Let’s begin answering your good question by reading John 14:16-17, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” The promise of the Holy Spirit was given to the Lord’s disciples just before He went to the cross to die for our sins. The Lord told them that the Spirit would be WITH them and IN them. We read in Acts 2 that it was on the day of Pentecost that the Holy Spirit came to indwell all believers as we read in Acts 2:4, “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Notice that when the Spirit came, He not only INDWELT each believer, but He FILLED each believer. Each believer on the Lord Jesus Christ is now indwelt with the Holy Spirit. In fact Romans 8:9 tells us, “However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” (NASB) This truth assures us that we receive the Holy Spirit the moment we are saved. If we don’t have the Spirit, we do not belong to the Lord. We are not saved.

Now let’s read Ephesians 5:18, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.” From this, we can see there is a difference in ‘having’ the Spirit, and ‘being filled’ the Spirit. When we are saved, the Lord sends His Spirit to dwell in us. However, we can see that it is our responsibility to be filled with the Spirit. The Lord doesn’t want us to be filled and influenced by alcohol; He wants us to be filled and influenced by His Spirit.

To be indwelt with the Spirit is a one-time work of God in our lives. When we are given the Spirit at salvation, according to Ephesians 4:30 we are “…sealed unto the day of redemption.” To be ‘filled’ with the Spirt is a constant action. We must continually be filled by the Spirit moment by moment and day by day. How then can we be filled with the Holy Spirit?

First, we need to be ‘empty of self’ for the Spirit to fill us. You cannot fill a cup with water if it is half full of milk. The cup has to be emptied first. To do this, we must ‘deny ourselves.’ To deny ourselves doesn’t mean that we think badly of ourselves; it doesn’t mean that we think good of ourselves; it means that we don’t think of ourselves at all. We take our focus off ourselves and put it on our blessed savior as the one who is our “all in all” as we read in 1 Corinthians 15:28.

To be filled with the Spirit, we must confess and seek to abstain from all sin. We need to give ourselves over to the Lord to be used of Him. Romans 12:1-2 tells us, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” We need to give ourselves over to the Word of God, to read and obey it in its entirety. According to 1 Peter 2:2, we need to, “…desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.”

These things must be part of our everyday lives, so that we can be filled by God’s Spirit. This is the Lord’s desire for us. How does this impact our lives? According to Ephesians 5:19-21, it will result in us, “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” It will cause us to be joyful, to be thankful, and to be humble. May we all strive to be filled with the Holy Spirit! (173.2)