We hear about it from pastors, we learn about the fruits of the spirit in Sunday school, but what really is a Spirit-filled life? Recently, my husband and I have had conversations about the difference between having the Holy Spirit and being filled with the Holy Spirit. It is honestly scary to think that a person could go his whole life headed for Heaven, but not encountering the fullness of the presence of the Lord on the way there. This topic can be confusing, so here is a breakdown of how to live a Spirit-filled life.
What Is a Spirit-Filled Life?
When someone accepts Jesus as his personal Savior, he is sealed by the gift of the Holy Spirit. Candace Lucey from Christianity.com shares, “Biblically, to be 'sealed’ is to be verified as God’s child. Ephesians 1 says, 'When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit’ (v.13).” Let us be very clear, everyone who proclaims Jesus as Lord has the Holy Spirit. However, not everyone who has the Holy Spirit lives by the Spirit.
Paul makes it evident that we live by the Spirit or by the flesh. There is no hybrid. The call to all believers each day when they wake up is to surrender that day to the power of God working in and through them. When I forget to acknowledge the Lord is at work in my life and the people on my path, I miss out on the opportunities in front of me. Have you ever seen a person who you thought you should have helped? Have you ever run into an old friend and felt led to pray for her? This could very well be the pressing of the Spirit in your heart.
One of the busiest places to go is the grocery store. Even with a list, I am always derailed with the discounts. And please never let me go on an empty stomach. That trip will take longer than necessary. When I was growing up, my mom set a lot of incredible examples of selflessness to me, but one way in which my mother was led by the Spirit was at the grocery store. She would always be so kind to the workers and help the baggers, but what really stood out to me was when we would get to the car. At last, the moment came when we could finally leave. However, instead of jumping in the car and racing out of the parking lot, she would always intentionally look around her to find elderly or disabled people to take their carts back for them. This was not because my mom loved spending even more time at the store, but because she accepted the opportunity to be Spirit-filled. To this day, she still helps others, and I try to do the same.
Crosswalk shares a statement from the founder of CRU, Bill Bright: “When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we are filled with Jesus Christ. We no longer think of Christ as One who helps us do some kind of Christian task but, rather, Jesus Christ does the work in and through us. Christ does not want us to work for Him. He wants us to let Him do His work in and through us. This is the glorious experience that the apostle Paul knew, as he described in Galatians 2:20, ‘I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me’ (NIV).”
Body, Soul, and Spirit
We are made up of three parts: we have a body, soul, and spirit. Our souls include our personalities, emotions, and minds. When we are surrendered to the Holy Spirit living inside of us, we also give Him the lead on our souls and our bodies. All of who we are is empowered by God. We are called to walk by the Spirit, think on things of the Spirit, and be led by Him.
For example, a physical way to live out being Spirit-filled is to not get drunk. Ephesians 5:18 says “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.”
One way for our souls (in this case minds) to be Spirit-filled is through asking God to lead our thoughts. Romans 8:6 says “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.”
Other Bible Verses about Living by the Spirit
Romans 8:5 “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.”
Romans 7:6 “But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.”
Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
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How to Live Life Filled with the Spirit
So many times, we make things more complicated than they ought to be in life. Matthew 7:7 tells us to ask, seek and knock and the door will be opened. Start off your day asking Christ to fill you and to guide you. Ask Him to overtake you and work through you. This comes with a great deal of trust that He will perfectly direct our steps. It will not always be easy, in fact, many times it will prove challenging and against our fleshly nature. However, asking can lead to actions of obedience. Then, we see and are a part of the work of God.
Romans 5:5 tells us that God poured out His love for us by giving us His Spirit. If you are a believer this means that you have full access to the Lord! You have the Spirit inside of you. This means that you can operate through Him. Be thankful and praise God for such an incredible gift (Luke 11:13). Expect Him to work.
3. Seek the Scriptures
One of my all-time favorite prayers before spending time in the Bible is my own paraphrase of Luke 24:45. I pray something like, “Lord, would you please open my mind to understand your Scripture.” One of the greatest gifts of being Spirit-filled is understanding God’s Word. The Holy Spirit enables us to comprehend what the Lord is saying in the Bible (1 Corinthians 2:12). The beautiful adventure is that we are always learning and growing.
4. Be Available
Many times our issue is not that we are not filled by the Spirit, but we are too busy ignoring Him to be used by Him. Acts 5:32 teaches us that we are His witnesses, and so is the Holy Spirit. When we live in tune with God’s Spirit in us, we are capable of seeing our great Lord work in and through us. Having a “Lord send me” mentality creates a heart of openness and desire to pray and see how we can be a part of the great commission to make disciples of all nations. This includes even our next-door neighbors.
Are there other ways you can think of to live by the Spirit? A life surrendered to Jesus is an exciting life. The narrow road can be difficult, but it leads to life and peace. May we ask, expect, seek, and be available to the Spirit. By His power, we can access love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. We can live on mission for the sake of Jesus Christ each day.
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Emma Danzey’s mission in life is to inspire young women to embrace the extraordinary. One of her greatest joys is to journey with the Lord in His Scriptures. Emma is a North Carolina resident and green tea enthusiast! She is married to her husband Drew and they serve international college students. She enjoys singing, dancing, trying new recipes, and watching home makeover shows. During her ministry career, Emma recorded two worship EP albums, founded and led Polished Conference Ministries, ran the Refined Magazine, and served in music education for early childhood. Currently, she is in the editing stages of her first two writing projects: a Bible study on womanhood and a non-fiction book on singleness. You can visit her blog at emmadanzey.wordpress.com