“…I bet you didn’t get past the ‘do nots’…”
I don’t do a lot of yelling at the enemy or condemning people for their sins. I’m more about getting people so full of love, so full of the Spirit of God, that there is no room for the influence of the enemy. I believe that is a more long term solution to our overcoming the flesh and the enemy, basically crowding out anything bad with all that is good, all that the Father has to offer. I believe that, because that is what Jesus did and does, for me—overwhelmed me with his love. Because of that I overcame and continue to overcome.
Therefore do not beunwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God. Eph 5:17-21
It tells us here ways to be filled with the Spirit, but I bet you didn’t get past the do nots…do not be unwise …do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation (or debauchery); We tend to focus on the do not part here and then link it directly to the fullness of the Spirit. We think ‘okay, If I do not get drunk with wine, I will be full of the Holy Spirit. If I am not unwise, I will be tracking with the Lord.’
The wine isn’t necessarily the problem, turning to the wine instead of the Lord, being intoxicated and thus numbed to his presence, that is the sin. And that opens the door to other issues, lets things into the opening created when you dropped your sword to grab that bottle. I know in my life I had to realize that I was turning to everything but the Lord for my peace, I was allowing my quest for pleasure and my fear of what God would have me do prevent me from seeking his fullness. And I’m not just talking about being baptized in the Holy Spirit, that is just the beginning, we still have to make the choice to keep being filled.
Being baptized in the Spirit is important, vitally important, it releases the gifts and empowers us to move in and share his love for others. But it can still leave us full of the wrong stuff; arrogance, lust, selfishness, fear, addictions, etc. we still have to choose to live for Jesus, to trust him, worship him and surrender to him. That is not easy, but it is necessary if you want to clear the pipe.
Many of you are aware of my testimony, how the Lord delivered me from addictions, the miracle that delivered me from a need to be stoned and or drunk constantly as I was for many of my younger years. And the easy short version of that story is to say that God did a miracle in my life that took away my desire to get stoned. But the truth is, God didn’t really take away that desire, he pushed it out of me by filling me with a love that left no room for the pain that was fueling the desire to be stoned all the time. He gave me such a feeling of joy in my spirit that I was able to defeat the flesh in its demand to be placated.
Previously, I had been saved by Jesus Christ and baptized by the Holy Spirit, I knew the bible, had a prayer language, and when I wasn’t too stoned or fearful of what I might hear, I even heard from God as he spoke to my heart. But what I didn’t do was surrender my heart to him, I didn’t seek the fullness, I wanted the power and the assurance but I wasn’t willing to submit to his Lordship.
But because I had already made the mistake of praying for the baptism of the Holy Spirit, he wasn’t going to let me alone to enjoy my foolishness. If ignorance is bliss, knowledge is misery, when you refuse to abide it. I finally got to a point where I couldn’t shake the notion that I was missing out on something really good, that surely God’s plan for my life was better than my own. My own plan was going nowhere and was getting me no satisfaction whatsoever—which was in part why I was always seeking to be full of drink and drugs. That which I started doing for fun, became my means of survival, and was becoming my undoing.
Anyway, I decided to, by my own strength of will and determination, be not drunk with wine—or stoned with weed—or anything else for a month, so that I could be filled with the Holy Spirit, and discover God’s plan for my life.
The be not thing didn’t get me through the first day. By about 6:00 PM in the first day of my abstinence I was suffering mightily. I felt ready to burst at the seams.
But then I did something radical, I read my Bible with a real desire to hear from God—I did, and what he told me there in that dusty old book my uncle had given me when I was a kid, made me realize that I was going about this spirit quest all wrong. In fact I had been going about my life all wrong. I realized just how foolish and selfish I had been, how enslaved I was and how deceived I was, thinking that God just wanted to ruin my fun with a lot of “thou shalt nots”.
As I was reading his word it hit me like a ton of bricks what I needed to do, I needed to let go of my desire to control my own destiny, to stop running from God—which was pretty foolish since he was already in my heart—and simply trust him. I honestly don’t remember any words to any prayer I prayed that night although I know I must have. Maybe it was more of an honest conversation with the Lord who had been waiting for me to invite him to have full control, to admit that I was enslaved and helpless, and turn to him for help, then it was any formal prayer. More likely, it was me just finally being willing to listen to him.
All I know is that after reading a couple sections of scripture that I know he led me to—1 Corinthians 6 and Psalm 118 to be exact— I felt totally and completely overwhelmed and filled with his love. It felt like something in me had come unstuck and I was being filled. Years’ worth of pain, loneliness, fear, anguish, insecurity, paranoia, to name a few, was being pushed out at the speed of light. The darkness was fleeing and getting lost in the light.
If I listened close, I could still hear my flesh crying out for weed, I could still hear the beer in the refrigerator crying out to me, but there was another voice that was much louder, it was the voice of my Father telling me he loved me.
I was filled with his Holy Spirit so I did not need to be drunk with wine.
I just had to do it the other way around. The fullness of the Spirit gave me the desire and the strength to overcome the flesh. I didn’t have to overcome the flesh to bring on the fullness of the Spirit, I had to bring on the fullness of the Spirit to overcome the flesh.
Even if you can overcome the flesh on your own it will just leave you empty and you will have to put something in there, it’s just the way we are made, we are not made to be empty, we are made to be loved, full of his love, and remember—God is love. (1 John 4)
How did I get full? I had to be willing to let God empty me of me.