Why do you need to be filled with the Holy Spirit? There are countless reasons that I find worthy to contemplate, and that motivate me to be filled with the Spirit. Let’s consider five reasons, and then discover how to be filled with the Spirit.
- Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit as an example for us:
The prophet Isaiah foretold that God’s Spirit would be upon the Messiah:
“Behold My Servant … I have put My Spirit upon Him …” [Is. 42:1].
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to proclaim good news to the poor …” [Is. 61:1].
Then about 700 years later the prophecy was fulfilled at the Jordan River when Jesus was baptized and the Spirit of God descended like a dove and came upon Him [Matt. 3:16]. This was more than the fulfillment of prophecy, or the Father’s full affirmation and identification of Jesus as Beloved Son and our Savior.
As I behold Jesus, I presume that the Spirit’s coming upon Him is an example for His followers. It is perplexing to consider that Jesus could be lacking the Spirit in that He is always God, and yet in His humanity He reveals the source of strength for victorious Christian living to us. We need the power, and leading of the Spirit to direct our minds (thoughts), mouths (words), hands and feet (actions).
- We need the Spirit to produce Christ-like character:
The fruit of the Spirit is summarized as follows: love, joy, peace, patient endurance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control [Gal. 5:22-23]. These virtuous traits are a description of Christ-like character. I’ve discovered that apart from the work of the Holy Spirit that I cannot manufacture these virtues in my life despite my earnest desire and best efforts. Yet, by the empowering of the Spirit the fruit is produced in my life.
I remember being a relatively new believer at a believers’ meeting (afterglow) at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and wanting to pray to receive the gift of tongues. As I stood in a line I was thinking how cool the gift of tongues would be and how spiritual my friends would think I was (I appreciate the irony, I’m simply confessing). As I approached Pastor Ray Snook, he said, “Bruce I saw you in line and God told me that He was going to give you the gift of love.” As long as I’m confessing, I’ll share that I was actually a little disappointed at first. I was still a trial lawyer at the time, and being loving seemed like a professional liability. Nevertheless, people that I worked with, and beyond started to tell me that I had become such a loving person. I could never have created the transformation, but the Spirit produced a radical transformation to produce Christ-like character and bring glory to God.
- We need the Spirit to effectively walk in our calling:
I presume that there is an intended connection between Jesus beginning His earthly ministry and the Spirit’s coming upon at His baptism. Each of us has a calling generally to walk worthy of Christ’s calling, and to walk in the Spirit [Eph. 4:1, Gal. 5:16]. And each of us is uniquely gifted by God to edify the Body. Your calling is the area where you advance Christ’s kingdom beyond your home or career realms.
It is interesting that Jesus engaged in His career as a stonemason/carpenter prior to the Spirit uniquely coming upon Him, but He received the filling of the Spirit prior to engaging in His calling or earthly public ministry. Certainly we want to be filled with the Spirit in every realm of our lives. Nevertheless, you cannot effectively walk in your calling apart from the Spirit. In varying seasons of my Christian life I have felt called to various roles as I seek to serve God by serving others. In each of those roles I have desperately needed the Spirit’s leading and power to rightly represent Jesus.
- We need the Spirit to properly share the gospel:
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to proclaim good news to the poor … [Is. 61:1]. To effectively bring the gospel, we need to be empowered, guided, and filled with the Spirit. I confess that on more than one occasion I have tried to share the gospel without being led by the Spirit. I’ve tried to share with family members at family gatherings, because it seemed like an opportune time, but it wasn’t. I’ve tried to reason with people, essentially as an intellectual exercise. And although in attorney mode I can be persuasive, I cannot properly do the work of bringing the good news unless I’m submitted to the Holy Spirit.
- We need the Spirit to have victory over the flesh:
I presume each of us can relate to the Apostle Paul’s struggle, “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do” [Rom. 7:15]. Many of us have struggled with life-dominating sin. We all know the battle between God’s Spirit and our flesh. No amount of self-discipline is sufficient to provide victory in the countless ways that our flesh, this world, and the enemy of men’s souls tempt us. We, like Paul, yearn to be delivered from our struggle. And like Paul, we can rejoice in the work of God’s Spirit making progressive victory over the flesh a reality [Rom. 8].
How to be filled with the Spirit: The filling of the Spirit [Eph. 5:18] or the baptism of the Spirit [Ac. 1:5] can occur at or subsequent to salvation. To be filled with the Spirit involves your submission to the Spirit’s work in leading, and empowering. The more you submit the more freedom the Spirit has to conform you to Jesus’ image. The greatest obstacle is rebellion (sin). The Spirit is grieved [Eph. 4:30] when we choose to remain ignorant of God’s commands, neglect, or intentionally rebel against His commands. The Spirit is quenched when we resist His leading [1Th. 5:19]. Sin is what hinders the filling, and obedience is how we experience the filling. As long as we have bodies of flesh we will struggle with sin. Therefore our confession, repentance, and renewed commitment to yield to God are how believers experience the Spirit-filled life.