What words would you use to describe your current experience as a Christian? Growing? Frustrated? Disappointing? Fulfilled? Forgiven? Stuck? Struggling? Joyful? Defeated? Exciting? Up and down? Empty? Discouraged? Dutiful? Intimate? Mediocre? Painful? Dynamic? Guilty? Vital? So-so?
Do you desire more?
Jesus said, If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, “streams of living water will flow from within him” (John 7:37-38). What did Jesus mean? John, the biblical author, went on to explain, By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified" (John 7:39). Jesus promised that God’s Holy Spirit would satisfy the thirst, or deepest longings, of all who believe in Jesus Christ. However, many Christians do not understand the role of Holy Spirit or how to experience his presence and influence in their daily lives.
The following principles will help you understand and enjoy God’s Spirit.
The Divine Gift
God has given us his Spirit so that we can experience intimacy with him and enjoy all he has for us. The Holy Spirit is the source of our deepest satisfaction.
- The Holy Spirit is God’s permanent presence within us (John 14:16,17).
- The Holy Spirit enables us to understand and experience all God has given us (1 Corinthians 2:12).
The Holy Spirit enables us to experience many things:
- A genuine new spiritual life (John 3:1-8).
- The assurance of being a child of God (Romans 8:15-16).
The infinite love of God (Romans 5:5; Ephesians 3:18-19).
The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:14). The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments […] But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:15-16). But those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit (Romans 8:5, NLT).
The Present Danger
Why are many Christians not satisfied in their experience with God?
We cannot experience intimacy with God and enjoy all he has for us if we fail to depend on his Spirit. People who trust in their own efforts and strength to live the Christian life will experience failure and frustration, as will those who live to please themselves rather than God.
- We cannot live the Christian life in our own strength (Galatians 3:3).
- We cannot enjoy all God desires for us if we live according to our self-centered desires (Galatians 5:17).
Three Kinds of Lifestyles
Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual, but as worldly — mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? (1 Corinthians 3:1-3).
The Intimate Journey
How can we develop a lifestyle of depending on the Spirit?
By walking in the Spirit, we increasingly experience intimacy with God and enjoy all he has for us.
Walking in the Spirit moment by moment is a lifestyle that requires learning to depend upon the Holy Spirit for the provision of all the resources we need to live a life of obedience to God.
- As we walk in the Spirit, we have the ability to live a life pleasing to God (Galatians 5:16,25).<
- As we walk in the Spirit, we experience intimacy with God and all he has for us (Galatians 5:22-23).
Faith (trust in God and his promises) is the only way a Christian can live by the Spirit.
Spiritual breathing is a powerful word picture which can help you experience moment-by-moment dependence upon the Spirit.
- Exhale: Confess your sin the moment you become aware of it, agreeing with God concerning it and thanking him for his forgiveness, according to 1 John 1:9 and Hebrews 10:1,25. Confession requires repentance — a wholehearted return to the Lordship of Christ.
- Inhale: Surrender control of your life to Christ, and trust the Holy Spirit to fill you with his presence and power, according to his command (Ephesians 5:18) and promise (1 John 5:14-15).
How do we experience the filling of the Holy Spirit?
His Empowering Presence
We are filled with the Spirit simply by trusting him to do so. This enables us to experience intimacy with God and enjoy all he has for us. The essence of the Christian life is what God does in and through us, not what we do for God. Christ’s life is reproduced in the believer by the power of the Holy Spirit. To be filled with the Spirit is to be directed and empowered by him. It is by faith, and faith alone, that we experience God’s power through the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 3:16-17).
Three important questions to ask yourself:
- Do I trust God enough to surrender control of my life to the Lord Jesus Christ? (Romans 12:1-2)
- Am I ready to return wholeheartedly to God, confessing and forsaking all sin? (1 John 1:9) Sin grieves God’s Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). In his love God has forgiven all our sins — past, present, and future — because of Christ’s death for us, and not because we deserve it.
- Do I sincerely desire to be directed and empowered by the Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39)? This is the meaning of being filled by the Spirit, and is an expression of our faith in him.
If you have answered yes to the above questions, you can claim the fullness of the Spirit by faith, according to God’s command and promise. God commands us to be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). God promises that he will always answer when we pray according to his will (1 John 5:14-15). Therefore, if we decide to return wholeheartedly to God and ask God to direct and empower us by his Spirit, he will gladly do so.
The Turning Point
We are filled with the Holy Spirit by faith alone; however, sincere prayer is one way of expressing our faith. The following is a suggested prayer you can use to express your faith in God and your desire to be filled by the Spirit:
Dear Father, I need You. I acknowledge that I have sinned against you by directing my own life. I thank you for forgiving all my sins through Christ’s death on the cross for me. I now invite Christ to again take his place on the throne of my life. Fill me with the Holy Spirit as you commanded me to be filled and as you promised in Your Word that you would do if I asked in faith. Thank you for filling me with the Holy Spirit and directing my life. Amen.
Does this prayer express the desire of your heart? If so, you can pray right now, trusting God to fill you with his Holy Spirit.
How to know that you are filled by the Holy Spirit
Did you sincerely ask God to direct and empower you through the Holy Spirit? If so, you can know that you are filled with the Holy Spirit. On what authority? (On the trustworthiness of God himself and his Word: Hebrews 11:6; Romans 14:22-23). As you continue to rely on God’s Spirit moment by moment, you will experience and enjoy intimacy with God and all he has for you — a truly rich and satisfying life.
Do Not Depend on Feelings
The promise of God’s Word, the Bible, is our authority — not our feelings. The Christian lives by faith (trust) in the trustworthiness of God himself and his Word. Flying in an airplane can illustrate the relationship among fact (God and his Word), faith (our trust in God and his Word), and feeling (the result of our faith and obedience) (John 14:21). To be transported by an airplane, we must place our faith in the trustworthiness of the aircraft and its pilot. Our feelings of confidence or fear do not affect the ability of the airplane to transport us, though they do affect how much we enjoy the trip. In the same way, as Christians, we are not to depend on feelings or emotions as truth; rather we are to we place our faith (trust) in the trustworthiness of God and the promises of his Word.
Now That You are Filled with the Holy Spirit
Know that the Spirit will enable you:
- To glorify Christ with your life (John 16:14).
- To grow in your understanding of God and his Word (1 Corinthians 2:14-15).
- To live a life pleasing to God (Galatians 5:16-23).
Remember Jesus’ promise: But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).
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