We live in a period of church history where a great deal of emphasis has been given to the third member of the Trinity – the Holy Spirit.

A visit to any Christian bookstore will reveal more written material on the Holy Spirit than on the other two members of the Trinity combined.

While some of this material is helpful, the contemporary popularity of the Holy Spirit has unfortunately not done a great deal to help believers understand who He is, what He is really like, and what His ministry to believers really is.

In fact, the amount of error being taught about the Holy Spirit and His ministry is absolutely frightening! Why? Because He is a member of the Trinity! Any error about Him constitutes an error that touches the very nature of God Himself.

We can be wrong about many things, but the person and work of a member of the God-head can’t be one of them!

The emphasis Paul gives in Ephesians reveals that the Holy Spirit has an important ministry to perform in the Temple that God is building for Him to inhabit. The success of the church and of our lives as believers depends on us being empowered by the Holy Spirit. This means we can’t afford to misunderstand a major part of His ministry.

Such errors are common in the church today. In fact, it’s entirely possible that the average Christian in the average Protestant church might be hard-pressed to articulate a biblically accurate description of the Holy Spirit’s ministry as described in the New Testament.

So let’s focus on the Holy Spirit and a particular aspect of His ministry that is key to our living an obedient and effective Christian life…

Spirit-Filling (Eph. 5:18)

What does it mean to be filled with the Spirit? A parallel idea is found in Galatians 5:16-17 where Paul says to “Walk in the Spirit.” The term walk is the same one Paul used repeatedly in Ephesians when he talked about “walking worthy” (4:1). It has to do with the way we order, arrange, and live out our lives. Here Paul is saying that we are to live our lives under the authority of the Holy Spirit.

We are to “keep in step” with the Spirit in the way a marching band is supposed to keep in step with the conductor. It is living under the Spirit’s control and by His desires rather than being controlled and driven by the desires of my flesh.

What role does the Spirit play in this process? Is He what fills us? No, He is not the content of the filling, but rather He is the one doing the filling. He is the controlling agent.

So what is the content of this filling then? What is the Spirit filling us with? Generally, with the “fullness” of God – His communicable attributes, His character (Eph. 1:23, 3:19).

Specifically, He is filling us with His Word (Col. 3:16). Being filled by the Spirit is knowing and doing God’s Word.

What then are the results of this filling? Three simple things:

  1. Transformed communication – marked by joyful spirituality rather than carnal sensuality (Eph. 5:19). This is both horizontal (joyful speech to others) and vertical (joyful speech toward God).
  2. Transformed attitude – marked by gratitude rather than covetousness (Eph. 5:20). Are you thankful or do you want to be thanked?
  3. Transformed relationships – marked by submission rather than self-will (Eph. 5:21). Submission means to be properly arranged in the place God has appointed you. The problem with being a servant like this is that you’re often treated like one! But God gives grace to people like this, and He resists people not like this (James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5).

Do you desire this filling? Do you desire to walk in the Spirit? Hopefully, as believers, we all desire a close walk with the Spirit of God. How then should we live? We must be persistent in our obedience to the Word. We must daily fight against our sin and mortify our sin-loving flesh. We must never grieve the Spirit by disobedience or quench Him by disregarding Him (Eph. 4:30, 1 Thess. 5:19).

Walking by the Spirit is not an option for us. It is something God commanded us to do.

Nor is it something we can content ourselves to do every once in a while. It has to be the constant practice of our life.

And it isn’t just for those who have been Christians a long time. It is something God expects from every one of us.

The Holy Spirit is a member of the God-head. And He lives inside of us. That is amazing.

So let us be filled by Him. Let us walk in the Spirit.

Sam Horn

Posted by Sam Horn

Dr. Sam Horn is the EVP for enrollment and ministerial advancement at Bob Jones University in Greenville, SC. Prior to BJU, Sam served at Central Baptist Theological Seminary, Northland International University, and various churches in Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Sam and his wife, Beth, have two children - one is married and one is in high school.