We are living under the influence. There is no way to escape it. There is a conspiracy of influence taking place all over the world. You turn on the television and there are those peering at you through the screen that are doing their best to influence your buying habits, shape your beliefs, and change your mind. Madison Avenue may be nothing more than a street in New York City, but the influencers of society gather there every day to try and come up with new ways to influence you and me. Politicians are on television every day trying to win you and me over to their side. They tell sordid tales about their opponents, shine a spotlight on how they will better our nation, and pull every trick in the book to try and win our vote. We are being shaped, swayed, and seduced each and every day whether we are aware of it or not.
Those who are part of our lives, the people we work with, go to school with, our family members, or those who influence us through our headphones, phones, computer screens, or television sets can either have a positive or negative influence on us. I watched an ESPN documentary this past week called, “Unguarded.” The film is about a basketball player named Chris Herren. Chris was a McDonald’s High School All-American coming out of Fall River, Massachusetts. Chris went to Boston College on a basketball scholarship. Shortly after he arrived at Boston College he walked into his dorm room and found his roommate and two girls doing cocaine. They invited him to give it a try, but Chris said, “No thanks.” One of the girls said, “Come on, it won’t hurt you.” Chris said he did his first line of cocaine and it took him 18 years to stop. Influence is powerful…and can be powerfully destructive.
Chris lost his scholarship at Boston College, transferred to Fresno State University where he played for Jerry Tarkanian. At Fresno State, Chris had more drug problems. He tested positive and missed part of one season because he was in rehab.
Chris was an amazing basketball player, but because of all of his off the court problems he was drafted much lower than he would have been drafted. The Denver Nuggets chose him the 33rd pick in the 1999 NBA draft. Chris said that when he arrived in Denver, two veteran players, Nick Van Exel and Antonio McDyess pulled him aside during his first training camp and said, “Look, we know all about your drug problems in the past. There’s not going to be any partying this season. Every night you will be checking in with us. When we go on the road there won’t be any going to bars or clubs. We are going to sacrifice our season to help you. When we are on the road you will be going out to dinner with us.” They held Chris accountable. Nick Van Exel and Antonio McDyess did what no coach, teammate, or family member had done—they held him accountable. Chris stayed clean and sober all season long. They used their influence in a positive way to help Chris.
After his rookie season, Chris was traded to the Boston Celtics. The positive influence and accountability that Nick Van Exel and Antonio McDyess provided for Chris was gone, and Chris’s drug problems came back with a vengeance. It wasn’t until 2008 that Chris got serious about getting clean and sober. Chris Mullin, former NBA superstar, decided to use his influence to help Chris once he decided to get clean. He paid for Chris to spend nine months in a treatment facility where he got the help he needed. Today, Chris Herren is using his experiences, and his influence, to make a positive impact on the lives of those around him.
I’ve shared all of this with you so that you will know that those things, ideas, or people that we allow to influence us will alter the course of our lives. Our lives will turn in the direction of the forces that we allow to work upon our lives. We can see this in the Scripture that we are looking at today. Read along with me as we read Ephesians 5:18-21.
18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. 19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:18-21 NIV)
We touched on verse 18 last week, but I want us to take a deeper look this week. We are not to be “filled” with wine because it leads to “debauchery,” or to a myriad of expressions of excess. Instead, we are to be “filled with the Spirit.” I want us to take a longer look at this Scripture this morning because I believe that there is some confusion in our day about two different experiences that we, as the followers of Jesus, encounter in our walk with the Lord.
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit
Some today speak about being “baptized in the Holy Spirit,” receiving a “second baptism,” or “second blessing.” Most often they connect the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. I want you to know that those who hold to these beliefs didn’t just pluck them out of the air; they base their belief on what they’ve read in the Book of Acts about Pentecost. What happened at Pentecost? Instead of me telling you the story, let’s read it together. Turn with me to Acts 2:4-11.
4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. 5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs–we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” (Acts 2:4-11 NIV)
There were people from other countries who had come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish celebration of Pentecost. Pentecost took place 50 days following the Jewish celebration of the Passover. Pentecost was also called, “The Feast of Weeks,” “The Feast of Harvest,” and “The Latter Firstfruits.” It was one of three festivals that required Jews to travel to Jerusalem each year. We learn this from reading Deuteronomy 16:16.
16 Three times a year all your men must appear before the LORD your God at the place he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Tabernacles. No man should appear before the LORD empty-handed: 17 Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the LORD your God has blessed you. (Deuteronomy 16:16-17 NIV)
So there were Jews from other nations, Jews who spoke other languages, who were present in Jerusalem at the appointed time that God poured out His Spirit. Prior to Pentecost, Jesus had told His followers to remain in Jerusalem because “in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” At Pentecost the promise was fulfilled. I want you to notice something interesting about the gift God gave to His people. What was the result of the pouring out of the Spirit and their speaking in other languages? The message of the Gospel was proclaimed with boldness and about 3,000 people became followers of Jesus on that day. (Acts 2:41)
There are ten different references in the book of Acts where we find individuals or groups of individuals being “filled” with the Spirit and each time they immediately, boldly, testify about Jesus.
Some of those who speak about a “second baptism” or a “second blessing” today say that the evidence of receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit is speaking in tongues. Well, not all of Jesus’ followers speak in tongues, or speak in other languages, but all of Jesus’ followers have been baptized with the Holy Spirit. When did it happen? At the moment of their conversion. I want you to know that if you have received Jesus as Lord and Savior of your life then you have been baptized by the Spirit of God. Paul wrote to the believers in Corinth and reminded them of this truth.
13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free–and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. (1 Corinthians 12:13 NIV)
Not only have we, all of us who are in Christ, been baptized into Christ by the Spirit of God, but the Holy Spirit lives in us. In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Paul wrote,
19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV)
We have been baptized, immersed, into the Body of Christ by the Spirit of the Living God. He now lives in us, permanently residing in us, to empower us, convict us, and influence us each and every day of our lives. What a glorious truth!
Filled With the Holy Spirit
Being baptized into the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit at our conversion is something different than the lesson Paul is teaching us in Ephesians 5:18. For us to really understand what Paul means in Ephesians 5:18 we need to take the phrase, “be filled with the Spirit,” and hold it up before us, turning it, examining it, and taking in its beauty and depth like a jeweler beholding the beauty of a precious gem. The Greek word which is translated as “filled” is the word, “πληρόω” (pleroo), and it means, “to make full, to fill up, or to fill to the full.” The word is an “imperative, present, passive” verb. Now, what does that mean? For someone like me who never did well in English and still can’t speak or write correctly, grammatically speaking, this doesn’t sound important. Let me assure you, it is more than important and that is why I want to take a minute to explain what it means. “Imperative” means that it is a “command,” not a suggestion or recommendation, but a command. “Present” means that it is to be a “continuous” action. Not a once and done action, not something that happened in the past, but a continuous action. Last of all, “passive” means that “being continuously filled” is not something that we do, but it is something that is done to us. Martyn Lloyd-Jones describes it this way.
The tense of the verb is most important, and here it is the present, the present continuous. The true translation of this verse is this: ‘Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess, but go on being filled with the Spirit—be perpetually filled with the Spirit. Let it go on, let it continue, let it be your constant condition.’ It is the present continuous. (Lloyd-Jones, Martyn. Life in the Spirit: In Marriage, Home, and Work. Ephesians 5:18-6:9. pg. 46)
This is such an important lesson for you and me to learn, to fully grasp, so that we can follow the instruction given to us by Paul. If you will remember, last week we took at a look at the contrasting lifestyles of the path of debauchery and the path of being led by the Spirit. If we are going to enjoy a life filled with the fruit of the Spirit then we must implement this lesson given to us by Paul. John MacArthur writes,
The continuous aspect of being filled (‘be being kept filled’) involves day-by-day, moment-by-moment submission to the Spirit’s control. The passive aspect indicates that it is not something we do but that we allow to be done in us. The filling is entirely the work of the Spirit Himself, but He works only through our willing submission. The present aspect of the command indicates that we cannot rely on a past filling nor live in expectation of future filling. We can rejoice in past fillings and hope for future fillings, but we can live only in present filling. (MacArthur, John. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Ephesians. pg. 249)
This is all good to know, but the practical side of me wants to know, “What do I need to do in response to this lesson I’ve just learned?” That’s a great question to ask. What’s the next step? The next step is to yield to God’s Spirit. He has been given to each and every follower of Jesus to help us in so many ways. Let me show you just a few.
The Spirit Convicts Us of Sin
Jesus said that one of the functions of the Holy Spirit is to convict the world of sin. Long before I ever accepted Jesus as Lord of my life I felt conviction when I would “sin.” I didn’t call it that at the time, but I knew I didn’t feel good about what I did. It was only later that I learned what was really going on. The guilt I felt was in relation to the sin I was committing. Jesus said,
7 But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: (John 16:7-8 NIV)
As followers of Jesus we are told, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God.” (Ephesians 4:30) When we sin, when we live ungodly lives, when we live lives that don’t fit with the calling God has placed upon our lives, then we grieve the Holy Spirit and we are convicted in our spirit.
The Spirit is Given to Guide Us into all Truth
We face many situations in life where we just don’t know what to do, which way to turn, and we are told that the Spirit will guide us into all truth. In John 16:13 we read,
13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. (John 16:13 NIV)
The Spirit Teaches Us and Reminds Us of Jesus’ Teaching
Now, you need to understand that the Holy Spirit can’t remind you of what you do not know. How do we know what Jesus taught? By spending time in God’s Word. The more you spend time in God’s Word the more you will be amazed at how the Spirit of God brings to mind things you have read in God’s Word. Jesus said,
26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. (John 14:26 NIV)
The Spirit Helps Us in our Prayer Life
God’s people are to be people of prayer and yet there are times, oftentimes, when we don’t even know how to pray about situations going on in our lives. God’s Word tells us that the Spirit prays for us.
26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. (Romans 8:26 NIV)
These are just some of the ways that the Spirit intends to help us live the life that God has called us to live, but we must yield to the Spirit. We must allow the Holy Spirit to fill us, lead us, teach us, remind us, and when He convicts us we must respond to His conviction with repentance.
I could go on and on with this part of our lesson but before we get out of here I’ve got to share with you the byproduct of our being filled with the Spirit. There are consequences, benefits, when we yield to the Spirit’s leadership in our lives and they can be found in Ephesians 5:19-20.
19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:19-20 NIV)
The Body of Christ when being filled and led by the Spirit of God is a singing Body. These two verses have to do with fellowship, worship, and thanksgiving. The Spirit-filled life produces music. If you read through God’s Word you will find the people of God using their voice to encourage one another to praise God. In Psalm 95:1-3 we find an example of this. Read along with me.
1 Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. 2 Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. 3 For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods. (Psalm 95:1-3 NIV)
When God delivered the Hebrew slaves from Egypt we find them singing a song of praise in Exodus 15:1-18. In the Temple in Jerusalem there were some 4,000 musicians. When Paul and Silas were in prison we find them singing songs of praise to God. Take a look at Acts 16:23-25 with me.
23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. 25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. (Acts 16:23-25 NIV)
After Jesus shared the Last Supper with His disciples we read where they sang a hymn before they went out to the Garden of Gethsemane. (Matthew 26:30) God has given His people music to praise Him, to worship Him, to reassure themselves of His Sovereignty, power, and might, and to minister to one another.
Music is a powerful force. Our music is not like the music of the world. I don’t mean to imply that the world’s music isn’t powerful…all music is powerful. I would encourage you to listen to the Top 10 songs in the nation right now. It doesn’t matter if it is Rock, Rap, Jazz, or Country. Listen and pay attention to what they are singing about. It’s totally different that the subject of our songs. Abraham Lincoln once said, “Who writes the nation’s songs shapes the nation’s souls.” I think we are seeing the effects of our nation’s music today. I would go a step beyond Abraham Lincoln’s statement and say, “The music we allow into our ears will shape our soul and our perspective on life.” Let me close with an example of what I’m talking about.
Each week we worship the Lord in song. We sing some incredible songs and these songs have been planted in my heart, mind, and soul. I had an experience just over a week ago that I will never forget. I had just taken my son Nate home from a seven hour surgery on his arm. I went to Walgreen’s to get his pain medicine prescription filled and when I got back to his house he was in incredible pain. We tried to call the hospital, but didn’t get anywhere. I said, “Let’s go.” I loaded Nate in my truck and we headed to the Emergency Room. We waited and waited and Nate’s pain was becoming unbearable. After choir practice was over Connie and Annie came to the hospital. We waited until about 10:30 pm and Nate still hadn’t seen the doctor. Connie said, “Annie needs to get to bed so she can go to school in the morning. Why don’t you follow her home.”
Annie and I left the hospital. I got in my truck and followed Annie as she drove back to our house. As I was driving my neck was knotted up, my head hurt, and I was worried sick about Nate. All of a sudden I began to hear a song in my head… “And In the time of trouble, of this will I be sure. That I will bless the Lord forever, I’ll bless Your holy Name. Yes I will bless the Lord forever, I’ll bless Your holy Name.” It was loud and those phrases played again and again in my head.
By the time I was at about 36th and Broadway Extension I began to sing, “You are my light and salvation, whom shall I fear? You are the strength of all my days, of whom shall I be afraid? Though war may rise against me, of this will I be sure. That I will bless the Lord forever, I’ll bless Your holy Name. Yes I will bless the Lord forever, I’ll bless Your holy Name.” Oh, I can’t tell you what that song did for me that night. There is no doubt in my mind that the Spirit of God began to sing within in me and lead me to lift my voice while I was in a time of trouble. The people of God who are led by the Spirit sing a different song than the songs sung by the world.
I want to encourage you this morning who have never surrendered your life to Jesus to do so before you leave this building. The Lord desires to draw you to Himself, to continuously fill you to overflowing with His Spirit, and lead you throughout your life. It’s the greatest journey you will ever take in your life.
Britton Christian Church
922 NW 91st
OKC, OK. 73114
September 23, 2012