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Galatians 5:16 & 1 John 1:4-9 by Robert Dean
Series:Galatians (1998)
Duration:1 hr 7 mins 23 secs

Walking in the Light and the Filling of the Holy Spirit
Galatians 5:16 & 1 John 1:4–9
Galatians Lesson #056
July 11, 1999


We read the command “walk by means of the Spirit.” We are taking some time to go through various passages related to that. Remember the spiritual life of the believer in the Church Age is a supernatural way of life and therefore demands a supernatural means of execution. God the Father has so determined in this Church Age that there will be a unique witness by the Church Age believer in the angelic conflict in relation to the spiritual life. The more I study the more I come to understand how significant this is.

This last week when we had the Prophecy Conference, I hope that some of you caught a little bit of what Tommy was saying that how much what we are doing today will determine who and what we are in eternity. This is just a drop in the bucket compared to all of eternity. This is boot camp and basic training; this is where we learn everything there is to know about living for the Lord in the midst of hostile circumstances.

The things that we can learn in the midst of testing can only be learned in the midst of testing. When we are absent from the body and face to face with the Lord, we will be in a place where there is no sin, no testing, and there will not be the opportunity to learn many of the things that we have today. In the context of the angelic conflict, God has structured the Church Age as the highest level of testimony and witness in the angelic conflict.

As part of that whole package, God has given us the Holy Spirit. There are seven different salvation ministries of God the Holy Spirit, and three of those relate specifically and are unique to the Church Age. Those are the baptism by means of the Holy Spirit, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and the filling of the Holy Spirit. There is a lot of controversy today about the nature of the filling of the Holy Spirit, and there is also a lot of misunderstanding in relationship to confession of sin in relation to the filling of the Holy Spirit. So many of these issues are interrelated that I am taking the time to go through and try to understand what all of the dynamics are in the New Testament in relation to what it means to walk by means of the Spirit.

We have seen in Ephesians 5:8 we have the command that you are “…light in the Lord. Walk as children of light…” That tells us that this walk that we have—that is, the metaphor for understanding the spiritual life—is related to God, related to fellowship with God. In 1 John 1:5, we read, “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.”

Throughout Scripture there is this contrast between light and darkness. Light represents the absolute purity and holiness, absolute perfection of God’s character. He is perfect righteousness and in Him there is no sin. Darkness represents sin.

In 1 John 1:6, we have the first of three third-class conditions. “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” When we compare that particular verse back with Ephesians 5:8, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light…” That implies that if we are mandated to walk in the light and here is the recognition that we can walk in darkness, we realize that there are two spheres—light and darkness.

Another way that we represent this is in looking at the diagram where we use the bottom circle. The top circle represents our positional reality. This is in essence light; we are children of light. But then there is our experiential reality—the experience of the believer in space/time history. When we are in fellowship, that is tantamount to walking in the light. Also, as we have seen, that means we are walking in the sphere of light (that is a dative of sphere) and the means is by the Holy Spirit. So we stay in this sphere by walking by means of God the Holy Spirit.

When we sin, Scripture says we grieve and quench the Holy Spirit. In His ministry toward us as part of what we call the filling of the Holy Spirit, He is teaching us doctrine, He is reminding us of the doctrine we have learned that is stored in our soul, He is leading and directing us, and He is producing a transformed character, along with a number of other ministries.

All of this is part of the filling of the Holy Spirit, which emphasizes the means of the filling (relates to doctrine in our soul), whereas, the walk emphasizes our moment-by-moment dependence upon the Holy Spirit. When we sin, we are out of fellowship and in what the Bible calls carnality, which is the realm of darkness.

So you see, there is this division between light and darkness. There is not just a little bit of light and a little bit of darkness. You can’t be both—light and darkness are mutually exclusive. I don’t know if you have ever been down in a deep cavern like Mammoth Caverns or Carlsbad Caverns. At one point, the park ranger will tell them turn the lights off, and you can’t see your hand in front of your face. If there is any level of light, you can see. Light and darkness are mutually exclusive domains—you are either in one or you are in the other.

So John 1:16 says, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”  Light can have fellowship only with light; perfect righteousness can have fellowship only with perfect righteousness. Contrast verse 7, “But if we walk in the light [that is our moment-by- moment experience, tantamount to walking by means of the Holy Spirit] as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

When I got into this the last time and started breaking this down, there are some categories here that are very important to understand. I want to make sure that through a little repetition, there is inculcation, and we learn these distinctives. There is a lot of confusion going on today about this. “The blood of Jesus, His Son, cleanses us from all sin.” The word there for cleansing is the same word that we have in 1 John 1:9. It is the Greek word KATHARIZO. It means to cleanse, to purify. It is used to translate the Hebrew of the Old Testament for all of the ritual cleansing, all the sacrifices in the temple and tabernacle service. So it is a word that is rich with theological significance and has to do with removing the guilt of sin either at the point of salvation or experientially from the life of the believer.

One of the things that we must understand is that the sin of the unbeliever is dealt with in a different manner from the sin of the believer. They are related of course. The unbeliever has his sins dealt with through faith alone in Christ alone. Jesus Christ went to the Cross, and there He died spiritually as a substitute for the sins of the world. “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). The unbeliever has all of his pre-salvation sins dealt with at the Cross.

But what happens after salvation when you sin again? Now that you are a believer, you have to deal with post-salvation sins. Historically, there are several different ways in which this is treated.

1) There is the Arminian solution, which is if you commit a post-salvation sin or especially a more heinous sin, then you lose your salvation, and you have to be saved again. That, of course, is heretical because it denies the doctrine of eternal security and basically ends up saying that man saves himself, and it is up to man by his own works or effort to keep himself saved.

 2) A second solution that is usually found in Reformed Theology, also known as Calvinism, is the idea that 1 John 1:7states the principle that the blood of Christ continually cleanses us from all sin. Because KATHARIZO is a present tense, they emphasize that as being continuous action. You will find reformed commentators looking at this verse and saying the blood of Jesus Christ continually cleanses us from all sin. Not all reformed theologians take 1 John 1:9 as a salvation verse, but many do. They think that you have to confess or admit that you are a sinner in order to be saved.

The reason I’m getting into this is because (1) you need to learn this because it is important for your spiritual life. (2) There are some pastors in doctrinal churches that have become very confused about this whole issue and subject of rebound, confession, 1 John 1:9 and its relationship to the filling of the Holy Spirit. Several men have quit teaching this over the last few years and have sent shock waves through several doctrinal churches. Part of this is because there are just some men out there who can’t think theologically anymore.

There are also a number of other questions. A good friend of mine, whom we ordained at Berachah a couple of years ago and just graduated from seminary, asked me a question three months ago. “What is the connection between Ephesians 5:18, to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and 1 John 1:9? How do we make that connection?” Paul wrote Ephesians in roughly AD 52–53. 1 John is written probably to the church at Ephesus sometime between AD 85–90 and is written by the Apostle John. In Ephesians, there doesn’t seem to be any mention of confession. In 1 John 1, there doesn’t seem to be any mention of the Holy Spirit. How do we make this connection? Because of that seeming discrepancy, many people have left the idea that there is a connection.

I have been demonstrating some of these connections because in Ephesians 5, it starts off back in verse 8 by talking about walking in the light. Light is synonymous with fellowship. What is the subject of 1 John 1? It is fellowship and walking in the light. That is where you draw your connection. They are talking about the same thing from different perspectives, and we will get into Ephesians 5 a little later on in this study and see how, I think, confession is alluded to in a few verses prior to Ephesians 5:18.

Another reason we are getting into this is if I do manage to get to the point where I ever complete my doctoral dissertation, this is the subject of my dissertation. I have to slug my way through an incredible number of commentaries and theologies and deal with a lot of minutiae, so in the process you might have to deal with a little along the way. So just call that an opportunity to exercise grace orientation on your part if I get too bogged down in the minutiae.

The reformed Calvinist tends to take 1 John 1:7 (and many others as well because of the influence of this in the commentaries) as the standard, and then they have trouble with 1 John 1:9. When we look at this, we have to understand that there are at least three categories of forgiveness in the Scriptures. Forgiveness is going to be an issue here in terms of cleansing from sin.

The first two are related to God, and the third is related to other believers. Ephesians 4:32,“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” This third category has to do with forgiving other believers, and that is not the subject of this particular study.

We have to understand the first two categories of forgiveness. Some people have raised the question: If we are forgiven at the Cross, and Christ paid the penalty for our sins, how then can God penalize us again for the same sin when we commit it in time? That falls under the category of law of double jeopardy. Isn’t there a double punishment for the same sin? If you go out and commit murder, Christ paid the penalty for that sin on the Cross. Then if you have to suffer consequences or divine discipline for that murder, isn’t that paying twice for the same sin?

Where we fall into a problem there is what is called the fallacy of the middle term in logic. What that means is that we are using the same term penalty in two different ways. When we use it in two different ways, it is a very subtle shift, and we end up creating what appears to be a contradiction. We have to understand that there are two different penalties for sin. We will call the first one P1, which has to do with eternal penalty, spiritual death. When God placed Adam and Ishah in the garden, He had a tree—the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 2:16,“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’ ” He used a particular construction in the Hebrew—a kal infinitive absolute plus the finite verb—which indicates certainty and absolute surety. It was a very emphatic form of saying that at the instant you do this, you will die.

The instant they ate, they did not die physically. So we have to ask the question, “What kind of death was it?” There are several different kinds of death in the Scripture. All of them are the consequences of this primary death. The primary penalty was spiritual death, which is defined as separation from God, the loss of the human spirit. That is what died.

Man was originally created with three components—this is called trichotomy, which is just a long word for three parts. That means he has a physical body, a human soul (which is the real you—composed of self-consciousness, mentality, volition, and conscience), and a human spirit (which is that immaterial part of man which gives us the ability to have a relationship with God and to understand spiritual phenomena).

At the moment Adam sinned, he lost that human spirit and became spiritually dead. That spiritual death is penalty one (P1). When he died spiritually, there were consequences in space/time history. Some of those consequences are enumerated in the curse. The curse on the serpent was he had to crawl, the curse on the woman was that she would have a desire to control her husband, and the curse on the man was that his work would be laborious and by the sweat of the brow.

I think there are many other implications to all that. All of the creation suffered from the curse according to Romans 8. The entire creation groans and labors under the curse of sin waiting the ultimate redemption. The plants grew thorns and thistles; it became a battle to pull sustenance out of the soil. The animals were originally created granivorous, and many became carnivores. Now there were battles, problems, and violence in the animal kingdom.

All of this is a consequence of Adam’s original sin, because of his spiritual death. The issue was how Adam responded to the test. Because Adam failed and was the representative of God over creation, man’s domain, everything in man’s domain was then affected by that decision. That is what we will call P2, which is space/time consequences for sin. All of a sudden, we realize there are two different categories of punishment for sin. There is category 1 (P1), the eternal punishment of spiritual death, and category 2 (P2), the temporal consequences of that sin.

When Jesus Christ went to the Cross and died, He did not pay the space/time consequences for our sin. He paid the penalty of spiritual death, which is the root issue of all sin. Jesus Christ paid the penalty (P1) for all sins in human history—all pre-salvation sins and all post-salvation sins. There is no single sin that anyone can commit that was not paid for by Jesus Christ on the Cross.

When you are saved, you are cleansed of all pre-salvation sins. But after salvation, five minutes later, when you lie or have a mental attitude sin of lust or whatever it might be, that sin is also covered. All post-salvation sins are cleansed (P1), and you don’t have to worry about losing your salvation. This is what 1 John 1:7 is talking about. It is a reference to the fact that if we sin, the blood of Jesus, His Son is continually cleansing us from all sin so that we never again have to worry about P1 penalty for sin.

However, we still have to worry about P2 consequences because there are consequences for our sin.

1) The first area is the law of volitional responsibility. Scripture says “… for whatsoever a man sows, that he will also reap,” Galatians 6:7. There are natural consequences to sin, whether mental attitude sins, sins of the tongue, or overt sins; they all have consequences. The more we allow sin in our life, the more it has a negative effect on our soul—it is destructive. So volitional responsibility just recognizes that there are natural consequences to sin.

2) The second arena of consequence is an intensified form, which is the law of divine discipline. On top of the natural consequences to that sin, God may heap some divine discipline and intensify the discipline in order to bring us back to a position where we are going to recover from our sin through confession of sin and get back in line with God’s plan and walk by means of the Holy Spirit. P2 consequences have to be dealt with.

3) A third level of P2 consequences is that these sins grieve and quench the Holy Spirit, and we lose fellowship with God. We are walking in darkness, so there has to be some mechanism for moving from the realm of walking in darkness back into light. This is the thing that is lost in the way many people reject confession as a means of the filling of the Holy Spirit; this is where it falls apart. They do not have any means of recovery; they think there is some nebulous faith in the Holy Spirit that is automatically going to happen.

But the reason you move from light to darkness is because of your volition, and you have to engage your volition to recover. There must be some sense of recovery there, and the basis is, of course, the fact that those sins were paid for by Jesus Christ on the Cross. When you acknowledge and admit those sins to God, in essence what you are saying is that “I have committed these various acts, Lord, and I recognize that Jesus Christ paid for those on the Cross. Therefore, because they are paid, I can recover fellowship with You and continue to walk by means of the Holy Spirit.” That doesn’t mean you say all of that, but that is the dynamic, the framework in which this takes place. That is the basis for confession. It is basically a recognition that those sins are paid for, and you admit them to the Lord, and you are forgiven because of the work that Christ did on the Cross.

The other thing that we will see as we go further into this study in Galatians 5 is that the sin nature, the flesh, our natural ability produces certain works. The Holy Spirit also has certain production and fruit in our lives. We can in the power of the flesh also produce what I call pseudo works, human good. It looks like divine good; it masquerades as divine good. If you do not have a mechanism, a means of moving from walking in the darkness to walking in the light, how do you ascertain whether or not you are walking by the Spirit or walking in the flesh?

There has to be some means for determining the realm in which you are walking and how you recover.

1 John 1:9 supplies that. Just because you confess your sins and move back into the sphere of light, it doesn’t mean that you are going anywhere. It just puts you back in a position where you can go somewhere. Confession doesn’t move you anywhere other than back into the sphere of light. It is from that point on that the issue is determined. You have to continue walking by means of the Holy Spirit, so all 1 John 1:9 is is a grace recovery procedure to put you in a position to go forward. Now you have to start making moment-by-moment decisions to go forward by walking by means of God the Holy Spirit.

1 John 1:7 indicates what takes place in terms of the continual cleansing from sin, that we don’t lose our salvation because the penalty was completely paid for by Jesus Christ on the Cross.

In summary, 1) we said that the subjunctive mood in 1 John 1:7 “… if we walk …” is the mood of potentiality. We may or may not walk in the light.

2) Walking in the light is experiential sanctification.

3) Walking in the light is not equivalent to being a believer. That is one thing that some people will say when they come to this passage, typical of reformed theologians, that walking in the darkness is an unbeliever and walking in the light is a believer. This is a crucial issue. I find it fascinating how people tend to always line up on the same sides of different issues because of their theological framework. Reformed theologians always end up making 1 John 1:9 indicate “tests of life.” These contrasts are, throughout the entire epistle of John, all between believer and unbeliever.

The interesting thing is that has tremendous implications because of the way you then take many passages in 1 John on the whole lordship salvation issue. So those who hold to lordship salvation almost to a man take this reformed view of 1 John that it is “tests of life.” On the other hand, those who believe in the free grace position, that salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone, see 1 John as demonstrating “tests of fellowship.” The contrast isn’t between unbeliever and believer but between the carnal believer and the spiritual believer.

This is the issue here. 1 John 1:6, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” We have already established from other passages, notably Ephesians 5:8 and others, that you can walk in darkness as a believer. You continue to commit sin, and that is walking in darkness. Positionally you are sons of light—that is our title, our position—yet we can walk in darkness rather than in light. So we are mandated to walk in the light because Jesus Himself is in the light. Walking in the light is not a term to describe a believer but is a term for describing a believer who is walking by means of the Holy Spirit and advancing in the spiritual life.

4) Walking in the light is tantamount or equivalent to walking by means of the Spirit, having a life that is temporarily free from sin. Because of experiential righteousness in the life of the believer, because he is walking by means of the Holy Spirit, the result is fellowship with God and with other believers.

1 John 1:8, “If we say that we have no sin [if we are in self-deception and denial], we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” In other words, as a believer, you succumbed to arrogance and are denying sin, that there is even sin in your life. In contrast to the carnal believer who denies sin, there is the advancing believer who confesses sin. 1 John 1:9,“If we confess our sins, He is faithful [He always does the same thing every time] and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

If the blood of Jesus Christ continually cleanses us from sin, why then ought we confess (1 John 1:9)? This is the problem. If you are going to emphasize 1 John 1:7 so highly, then vs. 9 not only becomes redundant, it becomes unnecessary. If Christ’s death on the Cross for you as a believer automatically cleanses you from all sin, why then in two verses later does John say we ought to confess our sins? You see the contradiction there. Those who emphasize vs. 7 fail to understand that we are talking about two different categories of penalty and two different categories of cleansing. One is positional and the other is experiential. That is why we have to admit or acknowledge our sins so there will be cleansing in time for the space/time consequences of sin.

Let’s have a summary of where we have gone so far in our study of walking because we have spent four or five hours on this, and I don’t want you to lose the forest because we are spending so much time looking at the trees.

I find one of the problems in many doctrinal churches where we emphasize exegesis and analysis of the text is we spend so much time looking at the details of the verse that we lose the big picture. The other thing that happens is that when somebody comes in and starts giving you the big picture, I hear people say “well, that was pretty basic.” Overviews are not basic. I have been around a lot of believers who have been in churches who have had detailed analysis all their lives, and they can’t give you the structure of Romans, they can’t give you an overview of the Bible, they don’t understand the Old Testament. They know a lot of detail, but they don’t understand the big picture. You have to do both; you have to do analysis and synthesis, put it all together and see the big picture.

I want to go back and forth in this study so we don’t lose the overall perspective of where we are going here. The bottom line is we have to understand how to walk by means of the Spirit.

1) Walking in the light refers to the Christian living his life in fellowship with God.

2) Just as the darkness is incompatible with light, so sin, whether overt, mental or verbal, is incompatible with fellowship with God. What the righteousness of God rejects, the justice of God condemns.

3) If walking in the light refers to the Christian living his life in fellowship with God and if darkness is incompatible with light and sin is going to move us from light into darkness, then when we sin, we quit walking in the light and begin walking in darkness.

Any sin—a good sin, a bad sin, a heinous sin, a light sin, a venial sin, a mortal sin, a deadly sin, a criminal sin. It doesn’t matter; in the Bible you only have sin. There are no distinctions between one sin and another. Remember all it took to plunge the human race into depravity was eating a piece of fruit.

Any sin, whatever it is, is an act of disobedience to God, violates His righteous character, and thus separates us from fellowship. So when we sin, we quit walking in the light and begin walking in darkness.

4) Walking in darkness is an absolute that is compared to other absolutes in Ephesians 5. There are other absolutes in Ephesians 5—foolish vs. wise, drunk vs. filled with the Spirit. This indicates that these are not processes but absolutes.

5) The command to be filled with the Spirit in Ephesians 5:18 is tantamount to the mandate to walk in the light and to walk by means of the Spirit. They are related; they both relate to walking by means of the light.

6) The continuous light metaphor in Ephesians 5 and in 1 John 1 shows the connection between fellowship with God and the filling of the Holy Spirit. That is important. The context of Ephesians 5 is walking in the light. The context in 1 John 1 is walking in the light. Both passages recognize that you can move outside the light.

In Ephesians 5, you are focusing on one aspect which is the mandate to be filled by means of the Spirit, and in 1 John, John is addressing a different issue so he mentions confession of sin. When you put these together, you realize that the similarities are there in many different points. What is different is the command to be filled with the Spirit and the principle of confession of sin. Therefore, you are then able to put those two together as being related.

7) Confession is the means of recovery for the filling of the Spirit. This is the recovery from darkness through the use of 1 John 1:9, which restores the filling of the Holy Spirit.

That brings us to the doctrine of the filling of the Holy Spirit. This is really just by way of an introduction. I have three rather extended points that we need to look at in terms of understanding the mandate to be filled by means of the Spirit. Let’s turn to Ephesians 5:18.

One thing that has impressed itself upon me in this study is the only place in the Scriptures that really emphasizes this is Ephesians 5:18. Of course, God only needs to mandate something once and that is sufficient. Some people say if it is only in one place, it must not be that important. The concept is expressed elsewhere, but the emphasis is not the filling by means of the Spirit as much as it is walking by means of the Spirit. Filling of the Spirit is a means; walking by means of the Spirit is the continuous process. That is why there is more of an emphasis on walking in the Scriptures than more mandates on the filling, but that does not negate the importance of filling.

First we have to exegete the passage a little to understand what is happening. Ephesians 5:18,“And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit.” There are some things we need to look at in the Greek in order to make sure we have an accurate translation because you cannot have an accurate application if you do not have accurate interpretation. You cannot have accurate interpretation if you do not have an accurate understanding of what the original text says. There is a parallel drawn here, an analogy that is drawn between being drunk and being filled. We have to understand the nature of that analogy.

The first verb is the negation of a command, a present passive imperative of METHUSKO. That means to get drunk. It is present tense, passive voice, imperative mood. With the negative, it is an imperative of prohibition. Because it is in the present tense, it is a complete prohibition (do not get drunk) for the entire life of the believer. That is followed by the dative of means for the word for wine OINOS. That is why someone who studies wine and has a hobby of learning about wine, the differences, the fine nuances of flavor is called a oenologist, someone who studies wine. The dative indicates means. So the command is do not get drunk by means of wine for that is dissipation (wasting your life). We just got through saying that man is to redeem the time back in Ephesians 5:16.

In contrast, you have a second command in Ephesians 5:18 and that is indicated by the strong adversative ALLA, which indicates a strong contrast between the two statements—“… but be filled ...” Now you have the positive command also a present passive imperative. The present imperative indicates a general or standard rule for the believer’s life, standard operating procedure. It comes from the verb PLEROO, and that emphasizes to fill something up. Now the question needs to be asked, what are you filled up with?

This is where we have to understand a little bit about the history of interpretation of this passage because there has been a lot of confusion about this. We are told to be filled up with the Spirit. It seems like in the English that the content of the filling is the Spirit. Just as I might take my coffee cup and fill it up with coffee. But what you are indicating in English is the content of the filling is coffee. It is not what this is saying—it is a bad translation. In the Greek, you use genitive to indicate content and dative to indicate means. Just as it said, “do not get drunk with wine.” It’s not talking about the content; it’s talking about the means, the method used to get drunk. Here it is talking about “by means of the Holy Spirit”—instrumental dative.

What are you filled with? In Colossians 3:16, you have the command “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly …” If you compare Ephesians 5and6 with Colossians 3 and what comes after that command into Colossians 4, they are the same consequences. It talks about gratitude, singing hymns and psalms and spiritual songs, marriage mandates of wives being submissive to husbands and husbands loving their wives, children obeying their parents. All these consequences flow from both mandates. So what we have in Ephesians is the emphasis on the means of filling, and in Colossians the emphasis is on the content of the filling, which is Bible doctrine.

So let’s make some observations here.

1) Both verbs are present passive imperatives indicating that the believer is acted upon by that which is in the dative. The passive voice indicates that the believer is the recipient of the action. So he is acted upon by that which is in the dative. In the first case, he is acted upon by wine, and is made drunk. In the second case, he is acted upon by the Holy Spirit and is filled up with something. The imperative mood emphasizes that this is a command or mandate. The imperative is always addressed to the volition of the individual. That means that your volition is engaged, and it is up to you as to whether or not you will implement the mandate—whether or not you will be filled or whether you will avoid being drunk. It is up to you.

2) In the past in terms of the history of the interpretation of this passage, drunkenness has been taken as the key issue in the metaphor. Obviously, we are dealing with an analogy here. Drunkenness has been taken as the key issue, and the emphasis has then been on the idea of control—that when you drink wine and get drunk, it is the wine controlling you. The analogy would then mean that the Holy Spirit is supposed to control you.

What is wrong with that? Recent studies in the religious practices common in Ephesus at the time reveal that one of the very popular cults was the worship of the god Dionysus, also known by the Latin name Bacchus. Dionysus was, among other things, the god of wine, and his worship was very much associated with what came to be called the mystery religions at that time. In fact, a study of the mystery religions is very important for understanding a lot of the background for the first epistle to the Corinthians and why they were speaking in tongues.

What would happen is that in the worship of Dionysus, you would go up into your various groves outside of town where you had altars set up, and you would have these orgies, tremendous parties. Because Dionysus was the god of wine, you would then participate in his particular benefit and would drink enormous amounts of wine so that you could get drunk, get into some kind of altered state of consciousness so that you could have communion or fellowship with the god.

If you really got lucky, then the god would speak to you in glossolalia. That is the background for Corinth as well. It happened also with the worship of Apollo. They would go up to Delphi, where there was the Oracle of Delphi, and they would get engaged in the same kind of thing where they would get drunk, have wild dances, and then fall down in an ecstatic trance and begin to speak in glossolalia or just gibberish. They identified that as the god speaking through them.

If that is your background and you come into the church, someone stands up and you can’t understand anything they say, and they start speaking in a foreign language you are ignorant of, you are going to think it is the same thing you have been experiencing all your life up on the hillside worshipping Dionysus. That is what the Corinthians did. They were confusing the pagan mystical worship of speaking in glossolalia with this miraculous ability to speak in a legitimate human language as a special spiritual gift.

In Ephesus, they had the same kind of problem. They were thinking that the means to become spiritual and to have fellowship with God was by getting drunk because that is what you did in your bacchanals and that would elevate your consciousness and you would have greater fellowship with God. In terms of their religious background, they were using wine in order to have a deeper fellowship with God.

What is Paul saying here? He is saying don’t get drunk with wine because that is not going to get you in fellowship with God, but be filled by means of the Spirit because that is what gets you in fellowship with God.

You have to do some good isagogics here and understand the culture of the time in order to correctly interpret the passage so you don’t misinterpret and then misapply. This has been one of the great problems that you when you utilize the term control, it indicates that somehow your volition is negated, you become somewhat passive, and now the Holy Spirit is going to live the spiritual life for you. “Let go and let God.” That is one of the common phrases that came out of the Higher Life movement, the Victorious Life movement.

In the history of the doctrine, you have people like Lewis Sperry Chafer, C.I. Scofield, Arno C. Gaebelein, some of the greats at the end of the 19th century who were tremendous dispensationalists, but they also associated with people like Reuben A. Torrey, Dwight Moody who was very much into Keswick higher life teaching, and some others. They spoke at a lot of the same conferences together. People like Scofield, Gaebelein, Chafer and others picked up the same vocabulary, but they meant something different by it. That was one reason that they were criticized by the way they handled Ephesians 5:18.

Now we are trying to solve this problem, and we X out the concept of control, and what we are going to emphasize is the idea of influence. Let’s look at the analogy as we go back to Ephesians 5:16.

We realize that what the mandate is is to walk by means of the Spirit and you will not fulfill, bring to completion the lusts of the flesh. There is the contrast—the Holy Spirit vs. the sin nature.

How does the sin nature operate? Sin nature is the source of temptation: the sin nature tempts your volition. When you operate positive to the sin nature, which is negative to God, then volition becomes the source of sin.

The Holy Spirit is filling you with doctrine; He is continually bringing to your mind the doctrine that you need to apply in terms of reminding you, in terms of recall of doctrine for the situation, and you can exercise positive volition and respond to the Holy Spirit. As long as you are responding positively and applying doctrine in your life and saying no to the sin nature, then you are walking by means of the Holy Spirit. As long as you are in fellowship with God and learning the Word of God, then the Holy Spirit is going to be filling up your soul with doctrine, making it understandable so that there is something there for Him to bring to your mind at the proper time.

1) All of that helps us to understand what is meant by the filling of the Holy Spirit, so our conclusion is that the filling of the Holy Spirit means to be filled by means of the Holy Spirit and is the means to fellowship and spirituality.

2) In earlier writings by various theologians (Chafer is one, and I read it in many others) who failed to understand the original languages, they made an argument for repeated fillings. They said, in Ephesians5:18 it says to be filled with the Spirit. In Acts we find that some people are filled over and over again. So obviously you can lose the filling of the Spirit, and you have to recover it.

The imperative mood of Ephesians 5:18 indicates that you can lose it. When you have an imperative, you are either going to obey it or disobey it—one or the other. If you are obeying it, you have got it; if you are disobeying, you don’t. So the imperative by nature of its significance indicates that you can lose the filling of the Holy Spirit

Let me impress that upon you because nowhere in Acts does it indicate that you can lose the filling of the Holy Spirit. The reason is the word that is used in all of these passages is the word PIMPLEMI, and the word that is used in Ephesians 5:18 is PLEROO. Two different words—they are not synonymous.

Let’s look at the usages. Luke 1:15 in reference to John the Baptist. This was the announcement by the angel to his father Zacharias that his wife Elizabeth would become pregnant, and they would have a child. (The angel said,) “For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink [Nazarite vow]. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.” The word filled is not PLEROO; that is PIMPLEMI. What dispensation is John the Baptist living in? He is living in the dispensation of Israel and later the dispensation of the Messiah. But he is not living in the Church Age where you have the unique filling of the Holy Spirit PLEROO. It is PIMPLEMI.

Luke 1:41, “And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.” That does not mean that there was a soul in her womb—I don’t want to get caught up in the origin of human life issue. That means that in the terms of Elizabeth’s excitement, there were a lot of other dynamics going on that affected the physical life in the womb. Elizabeth was filled by means of the Holy Spirit, and then she speaks.

Incidentally, on the whole origin of human life, I ran across a very interesting website not too long ago that had a halakha, a Rabbinic discussion back and forth. It had rabbis from the time of Christ, and they were arguing back and forth over the same issue. One of the interesting things in this is that legal issues on inheritance rights were such that if a man died and his wife was pregnant, as far as his estate was concerned, he was childless. They were not treating the life in the womb as full legal life. That is Jewish interpretation.

Luke 1:67, “Now his father Zacharias was filled [PIMPLEMI] with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied.” Acts 2:4, “And they [the disciples] were all filled with the Holy Spirit [PIMPLEMI] and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Acts 4:8, “Then Peter, filled [PIMPLEMI] with the Holy Spirit, said to them …” Notice there is a relation between filling [PIMPLEMI] and speaking. It has a revelatory significance.

I would say that PIMPLEMI has more in common with the Old Testament temporary enduement than it does with New Testament filling because it is temporary and exclusively related to some kind of verbal utterance. Just as the prophets in the Old Testament were filled with the Spirit in order to write the Scriptures. That is what it relates to. It doesn’t have anything to do with the issue of living the spiritual life as outlined in Ephesians 5:18. PIMPLEMI is not the issue; PLEROO is.

3) There is a failure to distinguish between the verb PLEROO and the related adjective PLERES. PLERES is an adjective and, as such, is descriptive. PLERES plus a genitive of description is going to give us a character analysis of a person. I know somebody who says that PLERES in these verses shows that filling is a process.

Let’s look at this, and I’ll show you how it works. Acts 13:10 is a description of one of the various characters who are in opposition to the apostles in Acts. This is Elymas the magician, and he wants to have the power that Paul has. Paul says to him, “O full [PLERES] of all deceit and all fraud …” This is a character description of Elymas. He has a deceitful, fraudulent character.

Acts 9:36,“At Joppa [modern day Haifa] there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did.” Literally, it is PLERES—full of good works and mercy. That is the literal translation. It is PLERES plus ERGON AGATHON (good works) and ELEEMOSUNE (mercy). This is a character description of the woman; she is characterized by good works and mercy. I used those descriptions because they are not related to the Holy Spirit at all.

Acts 6:3, “Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, when we may appoint over this business.” They are going to choose the first proto-deacons really. Here it is PLERES again. He is not talking about PLEROO that these men are filled with the Spirit. It is real obvious from the passage that if you are going to choose these men, you are not going to choose men who are at this moment filled with the Spirit and the next moment not. You are not filled with wisdom one moment and not filled with wisdom the next. That is clearly an adjectival description of somebody whose whole life is characterized by the Holy Spirit and wisdom.

So PLERES is different from PLEROO. PLEROO is the means of filling; PLERES describes the ultimate mature results of filling. What we would say is the reason they are full of the Spirit and wisdom is because these men have grown to spiritual maturity, and they have spent maximum amount of time being filled with doctrine under the ministry of God the Holy Spirit, and it is exemplified in their life.

This is then said of Stephen in Acts 6:8, that he was “full of grace and power.” That describes his life: he is grace oriented, and he relies upon God the Holy Spirit

Acts 11:24,“For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith.”

So PLERES is different from PLEROO. PLERES indicates the character quality, the character results of PLEROO. The Bible is saying that character matters. The ultimate goal is not to be filled with the Spirit, is not to be in fellowship; it is to advance to spiritual maturity and exemplify the character of Jesus Christ. That is what we are going to see in Galatians 5, the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is the PLERES. It is the character that is produced in the believer as the result of continuous filling by means of God the Holy Spirit.

The conclusion is that PIMPLEMI relates to the pre-Church Age enduement of the Holy Spirit for special revelation. PLEROO relates to the work of the Holy Spirit in filling the believer with doctrine. The content of the filling is always doctrine, and the result is expressed by PLERES and that is Christ-like character. There we see, through looking at these different uses of the verb, the entire process from spiritual infancy to spiritual maturity. The means is the Holy Spirit filling you with doctrine, the process is continuous walking, and the result is transformed character expressed by PLERES.

Closing Prayer

“Father, we thank You for the opportunity to look at these things today, to understand that the spiritual life is uniquely driven, empowered by God the Holy Spirit who helps us to understand the things of Your Word and reminds us of them and recalls them to our mind so that we can apply them in times of testing and thereby advance to spiritual maturity and exemplify the character of Christ. We pray that we might be challenged by the things that we have studied this morning. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”