Summary: EphesiansI is addressed to those who are “saints who are Ephesus, and who are faithful in Christ Jesus.” So, when he commands us to be filled with the Spirit, Paul recognizes that many Christians are not filled of the Spirit.
Ephesians: Our Identity in Christ ~ Part 22
Consequences of the Spirit-filled Life
. . . but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. (Ephesians 5:18b-21)
It is certainly possible to live as a Christian and be devoid of spiritual power. The mediocrity which passes for Christianity is undeniable evidence of this fact. Tragically, this sub-normal living has been accepted, even defended, as the normal Christian life.
That is precisely why the apostle Paul addresses the command to be filled with the Spirit to Christians living in a local church. We must remember that the book of Ephesians was written to the church at Ephesus. This is not a book written to unbelievers. It is addressed to those who are “saints who are Ephesus, and who are faithful in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 1:1). He is writing to Christians like you and me who are attempting to live our lives for Jesus. So, when he commands us to be filled with the Spirit, he is recognizing the fact that many Christians are not so filled. It is possible to be a Christian and be spiritually empty. Just because you are born again, and have experienced the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, does not mean you are filled with the Spirit. Being filled with the Spirit is a different relationship to the Holy Spirit than the experience of His indwelling presence through the new birth. Being filled with the Spirit means a personal surrender to Him whereby we are endued with power as the Spirit takes charge of our lives.
A Christian can seek to maintain control and never experience the filling of the Spirit. If we continue to walk in the flesh, we will grieve and quench the Spirit. Even if we have at one time experienced the filling of the Spirit, it is possible to grieve and quench the Spirit and thereby loose this filling.
So the command is to be filled with the Spirit. The verb is in the continuous present tense. The idea is that we get filled at some point, and that we continually stay filled. We are to live our lives in such a way that the Spirit of God can control us continually. That is the way we experience the power of God to live for Jesus.
As we experience this power, there are many consequences of this filling. In the verses before us, the apostle mentions three. As we will see, there is an inward consequence, an upward consequence, and an outward consequence.
The Inward Consequence
. . . speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:19)
As believers, our lives are to be characterized by joy. This joy manifests itself in singing. As joyful believers, we are to be singing and making melody . . . to the Lord. A singing heart is a joyful heart. If the Holy Spirit fills your life, you should be experiencing a joy which expresses itself in singing.