When it comes to spiritual gifts, some people—even spiritual leaders and pastors—get a little bit nervous. They’ll say, “I’m afraid to open myself up to the gifts of the Spirit, because I just don’t know what might happen. If I open myself up to that, I might start talking weird. What if I’m in a bank and all of a sudden I start speaking in tongues?” People worry that they’re going to unexpectedly lose control.
But being filled with the Spirit is not about losing control. It’s about letting Him control you more and more.
I really can’t say it enough: you should never be afraid of the Holy Spirit. You should never be afraid of anything God wants to give you or do in your life. If it’s from the Lord, receive it, enjoy it, and work with it.
Everyone who makes the decision to turn from their sin and follow Jesus is baptized by one Spirit into one body the moment they make that decision (see 1 Corinthians 12:13). But I contend you should also be filled with the Spirit. At Pentecost, the early church was both baptized by the Spirit and also filled with the Spirit, and wonderful things happened as a result.
You see, the Holy Spirit first comes after us to save us. He then comes inside us to sanctify us. He also comes upon us to empower us. Why? Because He has something He wants us to do, a task He wants us to perform. Jesus said, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart [or innermost being] will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). That outflowing is key. It’s the whole reason we are filled with the Spirit: to be a channel through which the Holy Spirit flows into us and then out from us to others.
And because God gives abundantly, being filled with the Spirit is not a one-time thing. The Bible records that the early church was filled and then filled again. In fact, Ephesians 5 commands us, “Be filled with the Holy Spirit” (v. 18). In other words, be constantly filled with the Holy Spirit. Be filled and re-filled.
In Acts 19, Paul asked some disciples in Ephesus, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They responded, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit” (v. 2). I think Paul must have noticed there was something lacking in their faith. They were weak. They were unempowered. The same can be said of us if we lack the infilling of the Holy Spirit.
So how do we become filled with the Spirit? You just ask Him. Jesus said, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him” (Luke 11:13). I ask God to fill me with His Spirit every single day. I ask Him that every time I get up to teach. Why? Because we tend to leak if we don’t ask for that re-filling. So don’t be afraid to ask God to fill you with the Spirit. And don’t be afraid to ask again