So then, be careful how you walk, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, in which there is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your hearts to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to our God and Father; and subject yourselves to one another in the fear of Christ. – Ephesians 5:15-21
As a pastor, I was often asked how a person can be filled with the Spirit. Of course, we understand that the Holy Spirit “indwells” all believers in Jesus Christ. This “habitation” occurs at the moment of regeneration, but “filling” is a different matter.
I believe that being filled with the Holy Spirit is an ongoing, continuous need and it involves a continuous three-step process: 1) confessing all known sins, 2) asking the Holy Spirit to fill you, and 3) remaining/abiding in God’s Word. In this passage, however, Paul describes being filled with the Spirit through the use of four participles: speaking to one another in spiritually edifying ways and subjecting ourselves to one another out of reverence for Christ cover our “horizontal” relationships with other members of the church. Singing with our hearts to the Lord and giving thanks to God in the name of Jesus cover our vertical relationship with the Almighty.
Together, these actions express the necessity of the ongoing attitude and disposition of a Christ-follower. We are to continue being filled by engaging in these activities and they should sound familiar. We are to love the Lord with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength and we are also to love our neighbors as ourselves. That is what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit and that is also how we know that we are.
The Spirit-filled life is not a special, deluxe edition of Christianity. It is part and parcel of the total plan of God for His people. – A. W. Tozer