53. Ephesians 5:18
And don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless actions, but be filled with the Spirit. —Ephesians 5:18
Have you ever been accused of LUI? A drunk driver may be charged with DUI, which means “driving under the influence.” But when people with the Holy Spirit in their bloodstream are spotted, there should be evidence of living under the influence. That’s the simplest way I know to explain the contrast and comparison in this verse between being drunk and being Spirit filled.
In Ephesians 5:18, we have a clear contrast (don’t do this, but do this); but it’s a contrast based on comparison. The apostle Paul could have told us not to lose our temper but to be filled with the Spirit. He could have said, “Don’t hate your neighbor, but be filled with the Spirit.”
Yet the contrast is between being drunk and being Spirit filled.
This is the third time the New Testament mentions this parallel. We read in Luke 1:15 that John the Baptist “will be great in the sight of the Lord and will never drink wine or beer. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb.” And on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit burst upon the 120 believers in the upper room, people scoffed, “They’re full of new wine!” But Peter responded, “These people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it’s only nine in the morning. On the contrary, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: ‘And it will be in the last days, says God, that I will pour out My Spirit’” (Acts 2:13-17).
When we are living under the influence of the Holy Spirit, we’re controlled and empowered by Jesus Christ, and He has full access and influence in every corner and quadrant of our lives. Being Spirit filled is being Christ centered. It means that Jesus controls us and is living His life through us. It has an exuberance that could almost be compared with being under the influence of alcohol. Don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless actions, but be filled with the Spirit.
On a hot South Carolina evening in September 1981, I learned about being filled with the Spirit. Kneeling at an old sofa at the end of an upstairs dormitory hallway, I asked the Lord, as best I could, to take control of my life and fill me with Himself and with His Spirit. I felt no electrical charges; but when I went to bed that night, I could hardly sleep. I was tremendously excited about Jesus Christ, and I couldn’t wait till the next morning to tell someone that I had given myself fully to Him. I’ve never gotten over the experience. I hope I never will.
Let us not forget that the Spirit within us is the presence of Christ. If we are filled with the Spirit, it is Christ Himself who fills us. —René Pache
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