Ephesians 5:17–18 says, “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.“
What does it look like in a person when they are filled with the Holy Spirit?
Being filled with the Spirit results in godly behavior that is controlled by the Holy Spirit.
In v.18, the command to “be filled with the Spirit” is contrasted with getting drunk on wine. The reason for this is because drunken people and spirit-filled people have this one thing in common: They are both controlled people. If alcohol fills a person, then that person is controlled by the alcohol. If the Spirit fills a person, then that person is controlled by the Spirit.
Just like drinking wine alters a person’s behavior, being filled with the Holy Spirit produces a change in your behavior. You do things and say things that show that the Holy Spirit is controlling your behavior. Here are some examples of spirit-filled / spirit-controlled behavior.
Galatians 5:22–23 – “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.”
The more spirit-filled we become, the more of these qualities show up in our life. The more love we will have for God and others. The more joy we will experience. The more peace, patience and kindness too. The more we will also want to be good and faithful, gentle and self-controlled.
Being spirit-filled will result in godly behavior.
What I find interesting, in the letter, is that immediately after the command “to be filled with the Spirit” is given, in the verses that follow (Ephesians 5:19–6:9), the apostle Paul mentions a number of practical things which demonstrate a spirit-filled life. Let’s take a look and see what they are in the order they are mentioned:
1. Speaking psalms and hymns to one another (Eph.5:19a)
Ephesians 5:19a – “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.”
Psalms and hymns contain the truth of Scripture which encourages and builds up. Psalms and hymns contain the truth of Scripture which encourages and builds up. So, what he’s saying is speak truthfully. Encourage each other.
2. Joyful worship and singing (Eph.5:19b)
Ephesians 5:19b – “Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord.”
A spirit-filled person wants to praise God and worship him. They just can’t stop! Furthermore, this gives them great joy, bacause God is the source of true joy.
3. Constantly giving thanks to God (Eph.5:20)
Ephesians 5:20 – “Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
When you are filled with the spirit you are regularly thanking God for what he is doing in your heart and life. You are even thanking him during the bad times because you know that He is able to work for good in those too.
4. Selflessness towards others (Eph.5:21–33)
Thinking less of yourself, and more of others.
Ephesians 5:21 – “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
Verses 22–24 spells out what the looks like for women who are married. Women who are married show that selfless attitude by respecting and submitting to their husband’s leadership. This instruction is misunderstood by a man if he thinks that it gives him the right to boss his wife around, because in verses 25–33, Paul doesn’t say, “Husbands rule your wives,” he says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Jesus laid down his life for the welfare of his bride, the church. A husband, likewise, puts his bride’s welfare above his own. Men, you are to take the lead in taking care of your wife’s needs. Even if that costs you a great deal in terms of time, energy, and money. Headship doesn’t mean control and domination. It means sacrifice and love. It means selflessness.
5. Children honoring their parents (Eph.6:1–3)
Ephesians 6:1–3 – Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother”–which is the first commandment with a promise– 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
6. Parents instructing their children in the Lord (Eph.6:4)
Ephesians 6:4 – Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
Do you see how being spirit-filled is so often demonstrated in how we conduct ourselves with one another. Not just in the church or in the home. But also it means…
7. Showing integrity and respect for others in the workplace (Eph.6:5–9)
Ephesians 6:7-8 – Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, 8 because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.
Now, when you look at this list of SEVEN things, it tells us that being filled with the spirit results in practical godly behavior.
May each of us demonstrate these things more and more in our lives.