God’s desire and purpose is for His Children to receive the Holy Spirit, and not only to receive Him, but to receive Him fully.
“To fill” always consists of something entering a certain space, which is apt for filling, that is, it has some kind of containing walls, and that space gets totally occupied by what is coming into it. Let’s say we have a glass: If we proceed to “fill” the glass with water, we will pour water inside of it to the brim, and we will say: The glass is full. Or when the bus doesn’t stop because there is no space for one more, we say: the bus is full. It is necessary to emphasize, also, that the expression “to fill” is always entwined with the concept of “fullness”; a space completely occupied.
The action “to fill” ends when the place being filled can’t offer any more space to whatever is flowing in. Then we say “it is full”. The instant previous to being full would be “it is being filled”, the beginning of the action could be called “it is starting to be filled”, and before that, the to-be-full space is “empty”.
In the matter that occupies us, what fills the space, is a person: The Holy Spirit. And the space into which He enters, are the men or women that have believed in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. Since according to the Scriptures Christians are the Body of Christ on earth, they are the space the Holy Spirit wants to occupy, just as He filled Jesus.
Having heard of that desire and promise of Jesus to His disciples, a longing for that filling of the Holy Spirit develops in our Christian hearts and we want us, our family and fellow parishioners to obtain the same benefit ancient Christians received:
(Acts 2:4) And they were all filled of the Holy Spirit, and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
(Eph 5:18-19) And do not be drunk with wine, in which is excess, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
(Acts 13:52) And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
These texts not only mention the fullness as a real promise, but the context also shows the fruit of being filled with the Spirit in the evidence of the changes in the filled ones.
So, in the desire for it to become a reality, an expression spreads everywhere, paraphrasing the apostle Paul: “Be filled with the Spirit”. It’s a great wish, it is according to the will of God, and it is truly obtainable today as in the beginning.
Nevertheless, two things seem to happen.
Full, more or less, not all the time, or empty
Let’s check the first: Many think it is either being full or empty. But reading carefully we notice that intermediate states are possible.
- Before being filled, the Christians WERE NOT full, but empty.
- Paul recommends being full (meaning it is possible NOT to be completely full).
- If he recommended being full, he obviously spoke to people understanding what he was talking about, and it means that the filling can also be NOT continuous, but intermittent.
Reality is that a Christian can receive this promise; however the degree of the Holy Spirit’s partaking of our lives can be variable. And if we look at our daily lives “context”, to compare it with the scriptural one, it confirms this fact. Some are full, others not so much. It has not much to do with God, but with us. Remember Paul placed the result in our hands: Be filled.
Let us repeat: God’s desire and purpose is for us to receive the Holy Spirit fully; yet, it’s Christians who have the key to the level of Him in them.
The second thing that happens is that believers get discouraged when they don’t obtain the Holy Spirit as easily as they see others do. The question arises: Am I really a child of God, born by the Holy Spirit if I am still empty of the Holy Spirit?
The Life and the Holy Spirit
Believers in Jesus Christ as Saviour and Redeemer according to the Word of God don’t lose their condition of children into which they were born just because they are NOT FULL.
The Life given to the believer is a gift, and it is not withdrawn if someone has not received the Holy Spirit, may we add: yet!
The Scriptures teach:
(John 6,51) I am the Living Bread which came down from Heaven. If anyone eats of this Bread, he shall live forever. And truly the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
(John 6,63) It is the Spirit that makes alive,…
The Spirit (the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, the Holy Ghost, the Third Person of the Trinity, the same One we are talking about here) is Who gives Life to all who believe that Jesus is the bread of Life that descended from heaven. Those are the Gospel’s Good News.
But Life and the Holy Spirit are two different things. The believers, the redeemed children of God, as we have seen previously, can obviously be full, not so full, almost empty or -empty! of the Holy Spirit.
It is clear from the words of John the apostle that to be a child of God it is necessary to have Life (meaning spiritual “life”), but he also states that those who believe that Jesus is the Redeemer do receive that Life from God.
(1st John 5,1) Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God.
(1st John 5,11-12) And this is the record, that God has given to us everlasting life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
The next two situations may clarify a bit more about the difference between having Life and having the Holy Spirit.
In His last days before being crucified, being Jesus with His disciples He blew over them saying: “Receive…” Was He talking to “children” of God? YES. But did they have the Comforter? NO. They did not have the Holy Spirit. This was sent to them later.
The other situation shows us the apostle Paul in one of his missionary trips, when he met with certain disciples.
(Acts 19,1-2) And it happened in the time Apollos was at Corinth, Paul was passing through the higher parts to Ephesus. And finding certain disciples, he said to them, Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed? And they said to him, We did not so much as hear whether the Holy Spirit is.
They had believed in Jesus as the Christ, and God had given them life. Without doubt they already were “children”. Yet the existence of the Holy Spirit was unknown to them.
Can a person be a child of God and at the same time not have the Holy Spirit in him? YES is the answer, one can be a child of God, have life, and -nevertheless- not have, have partially or be empty of the Holy Spirit.
Although the great promise, the true will of God, still stands for all who are His children: It is possible to be full!
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