Summary: Being controlled by the Spirit is not a dramatic or decisive one-time experience but it’s a daily, ongoing habit. There’s a kind of fullness of the Spirit that comes just simply obeying God and using the means of grace: Bible study, and prayer, and fellowship, obeying his will, etc.
Today, I want to answer this question, “How can I tell if the Holy Spirit is controlling me?” We are not alone in asking this question as the renowned theologian Jonathan Edwards addressed the questions in his work, Religious Affections. In the book, Edwards moves through twelve “uncertain signs” and twelve “true signs.” Edwards gives great counsel for assist you in determining the work of the Spirit in those you love and care for. He wrote those words during the height of the First Great Awakening when many Christians were arguing/debating over the Spirit’s work. This remains a huge question for us even today.
How do I know if the Spirit has filled me? And how can I be filled with the Holy Spirit?
1. A Spirit-Filled Person AGES
When the Spirit of God fills you it will change every part of you. I developed an acronym to help you see this: AGE stands for Attitude, God, and Everyone.
But first …
1.1 Only Followers of Christ have the Holy Spirit
First, it’s important you know that Spirit is selective: “Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him” (Romans 8:9b). Only followers of Christ have access to this power source. The Spirit indwells believers only. He will influence people who don’t know the Lord, but He indwells believers.
The Bible commands us to be filled with the Spirit: “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit…” (Ephesians 5:18). A Spirit-filled life does something to you, your relationship with God, and your relationship with others. You can remember this word, AGE. If I am filled with the Holy Spirit, it will AGE me. Again, AGE stands for Attitude, God, and Everyone.
The Spirit-Filled person has a different Attitude: “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart…” (Ephesians 5:19).
The Spirit-Filled person is filled with thankfulness to God: “giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Ephesians 5:20).
And the Spirit-Filled person has a different way to interact with Everyone: “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21).
AGE is Attitude, God, and Everyone. We don’t have to guess what a Spirit-filled person looks like because the Bible tells us. For so many people, you were taught that you would speak in tongues when you had the Spirit in you. Tongues is another topic for another day, but look how the classic passage on being filled with the Spirit answers the question. Watch the chain of reasoning in verses 18 through 21.
In fact, verses 18-21 are all one sentence in the original language of the New Testament (Greek). When the Holy Spirit controls you and fills you, there are three marks or traits to look for:
1) you will sing – you’re attitude changes - the fundamental meaning of being filled with the Spirit is being filled with joy that comes from God and overflows in song;
2) you will give thanks to God above;
3) you will submit to others – your relationship changes with everyone.
Again, a Spirit-filled person is AGE is Attitude, God, and Everyone.
1.3 Don’t Miss the Opportunity
There are some things in life you just don’t want to miss out on. Tony Fadell invented a digital music player around the year 2000. He took his new invention to the leader of digital music at the time, a company called RealNetworks. But they reject Tony’s idea because his music device would compete against their successful media endeavors. After his rejection, Tony took his personal digital device to Apple who began production in 2001 and the idea took off.
Eventually, to be known as the iPod, Apple’s Ipods when on to sell around 400 million devices.
There are some opportunities that are simply too great to miss. You don’t want to miss even one opportunity where the Spirit fills you. So the Spirit-Filled Person is when you AGE: Your Attitude about you changed, your attitude changes about God, and your attitude toward Everyone else is radically changed..
1. A Spirit-Filled Person AGES
2. A Picture of a Spirit-Filled Person
The Bible offers us a simple picture of what you look like when you’re filled with the Spirit. Look back at Ephesians 5:18 again with me: “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit…” (Ephesians 5:18).
Paul places two items in close proximity that are a canyon apart. Drunk with wine and filled with the Spirit are canyons apart. Surely he had a reason to place these two items so close to one another.
Imagine if I got up this morning and drank six Budweisers. If that were true, I would be acting very differently. Drinking too much means you lose control of yourself. You’re not “yourself”; you’re not acting like yourself. A drunken person is out of control. If you are pulled over by a policeman under the suspicion of driving while intoxicated, he will make you walk a straight line. Why? Because drunk people cannot even control their feet to walk in a simple, straight line. When you are drunk, you simply no longer control your actions. You make promises you can’t keep.