What Does it Mean to be Filled with the Spirit?

 Donald E Demaray is the Fisher Professor of Preaching at Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Kentucky. He has authored and edited several books, including Near Hurting People (Light and Life Press).

 Q What does it mean to be fixed with the Holy Spirit?

 A Everything is filled with something. Take a gas tank for example. Fuel in a car provides energy to go places. The sure sign of the Spirit-filled person is that he is willing to go places and do things for God. Carnal Christians are self-serving, protective, and not very willing. And they're not really free! Self-liberation and the motivation to help God with His work are by-products of sanctification.

 So a Spirit-dominated homemaker loves her husband and children with tenderness, assists in family management with joy, and finds innovative ways to make life interesting.

 Are you filled with self or God?

 Q Is sanctification and being filled with the Holy Spirit the same thing?

 A Sanctification means separating from the world for God and declaring that you belong to Him. Saint suggests one who is "sanctified," one who identifies with Christ. The practical result of sanctification is readiness to do God's assignments, to use your individual gifts to help Him build the kingdom. When you dedicate yourself to God for this productive and separated living, the Holy Spirit fills you.

 Q How do I become sanctified or filled with the Holy Spirit?

 A The bottom line is surrender. In fact, if you were to summarize the posture of sanctification in a single word, that term would have to be surrender. Jesus taught that if you want to save your life, you must lose it; but if you hang on to your life, you miss happiness.

 E. Stanley Jones never tired of discussing this message of surrender. Take, for example, his daily devotional book, Abundant Living. Or read his autobiography, Song of Ascents.

 When you depend on God rather than yourself, you have surrendered. One writer on sanctification uses the analogy of a Christian who pushes, rather than drives, his "salvation" car. That Christian even finds protective coverings for his hands to keep them from blistering! Then one day he hears the Spirit of Christ say he doesn't have to work so hard. He can let the motor do the work !

 "Let go and let God" we often say. Exactly. Sanctification never comes by works, but by the active grace of God.

 But there's a hitch. Submission is not all that easy, especially if an I-can-take-care-of-everything myself attitude has attached itself to your life-style. Many have become honest enough to acknowledge what they need to do, but possess little power to surrender. God gives that power. He gives it when you become honest: Lord, I know what I need to do but cannot yield without your help I cannot let my old securities go; the very thought of such an act shakes me up. Take me as I am. Be my New Security and I will follow You. When you pray like that, God knows you've stopped playing games.

 Q If I seek it earnestly, will I know when I am filled ? How?

 A Know that God seeks you before you seek Him. When you are in sync with His desires, you know His filling. You will recognize the signs by the inner witness of the Spirit, a deep, settled peace. You will also know by your fruit: you will do good things to help God make a bad world good. Significantly, you will see answers to your prayers, too.