Filled: bubbling up as strength in your tongue (words).
In the natural it is essential that a grafted-in branch should continue to be filled with the life-giving sap of it’s new parent vine. Unless this happens the newly grafted-in branch will wither and die.
So too, in the spiritual realm, it is not enough that the Holy Spirit has introduced us into the new environment of the life which is in Christ Jesus, we must also experience a continuous filling with the One who is the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus. Unless this occurs, we will most certainly wither up and die spiritually.
This is why Scripture instructs us:
Ephesians 5: 18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit
The word “filled” in the Greek means “to pervade, take possession of”.
A person who is drunk with wine has allowed the wine to “take possession of them”. Consequently, they are no longer able to control their actions; rather the wine has become the controlling force in them.
This illustrates for us what it is to be filled with the Spirit. It means that the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus controls every aspect of our lives.
Being drunk with wine is the equivalent to being controlled by the law of sin and death, which you will recall, is the sap of the false vine.
We need to bear this in mind, because the fact is that when a branch is cut from one vine, to be grafted into another vine, that branch carries within it a remnant of the sap of the vine from which it was cut.
So too, when we are cut from the false vine, by the Sovereign Gardener, to be grafted into Christ, the True Vine, we carry in our flesh a remnant of the law of sin and death.
Galatians 5: 17-18 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
The word “lusts” means “to have a strong desire to suppress”. This means that the remnant of the law of sin and death, in our flesh, will have a strong desire to suppress the control of the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus. In other words, the law of sin and death will resist our being filled with the Spirit, the Life-Giving Sap of the True Vine.
Verse 18 is a great encouragement to us. The word “led” depicts the controlling work of the Holy Spirit. Consequently, the Apostle Paul is saying to us “if you are controlled by the Spirit, you will not be under the control of the law of sin and death”.
When we are filled with the Spirit we can say with great confidence: For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2)
In Greek grammar the word “filled”, in Ephesians 5:18, is clearly stated as a command. Therefore, if we are in Christ we must be filled with the Spirit. If we do not obey this command, then we are guilty of sin and the law of sin and death is actively at work in us.
The tense of this verb “filled” is the present imperative mode. What this means is that being filled with the Spirit is not meant to be a one-off occurrence, rather it is to be continuous, every moment of every day.
Also, this command relates to every grafted in branch. If you have been grafted into Christ, then this command is directed at you.
At this point we need to be very careful. Too often our response to such a command is to get ourselves into “striving mode” and start doing things to make sure we are filled with the Spirit, only to end up exhausted and feeling very empty!
A little more Greek grammar will help us avoid this trap. In the Greek, the person being filled is inactive; they are not striving to be filled. Rather, God the Father, the source from whom the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus flows, is acting upon them.
John 14:26 “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.
Our part is not to strive but to obey. We are to keep our hearts soft and pliable and to continually hunger and thirst for the filling of the Holy Spirit because He will fill us with the life of Christ, indeed the very righteousness of Christ.
Matthew 5: 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.
A natural branch doesn’t have to strive to have the sap of the vine flow into it. All it must do is be “hungry and thirsty” and the need will be supplied out of the resources of the vine.
The purposes of our being filled with the Spirit are two-fold.
I have already made mention of one in previous chapters and that is, the purpose of producing fruit. This is the main, the principal, and the overriding goal. It is the meaning of life for the branch, to produce the fruit of the Spirit. You cannot produce the fruit of the Spirit unless you are constantly being filled with the Spirit.
Galatians 5: 22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
The second purpose of our being filled with the Spirit is secondary, but it is also essential to the life of the True Vine and the grafted-in branches. In the same way that the growth of leaves on the branches of a natural vine is secondary to the growth of grapes, so is the operation of the gifts of the Spirit secondary to the production of the fruit of the Spirit.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
The following Scriptures support this concept of the gifts of the Spirit being the leaves produced on the grafted-in branches of the True Vine.
Ezekiel 47:12 “Along the bank of the river, on this side and that, will grow all kinds of trees used for food; their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail. They will bear fruit every month, because their water flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine."
Revelation 22: 2 In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
The words “medicine” and “healing” carry in them the thought of curing and making completely whole. The leaves on the branches of a natural vine are essential to the health or wholeness of that plant. It is through the leaves that the plant breathes and makes use of the energy of the sunlight. Also, the leaves form a protective canopy under which the fruit can grow.
Leaves are strange things in that they breathe-in carbon dioxide, a poisonous gas, and they breathe- out oxygen.
As in the natural, so in the spiritual. If we are branches of the True Vine then the gifts, or leaves, of the Holy Spirit will enable us to breathe-in the poisonous gas of the world and breathe-out the blessing of God through the gift of miracles, the gift of music, the gift of discernment of spirits, the gift of knowledge, the gift of wisdom, the gift of exhortation, the gift of teaching, the gift of pastor-teacher, the gift of evangelism, the gift of prophecy, the gift of apostle, the gift of faith, the gift of leadership, the gift of healings, the gift of craftsmanship, the gift of showing mercy, the gift of giving, the gift of helps, the gift of tongues, the gift of interpreting tongues.
When we are filled with the Spirit, the Life-Giving Sap of the True Vine, He will ensure that His gifts are operating in and through us in such a way as to ensure that the fruit of the Spirit produced on us, as branches, is increasingly abundant in its quantity and everlasting in its quality.
1 Corinthians 12:7-11 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.