I hear a lot of Pastors say you are to pray to be filled with the Holy Spirit and other Pastors that you don’t pray for filling of the Spirit, which is right? I always understood that when you yield to the Holy Spirit your walking in the Spirit and being filled and don’t have to pray to be filled. But not so sure about this.
Thanks for the excellent question! You’re right, there is conflicting teaching on the filling of the Spirit—some of which is understandable due to the difference between claiming facts and obtaining promises.
The command of Ephesians 5:18 to be filled with the Spirit is in the passive voice. The idea is to keep on allowing yourself to be filled with the Spirit. The passive “allow” implies faith. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Rom. 10:17). The “word” or rhema of God is a specific truth and determines appropriate steps of faith in a given matter. These faith-steps reveal the differences in the “how to” of Spirit filling.
If the rhema or specific word is stated as a fact (a reality), especially noticeable by the present tense (is), then the access of faith involves two steps: taking (claiming) and acting on what you have taken. You don’t have to ask for what already is, but you do need to take it by faith. Each rhema regarding personal holiness or victory is stated as a fact. This is the provision for experiencing Jesus personally.
For example, since God is giving us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:57) and Christ lives (is living) in us by faith (Gal. 2:20), then we must simply take what God is giving (the power of Christ’s life) and then act on it (to obey His will). When we take these simple faith steps of trusting to obey, we are walking in the Spirit/yielding to the Spirit. As we do, the Spirit imparts the life of Christ to us and we are thus filled with the Spirit—we experience Jesus.
If the rhema or specific word is stated as a promise (a potentiality), especially noticeable by the future tense (will be), then the access of faith involves three steps: asking (obtaining), taking once God gives what you’ve asked for, and then acting. Each rhema regarding personal service or ministry is stated as a promise. This is the provision for impacting others with the life of Jesus.
For example, since God gives the quality of the Spirit to those who ask Him (Luke 11:13), we start by asking for the power of the Spirit to enable us to witness while impacting those to whom we witness. When God answers by bearing witness with our spirit that He is giving as we had asked, then we may receive or take in the spiritual realm that which He is giving. Having taken, then we act. This is receiving or taking in order to witness (Acts 1:8). We see these three faith steps throughout the book of Acts, and when we take these same steps, we are filled and overflowing with the Spirit as the Spirit imparts the life of Christ through us for the benefit of others.
In summary, you access the filling of the Spirit for personal victory by yielding to the Spirit as you take the provision of Christ in you (the Spirit’s power) and act on it (to obey the Spirit’s will). This is claiming the facts. But you access the filling or overflowing of the Spirit for effective ministry by asking for the quality of the Spirit, taking it as God gives it, and then acting on it. This is obtaining the promises.
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