What and Who is Filling You?
- O. Palmer Robertson
- Read Time: 3 mins
What’s in that container? Is it honey or is it acid? If you eat it, will it please your mouth and energize your body? Or will it burn a hole in your stomach—if it ever gets that far?
Something or someone can “fill” you. It can be an emotion like love or fear. Or it can be the personality of another person.
You can be “filled” with the Holy Spirit of God. Or you can be filled with Satan and the deadly powers of his darkness.
Many times over in the earliest experiences of the first believers in Jesus as the Christ of God after his resurrection, people were “filled” with the Holy Spirit. While being interrogated by the rulers of Israel after spending the night in prison, Peter was “filled with the Holy Spirit.” He confronted these leaders by pointing out their evil of crucifying Jesus (Acts 4:8, 10). Then after his release and report to the believers, all of them were “filled with the Holy Spirit” and spoke the Word of God boldly (Acts 4:31). A concrete consequence of this “filling” by the Holy Spirit was an overflowing of the grace of generosity:
All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had (Acts 4:32)
But an alternative to being “filled with the Holy Spirit” is being “filled” with Satan. Ananias and Sapphira sold a piece of property and gave the proceeds to the Apostles. They lied to the Holy Spirit by claiming they gave the Apostles the full amount of the sale. Peter confronts them: “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit…?” (Acts 5:3). Instead of being filled with a spirit of gracious generosity, they were filled with the Satanic, deadly sin of covetousness. As a consequence, they were struck dead (Acts 5:1-11).
During this same early stage in the formation of the new covenant community, another “filling” emerges. The leaders of the old Israel were “filled with jealousy” (Acts 5:17). Just as “love, joy and peace” fill the life of the believer with the fruit of the Spirit, so lying, jealousy and oppression fill the unbeliever with the fruit of Satan (Gal. 5:22; 20-21). They did everything they could to stop the proclamation of the gospel of the new covenant.
What and who is filling you? Are you being “filled with the Spirit,” bearing the fruit of love, joy and peace? Or is Satan “filling your heart” so that your life manifests the bitter fruit of jealousy, lying, oppression and murder?
This idea of “filling” provides a stimulus for the Apostle Paul to illustrate the difference in resulting lifestyles. He says, “Be not drunk with wine, but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18). Alcohol permeates the whole of the human body, affecting clarity and discernment in speech, the ability to walk a straight line, and creating an overzealous spirit lacking in proper self-control. In a comparable but far superior way, the Spirit of God the Holy One permeates the whole of a person’s being. From the top of his head to the tip of his toes. God’s Spirit empowers a person with strength from on high to declare the good news of the gospel, walk daily in the straight paths of righteousness, and restrain remaining evil impulses while accomplishing more good than might be imagined due to the super-natural powers of the indwelling Spirit. These contrary in-fillings of either the Spirit or Satan received a special boost from the redemptive-historical moment of Christ’s ascension to the position of universal power at the Father’s right hand. They have continued throughout the ages, even until the present day. Each of you has experienced one or the other many times over. May the Age of the Spirit continue to prevail in the believer’s experience of realities every day, to the advancement of the gospel and the glory of God.