The Spirit-Filled Life



Have you ever been filled with the Holy Spirit and are you living a Spirit-filled life today? The Bible says, “Be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).

This is a command. As a matter of fact, it is the most important commandment in the Bible, because when you obey it you automatically obey all the others. The fullness of the Spirit settles every problem.

This commandment was given to one of the most spiritual churches, the church at Ephesus, and if it was necessary for those people, it is necessary for us. Every one of us needs to be filled with the Spirit. The disciples were filled on the day of Pentecost and again at a later date. We, too, must be filled again and again. There are two reasons why, and I express them both in one word: power.

First, you must have power over sin. You will never be an overcomer until you are Spirit-filled. The Bible says: “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16). The Christian life is the outliving of the indwelling Christ. Only as He indwells in the fullness and power of the Holy Spirit will your outward life be what it should be. Without His fullness, you will be a slave to sin.

Second, you must have power for service. You will never be used of God until you are filled with the Spirit. The Bible says: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses . . .” (Acts 1:8).

If you are going to be an effective witness, you must testify in the power of the Holy Spirit. Otherwise you will be working in the energy of the flesh.

Are you an overcomer? Or does your besetting sin still conquer you? When you witness for the Lord Jesus Christ, does anything happen? Are you ministering in the flesh or in the power of the Spirit? Now comes the question, “How may I be filled with the Holy Spirit?”

There are five steps that must be taken: confess, renounce, surrender, obey, believe.


In 1 John 1:9 we read: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Sin confessed is sin forgiven, and sin forgiven is sin cleansed. “The blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

Note that it is the Christian and not the sinner who is told to confess sin. God never tells a sinner to confess his sins. It would be impossible for him to remember them. There would be thousands that he would forget, and if he has to confess one, then he has to confess all.

Also, if we were to tell a sinner to confess his sins, we would be putting salvation on a basis of works, and salvation is not of works but by faith. All that a sinner has to confess is that he is a sinner and that he needs salvation. The publican cried, “‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner’” (Luke 18:13).

However, when it comes to the Christian it is entirely different. The Christian who has backslidden must return. Some besetting sin in his life turns him aside and gets him off the road. He must confess that sin before he can be right. God says, “If we [Christians] confess our sins [the sins of the Christian], he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins [again, the sins of the Christian].” Anything that is wrong in the life of a Christian must be confessed. Sin and spirituality cannot coexist. The Holy Spirit will not occupy a dirty heart.

Have you confessed every sin? Have you made everything right between you and those you have wronged? God says, “Let no debt remain outstanding . . .” (Rom. 13:8). Where do you stand with your fellowmen? Where do you stand with God?


Not only must you confess your sin, you must also renounce it. Unless you forsake what you are doing, your confession is valueless. It is no use confessing your sin and then going right back and committing it again. “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened” (Psalm 66:18).

But you say, I cannot give up my sin. I am a slave to it. I love it. Let me ask two questions: First, are you willing to forsake your sin? Second, are you determined to forsake your sin?

There are many Christians who are not willing. They turn their sin over as a sweet morsel and do not want to give it up. Do you remember what Jesus said to the man at the pool? “Do you want to get well?” (John 5:6). If you are not willing, then offer this prayer. “Lord, I am willing to be made willing,” and God will make you willing.

You may be willing and yet not be determined. The Prodigal Son was willing; he wanted to get away from the swine. But he was not determined. Finally, however, there came a moment when, springing to his feet, he cried, “I will arise and go.” Turning his back on the hogs, he started toward home and never looked back until he found himself in his father’s arms. As soon as he was determined, he was free.


It is one thing to confess and renounce; it is another to surrender. The Bible says “offer yourselves to God” (Rom. 6:13). God wants you to serve Him, and in order to do that, everything must be laid on the altar. You are His—body, soul and spirit. Not only is He your Savior but also your Lord and Master.

If your will has crossed God’s, there will never be an end to the struggle until your will parallels His. Then you can say with the Lord Jesus: “‘My food . . . is to do the will of him who sent me . . .’” (John 4:34). Once God’s will has become yours, the conflict is over; you will have no desire to do anything apart from God. The trouble with most of us is we have never really yielded.

I shall never forget the time God broke me. I was quite young in the ministry and had resigned the pastorate of a large Presbyterian church. Naturally, I expected to get another just as large, but I could not. I preached for a call in many a church. I went to much smaller churches, even to mission halls, but still I was not wanted. My finances were very low, and I was at my wit’s end.

One day Rev. Paul Rader came to Toronto to hold a great campaign. I served as an usher but was soon set aside. Then I tried to do personal work. But, again, I was ignored. Finally, I started selling hymnbooks in the aisles. My heart was broken. It seemed as though my ministry had come to an end and that I was to be put on the shelf. I was desperate.

Then one night the song leader announced that he was going to lead the congregation in a new hymn entitled “Saved.” Then, before the audience of 3,400 people, he pointed down to where I was selling hymnbooks and said, “That young man down there wrote this hymn.” I did not know which way to look. I went on selling hymnbooks.

The audience began to sing. I shall never forget it. I was hearing it for the first time. But as I went home that night there came into my heart a conviction that I was going to be used again. And so it came to pass. The Alliance Tabernacle was built and later the Peoples Church founded. Before long I was traveling all over the world holding large campaigns. For years now I have never been without a call. I have to refuse dozens that I cannot accept.

But first I had to be broken. God knew that I was proud and ambitious, and so He could not use me. He had to take everything away from me, and only when I had completely surrendered was He able to trust me again and use me for His glory.


God says that He gives the Holy Spirit “to those who obey him” (Acts 5:32). Obedience follows surrender. If you are truly surrendered you will endeavor to do God’s will at all times. God will not fill a disobedient Christian. As soldiers must obey the commands of their officers, so you must obey your Lord and Master, Jesus Christ.

Are you an obedient Christian? If so, God will fill you with the Holy Spirit.


Have you taken these four steps? Have you confessed, renounced, surrendered and obeyed?

If so, then believe. God will then give you a supernatural faith, and you will be able to trust Him for the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Remember, the Holy Spirit is more eager to fill you than you are to be filled. As soon as your heart is ready, He will come in and complete the transformation until you are finally changed into Christlikeness.

Will you take these five steps? Will you get alone with God and confess and renounce every sin? Then will you surrender to Him, become His slave? Will you then obey? After that it will be easy for you to believe Him for the fullness of the Spirit. You will rise to live for Him and serve Him in a way you have never known before.

As you walk in fellowship with Jesus Christ, you will be conscious of His presence, for you will have obeyed the injunction: “Be filled with the Spirit.”

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