Since we were speaking of events in Acts 2, yesterday, let’s follow it up with another related thought: what does it mean to be Spirit-filled? Growing up in a Pentecostal church, I thought that being Spirit-filled was all about speaking in tongues and being Pentecostal. For others it means being Charismatic and for some it means being prophetic. To some being spirit-filled is all of the above but, Scripturally, what does it mean to be Spirit-filled?
Even though many are of the opinion that the Spirit of God is absent in the Old Testament, the reality is that the Spirit of God is there in the beginning (Gen. 1:2). Further on in Genesis, Pharaoh had this to say about Joseph:
“Can we find such a one as this, a man in whom is the Spirit of God?” Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Inasmuch as God has shown you all this, there is no one as discerning and wise as you. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you.” (Genesis 41:38-40)
It was so obvious that Joseph possessed a measure of the Spirit of God, that even a pagan king could recognize it. Because of the Spirit of God, Joseph was able to interpret Pharaoh’s dream and provide wise counsel to the king as to what the course of action should be for the future. Even though he didn’t display certain indicators that many feel are required in order to be deemed, “Spirit-filled,” there is no doubt that the Spirit of God worked in and through Joseph.
In the Gospel of John, the Bible says that, on the day of His resurrection, Christ appeared to His disciples and said to them:
“Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John 20:21-22)
It would seem that when Jesus breathed on them that He breathed into them, as well. As far as we know, the disciples, like Joseph, didn’t exhibit the signs that one would look for in order for them to be classified as Spirit-filled but Messiah did instruct them to receive the Spirit. Later, of course, they were empowered by the Holy Spirit to be His witnesses as recorded in Acts 2, and at that time, they spoke in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
So the question is, at what point is one Spirit-filled? How is one filled with the Spirit? Based on what we’ve read in Scripture, I will offer this for your consideration. We know that it is the Spirit of God who convicts us of sin (John 16:7-9) that we might be provoked to repentance and be born again. Having been born again of the Incorruptible Seed, the Spirit of God testifies of Him (John 15:26). As we grow in Messiah, we learn to deny ourselves as we follow Him and, consequently, we grow in the power of the Spirit. In other words, the measure of the Spirit within us increases as the measure of our will decreases. In short, we can’t be full of the Spirit of God if we are full of ourselves.
Joseph was discreet, wise and full of the Spirit of God. Perhaps a good bit of that maturity came as a result of his incarceration. It was during that time that he was being pressed and squeezed by the prison experience. As a result, he obviously determined that he would die to himself. As he did, there was less of him and more of God’s Spirit. So it is with each of us. As we purge our desires and our will from our lives, there’s more room for more for the Spirit of God to dwell in us.
There is one last point to make that connects back to what is described in Acts 2. When all of the components of the Tabernacle were put in their proper place, the Bible tells us that the Tabernacle was considered to be “one” or, in Hebrew, echad (Exodus 26:2). It is only after the after the Tabernacle is “one” that the Spirit of God rested there:
“Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tabernacle of meeting, because the cloud rested above it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.” (Exodus 40:34-35)
We could say that the Tabernacle was “Spirit-filled” when every piece of the Tabernacle was in its appropriate place or, as Acts 2 records, “in one place and in one accord.” Therefore, if His people are to be Spirit-filled, then we must be willing to die to ourselves so that our purpose in the Kingdom can be fulfilled. That means our agendas and desires must go. When we walk in His purpose for us and become “one” with Him, we will be filled with His Spirit. And when we are filled with the Spirit, whether as an individual or as a people, great and miraculous things will begin to happen.