Summary: What it means to go from being controlled by a substance such as alcohol, to being that controlled by the Holy Spirit.

A Lesson for Christians from the Life of an Alcoholic

Scripture: Ephesians 5:10-21


Mel Trotter was an alcoholic. Again and again he promised his wife that he would give up drink for good. Once, he managed to stay dry for eleven and a half weeks. At the end, thirst overcame him. He squandered his horse to pay for a round of drinks. He reached the point that he committed burglary to feed his awful habit. His wife and child suffered terribly for his sin.

They had only the one child. The boy was about two years old when Mel came home after a drinking spree. “I went home after a ten-day drunk and found him dead in his mother’s arms. I’ll never forget that day. I was a slave, and I knew it. It pretty nearly broke my heart. I said, ‘I’m a murderer. I’m anything but a man. I can’t stand it, and I won’t stand it! I’ll end my life.” But he didn’t have the courage to do it because he feared God’s judgment.

He put his arms around his wife and swore on the baby’s coffin that he’d never touch another drop. Two hours after the funeral, he staggered home blind drunk.

On this day, January 19, 1897, Mel Trotter made the decision to kill himself. He staggered drunk through Chicago, determined to throw himself into the freezing waters of Lake Michigan. Unable to break his habit, unable to keep his promises, he wanted to die.

His progress brought him past the door of the Pacific Garden Mission. Harry Monroe, who himself had been an alcoholic, was leading singing. As the doorman helped Mel in, Monroe stopped to pray for Mel. “O God, save that poor, poor boy,” he pleaded.

Monroe told the audience of his own past and how Christ had delivered him from alcohol. Mel listened and believed. That night, he answered Monroe’s invitation to make room for God in his life. Monroe explained that Jesus loved him and would change him. And that is what Jesus did. Asked later how he knew he was saved, he replied, “I was there when it happened, January 19, 1897, 10 minutes past 9, Central Time, Pacific Garden Mission, Chicago, Illinois, USA.” (By the staff or associates of Christian History Institute, Copyright 1999-2005).


What does it mean to be so affected at one moment in your life, that your life is totally changed forever?

“Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit...”

What does it mean to be so filled with the Spirit of God that nothing is ever the same?

What is it like to go from being so controlled by one substance, or thing, to being *that* controlled and guided by the Holy Spirit?

Being controlled, or filled, by the Holy Spirit should be a profound reality in a Christian’s life.

Understanding the infilling of the Holy Spirit can, and does, change our lives. I want us to focus on that for a few minutes this morning. Because as we meet in a few minutes around the Lord’s table, it is important that we who partake are *filled* with the Holy Spirit.

Let’s first look at some reasons why we are to understand this. Why is this something that we must not, and cannot ignore if we’re going to live the life Jesus has called us to live on this earth:

First, the reason we must give attention to the filling of the Holy Spirit is:

1. Our Obedience

God has commanded us to “be filled with the Spirit.”

It’s not a suggestion. It’s not an option. It’s a biblical mandate. He doesn’t say, “I prefer that you not get drunk with wine but maybe, think about being filled with the Holy Spirit instead.” NO, he says, “Don’t be drunk with wine, instead BE filled with the Holy Spirit.”

The verb “to be” here is in the imperative. It’s also in the present tense and it’s in the plural context. In other words, the command is addressed to every believer, and it’s an ongoing, continual requirement.

If you read the whole passage here in Ephesians, Paul was addressing husbands and wives, children and parents, employers and employees - it’s to everybody who believes.

That’s the first reason we are to give attention to this command to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Our obedience.

The second reason is:

2. Our Obligation

Christians have tremendous responsibilities that we must fulfill. We have obligations for our life of worship. It’s to be alive with joy and the reality of Christ; it’s to express the overflow of the Spirit-filled life. The Bible says in verse 19, that the overflow of the Spirit is singing songs together, having a song in our heart, and giving thanks for everything. That’s the overflow of the Spirit - when someone has the Holy Spirit, there will be evidence of it, and the Bible says, singing and having a song deep within (in our heart) and always giving thanks for EVERYTHING - every evidence of the Holy Spirit within a person’s worship. And we have obligations in our marriages and in being single. The Bible says in Ephesians 5:21 that we are to submit to one another, because of our reverence for Christ. And the Bible says in Corinthians 6:12-20 that as single (and married too) that we are to run from sexual sin, and to keep ourselves pure. Love and submission can’t happen apart from the power of the Spirit. And as single people, we can’t keep ourselves sexually pure without being Spirit-filled. We have an obligation in our work life (Eph 6:5,6). We’re to work for our wages and have a good attitude about the task we’re called to do. We have an obligation in our life of spiritual warfare (Eph 6:12). The Christian is at war. We’re in a fight to the finish with a foe who roams the earth looking for someone to eat up and spit out, and there are no holds barred. How can we meet all these obligations and fight such a formidable foe? Only by being filled with the Holy Spirit. So we see we have many obligations that we can only fulfill by being Spirit-filled.

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