We love Superman. He seems to be so invincible... so powerful... except of course in front of a kryptonite. Still, we love superheroes. We know they’re not real. Yet how we wish we would become superheroes. For most of us, we only have the strength to barely pull us through the day. After a tiring but unfruitful day at the office, we slump on the sofa and ask, “Is there more to life than this?”
I have great news for you. The Lord declares: “I came so that everyone would have life, and have it in its fullest.” (John 10:10, Contemporary English Version) Is this life really possible? Not only does the Lord want us to have it, He actually empowers us to live to the fullest.
Let us read Ephesians 5:18-21... 18Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. 19Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 21Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Now, you may be thinking, “Don’t give me that ‘spiritual power’ thing!” Please listen first. If you think it applies only to religious activities, think again. This is not a pep talk either. I am talking of real power! I tell you it’s practical.
Look at Bezalel, a master craftsman in the Bible. The Lord chose him to build the temple and “He has filled him with the Spirit of God — with skill, with understanding, with knowledge, and with all kinds of work, to design artistic designs, to work in gold, in silver, and in bronze, and in cutting stones for their setting, and in cutting wood, to do work in every artistic craft.” (Exodus 35:31-33, The NET Bible) According to the Word in Life Study Bible, “The Spirit of God is said to be the source of the many skills and abilities required for the design and construction of the tabernacle—metalwork, jewelry making, carpentry, engraving, weaving, and other related talents.”
Now let’s look at the time when the apostles faced a problem in the daily distribution of food to widows. Notice the credentials needed to oversee the feeding program: “Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them...” (Acts 6:3) Now this was not a menial task. It would require administrative and people skills. But the apostles said they need the empowering of the Spirit to do the job.
My point is that the Spirit can empower you as you balance the books of your company, as you deal with your employees or employer, as you try to make a sale or as you lead your company. You don’t have to be a superhero to have the strength to face the challenges of life. You just have to experience the empowering of the Spirit.
What does it mean to “be filled with the Spirit”? Look at the word “Instead...” in verse 18. It contrasts between a person drunk with wine and one filled with the Spirit. In his “The Message of Ephesians,” John Stott wrote, “A person who is drunk, we say, is ‘under the influence’ of alcohol; and certainly a Spirit-filled Christian is under the influence and power of the Holy Spirit. [But] if excessive alcohol dehumanizes, turning a human being into a beast, the fullness of the Spirit makes us more human, for he makes us like Christ.” So, basically, the filling of the Spirit means CONTROL. We don’t get more of the Spirit. But the Spirit gets more of us. So, to be controlled means to be empowered. We need the power of the Spirit in every aspect of our lives.
In the Greek, “be filled” is a COMMAND. It is in the imperative mood. It is our responsibility to follow the Spirit. We don’t need to wait for any strange experiences or emotions. Let’s look at a parallel verse: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly...” (Colossians 3:16)
In the Contemporary English Version it says, “Let the message about Christ completely fill your lives...” So, to be filled with the Spirit is to obey the word of Christ. As we step out in obedience, rest assured that He empowers us. So we need to ACT upon it.
But, it requires COOPERATION on our part. For it is in the passive voice. If it’s active, it’s like “I hit the ball.” If it’s passive, “The ball hits me.” That’s why in the New Living Translation, it is translated this way: “let the Holy Spirit fill and control you.” We yield control to the Spirit. We are like a glove. The Spirit is the hand. Without the hand, the glove can’t move. The glove follows the hand. So we need to ACCEPT the control of the Spirit. It is not something we do ourselves. But we allow the Spirit to work in us.
It also calls for CONTINUITY. It is in the present tense. In the International Standard Version, it says, “keep on being filled with the Spirit.” So we must AVAIL of it everyday.
According to the MacArthur New Testament Commentary, “[It] involves day-to-day, moment-by-moment submission to the Spirit’s control.”
And it should be COMMON experience. It is plural. That means it’s not only for pastors but for everyone who trusted the Lord Jesus as his Savior. It is ACCESIBLE to all.
In short, everyone must keep on yielding to the Spirit’s control everyday.
Now, what happens when we are empowered with the Spirit? If we look into the passage, “be filled” (v. 18) is a verb while “speak” (v. 19a), “sing” (v. 19b), “giving thanks” (v. 20) and “submit” (v. 21) are participles. In other words, these are the evidences that we are controlled by the Spirit.
In verse 19 it says, “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.” First, when we are empowered by the Spirit, He EASES UP the way we speak to each other. Let’s compare it with Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom...” Though in both verses, the context is public worship, it is not limited to that. We need to watch the way we talk to each other outside and inside our gatherings. People like our business associates or subordinates judge us by the way we talk. Through the Spirit, we can CONTROL our speech.
Second, when we are empowered by the Spirit, He ENCOURAGES us to depend on the Lord. “Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord...” (v. 19). It affects the way we relate to God in worship. Through the power of the Spirit, we can CONNECT with God. There are times the way people worship the Lord reminds of the TV commercial: “Not enough vitamins.” But as John Stott wrote, “Without doubt Spirit-filled Christians have a song of joy in their hearts, and Spirit-filled public worship is a joyful celebration of God’s mighty acts...” Again, though the context talks about public gatherings, it is not limited to that. As we face the challenges of the daily grind of our work, we also need the strength of the Lord. Prayer is not out of place in the workplace.
Third, when we are empowered by the Spirit, He ENABLES us to face our circumstances differently. “...always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (v. 20) In 1 Thessalonians 5:18 we read this: “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Whatever problems we are facing, we give thanks. We don’t grumble. We don’t complain. We give thanks in any and all circumstances. In everything. We don’t give thanks for the problem. We give thanks in the problem or despite of it. For we can CONQUER it.
Lastly, when we are empowered by the Spirit, He ENHANCES our relationships at home and in the workplace. “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (v. 21) That’s why I said the empowering of the Spirit is very practical. It permeates every relationship. Notice that verses 22-24 talks about wives submitting to their husbands. So, women, if you are empowered by the Spirit, you will submit to your husbands.
Then, in verses 25-33, husbands loving their wives. Husbands, if you are empowered by the Spirit, you will love your wives. In chapter 6 verses 1-3, Paul dealt with children obeying their parents. So, children, if you are empowered by Spirit, you will honor your parents. In verse 4, it talks about fathers disciplining their kids. By the way, fathers, today is your day! Happy father’s day! If you are empowered by the Spirit, you will “bring [your kids] up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Then, in verses 5-9, Paul discussed the slave-master or employee-employer relationship. Yes, even the way you work or you manage your company needs the empowering of the Spirit. Through the control of the Spirit, we can COMMIT to these relationships. “It is relatively easy to exhibit a Spirit-filled life for one or two hours a week in church but it takes the work of the Holy Spirit to exhibit godliness not only on Sundays but also in everyday relationships between wives and husbands, children and parents, and slaves and masters.” (Bible Knowledge Commentary)
There was a missionary who got a car that would not start without a push. So, every time he would use the car, he would have people push it off. Then, he would either park on a hill or leave the engine running. He did this for two years. When he was about to leave the mission field, he turned over the car to another missionary. When he explained his technique for starting the car, the new man looked under the hood. Then he said, “I believe the only trouble is this loose cable.” He gave the cable a twist, stepped into the car, pushed the switch, and to the missionary’s surprise, the engine roared to life. For two years needless trouble had become routine. The power was there all the time. Only a loose connection kept the missionary from putting that power to work.
Is there a loose connection in our lives that is keeping us from experiencing the power of the Spirit? That is keeping us from living our lives to the fullest? Let us not suffer unnecessarily. From now on, let us yield to the Spirit’s control.
Let us pray...