Thursday, 27 May 2010

What being filled with the Spirit should look like!

A woman in England once described to me someone whom she felt was filled with the Spirit. She said that this person was so filled with the Holy Spirit they could hardly stand up. I have seen people like this on YouTube and it generally leaves me unconvinced.

You see I tend to think of being filled with the Holy Spirit as being more sober in its effects. Take the fruit of the Spirit of Galatians 5: 'love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.'

I also see the Spirit's influence as having very practical consequences. In Ephesians Paul tells the Christians to keep on being filled with the Spirit (5:18). Then he speaks of speaking spiritually with each other and of being thankful. Paul goes on to describe how the Christian marriage and parent-child relationship should look, and how we must treat those we work for or work for us. Being filled with the Spirit should show itself in all our relationships.

In Acts 2 we read of the unique events of Pentecost. After the sending of the Holy Spirit we are given a cameo of the Spirit-filled church: what John Stott describes as a learning, loving, worshipping, and evangelistic church (verses 42-47).

Then, in Acts 4, the believers pray and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly (verse 31). We then are given another cameo of the church (verses 32-37). John Stott says that this picture of the church is placed after the filling of the Spirit because 'Luke is concerned to show that the fullness of the Spirit is manifest in deed as well as word, service as well as witness, love for the family [of believers] as well as testimony to the world.'

It might have been more convincing if the woman had described someone filled with the Spirit like this: 'I have seen them under pressure and they remain patient; they always speak well of their spouse, and to their spouse; they work for a difficult boss, but nevertheless work diligently; they are committed to those in their church; their home is open to others ...' Such behaviour would give greater evidence of being filled with the Spirit than simply being unable to stand up straight.


Mr. Moo said...

Hi Paul - I agree with you on how the outworking of Spirit-fullness might look, but I'd also like to affirm that sometimes these fruit are borne from an experience of the Spirit that manifests physically.

My observation is that, while quite infrequent (i.e. they could happen sporadically, with months or years between), these experiences can fuel and accelerate subsequent love, joy, peace, etc, including self-control.

Of course, it ought not to be our desire to be unable to stand, but to be holy; it's just that sometimes being holy is difficult to distinguish from being drunk (eg the disciples at Pentecost).

Love to all the Ritchies!

To whom it may concern said...

Thanks Mr Moo,

I doubt that we are actually coming from a very different position on this. I too am sure that an experience of the Holy Spirit may cause people to exhibit physical effects. However, some of the stuff that can be seen on YouTube does not leave me very convinced. I have tried to get my head around what the accusations of drunkeness were refering to at Pentecost. Thanks for commenting on the blog.