I have several friends who order their drinks without ice. Whenever they order at a restaurant, the server always does a double take. “Sweet tea with no ice?”
But my friends have a practical reason for their anti-ice stance. They want the maximum amount of tea possible in their glass. I guess, from that perspective, when the server pours a tea with ice, the glass isn’t really filled with tea.
I’m not sure I have the theological expertise to perfectly explain what is meant by “Be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). In fact, there are many different interpretations of what that phrase means. But, that does not take away from fact that it is a command of God for all believers.
We may not agree on everything on the subject, but the one thing I think we can all agree on (no matter our various viewpoints) is that it is difficult to be filled with one thing when you are filled with other things.
For instance, it is difficult to be filled with the spirit if you are filled with:
If someone has a glass of tea with ice, the first step toward having a glass full of tea is to remove the ice! In the same way, in order to be filled with the Spirit, believers must remove everything else from their lives that gets in the way.
Ultimately, the idea is to remove anything that competes with the Holy Spirit for control of your life. That’s the idea behind Galatians 5:16-24:
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
In this passage, Paul explains how the things of the flesh battle against the things of the Spirit. When we remove the things of the flesh from our lives, the the Spirit has full control of us. That’s why He says, “walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”
You may have already figured out that this task is much to difficult for you or me to accomplish. The flesh is just too powerful to defeat alone. That’s why Paul is quick to remind us that “those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
That means Christ has defeated my impatience toward the slow drive-through line; my anger toward the man who criticized my idea, and my jealousy toward the neighbor with the new sports car. Sadly, I rarely stop to think about how these daily struggles keep me from enjoying a life filled with the Spirit.
So, to break it down:
1) We are commanded to be filled with the Spirit
2) Being filled with the Spirit removing the things of the flesh from our lives
3) We can’t remove the things of the flesh from our lives in our own strength
4) But Christ has crucified our flesh on our behalf
5) Therefore, being filled with the Spirit means fully trusting in Christ’s power over sin in our lives and faithfully obeying Him.
Now that’s a full life!