The filling of the Holy Spirit (previous chapter) includes two areas: evidence of the fruit of the Holy Spirit (this chapter), and the gifts of the Spirit (following chapter).
To be filled with the Spirit means that the believer will demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit in his or her life. The New Testament pattern for living is set in Matthew 7:16: “You will know them by their fruits.” The first evidence of being filled with the Spirit is godly living. God wants mature Christians, who manifest the fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22–23: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (NIV).
Practically, how do we begin to work this fruit of the Spirit into our lives?
We must consciously surrender ourselves to the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19–20; Romans 12:1–2). Ask yourself, have you ever realized that you belong to God, that your body is the actual residence of the Holy Spirit? Have you ever offered your body (life), to God as Romans 12:1 demands?
Next, we must see ourselves as having died to sin but having become alive to Christ (Romans 6:11). Paul said in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” You are dead to sin in the sense that it no longer has control over you (Romans 6:12–13).
Then, we determine by faith to bring ourselves under the lordship of Christ. This happens progressively as we bring our minds under His control. Our actions respond to the Spirit’s control over our thoughts: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).
We work on one “fruit” at a time, praying in faith and trusting God that the love, joy, peace, and patience spoken of in Galatians 5:22–23 might become a reality in our lives.
1. If the inquirer expresses concern about having the fruit of the Spirit in his or her life, you may review the appropriate information from the “Background.”
2. Sometimes questions reveal where the focus is needed. Ask:
• Is there any unconfessed sin in your life which is keeping you from a close walk with God?
• Do you know of any lack of personal discipline?
• Is there a broken relationship that needs healing?
• Are you consciously abiding in Christ?
• Are you reading and studying your Bible daily?
• Are you praying about your relationship with Christ, asking Him to develop the fruit of the Spirit in you?
3. Pray with the inquirer that his or her desires for the fullness of the Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit may be fulfilled.
“Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God” (Romans 6:11–13).
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—which is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1–2, NIV).
“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20).
Other suggested Scriptures:
The Billy Graham Christian Worker’s Handbook; World Wide Publications, 1984, 1996