A few days ago, a good friend of mine asked how to be filled with the Spirit. I thought this was an interesting question, as there seems to be some assumptions in different churches as to what exactly it means to be filled with the Spirit. Specifically, many assume that to be filled with the Spirit is the same thing as speaking in tongues. It is also a common belief that once you are filled with the Spirit, you are always filled with the Spirit.
There is also a difference between being filled with the Spirit and receiving the baptism of the Spirit. Both happened in Scripture. But, let’s focus on what it is to be filled with the Spirit. I can tackle receiving the baptism of the Spirit another day.
Let’s look into Scripture to find out what people actually did when they were filled with the Holy Spirit of God.
“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. And she cried out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.”
Elizabeth spoke prophesy and blessings to Mary when she was filled with the Spirit.
“And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied“
Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit when he obeyed God and thus prophesied.
“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.”
When they were filled with the Holy Spirit, they spoke in tongues. (Check out my book for a biblical explanation of tongues!)
“On the next day, their rulers and elders and scribes were gathered together in Jerusalem; and Annas the high priest was there, and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of high-priestly descent. When they had placed them in the center, they began to inquire, “By what power, or in what name, have you done this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of the people, if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health. He is the STONE WHICH WAS REJECTED by you, THE BUILDERS, but WHICH BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” “
Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and had the right words to speak to the court and the boldness with which to do it.
“And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.”
They were filled with the Holy Spirit after their prayer and began to speak the words of God with boldness
Acts 13:8 -11
But Elymas the magician (for so his name is translated) was opposing them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. But Saul, who was also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, fixed his gaze on him, and said, “You who are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to make crooked the straight ways of the Lord? Now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and not see the sun for a time.” And immediately a mist and a darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking those who would lead him by the hand.
Saul was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke truth against the magician who was attempting to stop God’s word from being spread, and he proclaimed judgment on the sinner. The judgment took place immediately.
“And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”
They were continually filled with the Spirit and joy
“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.”
We are instructed to be filled with the Holy Spirit, like a person gets drunk with wine. This terminology is a present perfect tense and means we must be filld over and over again. It is a repeated process- we must be filled with the Spirit continually.
From these Scriptures and my quick summaries, you can see the proof of being filled with the Spirit is not limited to speaking in tongues. Here are the other things that happened when people were filled with the Spirit:
- Speaking truth
- Singing to each other
- Singing to the Lord
- Giving thanks to God
- Worshiping God
- Loving one another
Just think. If speaking in tongues was the only proof of being filled with the Spirit, why would Paul have said in 1 Corinthians 14:5, “Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying”? Paul thinks prophecy is better than tongues!
Here’s another question to ponder. If being filled with the Spirit was a one-time event, would we who have been filled ever sin again??
And if being filled with the Spirit happened only once in a person’s life, why then was Peter filled both on the day of Pentecost and when he spoke to the courts?
My conclusion is that we must be filled over and over again with the Spirit. Yes, tongues is one proof that we have the Spirit, but according to what we have read in the Bible, there are other proofs as well! Take another look at that list, and if you have not experienced these things, maybe it’s time to ask our Lord to fill you with His Spirit, perhaps for the first time!
May He bless you as you seek Him!!