Now the other night as my wife and I were reading Acts, she asked me the question about the filling of the Spirit, so we talked about that a bit. We talked about Acts 2 and then flipped over to Ephesians 5, and made some observations. Here’s the text we read in Ephesians:
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but 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
Now I’ve already written on the Baptism of the Spirit, and if you’ve been in Christian circles for any length of time you’ve already been taught that Ephesians 5:18-21 teaches that being “filled with the Spirit” means basically “being under the control of the Spirit”, in contradistinction to “getting more of the Spirit” (a teaching made popular in charismatic circles where people essentially get a greater quantity of the Holy Spirit…usually by attending a worship event, conference or some sort of meeting/rally/revival). The contrast in the passage is fairly clear and difficult to miss:
v. 18a – Being drunk —> debauchery
V. 18b Being Spirit filled —>
(a) addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs (v. 19)
(b) singing and making melody to the Lord (v. 19)
(c) giving thanks (v. 20)
(d) submitting to one another (v. 21)
Not too difficult. Christians have the same quantity of Holy Spirit in their hearts (namely, all that one can have), but Christians have differing levels of submission to the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Fairly common teaching in most half decent churches.
But, when my wife and I were talking I all of a sudden recognized something. Paul lists 4 characteristics of being under the control of the Spirit, and Paul then spends the rest of chapters 5 and 6 only explaining 1 component on that list in 5 different manifestations:
5:22-24 – Wives to Husbands
5:25-33 – Husbands to Christ
6:1-4 – Children to Parents
6:5-9 – Slaves to Masters
6:10-20 -All Christians to God
What component is that? Submission. Paul doesn’t spend 2 chapters unpacking “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs”. Paul doesn’t spend 2 chapters unpacking “singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart”. Paul doesn’t spend 2 chapters unpacking “giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”. Paul spends 2 chapters unpacking submission, and I’d suggest that reflects Paul’s concept of “what shows spirituality”.
I’d suggest that Paul’s concept of “what shows spirituality” is fairly opposite that of many, if not most Christians.
– How many times have you heard someone come out of a worship service and describe how amazing it was, or how the Spirit was “so there”?
– How many times have you heard someone talk about how they had an amazing time of personal worship and devotion like it was better than anything else?
– How many times have you heard someone talk about how someone that prays a lot is the “most Christian person ever”?
Paul doesn’t consider any of those the “high bar” of spirituality. Paul considers submission to one’s role/authority the high bar of spirituality and the most important manifestation of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer.
The Christian who is a lousy/lazy employee that is rebellious against his boss and brings dishonor to his employer but tries to show off his “spirituality” by talking about his church/personal devotional life/theology/the gospel all the time is simply confused about what true spirituality looks like. The Christian woman who prays for everyone, encourages everyone and always has a bible verse to share but has constant yelling matches with her husband or demeans him before others in public settings is simply confused about what true spirituality looks like. The children who know how to behave in church and answer Bible trivia questions but dishonor their parents are simply confused about what true spirituality looks like.
You feeling as convicted as me?
Until Next Time,
Lyndon “Be Filled not Fooled!” Unger