Full of the Spirit
“Be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:18-21)
“Fake News” has become all the rage. Facebook, Pope Francis, political figures, and national news outlets are all warning us to be on the lookout for fake news. Fake news can be potentially harmful.
Long before “fake news”, there was such a thing as a “fake” Spirit-filled life. And that kind of life can be even more harmful. So how can you tell if someone is truly Spirit-filled? Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, gives us some ideas. He lists three qualities that are very difficult to counterfeit.
The first is that of worship. When we are filled or controlled by the Spirit, we will be speaking, singing and making melody with one another to the Lord with our hearts. That sounds like worship to me! A spirit-filled church will really sing when they sing. It won’t simply be a mechanical mouthing of words.
Can I be honest? Some Sunday mornings I need to save my voice for preaching. So I tell myself to not sing along in our Sunday morning worship. But I can’t help myself. I have to sing. I get caught up in the words and the power of the many voices behind me. So I choose to worship by singing and then preach with whatever voice I have left over.
A second quality is that of giving thanks. One of the best pieces of evidence of a Spirit-filled Christian is the gratitude they have in their hearts. A gratitude that is evident to those around them. A gratitude to God for all that He has done.
William Law, writing centuries ago, made a very good point when he said, “Would you like to know who is the greatest saint in the world? It isn’t he who prays most or fasts most. It isn’t he who gives most. But it is he who is always thankful to God, who receives everything as an instrument of God’s goodness, and has a heart always ready to praise God for it.” The greatest saint is the one who is Spirit-filled and therefore is always thankful.
Ephesians 5 says that when you are filled with the Spirit, worship and thankfulness will be the result. But there is one more quality that Paul lists. It is the spirit of joyful submission. Do you know why Paul includes this quality in the list? Because joyful submission is not of the flesh. It is not normal or natural to willingly submit to one another, whether that is in the family or in the church or in the business world. Without the Spirit of God working in us, this type of submission is impossible. But when He does … when God’s Spirit controls us, when He fills us, then we can enjoy the powerful peace of God as we submit “to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
In Africa, I am told, there is a little berry called the “taste berry.” It is called by that name because it changes your taste so that everything you eat tastes sweet and pleasant. When you are filled with the Holy Spirit, He changes everything. His life in you will show up in your worship, your gratitude and your willing submission. And that cannot be faked.