“And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.” (Ephesians 5:18)
This classic verse on the filling of the Holy Spirit can be rendered as follows: “And don’t begin to be drunk with wine, which involves profligacy, but be continually being filled with the Spirit.” That is, one cannot be filled with the Holy Spirit (which implies complete control by the Holy Spirit) if he has come to even the slightest degree under the control of wine (or anything else, for that matter).
Being fully controlled and guided by the Spirit is not just a one-time experience. It should be a continual experience—a moment-by-moment control of one’s thoughts and actions by God. In practice, however, it is at best a repeated experience, whereas most Christians experience it quite rarely, if at all.
But how does one have such an experience, and what is the evidence that it is the real thing? To be controlled by the Spirit, one must yield control to Him and not let himself be controlled by anything or anyone else. In practice, this means believing and obeying the Word He inspired, consciously yielding one’s self as often as necessary. Jesus promised that “when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13).
It should be noted that the filling of the Spirit is not necessarily marked by any particular feeling or ecstatic experience. The real proof is in the life, manifested by such characteristics as are described in the context of the passages referring to the Spirit’s filling. In our text, it is obvious that such a filling is accompanied by redeeming one’s time (v. 16), understanding God’s will (v. 17), a happy and Bible-centered conversation (v. 19), a continuously thankful heart (v. 20), and a right attitude and relationship with one’s spouse (vv. 22-25). It is also evidenced by boldness in witnessing and in standing up for God’s truth (Acts 4:31; 13:9-10). HMM