Learning to Be Filled with Christ
If mortal man is to accomplish the mission of the eternal God, there must be an anchor by which imperfection, shortsightedness, frailty, and predispositions to distraction are made to be inconsequential.
To put it another way, God knows man’s weaknesses, and therefore when he calls us to grand heights and mighty conquests, he doesn’t leave us to our own devices.
The text for this morning is found in Ephesians 5:18-21: “18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
For two weeks, we’ve unpacked Paul’s words from chapter four. At the center of everything—the whole universe—is Jesus, enthroned on high, reigning with the supreme will to fill all things. While I’m sure a picture of Jesus filling everything in the universe is hard to envision, Paul lays out a very clear vision of what it looks like in the church. The measurement of a Christ-filled church is this: “until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (4:13).
The measure at which we can say, “We’ve been totally filled with Jesus,” is when we are totally unified, totally knowledgeable of Jesus’ will, and totally mature. This is a concise, clear, simple vision, and therefore this will be the standard we hold before us always. Unity, knowledge, maturity!
Now, the manner in which those three pillars are realized is twofold, the first of which we saw last week. In order to fill us to the point of total unity, comprehensive knowledge, and complete maturity, Jesus gave gifts to each one of us. The emphatic word from Paul in Ephesians 4, Romans 12, and 1 Corinthians 12 is that the church is a body, among which there are many members, each of which is uniquely gifted in some indispensable way.
If every person had the same gift, we couldn’t be filled to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. But Christ has given everyone in the church a gift. Christ will fill his church when we are all actively using our gift for some spirit-filling, faith-building ministry in Kingfisher.
But there’s one other means by which Christ fills his church unto unity, knowledge, and maturity. In 5:18, Paul says, “Do not get drunk with wine, but be filled with the Spirit.” Did you get the contrast? You’re either being filled with wine (or video games, or MTV, or lust, and so on), or you’re filled with the Spirit.
The question today is, with what are you filling yourself? What fuel carries you through the work day? With what food do you feed your spirit? What are you ingesting? What do you primarily spend your time looking at? What music are you listening to? What books do you read? What goes in you and makes you tick?
We cannot attain to unity, knowledge, and maturity if we are filled up with anything besides Christ. So Paul says, “Be filled with the Spirit.” Let me briefly say a word about the grammar of that sentence. Grammar is exceedingly important, by the way. I didn’t learn to love grammar until I learned to love studying the Bible. Reason being, God ordained that his will would be revealed to us in sentences, and main clauses, and supporting clauses, and participial phrases, and verbs and adjectives. He could have revealed his will through personal revelation to every man in here. But he didn’t. So let’s spend just a few moments talking about the grammar of this sentence—“Be filled with the Spirit.”
The main verb is a Greek present passive imperative. The significance of the present tense is, as long as you are in the present (which is always), this filling should be taking place. Which means, we can’t ever say to the Spirit, “I’ve had enough for now! Thanks!” Some have done that. They go to church and get done with an hour of worship and think to themselves, “I’m good now until next week.”
Next, The passive voice is crucial because it means you aren’t expected to produce your own fuel for filling your spirit. The passive voice comes across in the words “be filled!” It’s not, “fill yourself!” Be filled, meaning God does the filling. Our job is just to get ourselves to the fuel source.
Lastly, the verb is in the imperative mood, which means this is a command of Christ. It means, your King in heaven has issued a decree for his subjects. Not only has he given everyone a gift by which the church gets filled, but he has provided his Spirit and it is our duty to let Him fill us. Be filled!
How to Get Filled Up on Jesus
But how? Here again, sentence structure is supremely important. Paul says, “be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
Did you hear all of those ‘ing’ words? Those are participles. In this instance, they serve to define how the command in verse 18 is to be achieved. Be filled with the Spirit by (1) addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs; Be filled with the Spirit by (2) singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart; Be filled with the Spirit by (3) giving thanks always and for everything to God; Be filled with the Spirit by (4) submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
The command is “Be filled with the Spirit,” and the means is fourfold. For the next few minutes, we will discuss two of these four means. The final message in this mini-series, next week, will pertain to the latter two of those means.
Addressing One Another Properly
The first means by which Paul says, “The Spirit will fill your being,” concerns the manner in which we address or speak to one another. Now, part of the idea here concerns corporate singing. He uses the words psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to give that idea. But by virtue of the word “speaking” over against the word “singing” (in the next sentence), I think Paul has something broader in mind. I think he’s advising us to have a spiritual word or Psalm at the ready for the brother or sister who may need it.
I don’t think we need to go over and say, “Sit down, brother, let me sing you a song!” For you and him, that may be quite awkward. I think Paul is saying, “Speak to one another in words that encourage and build and strengthen!”
There’s a time and place to shoot the breeze, talking about football and the weather. But saints need more than that. They need to be filled with the words God breathed. And guess what happens when we begin to speak to one another in those ways? We begin to be filled with God’s Spirit. Why? Because the fullness of God’s Spirit is achieved when we are filled with spiritual thoughts, spiritual songs, Psalms, Scripture, and truth.
Singing and Making Melody to God
“Be filled with the Spirit…singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart.”
The second means by which Paul says, “The Spirit will fill your being,” is also achieved through song, though here the address is specifically to Jesus. Sing and make melody to the Lord. I think Paul specifically references Jesus here because in verse 20 he modifies “Lord” as “Jesus Christ.” The application, however, extends to the whole Godhead.
The thing I want to focus on here is that little prepositional phrase “with your heart.” Sing and make melody to God with your heart. Why is that so profoundly important in regards to being filled with the Spirit? Well, if you’re singing, but you don’t mean or feel what you’re singing, then the effect is lost. Anybody in the world can sing a song, but I wonder how many sing to the Lord with more than lips and vocal cords.
What is happening deep in your mind when songs are echoed across these walls? Let’s not focus so much on tenor, alto, soprano, and bass that we miss what we’re saying!
Now, let me offer a couple of practical suggestions concerning our singing. (1) If the people don’t understand the words or phrasing of the songs we sing, then such songs cannot be sung with the heart. In other words, I’m not singing with my heart if I have no idea what “here I raise my ebenezer means.” Therefore, in order to ensure we are actually singing with our hearts, perhaps brief explanations prior to a song may help.
(2) As more and more young people enter this place, we would do well to learn more recent songs. Psalm 98:1 says, “Oh sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things!”
Our concern here is to please Christ by being totally filled with him.
This is Christ’s will; it was Paul’s prayer; and it is God’s demand. Be filled with the Spirit by addressing one another in a spiritually uplifting sort of way. Be filled with the Spirit by singing to the Lord in sincerity and heart.
Here’s the challenge for this week: In Ephesians 4:29, Paul says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
The challenge for this week is to find some way to build up a brother or sister with graceful words. Pray for them, find a fitting Psalm for their situation, and share a kind word with them.
Additionally, look within and determine if your singing has been heartfelt or if its been mere tradition. Pray to God about it.
As we are filled with the Spirit, our church will grow up toward total unity, comprehensive knowledge of Jesus, and spiritual maturity.
#Christianity #Jesus #Theology #Ephesians #Ephesians518 #HolySpirit #FilledwiththeSpirit #Singing #MakingMelody #GivingThanks #SubmittingtoOneAnother #FindingCanaan #ChristianThought #FullnessofChrist #ChristsVision