“Be filled with the Spirit.”
There are certain truths we need to grasp about what Paul is saying to us.
The first is that it is written in the imperative mood – that is it is not a suggestion or some spiritual advice but an authoritative command addressed to us by an apostle of Jesus Christ writing under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit. It becomes, therefore, a responsibility that we are not at liberty to avoid. To be filled with the Holy Spirit is not optional but necessary for all followers of the Lord Jesus.
Secondly, Paul is addressing himself to the whole Christian community – made up of each individual. All of us, singly and together, are to be filled with the Holy Spirit. This fullness is not something reserved for an elite few but is available to, and required of, every individual.
“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” (1 Corinthians 12:7)
Thirdly, it is written in the passive voice and is interpreted in the New English Bible as ‘Let the Holy Spirit fill you.’ As the Holy Spirit comes to us as the gift of the Father and the Son He is not something that we earn but on the contrary are not to avoid, block or hinder. In fact we are to seek more of His presence and fullness and open ourselves to Him at all times.
Fourthly, Paul is writing in the present imperative tense, the meaning of which is to go on being filled. The gift of the Holy Spirit is not a once-off experience but ‘a privilege to be renewed continuously by continuous believing and obedient appropriation.’ We need to be filled with the Spirit and go on being filled every moment of every day. In this way our relationship with the Lord will deepen and develop.
“If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13)
We can ask God every day to continue to fill us, we can turn to the Spirit for guidance, wisdom and strength, and we can soak ourselves in the Scriptures – particularly the New Testament. The Spirit cannot be separated from the Word that He inspired and will never act or have us act contrary to that Word. By a regular and prayerful reading of Scripture we open ourselves to God and allow the Spirit to both inform and form us in the process.
The Holy Spirit is God within us – seeking to transform us more and more into the living reality of the sons and daughters of God.
Read the New Testament (again) praying that He will speak to you personally as You read.
Heavenly Father, please fill me and continue to fill me with the wonderful gift of Your Holy Spirit –and help me to recognise and to be attentive to Him. Amen.