OF COURSE all true Christians want to be “filled with the Spirit.” After all, if they are Christian, they have the Spirit of God already in them. And they want to be FILLED! Without such a desire they would be “lukewarm” to say the least. But what does “BE FILLED” mean?
Some teach that the filling is a subsequent gift of God and they say the evidence is “speaking in tongues.” That is saying that unless you speak in tongues, you just are not filled. That is not according to the Bible. Even in the New Testament when the sign gifts were given, this was not the case. Even then all Christian did not have the gift, yet all were told to be “filled with the Spirit.” So when men today tell you that you must filled with the Spirit, “with the evidence of speaking in tongues,” they are not teaching the truth—even if tongues speaking were still for today. I am one that believes that God’s hands are not tied; He can do what He wants, how He wants, when He wants, and with whom He wants. But to follow such teaching as I just mentioned is more likely to open the door for deception, for such a statement that implies that speaking in tongues is the evidence you have been filled, is just not true. In fact, I would be so bold as to say that even in the New Testament, with those who were given the gift of tongues, even with them that was not proof they were FILLED! Having a gift of God does not make you filled with Him. You may be at the instant the Holy Spirit came upon you, but that does not mean you automatically remain filled.
Now “speaking in tongues” in the New Testament was a sign gift and the “tongue” was a definite language so that people of another language could hear the gospel in their own language with understanding.
Otherwise there was no edification. Even then in the assemblies there were restrictions, like—
“If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.” (1 Corinthians 14:27-28)
In another place Paul speaks of unknown languages and also of “the tongues of angels,” What we have with us today, most of the time it is not known what language it is, and just what is “the tongues of angels”? What is the difference between that and “gibberish” that no one knows? I understand that even spirit-mediums, under the influence of Satan, speak “gibberish.” Years ago I heard of someone who spoke a message in an actual language. And a man was present who knew the language that no one else knew. He reported that it was a blasphemous message. So that had to be a satanic counterfeit.
It is not my purpose here to go into the reasons pro and con regarding the practice of speaking in tongues today, after it has not been the common practice of most Christians now for close to 2,000 years, having diminished after the death of the apostles. But my main purpose is to show that it should not be taken as conclusive evidence that it is proof one is FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT, for that was not even the case in the New Testament. Sure, for those given the gift, they spoke in tongues when the Spirit came upon them and gave them utterance but that is not being FILLED that is commanded of all believers.
A show-gift can be counterfeited. Today some even claim to teach others HOW to speak in tongues. That does not sound like a gift to me. Not at all. But man can even have a true gift, use it one day, and be sinning the next. He may even think he is filled with the Spirit just because he can exercise some gift, like “the evidence” being that he can speak in tongues. Be it a real gift or a counterfeit.
You would think that to be FILLED would make one a holy person, living in a way that would be evidence that he is walking in the Spirit, living for the Lord, and walking humbly before him in love. I am not speaking of perfection, but certainly such a one would not be satisfied to sin, and what sin he was aware of he would be convicted and would be putting it away by the very power of that Holy Spirit that he claims to be FILLED with. True Christians, because they HAVE the Spirit, are always praying to OVERCOME the flesh, the world and the devil.
“FILLING of the Spirit” tells me that you are EMPTY of yourself, and you are “reckoning yourself dead” to the flesh and sin, not living with pleasure in it. The more you are FILLED, the more you are going to be living as Christ lived. To live with a concept contrary to this is but a mockery and a farce. If you are FILLED with God, with His Spirit, you will be acting like God, and living more like Christ. So who can ever say he has reached the goal or obtained the full FILLING of the Spirit?
At the very first public miracle Christ performed, at the wedding feast when He turned water into wine because they had run out of wine, Mary the mother of Jesus told the servants to do whatever Jesus told them to do. He told them to FILL the waterpots. They did just that. They filled them to the brim, which means they were truly FILLED, with room for NOTHING ELSE. That is Christ’s formula or instructions for FILLING.
So if you want to be FILLED with the Spirit, you will need to be filled continually, for at best we are but leaky vessels.
And I point out that being FILLED with the Spirit, one can expect to see you bearing FRUIT of the Spirit in your every-day life.
Now what do I see on the “Christian scene today. Actually I think there are two “Christian” scenes. One is of true Christians, born again by the Spirit of God, and one is by deceived souls that have believed in a made-up fancied Jesus, not the real Jesus of the Bible. Either that, or they just profess without really possessing Him. They make a profession without being born again. The new birth is necessary before one can even see the kingdom of Heaven is what Jesus says. One cannot understand spiritual truth and realities without being “born from above,” having a “quickened” spirit. The new birth is given of God by the Spirit and not of man.
So what I see on the scene is false teaching even about the filling of the Spirit. And most all who make such an issue of the modern practice of tongues do not even preach the true Gospel that the Spirit teaches! They preach another gospel with another Christ, or a false representation of the true Christ.
Just try teacing those who think they have the gift of tongues (that is the main gift they talk about). Try teaching them about the God of the Bible and the Word of God, and most of the time you will find yourself and what you say rejected, and even HATED just as the Lord Himself was hated, if you teach a sovereign, discriminating, electing God. Many will turn and rend you if possible while claiming to speak in tongues as being the evidence that they are FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT. If they even HAVE the Spirit within them, as evidence of it they will HAVE to come to see and to love the true God and Savior of the Bible, for it is all about Him that His Holy Spirit was sent to teach us. (If you have not been yet taught of the true Jesus, how is it you can have been FILLED with the Spirit? Something is missing here.
In other words, if the Holy Spirit in you is not teaching you the truth, but is letting you perpetually and continually get away with believing in a fancied, imagined Jesus so unlike the One described in Scripture, then how in the world can you be “filled with the Spirit” or even have the Holy Spirit in you at all?
So this brings me to say that there are many sincere and true Christians who believe and love the REAL Jesus but lay no claim on having these showy gifts some had in the New Testament days, but they live in the Word of God and live in it, and love the God they see revealed there. I say they are MORE filled with the Spirit than those who may speak in tongues every day of there lives while rejecting the God of Scripture. One class believes in the God and the Christ of Scripture with a born-again heart given from above, and the other class is sadly deceived and don’t know Him. What is more, they are not known OF Him as His redeemed sheep. The last day will tell the story, if they are not delivered from deception before then.
The simple truth is this: If you walk in the Spirit, you are not going to be fulfilling the lust of the flesh. “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.” (Romans 13:14). Perhaps you know someone, as I have known of, who while claiming to be FILLED because he speaks in tongues, at the very same time is known to be walking in sensual, sexual lust, and even in adultery. “There is now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1) “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.” (v. 5)
I say again, the searching, yearning, loving soul who is seeking and desiring that all he does be pleasing and acceptable to the Lord, though he may have NO showy gifts, is more FILLED with, and walking IN the Spirit than one living ever so worldly, believing major false doctrine, though speaking in tongues and claiming to be “filled with the Spirit.” He just may be filled with the WRONG spirit! That is the truth of the Word of God.
Here are some verses sung in church meeting this morning, the authors of which no doubt were better qualified to claim the Spirit’s filling even than those who claim evidence of such by their “tongue-speaking”:
Breath on me, Breath of God, Fill me with life anew,
That I may love what Thou dost love, And do what Thou wouldst do.
Breathe on me, Breath of God, until my heart is pure,
Until my will is one with Thine To do and to endure.
Breathe on me, Breath of God, Till I am wholly Thine,
Until this earthly part of me Glows with Thy fire divine.
Breathe on me, Breath of God, So shall I never die,
But live with Thee the perfect life Of Thine eternity.
—Edwin Hatch (1835-1889)
Only one life to offer—Jesus my Lord and King,
Only one tongue to praise Thee And of Thy mercy sing (forever);
Only one heart’s devotion—Savior, O may it be
Consecrated alone to Thy matchless glory, Yielded fully to Thee.
Only this hour is mine, Lord—May I be used for Thee;
May every passing moment Count for eternity.
—Avis B. Christiansen (1895-1985)