The Spirit-Filled Believer

A.W. Tozer wrote, "Satan has opposed the doctrine of the Spirit-filled life about as bitterly as any doctrine there is. He has confused it, opposed it, surrounded it with false notions and fears. . . . The Spirit-filled life is not a special, deluxe edition of Christianity. It is part and parcel of the total plan of God for His people" (A.W. Tozer, How to Be Filled with the Holy Spirit) 28.

Confusion about the Spirit-filled life includes thinking that one can be a Christian and not have the Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul made it absolutely clear that this is not true. He wrote, "Now, if anyone has not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His" (Romans 8:9). Likewise, he made it clear that one may have the Holy Spirit as a believer in Christ without being filled with the Holy Spirit. He wrote a command for all Christians, "Be filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18). To be filled with the Spirit is to be yielded to the love and power of God (Acts 1:8; Ephesians 3:19).

There is also confusion about the baptism of the Holy Spirit and being filled with the Spirit. Evangelical theology teaches that everyone who is born again through the regeneration of the Spirit is likewise baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ. "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body" (1 Cor. 12:13). Spirit baptism is the believer's entrance into the body of Christ. It is an event that happens only one time. However, there are many fillings. To be filled with the Spirit requires a continued yielding to the Holy Spirit.

On the Day of Pentecost the disciples were both baptized and filled with the Spirit (Acts 1:5; 2:4). They were baptized by the Spirit to become the body of Christ collectively. They were individually filled with the Spirit. No where in Scripture are we commanded to be baptized with the Spirit. We are commanded to be filled, and to keep on being filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).

There is confusion about how believers are filled with the Holy Spirit. Simply stated, we yield to the Spirit-filled life through prayer. "And when they had prayed . . . they were all filled with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 4:31). The apostle Paul wrote his prayer for the Ephesian believers to be filled with God's Spirit (Ephesians 3:14-21). The words provide a model prayer to be filled with the Holy Spirit. ". . . to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God . . . according to the power that works in us" (Ephesians 3:19:20). Therefore, to be filled with the Holy Spirit is to be filled with the power of God's love.

Confusion about the Spirit-filled life always results from separating this teaching from Christ. To be filled with the Spirit is to be filled with Christ. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9).

To be filled with the Holy Spirit is to yield yourself to Jesus Christ as Lord through obedience and prayer. For that reason, A.W. Tozer could say, "The Spirit-filled life is not a special, deluxe edition of Christianity. It is part and parcel of the total plan of God for His people."