Have you ever wondered what the role of the Holy Spirit is in the life of the believer?
I was asked recently talking with a Jesus follower who had some questions about whether the Holy Spirit was in them, and whether they were filled with the Spirit and I thought I would attempt to answer this here.
One of the big questions that surrounds this issue has to do with not understanding the difference between having the Spirit and being filled with the Sprit. In scripture we find that these aren’t the same thing.
So scripture teaches that every Jesus follower has the Holy Spirit living within them. Anyone who doesn’t have the Spirit isn’t a Jesus Follower. So for example Paul tells the Christians in Rome:
You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to Him at all.)… The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. (Romans 8:9-11)
So the Spirit is given to every believer when they receive the grace of salvation that Jesus offers. And then elsewhere Paul tells the Jesus followers in Ephesus to pursue being filled with the Spirit saying:
Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:18-20)
So here Paul implies that there are times when a believer is not filled with the Spirit (ie times when they are not making music to the Lord in their hearts and being thankful). He also implies that the believer has a role in pursuing the Spirit’s filling. But Paul says all this to people who already have the Holy Spirit living inside them.
So all Jesus followers receive the Spirit when they are saved, but there are also special times when believers are filled with the Spirit in ways that are different from when they are not filled with the Spirit.
In the book of Acts we see several examples of this kind of thing. So for example in Acts 1 Jesus tells His disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they are “filled” or “baptized” with the Spirit, and then in Acts 2 this happens and these believers go out and powerfully spread the news about Jesus.
Then in Acts 4 Peter is again “filled” with the Holy Spirit and enabled to defend his faith to the temple elite in a powerful way.
Then later in that chapter there are a bunch of believers gathered in a prayer meeting and the Spirit shakes the room and “fills” them all. After this happened they went out and “spoke the word of God boldly.”
So all these instances happened to people who were already believers and already had the Holy Spirit within them. But then, when they were filled with the Spirit they were enabled, in the specific moment, to be a powerful witness for Christ in ways beyond their natural ability.
Here’s the takeaway. If you are a Jesus follower you have His Spirit – Jesus’ Spirit is inside you. Isn’t that awesome? But don’t stop there, seek continual fillings of the Holy Spirit. Put yourself in places where the Spirit is moving. Pray, like the believers did in Acts 4. And do this in the hope that God will use you to increase His glory and expand His kingdom in ways beyond your ability. I’m hungry for that. I love seeing God use me to do things I don’t have the natural ability to do – don’t you.
Would you pray with me to that end?
“Come Lord Jesus. Please fill Lighthouse/Fort George with Your Spirit afresh. We have been used by You in the past, and we want to be used again and again. We want to shine Your light into the city of Prince George. We want to see Your kingdom come here and Your will be done here just like it is in heaven. So please set up divine appointments where we can see You at work and be part of what You are doing. And we hunger to be used to this end. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.”
Standing with you in the gospel,