Ephesians 4:30, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God by whom you were sealed.” This idea of grieving plays into the thought of God being a person or personality, part of the tri-unity, the Trinity of God. You can’t grieve a thing, but you as a person, you have been grieved. As in your individuality, you understand what it means to be grieved. And it’s showing the individuality, the personality of the Holy Spirit because he can be grieved. The way we grieve him is he works in our lives and we do the exact opposite. The spirit of God is in our lives to do the exact opposite. The spirit of God is in our lives to follow after Jesus. So, don’t grieve the Holy Spirit by whom you were sealed.
And this idea of sealing, if you think in terms of sending a postage stamp. You put that stamp on. You write a couple names on the back of the envelope. And that says that the only people that can open this envelope, now that it’s sealed, are the person that addressed it and the person that it’s addressed to. They have the authority based on that seal. Right? And when you think in terms of a king in Jesus’ day, when a king would send a letter, he would place a seal on it. Or when he would pass a law, he would place a seal on it. When he would pass a law is to say based on his seal that no one could break this law. Only one more powerful can write a greater law. That seal means something.
So when Jesus seals us, he’s saying to you that no one can break that seal. That it’s God’s name written on you and your addressed to God, and therefore you belong to him. It’s this guarantee of your relationship with God for all of eternity. This is what the spirit promises to every believer. You’re indwelt. You are the temple of his presence. You’re adopted. You’re baptized. You’re sealed. He’s with you and will be with you forever and you are not an orphan. It screams to us you belong. God is near. You have purpose. And truthfully, you can’t get more of the Holy Spirit then you already have.
Sometimes in Christianity we have this weird way of interacting with the spirit, as if we need to pray that he would be here. If you have Jesus, you have the spirit. You don’t need to ask him to show up. He is there, right? You can’t get more of someone that already dwells in you. You have him. And so this is the reminder that God is for you. He is with you. He wants to see you victorious in what he’s called you to in the world. But I think the better question for us then, since Jesus promises all of this to us in this spirit, and at the end of his life, he really wanted his disciples to cling to this. That’s why he talks about it so much in his last few chapters.
I think it’s important for us to then seek the thought of what does it look like for us to experience his work in our lives? It’s not about having him. If you belong to Jesus, you have him. How do I experience him in the way which God has called me to in this world.
When Ephesians chapter 5, Paul is beginning to explain to us in this section of scripture what it means to experience the work of the spirit in our lives. How do we have that relationship with him? Ephesians 5:18 says this, “Do not be drunk with wine, for that is dissipation. But be filled with a spirit.”
What does that mean? Being filled with the spirit is a controversial subject for some. I mean, I could probably do about, I don’t know, half a dozen sermons on all the bad things people make the spirit be and still not even touch on what you should actually do with the Holy Spirit. People make this a … but I don’t think God wants us to be complicated. I don’t think he intends us to be complicated in relationship to him. I think he wants us to understand the simplicity really of this statement, how concise Paul makes it. Don’t be drunk with wine but be filled with the spirit.
Now I want to also add this little caveat to this passage is I have watched people read this verse and then go teach on this verse and they fixate so much on the beginning of this verse that they miss the entire point of this verse, which is to be filled with the spirit. Like some people get this vendetta of wanting to preach against drunkenness and then spend their entire time guilting people over drunkenness that they forget that the whole point of this passage is be filled with the spirit. I think when it comes to the idea of drunkenness, Paul’s using this as an example here. It’s the example to play into the idea of what it looks like to then be filled with the spirit and what it doesn’t look like to be filled with the spirit.
I don’t think, if you want to know the biblical stand, and I’m going to invite you to not do something for me. Okay? A biblical stand on drinking is there is some wisdom in not drinking, but the Bible doesn’t tell you not to drink. Like Paul told Timothy in First Timothy 5:23, “Drink a little wine for your stomach,” because apparently Timothy had an upset stomach.
See, I don’t think you look at scripture and say, “No one should ever drink ever.” But I find it difficult to look at drinking and say, “There are a lot of people in life that have a testimony of how much drinking has changed their life for the better.” Right? So, like I’m not here to promote drinking. And at the same time, I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. And I don’t even want to really fixate on that.
And let me just take this a step further. Usually when a verse like this comes up, the typical question I get related to this then is someone wants to tell me something about pot. It usually goes like this. They don’t really have a question for them. They usually say something like this. “God made herbs, dude.” And then they want to give some statement of why pot’s okay.
I just want to say this. Your government also says it’s illegal unless you’re from Colorado or California. So you know where to go if that matters to you, right? We’re also called to be obedient to government. And I’m just going to leave that there. And if you have a statement you want to make about pot, I want you to know I don’t care. So do whatever you want with that. And I do care in terms of if it medically helps people. There’s a conversation to have there. But really if you just want to make some kind of stand about roll a doobie and be happy, like I’m not interested in that kind of conversation today.
I am interested in what Paul wants to get to and being filled with the spirit. That matters. Right? This is what Paul is saying to his disciples, “This matters. This is what Jesus calls you to do in this world and the spirit has given to you for a reason.” So what does this look like? Why does Paul introduce drunkenness in connection to a feeling of the spirit? This is kind of a strange illustration. So how does this connect? What does it mean? How is it like being filled with the spirit? How is it unlike?
So, just to give us a basis, to be filled with the spirit, you have to have the spirit, right? You have to belong to Jesus. You don’t just get the spirit as anybody in this world. Like it’s for God’s people. Romans 8:9, if you have Jesus, you’re promised the spirit. You are sealed. You’re adopted. So it starts there. But why does Paul introduce this drunkenness in connection to feeling the spirit?
Well, just because you’re indwelt by the spirit doesn’t mean you’re filled with the spirit. What Paul is actually saying is while you may be indwelt by the spirit, you can actually be controlled by other things. And drunkenness here is an example. This drunken idea carries the thought of being dominated. The word in Greek is actually a prolonged word, which means it’s the idea of continuing to be dominated. It holds you. The point of drunkenness isn’t about how much alcohol is in you, but rather how much alcohol has a hold of you, how much it controls you, how much it affects you, and what you do.
When you think about the idea of alcohol, some people turn to the bottle because alcohol, it’s not a stimulant. It’s actually a depressant. And by depressant, it doesn’t mean that it makes you depressed. What it actually means is that it depresses parts of your brain, so you see less of reality. It’s a way of suppressing so that you escape. It’s a coping mechanism, right? I can’t handle this. I’m drinking so I can suppress what I’m going through or depress what I’m going through so I have less of reality. And you can get things off your chest, right? It’s why sometimes people get a little more brave in what they say because the accountability, their factor of understanding their accountability as a human being, it’s suppressed with alcohol.
And what he says here about alcohol is it leads to dissipation. And what he’s saying is because it’s controlling you, what it actually does is it leads you in such a way that it causes you to spill or to waste or to squander. So God creates, you has this purpose for your life, and rather than live that life in him by the power of his spirit, what you allow yourself to do while the spirit indwells you is to be controlled by something else. And it leads to squandering the reason for which God has created you in this world and living out that calling for him.
And so he’s using this as an example and saying, “Look, okay, you’re indwelt but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re filled or controlled by God.” And so filled by the spirit means rather than allow drunkenness or something else to dominate you, you can use other examples, you allow the spirit to fill you. Being spirit indwelt and spirit filled is like understanding the difference between a wedding and a marriage.
Being spirit indwelt is like a wedding ceremony. It’s the signing of a covenant. God’s covenant to you is Jesus coming for your life, and the guarantee of that covenant is now the spirit that seals your life. It’s the wedding. Spirit of God in you. But the filling is how you walk in that marriage. So in terms of God, because of that covenant relationship, the Bible uses the illustration of marriage in our connection to God. And so we now have, based on that wedding, the opportunity to walk in relationship of that marriage.
No one’s going to look at a wedding and say, “Look, this is all about …” the wedding isn’t the end of the marriage, right? The wedding is just the beginning to what … like people can walk around all day long with their wedding certificate saying, “I’m married. I’m married. I’m married.” But that doesn’t necessitate that your marriage is worth a lick, right? The paper is the guarantee, but the relationship determines the health.
And that’s what he’s saying with the filling of the spirit. If you want to be filled with the spirit, the question is what dominates you? What has control of you? Where have you surrendered your life? Is it something else or is it Christ? And so when you think in terms of being filled with the spirit, we think in terms of relationship, this idea of surrendering to God to allow him to lead us rather than allow something else dictate what I do. And so when you think in terms of spirit, here’s what I don’t want us to do. I don’t want us to stress out and think, “My life already feels full and now you’re telling me a relationship I’ve got to spend this much amount of time with this person, this much amount of time with this person. And now I’ve got to spend this much amount of time with the spirit. I don’t have that much time,” right?
Rather, what he’s saying is this, the Spirit’s not trying to abide in your life for a piece of your pie. The spirit wants all of you. And when the spirit has all of you, what happens is it impacts all of your relationships for the better. Don’t you remember I said in the beginning, the way that you show your love for God is demonstrated how you love others. So when your life is wholly given over to the Lord, the way that that should look in your life is all the relationships around you aren’t losing time with you, but it’s actually enhancing the quality of the relationship they have with you because of your relationship to the Lord.
I love better because of Christ’s love in me through the spirit. I have more patience in my life. I’m less likely to jump to anger and attack, right? Because I know God’s heart for the person in front of me, and I know my love for the Lord and the way the spirit wants to work through me now. And so when the spirit of God has control of my life, it enhances my ability to love others around me.
So why doesn’t it say, “Don’t get drunk on alcohol, rather go get drunk on the spirit.” If he wants to use this example of alcohol in this passage, and he says, “Don’t get drunk on wine,” but then rather than say, “Go get drunk on the spirit,” he says, “Feel the spirit.” Why doesn’t he say go get drunk on the spirit instead of getting drunk on wine. What’s the difference in word choice for which Paul says this for us in this passage?
Well, if you think about what the spirit is about, according to as John 14 lays it out, alcohol will become a depressant to encourage you to run from things, right? The spirit is the opposite. The spirit is about strengthening our lives to walk through things. God doesn’t wait for the hard stuff that you go through to go away so you can start having a relationship with him again. God wants you to give you the strength to storm down the adversity in your life by the presence of his spirit.
I think that’s why Paul is saying in this section description, you know what alcohol does? It suppresses the brains so you have less of reality, and what the spirit actually does is it enhances reality so you see the significance of the need. But not only that, you see the strength of God working in you to be the solution as God works through you in the difficulty around you.
What I’m saying is God gives you the tools to confront the adversity, what life is about. His joy is sustaining you in those circumstance. Remember the entire con context of what Jesus is introducing in John 14 is it’s a pronouncement to a church that’s going to go through adversity and they’re worried seeing their leader going to be crucified. What’s going to happen to us? God, how can I walk this road? What are we going to have? That’s great that heaven is promised to us and your presence when we get there, but we’re not there. So what about now? What about now?
He’s saying trust in the spirit. So we like to suppress the adversity we go through. And if I gave you an example outside of our God, say this, like if you’re laid off from your job, that’s a significant thing. The way we could start to suppress it, we could just say this, “I didn’t like my stupid boss anyway,” right? “What a dumb job I had.” And we just try to diminish or minimize what it was. But reality is that’s a big deal. With the spirit of God in your life, you realize, but God’s in control. And in him I ultimately win, and God cares about where I’m at and God has a plan for this and God is my strength. So it’s not about suppressing or depressing, but learning to walk with him through it.
So how do you know if you’re living a spirit filled life? How do you know if you’re walking in the spirit? Question one is, are you surrendered? Do you walk in relationship with God? Do you want to walk in relationship with God? Two, if you’re filled, it’s important to know you will express his fruit in relationship. Ephesians 5:18 Paul goes a little further and he just says, “Let me just give you an illustration of what this looks like when you’re filled with the spirit.” He says this, verse 19. “Speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs and singing and making melody in your heart and to the Lord. That God puts a song in your heart.” It’s about the truth of who he is. And we just sing this like you’re the sound of music wherever you go, right?
And in verse 20, “Always giving thanks to all things in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the father, and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.” So look what he … verse 21, “Be subject to one another.” So we’re around and we’re encouraging in Christ each other, singing this melody in our heart of the goodness of who our God is. And we’re subject to one another, not because we’re less than the other person beside of us, but because the great opportunity and privilege that we have in position in Christ now. Because God has elevated us, it gives us the strength to get beneath each other and serve each other.
What he’s saying is you’re bearing fruit. That’s what fruit looks like. The fruit of the spirit is seen in how you care for people around you. That’s why Galatians 5 says, “The fruit of the spirit,” in verse 16 to 23 “is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness. The fruit of the spirit is all relational orders.” And so the way that you know you’re filled as you express this fruit of the spirit in relationship.
I want you to note here, bearing fruit is more about what comes out of your heart than it is about results. Sometimes when you think in terms of bearing fruit, we immediately want to look for results. But can I tell you, results aren’t up to you. Because when we talk about the fruit of the spirit, the fruit of the spirit is in terms of relationship, right? And you can’t determine what someone else does. So basing being filled with the spirit on results is an incorrect way of looking how the spirit should manifest itself in your life. The spirit is all about what comes out of your heart. The results are up to God, because you can’t dictate what another person does.
In a society that’s very result-driven, I think that’s important for us to know that God doesn’t hold you accountable for how someone else responds. What God desires is for you to represent his fruit in this world, to bear the fruit of the spirit. Leave it up to him for the results. What I’m saying is what God wants from you is obedience, faith, trusting in him, and the rest of that responsibility rests in him.
So in order to bear fruit, here’s what you need, guys. You need people. You need people. That’s what makes the church so important. That’s why God tells us, “Don’t forsake the assembly of us gathering together” because this … this becomes the place where all of this comes out. And if we don’t have this, we don’t have anything. And so when we think in terms of bearing fruit, it’s got to start among God’s people, one another together first. Which by the way, I just want to tell you this week, Church, like my wife this week was sicker than I’ve ever seen her in our marriage together.
And somebody found out on Tuesday and in the next three days I proceeded to gain at least five pounds. And I have decided that we’re … even though she’s getting better, that I’m just going to fake sick next week because it was so good. Oh, man. So just don’t stop. Don’t stop coming over or bringing food. But we need, we have to have each other to bear fruit. You cannot live for Jesus on your own because the way the spirit works is in relationship. And without those relationships, you can’t do what God calls you to do because the spirit of God is a relational connection. The way he moves in life, it’s relationally connected.
And not only that, it happens in adversity. So in the hard times, don’t stop bearing fruit. That’s easy for the flesh to come out in those moments. But don’t stop bearing fruit, especially I should say in those times because that’s where the goodness of God is made even brighter in the darkest of days. And third, I would say this. You will make much of Jesus. How do you know your fruit is genuine? Truthfully, truthfully, a lot of religious people do a lot of good things and even non-religious people.
You can fabricate the fruit of the spirit, right? You can go out and you can look good and you can look loving. But the question is, what’s your motive? Why? Is it so people think great things about you? That people see great things about God? So I think the ultimate thing about the fruit of the spirit is he wants to make much of Jesus. Jesus said so much in John 16:14. He said, “The spirit of God when he comes, he will glorify me.” And in Ephesians 5, Paul says the same thing, right? Verse 20 “Always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God.” Verse 21, “And being subject to one another,” and look at this, “in the fear of Christ.” This is the reverence of Christ.
The way I’m walking in the spirit, the way I know I’m walking the spirit is the pursuit of my life is the goodness of Jesus to be made known in this world. He’s the one that transforms. He’s the one that changed my life. He’s the one I want other people to know because he can change their life too. He is a God of hope. When the spirit fills you, he leads you. He guides you. He controls you.
Jesus’s final moments with his disciples in John chapter 13 to 17 before the cross, significant portion of this passage is dedicated to the spirit of God and the spirit of God coming to connect us to the Lord for all of eternity. You belong to the Lord because you have Jesus. He gives you the strength to live out for the purpose for which he has called you and created you in this world. He sends the spirit not to just indwell you and adopt you, but to fill you. Surrender to his filling in your life. Bear fruit. Make much of Jesus, because Christ is the hope of the world. And through the spirit we get to be a part of what God desires to do.