“And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.” (Ephesians 5:18)
Two factors need to be identified with this verse. First, the immediately preceding context confines the primary application to behavior, just as the immediately following context relates the “filled” behavior to the fellowship of believers. Secondly, the imagery stresses control of the behavior by the Holy Spirit (contrasting filled with drunken behavior).
The filling is not synonymous with the baptism of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:12-14), since all are so baptized but not all are filled. Nor is it equal with or subsequent to speaking in tongues, since some specifically identified as being filled with the Holy Spirit (John the Baptist, Elizabeth, Jesus) never spoke in tongues. Some individuals (Paul, Peter, Stephen) were filled on different occasions. Apparently, the filling produces a temporary effect like alcohol does. The effect of the filling of the Holy Spirit enhances or encourages a God-like behavior in contrast to the Satan-like behavior stimulated by alcohol.
Some passages equate power with this filling (Acts 1:8; Romans 15:13; 1 Thessalonians 1:5), and others equate it to wisdom (Colossians 1:9-11; Philippians 1:9; Colossians 3:15-17). The immediate context, however, lists four evidences of the Holy Spirit’s control (Ephesians 5:19-21): songs of praise together; personal singing and private melody to God in our hearts; thanksgiving; and voluntary submission to one another in the Lord. Since the Holy Spirit distributes gifts to the saints (Ephesians 4:7-11) for the purpose of building the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12-16), it stands to basic reason that the Holy Spirit’s control is designed to enhance and stimulate the ministry of believers to each other and the personal joy and awareness of the goodness of God. HMM III
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