I don’t care what anyone says, when we think of being filled with something, it gives us the picture of having a liquid like water poured into a glass until it is full. It probably means something else in the Greek. It always does it seems, but thank God for the English Bible. Somebody apparently thought we would understand what “filled” would mean.
No, I do not disparage scholarship nor exposition. I love it. When we understand this to be filled to the full it makes much more sense. But it does not seem to carry the meaning to accomplish or execute or be fulfilled. That makes no sense in the context. It is quite clear that God wants all of us. He wants to fill us. Paul describes being filled with the Spirit as the displacement of self and the replacement of Himself in our lives like water replaces the air in the glass with liquid.
When we are full of self we cannot be full of God. It is so easy to be full of self mainly due to the fact that I am…me-myself and you are your self. When we are full of self we are selfish as human beings. We are self-centered or egocentric. “Selfishness, in its worst or unqualified sense, is the very essence of human depravity, and it stands in direct opposition to benevolence, which is the essence of the divine character. As God is love, so man, in his natural state, is selfishness.” (Websters 1812 Dictionary). The suffix, “ish” in essence means “belonging, pertaining or tending toward.” Thus a person who is selfish does what pertains to, or tends toward self.
There is a tincture or hint of selfishness even in the very best, most selfless things we do. We are such needy people because sin contaminates the best things we do. This is why the sinner must be justified by Christ and the work he did on the cross alone or we would be lost simply and easily. It was the most selfless act. It was God-ish. That is also why we need to be filled with the Spirit of God. I see that benevolence although the linguistic opposite of selfishness just does not cut it for the point of this writing, so I pray you will indulge me on this point. I guess it would awkward to say but we need to be God-ish but that is the meaning that is carried with being filled with the Spirit of God. It is a life that tends toward, leans and pertains to God’s Spirit at work in us.
It would seem obvious with the following verses of the text above that after a person is filled with the Spirit they are God-centered or theocentric. That involves, “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (5:19-20). They live for God’s glory not their own whims. Being conscious of the influence of sin should drive us to our knees to ask for the Spirit of God to work in us, but we act so independently of God’s power most of time, we invent our own idolatrous devices, thus we are selfish because we are man-centered.
Being filled with the Spirit is not an esoteric level of spirituality-it is a life centered around God and his laws. It is a life that worships God in every aspect of their lives, individual character, family, work and church. It is a God-ish life. The only way this can happen is by the grace of God that gives us the recognition and awareness of His presence. I believe the Latin term Coram Deo comes into play which is,
“Something that takes place in the presence of, or before the face of, God. To live Coram Deo is to live one’s entire life in the presence of God, under the authority of God, to the glory of God. To live in the presence of God is to understand that whatever we are doing and wherever we are doing it, we are acting under the gaze of God. God is omnipresent. There is no place so remote that we can escape His penetrating gaze.” Coram Deo, R.C. Sproul
This is a genuine fear of the Lord. It is what I like to call the comfort and dread of the Lord. When I read about the omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence of God in passages like Psalm 139 it brings me a sense of relief and freedom from anxiety to know he sees all that I do. It also brings a fierce fear and awe of the God who sees and knows all that I do. To know he is everywhere and with that knowledge is to honor him and is evidence of being filled with his Spirit. It is to be God-ish. Oh that we might be filled with his Spirit in every part of our lives.