By Mike Riley
There is a scriptural way of determining whether or not a person is “filled with the Spirit” and it is not by observing how much emotions are openly displayed. Being “filled with the Spirit” is not a “high” that one reaches that puts him above others who are not so emotional.
Key Phrases In Parallel Epistles
The result of being “filled with the Spirit” is related in Ephesians 5:17-21. Paul describes the person “filled with the Spirit” as one who “understands what the will of the Lord is,” (vs. 17). He is not drunk with wine, (vs. 18); he sings and makes melody in his heart, (vs. 19); he gives thanks always to God, (vs. 20); and he submits to others (vs. 21).
The parallel epistle, Colossians, expresses the command to be filled with the Spirit as “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom” (Colossians 3:16). How much one is filled with the Spirit is directly proportional to how richly God’s Word dwells in him – the Word is the means by which the Holy Spirit reaches, directs and fills our hearts (John 17:17; 1 John 5:6; 2 John 1-2).
“Filled With The Spirit” vs. “Fruit Of The Spirit”
There is also a direct correlation between “being filled with the Spirit” and having the “fruit of the Spirit”. By looking at the Christian who bears the fruit of the Spirit, one can observe to what degree the Spirit dwells in him (Gal. 5:22-25).
(1) How much does he love? God-like love always actively seeks the well being of others; (2) How happy is he?; (3) How much peace with himself and others is evidenced in his manner of life?; (4) Does he suffer long with his brethren?; (5) Is he willing to hold his temper and restrain his tongue In the face of provocation?; (6) Is he a gentle, kind person?; (7) Is he characterized by things that are good?; (8) Is there in him a strong, unyielding trust in God?; (9) Is he the kind of person who is submissive, or is he rebellious?; (10) And is he a person who is in control of himself?
To the degree that a Christian bears the “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22), he is “filled with the Spirit”. And if he will “Walk in the Spirit,” he will “not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (vs. 16). Also note verses 17-21 in context. The admonition by Paul is, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit,” (vs. 25). As a Christian allows the word of Christ to dwell in and control him, he is letting the Spirit dwell in him and is walking in the Spirit. There are those who claim to be filled with the Spirit and to have experienced Holy Spirit baptism, who walk after the flesh. Though they offer as proof of a Spirit-filled life their uncontrolled emotional high, the scriptural evidence of Spirit controlled behavior is lacking.
True spirituality is evidenced in a person’s life! It is inherently associated with feelings but emotions are not the only “proof” of the Spirit’s influence.