Be Filled with the Holy Spirit
“Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph 5:18-20NLT). ” Ephesians 5:18-20
One of the best parts of my current job is to welcome students from out of the country into school in Canada.
Moving into a different place, learning a different language, and navigating a new culture is a massive challenge. Sometimes there are so many changes that students become stressed and homesick.
A few years ago, I met a new student from Columbia who had just entered Canada. Right from the beginning, I noticed something different about her that I could not put my finger on. As she entered classes and began the new chapter in Canada. I noticed that there was such a consistent joy in her life that she shared with everyone she met. Later that year, she confirmed my suspicion that she was a follower of Jesus. The joy, that was so obvious in her life, came from the Spirit of God living inside her.
In his letter to the Ephesians, the apostle Paul tells them to “be filled” not with wine but with the Holy Spirit.
The contrast between these different kinds of fillings is important because, earlier in his letter, he mentions that we live in “evil days.” When people are discouraged, depressed or just having a bad day when they seek filling from different sources.
Drinking alcohol can make us feel carefree and lead to a great night of singing at the pub but it really doesn’t give lasting satisfaction. Others may attempt to use sex, food, shopping, fame, fitness, or fashion to numb the pain and difficulty of life or find satisfaction for their soul.
The apostle commands followers of Jesus to be filled with the Spirit of God so that their souls have deep, long-lasting satisfaction in Him. The logical question then is, “How can we be filled by God’s Spirit?”
The answer that scripture gives us is incredibly simple and difficult–a deep reliance on the Spirit’s power.
One alternative to a deep reliance on the Spirit’s power is a deep reliance on self.
The popular myth in our culture that, believing in yourself is all you need to navigate the valleys of your life, can easily slip into the matrix of our beliefs causing us to malfunction concerning God’s purpose for our lives and miss out on the true source of joy and power.
The life of Samson, in the book of Judges, beautifully illustrates the need for a deep reliance on the Spirit of God. It also shows us how “believing in yourself” can grieve the Spirit of God and suspend His work in your life.
The period of the Judges is one of the lowest points in Israel’s history. Everyone was living in a way that seemed right to them (Judges 17:6) but very few of them were following God’s path.
By the time we pick up Samson’s story in chapter 16, God has allowed the Philistines to conquer God’s people in hope that they will again follow Him…but they don’t. God, in his mercy and patience, supplies judges (who were like warlords) that beat back their enemies for a time but they soon return to their old way of doing things. Samson is one of the judges raised up by God to give relief to His people.
Unlike some of the other judges, he is not a conventional military leader. In fact, he does not lead an army at all. He is not even a team player. His life consists of several solo battles revolving around personal conflicts that have resulted from broken relationships with Philistine women.
Samson’s dysfunctional relationships with Philistine women go badly in different ways but in each case, the end result is similar–violent, hand-to-hand combat with city guards and sometimes entire armies.
Although Samson constantly disobeys his parents and lives by his own moral code, God graciously uses him for the good of His people. God’s gifting to Samson is super-human strength in battle.
At one point, the Holy Spirit comes upon him and he kills 1000 soldiers with the jawbone of a donkey. After this particular battle, Samson is so exhausted that he is near death. He cries out to God for water and God miraculously provides him with water from a rock. In this scene of the story, Samson is found relying on God as his provider but he soon grows proud, and that reliance changes into arrogance.
Fast forwarding the story closer to the end (Judges 16:4), Samson falls in love with yet another Philistine woman named Delilah. Seeking an opportunity to gain an advantage over Samson, the city leaders offer Delilah a huge sum of money to learn the secret of Samson’s strength. Delilah uses her beauty and seductive powers to draw the secret out of Samson. After lying to her several times, Samson finally tells her the truth.
So he [Samson] told her everything. “No razor has ever been used on my head,” he said, “because I have been a Nazirite dedicated to God from my mother’s womb. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man.” When Delilah saw that he had told her everything, she sent word to the rulers of the Philistines, “Come back once more; he has told me everything.” So the rulers of the Philistines returned with the silver in their hands. After putting him to sleep on her lap, she called for someone to shave off the seven braids of his hair, and so began to subdue him. And his strength left him (Judges 16:17-19).
What’s interesting at this point in this story is that, even though Samson says that his strength is connected to his Nazarite vow, his response shows that he doesn’t believe this.
“Then she called, ‘Samson, the Philistines are upon you!’ He awoke from his sleep and thought, ‘I’ll go out as before and shake myself free’” (Judges 16:20).
Samson’s thoughts at this moment show us an attitude that grieves the heart and Spirit of God. Samson has become so self-reliant that he begins to take credit for God’s gifting and power in his life. The results are immediate and devastating.
Samson’s super-human powers were tied to God’s purpose and plan for Samson but when he became overconfident in his own abilities, God withdraws.
The retreat of the Spirit leads to Samson’s defeat and humiliation.
“Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes, and took him down to Gaza. Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to grinding grain in the prison” (Judges 16:21).
This low point of Samson’s life illustrates a massive roadblock to being filled by God’s spirit, and self-reliance. Self-reliance is an attitude that says, “I can be who God has called me to be and do what God has purposed me to do without the help and power of the Holy Spirit” If we are honest with ourselves, I think all of us can identify with this mindset, we have all bought into the lie of self-sufficiency to one degree or another.
Notice that God makes a temporary departure in Samson’s life here and this is a serious consequence of taking credit for God’s work in our lives.
God sometimes presses the pause button on His work in our lives at times to draw us back to Himself. It is not that God gives up on us or stops pursuing us. However, His loving discipline is sometimes required to bring us back to a life of faith and dependence on the Spirit.
Are you feeling distant from God because you once orbited your life around God but now find yourself adrift?
Thankfully Samson’s story doesn’t leave us there, it also gives us hope for renewed fullness of the Spirit.
Blinded and weak, Samson waited in his prison cell. As he waits, a new humility and reliance on God emerge. In the last chapter of his life, we find Samson making a desperate plea to God to renew his power one last time. This prayer signals a re-acknowledgment of the true source of power in His life. God is merciful to Samson and gives him one last victory over the Philistines.
In this last chapter, Samson gives us a glimpse of Jesus, who relied perfectly on the Father and fulfilled God’s purpose for his life. Jesus perfectly kept in step with the Spirit of God throughout his life. His life was full of the Spirit’s joy and power. Knowing that God would require a sacrifice for our sins, Jesus sacrificed himself on the cross. He took the punishment for our sins upon himself so that we could enjoy–new life, everlasting life, and the fullness of God’s spirit.
God desires that you and I be filled with His Spirit, but in order to receive this filling, we must see Him as the only One who can generate true joy and power in our lives. Walk in step with God’s Spirit today so that you can fulfill His purpose for your life.
Ask God to take your emptiness and replace it with his fullness.
Ask Him to fill you with His Spirit so that you experience His joy and power like never before.
Jordan Mayer – Global Disciples Canada Advocate & Prayer Supporter
Global Disciples Canada is a Christian mission organization that trains local leaders living near least-reached communities to multiply disciples for Christ. One-third of our world hasn’t heard the Good News of Jesus. Yet. Global Disciples refers to these as “least-reached” people and fewer than 10% of all missionaries work among these groups. We live in a time where many of these people are within reach of a local church. Through our simple and effective training and coaching strategy, believers share the Gospel in their own nations and cultures. Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations,” and we’re committed to doing just that. If you are looking for a Christian mission organization to partner with to become a better disciple and help make disciples, connect with us today!
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