On Sunday, we talked about being filled with the Holy Spirit in our Gathering Worship and then explored what that meant on a deeper level in Journey Groups following that. I was struck with how important two things are that must happen if we are going to be filled with the Holy Spirit, one active and one passive:
First, the active. If I am going to be controlled every day by the Holy Spirit of God so that I am able to accomplish all He has for me to accomplish and so that His thoughts and ways become mine, I first must clear out all that is filling me up to begin with. This starts with Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ, yet I live and the life that I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” This means that I must come to a place where I pour out my thoughts, desires, rights and attitudes onto the altar (the place of sacrifice and death), considering them dead. Tough stuff right there.
To consider or render something dead that doesn’t know it’s dead is hard because even though I have self-centered desires, rights, etc., I can’t allow myself to be controlled by them. I live as though I do not. How the heck do I do that? Well, I don’t, really. That is where the passive part comes in.
I first acknowledge, every day, that I have self-centered desires, I then consciously lay them down (or pour them out, to stick with the analogy), not taking any claim to them, giving them over to Christ. I then ask Him to fill that void so that I begin to focus on His desires, wishes and agenda for me that day. This is what happened when the disciples prayed in Acts 4 that God would fill them with the Holy Spirit that they could speak the Word of Truth with boldness (which, biblically, is the result of being filled by the Spirit). The immediate result was that the place was shaken, they were filled with the Holy Spirit and they spoke the Word with boldness.
Did you see that? An immediate answer to prayer. Sometimes it seems as though God is far away and fails to answer prayer (which is actually never the case), but that is a prayer He will answer every time we empty ourselves and submit to Him. Failure to do so is why we so often move through life powerless. It’s why the Church has become so ineffective rather than the unstoppable force it was created to be.
Filling of the Holy Spirit is not some magical thing that happens only to those who receive a “special blessing,” but for all of the Children of God every day that we take the time to actively empty ourselves out, determine not to be filled with our own polluted agenda and passively receive the power of being filled by God when we humbly ask Him to do so.