A few years ago, while preaching through the Gospel of John, I felt compelled upon reaching John 14:16 to teach on the gift of the Holy Spirit. Over the course of my study, needless to say, I learned much about the person of the Holy Spirit and His work. However, the understanding of Paul's command in Ephesians 5:18 to "be filled with the Holy Spirit" has impacted my life more than any other aspect of my study.
I suspect if you were to ask Christians you know what that instruction meant, you would get as many answers as the number of people you ask. Through my study of the Bible, I have learned God's Word is the best commentary on itself. Even thought God has blessed the church with "the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ" God's Word alone must be the basis from which each of these equippers speak.
Therefore, it is necessary to find the Bible's description of what being "filled with the Spirit" means. Paul, himself, gives us an answer in Colossians 3:16. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God". As you read that passage, I suspect the question will arise how does that relate to being "filled with the Spirit" in Ephesians 5:18. I believe that is a fair question.
To answer, let us compare both passages using the English Standard Version:
These passages detail how believers are to live, so let's examine the basis from which we are to live this way. In Ephesians, believers are commanded to "be filled with the Spirit" and in Colossians believers are commanded to "let the word of Christ dwell in you richly". I would argue that to live the lives described in Ephesians 5:19-6:9 and Colossians 3:16-4:1 a person must be "filled with the Spirit" and "let the word of Christ dwell in you richly". At the least the apostle Paul is saying "letting the word of Christ dwell in you richly" is linked to "be filled with the Spirit". I would contend it is more than a mere linkage Paul is making in these passages. I believe he is equating "be filled with the Holy Spirit" with "let the word of Christ dwell in you richly".
Therefore, if I am to "walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit", "pray at all times in the Spirit" and "worship in spirit and truth" does it not seem necessary that I would "let the word of Christ dwell in me richly".
One of the best ways I have learned to "let the word of Christ dwell in me richly" is to faithfully read God's Word. I have been surprised through the years to hear many believers who admit to never reading the Bible from Genesis 1:1 to Revelations 22:21. If someone told me they had read a book but only a little of each chapter and had skipped some chapters entirely, I would question how well they knew the story.
Starting on January 1, 2017, ARCC has a blog - His Dwelling Word: A Daily Bible Reading which is designed to help our family fulfill these two commands as faithful disciples of Christ Jesus. My desire with this blog is to continue what I have done for many years by reading through the Bible in 2017. As I read God's Word daily, I will add the insights the Spirit gives me and a prayer based on those insights. I would encourage you to join me this year as I do my best to draw near to God knowing He will keep His promise to draw near to me (James 4:8).
Yours in Christ Jesus,