Dr. Jack L. Arnold                                                                        Equipping Pastors International                                                                               Lesson 9

 

Pneumatology
The Doctrine of the Person and Work of the Holy Spirit

THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN SANCTIFICATION - Part 2

 

I.  Renewing by the Spirit

 

A.       Major Passages (Eph. 4:20-24; Col. 3:9-10; Rom. 6:6 cf. 2 Cor. 5:17).

B.        Related to Sanctification:  Renewal by the Spirit is one phase of progressive sanctification.

C.        Key Verse:  2 Cor. 5:17

 

1.         In Christ

a.          “In Christ” is the Christian’s new position and relationship because of believing on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation

b.         This “in Christ” relationship is contrasted with the “in Adam” relationship as an unsaved man.

(1)     Adam is the head of the human race.  Adam sinned and his sin polluted the whole human race.  Thus the human race is said to be in Adam.  The effects of being in Adam are:  lost; dominated by sin (Rom. 8:5); slave to sin (Rom. 6:17); old creation (2 Cor. 5:17); constantly corrupting (Eph. 4:22); spiritually dead (Rom. 8:6); and condemned (Rom. 5:18).      

(2)     Christ is the Last Adam and is the head of the spiritual race.  All those who have believed on Christ are said to be in Christ.  The effects of being in Christ are:  saved; dominated by the Spirit (Rom. 8:5); slave to righteousness (Rom. 6:18); new creation (2 Cor. 5:17); constantly being renewed (Col. 3:10; spiritually alive (Rom. 8:6); and heaven-bound (Rom.  5:18).

2.         New Creation

a.          The Christian is God’s special spiritual creation which He made for Himself (Eph. 2:10).

b.         A Christian is a new creation because he is in Christ.  He has been transferred from the position of in Adam to in Christ.

3.         Old Things Have Passed Away

a.          All that a person was in Adam passed away forever.  This is a changing of positions from in Adam to in Christ.  POINT:  This does not mean that sin is gone forever from a Christian.

b.         When a person believes on Christ, all his past history in Adam is blotted out.

4.         All Things Have become New

a.          All things have become new for the Christian because of his new position in Christ.

b.         When a person believes on Christ, he begins making new history in Christ and gets a new start or lease on life.

D.       The Old Man or Old Self  (Eph. 4:20-24; Col. 3:9-10; Rom. 6:6)

1.         Who is the Old Man?

a.          The old man is the total unregenerate man under the headship of Adam.                                                     Wuest:  “The old man is the unsaved person dominated by the depraved nature.” [See Chart #6]

b.         The word “old” means worn out, useless, decrepit, to be discarded, fit for the scrap pile and refers to all that a person was before conversion to Christ.  The unsaved man is a victim of sin.

c.          POINT:  The old man is not to be equated with the sin nature in man.  To be sure the sin nature is part of the old man, but it is not to be equated with it.  Note also the sin nature is part of the new man.

2.         What Has Happened to the Old Man for the Christian?

a.          Divine Side:  The old man has been (aorist passive) crucified with Christ at the Cross (Rom. 6:6).  The unsaved man under the headship of Adam was crucified or put to death at Calvary.  This history of one’s unsaved state ended at the cross for the believer.  POINT:  This is a positional crucifixion of the old man in Adam.  To be sure the sin nature is still in the Christian, but no longer is sin having dominion over a Christian as it does in the non-Christian.  Sin remains but it does not reign in the Christian.

b.         Human Side:  The old man has been put off (aorist) by the Christian (Col. 3:9; Eph. 4:22).

(1)     Eph. 4:22:  Translate:  “That you have put off the old man.”  Notice that the old man is identified with the former conversation or manner of life.  This indicates that the Christian has put off the old man once and for all and forever.

(2)     Col. 3:9 says, “That ye have put off the old man.”  This is an act already done.

c.          Conclusion:  The Christian was in Christ at the crucifixion 2000 years ago.  Thus the old man was potentially destroyed at the cross, but was actually put off at the moment of conversion   POINT:  The Christian, when he trusted in Christ, gave consent to set aside the old man.  He decided to put away the tastes, appetites and desires of the old man.  NOTE:  This was an attitude; the old man was put off positionally but our whole life is one of putting off sin and coming into conformity to Christ.

3.         What is Happening to the Old Man for the Non-Christian?

a.          Translate:  “Which in intent on corrupting according to deceitful lusts.”

b.         This speaks of a progressive condition of corruption which characterizes the old man.  The unsaved person is subject to a continuous process of corruption which grows worse and worse as time goes on.  POINT:  The old man is corrupting for the unsaved, but the new man for the saved is being renewed and being made ready for eternity.

E.        The New Man – Who is He?

a.          The new man is the total regenerate man in Christ.  Wuest:  “The new man is the saved person dominated by the new nature.”

b.         The word “new” means fresh or recent, indicating that this new man did not exist before.  Neos (Eph. 4:24) means new in time, fresh, recent; kainos (Co. 3:10) means new in kind or quality.

c.          POINT:  The new man is often referred to in Scripture as the new creation (2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 2:10).  The spiritual or immaterial part of the new man is called the “inner man” (2 Cor. 4:16; Eph. 3:16; Rom. 7:22).

2.         How did the Christian become a New Man?

a.          The new man began at the moment of salvation, has as his head the person of Christ, and will go into eternity.

b.         At conversion, the Christian was made a new creation by God (2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 2:10); thus he is called a new man.  NOTE:  The Christian has nothing to do with the old man.

3.         What did the Christian do to become a New Man?

a.          The Christian put on the new man (Col. 3:10; Eph. 4:24).  To “put on” means to exchange as the act of changing clothes or to put on a garment.  POINT:  The Christian exchanged the old man for the new man when he trusted in Christ for salvation.

b.         Translate Eph. 4:24:  “And that you have put on the new man.”  This indicates that the act has already been done.

4.         What is Happening to the New Man?

a.          The whole personality (will, intellect and emotions) of the new man in Christ is being renewed in progressive sanctification.

b.         The Christian in his experience is being changed to be more Christ-like (Rom. 8:28-30); 2 Cor. 3:18; 4:16; Eph. 3:16; 4:24; Col. 3:10).

F.         The Facts About the Christian’s New Position in Christ

1.         This is a positional change from  in Adam to in Christ.  This position is unchanging and eternal.

2.         This was a spiritual transference from in Adam to in Christ.  Anything spiritual is not physical.  We experience only those things that are physical, but we never experience a spiritual reality.  Thus this transference from in Adam to in Christ was not experienced, but it most certainly happened.

3.         However, while the Christian does not experience the fact of this new position, he does feel the effects or results of this new position in progressive sanctification.

G.       The New Man’s Total Personality is Being Renewed

1.         Meaning of Renewal:  It means to be renovated by inward reformation of transformation.  The total personality of the new man in Christ, which was corrupted by sin, is being renovated or transformed.  In its simplest terms, there is a change transpiring on the inside of a Christian.

2.         Passages:  Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10; 2 Cor. 3:18; 4:16; Rom. 8:29; Eph. 3:16; Rom. 12:1-2.

3.         Beginning of Renewal:  The renewal process began at the moment of salvation (Titus 3:5).  God changed a person’s position at salvation, and began at that moment to change a person’s disposition.

4.         Process of Renewal:  Renewal is progressive.  Col. 3:10 states that the new man “which is being renewed,” and 2 Cor. 4:16 states that the inner man “if being renewed day by day.”  Eph. 4:23 should be translated, “And that you are being renewed with reference to the spirit of your mind.”  Renewal is seen in these verses through the present tense.

5.         Subject of Renewal:  The whole immaterial part of man is being renewed.  While the Christian cannot rid himself of the sin nature he can, by the power of the Spirit, be renewing himself from the filthiness produced by the flesh (2 Cor. 7:1). 

a.          Human spirit is being renewed (1 Thess. 5:23; 2 Cor. 7:11).

b.         Human soul is being renewed (1 Thess. 5:23).

c.          Personality is being renewed.  2 Cor. 4:16 states that the outward man (physical body) is getting weaker everyday because of sin, but the inward man (one’s inmost personality) is being renewed and is thus able to respond to God.  This is why Paul prays for Christians “to be strengthened with might in the inner man” (Eph. 3:16). [See Chart 7]

(1)     Mind (Eph. 4:23; Col. 3:10 cf. Rom. 12:1-2):  God is renewing the mind and it is progressively able to know God.  POINT:  God is renewing through our obedience, not apart from it.

(2)     Will:  (Rom. 6:12-13, 22 cf. John 7:17):  The will is being renewed and thus it is able to respond to God.  The will is being set free from sin to obey God.  POINT:  God is changing our wills but we must also will.  God is renewing our wills through our willingness to do God’s will.  We are being progressively set free to have more and more freewill.  Yet there is never total eradication of sin.

(3)     Emotions (1 John 2:15; 2:9-11; :19 cf. Col. 3:2):  God is renewing the emotions of the believer so that he might love God, his brethren, and the unsaved.  POINT:  Love is not automatic, but the Christian is to be actively involved in producing love in dependence upon the Spirit (2 Pet. 1:7 cf. Gal. 5:22).

(4)     Conclusion:  Fellowship with Jesus Christ deepens as the personality is progressively set free from the power of sin and as the Christian voluntarily submits his total personality to Christ.

6.         Purpose of Renewal

a.          To produce holiness and righteousness (Eph. 4:24):  The new man is God’s spiritual creation, created in the sphere of righteousness and true holiness.  This is his sphere of operation, not necessarily his walk.  The new man, because of progressive renewal, can now do righteous and holy acts.  The old man could do nothing to please God (Rom. 8:8), but the new man can do, but does not always do, righteous acts to please God.

b.         To restore the image marred in Adam (Col. 3:10):  Man, having had the image of God marred by sin in the Fall, has it progressively restored to him under the gospel, by the renovating work of the Spirit; therefore the Christian is brought back to that likeness which God gave him on the day of creation.  Thus the whole personality is in the process of being restored to its primal conditions that it may have full fellowship with God.

c.          To be conformed to Christ (Rom. 8:29 cf. 2 Cor. 3:18)

(1)     In the eternal plan of God, the exalted goal for the elect was conformity to the image of Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:29).  Every Christian is guaranteed absolute conformity to Christ in eternity.

(2)     However, conformity to Christ is not just something that a Christian hopes for as an elect one of God, but it can become, in degree, a reality to the Christian in his experience.  The thought of 2 Cor. 3:18 seems to be that as the Christian is continually beholding (reflect), by a long gaze, the glory of the Lord as found in the written Word, he is being transformed by the Spirit, into the image of Christ from glory to glory.  POINT:  In this passage we see the human responsibility of beholding and the divine sovereignty of changing.  Because beholding is essential to experiential sanctification, transformation may be spasmodic instead of continual, retarded instead of advanced.  Yet, for God’s purpose to be fulfilled, a Christian would have to be changed to some degree.

H.       Theological Problems

1.         Question:  What is the relationship of the sin nature to the renewal process?  Answer:  While the sin nature can be controlled (Gal. 5:16) it cannot be eradicated.  The sin nature is constantly exerting its evil influences upon the total personality of the Christian.  Apparently the personality, which is the object of renewal, has two forces, the sin nature and the new nature working on it, and each force is influencing the person.  The person, because of progressive renewal, can choose to serve God through the new nature.  However, even the total person, undergoing renewal, can and does at times yield to the influences of the Adamic nature.  There is a conflict set up as to whether the total personality will serve God or self, yield to the influences of the sin nature or new nature.  The rapidity of the renewal process can be hindered and even retarded, when the believer is not controlled by the Spirit, for, in the controlling work of the Spirit, the sin nature is neutralized, not being able to exert such a strong influence over the personality of the Christian.  When the sin nature is under control, the personality is more susceptible to the renewing work of the Holy Spirit.

2.         Question:  Is not the sin principle or nature part of the total personality of the Christian?  Is it right to distinguish the sin nature, as a capacity, from the personality which is being renovated from sin?  Answer:  It is not easy to always state succinctly the various workings of the immaterial part of man in Biblical psychology.  The answer to this question is that one must state what the Scriptures teach and not always know exactly why they occur.  In certain things, we must take a large dose of intellectual humility and accept them by faith.  Pink says,

 

                                                                                               “Many readers will realize that we are here engaged in grappling with a difficult and intricate point.  No man is competent to give such a clear and comprehensive description of our inward sanctification that all difficulty is cleared up:  the most he can do is point out what it is not, and then seek to indicate the direction in which its real nature is to be sought!                                                  (A.W. Pink, The Doctrine of Sanctification, p. 147).

 

3.         Question:  If the old man has been put off and the new man has been put on, does this mean that the new man (saved man) is sinless and perfect?  Answer:  Absolutely not!  The Christian has become a new creation in Christ, but he is a new man, not yet perfect.  The new man has sin, and the renewal the Christian in undergoing is always related to the removal of sin.  Sin dwells in the Christian, and he still does sin; thus the Christian must be the subject of progressive sanctification if he is to be transformed into the image of Christ (2 Cor. 4:16; 3:18; Rom. 8:29-30).  Sin will always be with the Christian until he dies or Jesus comes again, but the Christian in his life is becoming more Christlike—he is changing.  POINT:  Until this renewal is complete, the Christian’s actions will always be a mixture of good and evil.

4.         Question:  If the new man is constantly being renewed by God, does this mean that a Christian cannot get out of fellowship with the Lord in his experience?  Answer:  The new man has a sin nature that is always active, and a will, mind and heart that is not yet fully sanctified.  Thus from the standpoint of Christian experience a person can become rebellious and disobedient to God and lose temporal fellowship with the Lord.  POINT:  However, because the believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, he will be miserable when out of fellowship and will hate his sin even when practicing it.  It must be remembered that the Christian out of temporal fellowship is not the same as an unsaved man.  The true Christian will always have a bent or leaning towards righteousness and will never fall back into the stupor of his unsaved state.

5.         Question:  Is God really renewing the Christian in every experience of life?  Answer:  Through trials, testings, problems, blessings, ups and downs, etc., God is renewing the Christian.  POINT:  Every experience in life is somehow related to the sanctification process.  When the Christian willfully sins, God will discipline the Christian, but even in and through that discipline process, which sometimes is very severe, God is renewing and sanctifying the new man that he might be conformed to the image of His dear Son, Jesus Christ.

6.         Question:  Will the Christian produce good works?  Answer:  Yes!  According to Eph. 2:1-10 the Christian was saved by God’s grace and made a new creation for the purpose of doing good works.  A man cannot be saved and not evidence to some degree in his life spiritual good works.  The works may be feeble, but they give evidence of spiritual life.  POINT:  If there are no good works flowing from the person who professes to be a Christian, then there is a question as to the reality of salvation.  God knows nothing of a gracious salvation which does not produce gracious saints!

7.         Question:  Can a person be saved from hell and not from sin?  Answer:  The Bible knows nothing of a salvation from hell that does not include salvation from sin.  Salvation is not only past, but present.  Salvation is not just a fire-escape from hell.  POINT:  Every Christian struggles with sin, and if there is no desire to put down sin, then there is probably no salvation.  The purpose of the cross was to do away with sin—past, present and future.  Sanctification is the necessary result of justification.

 

II.       The Filling of the Spirit

 

A.       Introduction:  The filling of the Spirit is that work of the Holy Spirit whereby He so controls the Christian that proper Christian experience results.  From the divine side, the Holy Spirit totally produces in the Christian the fruit of the Spirit.  The human responsibility in the filling of the Spirit is to believe.  When the Christian believes, the Spirit produces the fruit of the Spirit in the Christian.  NOTE:  The Christian life is supernatural and impossible to live in one’s own strength.  Thus God has provided a supernatural power in the filling of the Spirit to live a Christian life.

B.        Characteristics of Filling (Eph. 5:18)

1.         Meaning:  Filling means control.

a.          Scripture speaks of being filled with anger or fury (Luke 4:28), fear or awe (Luke 5:26), madness (Luke 6:11) and sorrow or grief (John 16:6).  One is not filled with these emotions but controlled by them.

b.         The Holy Spirit is a person.  One cannot be filled with a person but can be controlled by a person.  A Christian cannot get more of the Spirit, but the Spirit can always control more of the Christian.

c.          The filling is compared in Eph. 5:18 with drunkenness.  Alcohol is an outside force which controls a person.  Alcohol controls one’s speech, actions and walk;  the Holy Spirit does the same.

2.         Command:  “Be filled” is a command and it is to be kept.  Not to keep this command is sin.

3.         Repeated Act:  “Be repeatedly filled” (present tense).  Filling is done over and over again.

4.         Subjects of Filling:  The command is to all; therefore all Christians can be filled.

5.         Hindrances to Filling:  The one hindrance to a full working of the Spirit in the believer is sin.  The Holy Spirit is always displeased with sin in the Christian’s life.  Eph. 4:30 definitely implies that when the believer is in sin or disobedience that the Spirit can be grieved with the result that His influences are not so great upon him, and he is not in a position when the Spirit can give him His fullest blessing.  NOTE:  The context of Eph. 4:30 is about a misuse of the tongue.  NOTE:  It should also be noted what Eph. 4:30 does not teach:  (1) It does not teach that when the believer sins the Spirit stops working in him.  God loves the believer.  When a child disobeys his parents the parents do not stop loving him or providing for him.  The parents may take away certain privileges and, if need be, apply strong discipline, but they always do it because they love the child.  So it is with God and the wayward Christian.  (2)  It does not teach that it is possible to grieve the Holy Spirit away.  NOTE:  Some believe that a Christian may also quench the Spirit (put out the fire); that is, that grieving deals with sins of commission and quenching deals with sins of omission (1 Thess. 5:19).  However, most commentators take quenching as that which the total assembly was guilty for they were despising prophecy in the church.

C.        How to be Filled With the Spirit:  It is interesting to note that as much as the Scriptures seem to testify to the filling of the Spirit, nowhere is it definitely stated how one received the filling.  However, there are some verses that indicate how the believer may appropriate the working of the Spirit in his life.

1.         John 7:37-39:  This says, “Whoever believes in me.”  Control by the Spirit involves occupation with the person of Jesus Christ as one acknowledges His sovereign Lordship over his life.  Note the following points:

 

a.          “If anyone is thirsty”—There must be a desire to be controlled by the Spirit.

b.         “Let him come . . . and drink”—There must be an act of believing and a Christian must come to Christ and desire to be controlled.  Desire must find its fulfillment in a positive act.

c.          “Whoever believes in Me” (Keeps on believing in me)–There must be occupation with the person of Jesus Christ.  These words stress the importance of repeated faith in Jesus for a full working of the Spirit.

2.         Eph. 5:18:  The emphasis in this verse is upon control and, to be controlled, one must be yielded to the Holy Spirit’s sovereign workings in the life.

3.         Gal. 5:16:  To walk by the Spirit seems to imply obedience and dependence.

4.         Acts 4:31:  It seems in this one case that the filling came during a time of concentrated prayer.  Prayer is an attitude of dependence and submission.  NOTE:  This verse doesn’t say they were filled by prayer but during a season of prayer the filling came.  We cannot minimize prayer.

5.         Col. 3:16-17:  The results of letting the Word dwell in the Christian are the same as the results of letting the Spirit control the life (cf. Eph. 5:18-21).  There is a close relationship between being obedient and submissive to God’s Word and being controlled by the Holy Spirit.

6.         Conclusion:  The means for appropriating the control of the Spirit is yieldedness, which involves faith towards Christ, dependence upon the Holy Spirit and submission to God’s Word.  Some have said that the key to the filling of the Spirit is summed up in the word obedience.  After all, yieldedness is just one phase of obedience.  Ryrie says,

 

                                                                             “God does not ask believers either to tarry or to pray for the filling.  This does not mean, however, that the filling is given without conditions.  In a simple word the condition is obedience.” (Ryrie, The Holy Spirit, P. 95)

 

D.       Results of Being Filled With the Spirit:  Since there is a filling of the Spirit, then there must be ways to detect this work of the Spirit in ourselves and others.

1.         Scriptural Evidences According to Paul

(a)     Eph. 5:18-21:  After commanding the Ephesian Christians to be filled with the Spirit, Paul lists some very definite evidences of the filling.  These evidences are as follows:

(1)     Singing of outward praise to God.

(2)     Singing of inward praise, in the heart, to God.

(3)     Giving of thanks for all things, good or bad.  Because of the controlling work of the Spirit, Paul could rejoice always in the Lord (1 Thess. 5:16; Phil 4:4) and give thanks for all kinds of providential circumstances (Phil. 4:11; 1 Thess.5:18).

(4)     Submitting to the Christian brethren.  This is esteeming another brother in Christ more highly than ourselves (Phil. 2:3-4).  All Christians need one another.

(b)     1 Cor. 12:3-7:  Every Christian is part of the body of Christ, the Church.  Each member has been given at least one spiritual gift for the effective functioning of the Body.  Apart from the controlling work of the Spirit, a Christian’s spiritual gifts cannot be used for the functioning of the Body.

(c)     Gal. 5:16:  Unless the Christian is dependent upon the Holy Spirit, he cannot control the flesh (sin nature).  The sin nature is a powerful force in the Christian but the Holy Spirit is more powerful.  It does not say one will not have the passions of the flesh but one will not bring them to completion.

(d)     Gal. 5:22-23:  In these verses, the fruit of the Spirit is enumerated and is the product of the holy Spirit, being manifested in the life when one is walking by means of the Spirit (Gal. 5:16).  POINT:  Notice that the first fruit mentioned is love.  Love is the highest Christian standard for holy living (John 13:34-35) and without love the Christian has nothing (1 Cor. 13:1-3).

 

2.         Scriptural Evidences According the to Book of Acts

a.          Acts 4:8, 31:  The controlling work of the Spirit is essential for effective witnessing, and faithful witnessing brings more controlling of the Spirit (Acts 13:52).  POINT:  The winning of souls is God’s business (Acts 13:48; 16:14) and the main agent of soul winning is the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8).  If men are to be effective witnesses, they must be rightly related to the Holy Spirit. Christians should be constantly asking the Holy Spirit to lead them to people that have been prepared to receive the gospel.  NOTE:  God does not expect the Christian to witness in his own strength.  God has provided a supernatural power that can make witnessing exciting.

b.         Acts 7:55:  The controlling work of the Spirit is that power that enables men to be martyrs.  God always gives dying grace to His children.

c.          Acts 6:3:  This verse tells us that the controlling work of the Spirit enables one for Christian service and, in context, it is necessary for serving in the office of deacon.

d.         Acts 11:22-24:  The controlling work of the Spirit is essential for effective pastoring of a flock.

3.         Personal Evidences

a.          Occupation with Christ:  One of the clearest evidences of the controlling work of the Spirit is that one is taken up with Jesus Christ.  The Holy Spirit came to glorify Christ, not Himself (John 16:14).

b.         Observation by Others:  Others notice that the Spirit is working in one’s life to increase the character of Christ (fruit of the Spirit).

4.         Points to Ponder

a.          Be careful not to put too much emphasis upon the Holy Spirit.  He has come to glorify Christ, not to be glorified.

b.         The person, who is always fretting about whether he is controlled or not, probably is not controlled, but the person rejoicing in Christ and His work, for and in him, is the person who is controlled by the Spirit.

c.          Do not make the Christian life mechanical.  The control of the Spirit is dealing with the Holy Spirit, a person, not a series of facts and methods.

d.         Do not run your Christian life on experience but learn to walk by faith and trust God for a genuine Biblical experience.

e.          There are no special formulas for living the Christian life.  Today there are many man-made rules and formulas set forth as the only way to have victory in the Christian life.  These man-make plans often state that Christians can attain unto something that God has not promised.  God’s plan is a simple one but a necessary one:  Trust and obey, for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

f.           Remember that all Christians have different personalities.  The fruit of the Spirit will be evidenced through their individual personalities.  Some people are quiet by nature, others are extroverts, etc.  The fruit will be seen but don’t try to pour everybody into a mold.

E.        Theological Problems Related to the Filling of the Spirit

1.         The Bible teaches that God works 100% in man and man works his salvation out 100%.

2.         The thing that must be remembered is that God has ordained the final outcome of all things but He has also decreed the means to accomplish His ends.  The means deals in the areas of human responsibility.  God has ordained that through faith, obedience and submission on the part of the believer, the sanctification process would be carried out.

3.         From the divine side and in the practical outworking in the life, there is no place for passivity on the part of the Christian because the Holy Spirit is working 100% in him.

4.         From the human side it appears that man, because of lack of faith, unyieldedness and disobedience, can hinder the full working of the Spirit in the life.

5.         In the control (filling) of the Spirit, a Christian does not get more of the Spirit, but the Spirit gains more control over the Christian.

6.         The degree of the Spirit’s control in the life of the Christian will depend on whether he seeks Him by faith or not.

7.         Man is held 100% responsible to seek the control by the Spirit and the work of giving the control rest 100% with God.  Man is responsible but God gives all the ability that man has.

8.         Any Christian, babe or mature, can be controlled by the Spirit, but it takes time to learn to walk consistently by the Spirit.  We progressively learn to walk by means of the Spirit.  We always experience progressive victory, not ultimate victory.

F.         Common Misunderstandings Concerning the Filling of the Spirit

1.         Introduction:   The work of the Holy Spirit in the Christian’s experience is a very important subject, but there has been much abuse of the doctrine, especially in holiness groups.  Wrong teaching of the Holy Spirit will bring frustrating Christian experiences.  NOTE:  Many people have tried this extreme emotionalism and found it very superficial and unsatisfying and have “kicked over” Christianity, thinking that what they had experienced was Christianity.

2.         We must avoid the extremes when teaching on the filling of the Spirit.  There are some (Reformed Theology) who hardly make mention of the filling of the Spirit in their writings, and there are others (Holiness groups) who speak constantly of the Holy Spirit but with a twisted emphasis.  There is a balanced teaching of the Holy Spirit.

3.         Nowhere does Scripture teach that the filling of the Spirit involves ecstatic and great emotional experiences.  A person may or may not have experience when controlled by the Spirit.  Any number of environmental factors may put a person in a low physical or mental state, but there still can be control by the Spirit.  God longs to keep us controlled by the Spirit while we trust Him to do it.  On the Christian’s part, feeling has nothing to do with it, but faith everything.  The order for Christian experience is fact, faith and feeling.  One may expect the Holy Spirit to continue glorifying Jesus.  Do not look for emotions, do not expect exhilarated feelings—these, if present, are temporary—but expect the Spirit to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ.  If Jesus is precious then you know that you are controlled by the Spirit.

4.         Nowhere does the Scripture teach that the filling of the Spirit is a post-salvation work.  It is never connected with the concept of a “second blessing.”  There are some  who claim that the work of the cross is sufficient to save but real sanctification does not take place until one discovers the filling of the Spirit.  They believe that after salvation one must discover the secret of filling or defeat will result.  To these people, the doctrine of the filling becomes all important for Christian living.  Their Christianity often becomes experience-centered rather than Bible centered.  This group usually equates the baptism and the filling of the Spirit.

5.         Nowhere does the Scripture teach that the filling of the Spirit is the same as the baptism of the Spirit.  The baptism of the Spirit deals with the Christian being positionally placed into the Body of Christ, the Church (1 Cor. 12:13).  The filling or control of the Spirit involves an experience and is to be repeated.

6.         Nowhere does the Bible teach that the fruit of the Spirit is an automatic result of being filled with the Spirit.  There is teaching that if all the conditions are met for filling then the fruit in its fullness will come naturally.  Notice in 2 Peter 1:5-8 the believer is told to add to his faith love, knowledge, temperance, patience, kindness, etc.  This is a picture of divine sovereignty and human responsibility.  Scripture teaches the believer is held responsible to desire and seek the fruit of the Spirit but only God can sovereignly produce the control of the Spirit and produce the desired spiritual fruit (Eph. 5:22-23).

7.         Nowhere does the Scripture teach that in the filling (control) of the Spirit is the “key” to the Christian life.  If this was the all-important doctrine for Christian living why doesn’t Peter, James, John or Jude mention it as such in their epistles?  Or why doesn’t Paul place a greater emphasis upon it?  Paul mentions it only once in all his writings.  If this is the “key” to the Christian life, why doesn’t any writer in the New Testament tell the Christian specifically how to be controlled?  There are many dear Christians who have lived a victorious Christian life without knowing about the filling of the Spirit.  POINT:  The doctrine of the filling of the Spirit is a very important doctrine but the Christian life is the Christ-life as one seeks to be occupied with Jesus Christ through faith and obedience.  The Christ life, however, is made real by the filling of the Spirit.

8.         Nowhere does Scripture teach that a person must be filled (controlled) by the Spirit before he can keep any other commands of Scripture.  In Eph. 5, Paul gives no more importance to being filled than walking as children of light, walking circumspectly, knowing God’s will, husbands loving wives and wives being in subjection to their husbands.  In Acts we see that the filling of the Spirit was accompanied with joy, wisdom and faith (Acts 6:3; 11:29; 13:52).  To be controlled by the Spirit is one of the many commands of God the Christian is to keep.  NOTE:  While other commands may be kept without the filling, it is questionable if there will be any joy in doing the will of the Lord without the Spirit’s control.  Without the filling, service becomes a burden rather than a blessing.

G.       Filling of the Spirit – Relative or Absolute?

1.         Problem:  When a person is filled (controlled) by the Spirit is he filled absolutely so that all the fruit of the Spirit is being manifested completely or equally, or is he never completely controlled but only filled in relative degrees?

2.         Possible Solution:

a.          Filling of the Spirit is both relative and absolute.  Control (filling) of the Spirit is directly related to one’s spiritual capacity or maturity.

b.         There was only one man who was completely filled or controlled by the Spirit and that was the God-Man, Christ Jesus.  He had 100% spiritual capacity or maturity (John 3:34).

c.          The Christian does not get more of the Spirit but the Spirit gains more control over the Christian as the Christian yields to the sovereign control of the Holy Spirit.  There are many areas of a Christian’s life that are not completely yielded to God.  Each Christian is somewhere along the maturity line and each has his own spiritual capacity, which various in degrees.

d.         Practical Aspects

(1)     This explains how two Christians can be controlled by the Spirit and yet the depth in one is far greater than the other but manifestations of the Spirit can be seen in both.

(2)     The fruit of the Spirit comes through our individual personalities and personalities differ.  Therefore, manifestations of the Spirit, while evident in the Spirit-filled believer, will vary somewhat according to personality.

H.       Practical Suggestions

1.         Don’t get too tired.  If you do, go to bed.  Pray about the sin in the morning.

2.         Become aware of your weak areas and don’t put yourself into situations that would grieve the Holy Spirit.

3.         Don’t run on your emotions.  Experience can be deceiving.  We are filled when Christ is precious and we don’t necessarily have to have some exhilarating experience.

4.         Listen to what the bible has to say about the filling of the Spirit and be careful not to copy the experience of other Christians in the area of the filling.  God will control us through our own personalities.

5.         Do not try to pour everybody into the same mold.  Let the Spirit of God manifest Himself through the unique personalities of Christians.