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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Friday, October 02, 2009
Holy, Holy.
Somewhere between grade six and grade nine we learned a thing or two in science about volume and displacement. The easiest way to measure volume was to put something into a water filled, graduated cylinder of glass, and see how much water the thing we were measuring displaced. If the water level was resting at 200 milliliters, and you put in some object so that the water level rose to 300 milliliters, you knew that whatever you had dropped into the water had a volume of 100 milliliters.

If the cylinder could only hold 500 milliliters of water, and you added 500 milliliters of liquid mercury, the mercury would displace the water entirely.

The Holy Spirit instructs us, through the writing of Paul in Ephesians chapter five, to be being kept filled with the Holy Spirit. When I first began both to study, and to try (as best I could) to live out the imperative therein given, I found that I didn't know what this was supposed to look like. At that time I was made aware of a passage from some of Dwight L. Moody's writings (c.f. Secret Power, D.L. Moody, Ch. 2) wherein Moody wrote:
Turn to Acts 4:31, and you will find He came a second time, and at a place where they were, so that the earth was shaken, and they were filled with this power. That is, we are leaky vessels, and we have to keep right under the fountain all the time to keep full of Christ, and so have a fresh supply.
For those of you who do not remember, Acts 4:31 records the filling of the Holy Spirit following a time of prayer. These were believers upon whom the Holy Spirit had already fallen at Pentecost, and after this prayer for boldness, the building they were in shook as in an earth quake, and -all- that were present were filled of the (tou in the Greek) Holy Spirit. Given that Peter was there, this passage is used to argue that while there is One (spiritual) baptism (the new birth), there can be many spiritual "fillings".

Moody isn't alone in understanding these intermittent fillings as normative of the Christian experience. I have listened to more than one misty eyed Christian recall some bygone day of blessing, and seen with my own eyes the lingering dissatisfaction associated with any day that isn't so "filled". There is ever a gnawing hunger within these for a new and fresh outpouring of God's Spirit upon them. Is it any small wonder, given that this verse is often pointed to as proof positive that God pours out blessings again and again? Why no blessing today?

In those days when I was only vaguely familiar with scripture I was understandably naive in my faith, and therefore more willing to accept (at face value) whatever anyone taught concerning scripture, as true. We all do that in our infancy - we presume that because people are sincere, and honest, and even godly, that they must be right also. It was so with me at least, and having come under the influence of those who had been previously influenced by Moody, my understanding of my current state was that I was like a "broken cistern that could not hold water" (c.f. Jeremiah 2:13). The imagery was swiped, as noted, from a passage in Jeremiah that had nothing to do with Spiritual Filling, but rather likened the worship of false gods, to turning away from an artesian well (God), and relying instead upon faulty reservoirs that you yourself dig out (false Gods). I don't know if Moody himself ever mangled the text like that, but there were people who were influential in my early Christian walk who had some practice in stitching together disparate ideas as though they spoke of the same thing, so that what I heard at that time, was a bunch of scripture that seemed to bolster the point.

The imagery of myself as being an empty vessel in dire need of spiritual filling caused me to spend a lot of time begging for fillings that never seemed to come. I naturally began to question the validity of my faith, and the validity of the Christian faith altogether. If God is real, surely He ought to be answering the prayers of His children when they cry out day and night for "the filling" by which I was made to understand, the entire Christian endeavor was made not only possible, but easy. I will go one step deeper, the filling by which I might have that perfect rest in God whereby I perfectly understood what God expected of me, and whereby I was perfectly at peace doing whatever that was.

The idea that I was a broken empty vessel, more than any other imagery, kept me on the mouse wheel - calling out to God for victory over sin in my life, and secretly blaming God for the lack thereof. If God truly is at working in me both to desire His will, and to work out His will - why was He dishing out the fuel to do that with an eye-dropper? Why was I -always- empty?

Now, the word used in Ephesians five to describe our being kept filled, is better suited to the wind filling a sail, or to a person being "filled" with remorse over the loss of their spouse, than it is to the filling of a bucket. I like the wind filling the sail picture better, because if the wind is blowing, that doesn't automatically mean the sail is going to be filled. In order for the wind to fill the sail, the sail must be set before the wind. It isn't that the sail is a vessel that has some capacity, rather the sail is the means by which the wind that is already there is able to work for the one who has raised their sail.

If, in order to picture the filling of the Spirit we are forced to use the analogy of a glass being filled with water, then I would suggest in order to picture it properly we must maintain that the glass is -always and ever- filled to the very rim with water. Anything in our life that is self serving, could be thought of as liquid mercury that is displacing the water - the more mercury we fill ourselves with, the less water room there is for the water. The notion then, to be being kept filled with the Holy Spirit - would place the emphasis, as the text does, on not being filled with other things. The way in which a person becomes filled with God's Spirit, therefore, is not to beg God to poor more in, but rather to beg God that what is displacing Him in your life would be removed.

Now when scripture says to work out your own salvation, you can understand what it is talking about. Now when scripture says that you are to plow up the fallow ground, you have some imagery that makes sense - Don't sit there filled up with your sin, and beg God to pour more spirit in on top of your rebellion - rather rage war against that which rebels against God in you. Paul often uses the imagery of the believer as a soldier in God's army, not (primarily) because we are in battle every day, though that is certainly true - but because we are not in our own army, but in God's and as soldiers we can rely upon the provision of Him who supplies us with the weapons of our warfare.

We are often like children who cry out for more wind when the problem is that we refuse to unfurl the great sail we were given when we were ushered into God's family through our faith in the promises of God - through our faith in the redemptive work of Lord Jesus Christ who by His own blood reconciled those who call on Him, to God.

Being filled with God's Spirit happens by default. You don't have to try and pray it down - you have to get out of the way. That is why the message of the apostles was that you are to die daily, to take up a cross, to not be filled with the things of the world, etc. etc. It isn't that you beg for God to pour something in - He already has, rather your job is to deal biblically with whatever is filling you that isn't God - you make war with that, and if you don't or aren't interested in doing so, there is something very, very, very wrong with your faith. Judgment day is coming, and I want to warn the sinner, especially if he or she considers himself or herself a Christian, that if sins cooing voice has turned your fight to slumber, and you rest content now in your sin - Good gravy! You're a heartbeat from hell, and think your last breath will take you to heaven.

Think again.

It is not the ones who cry, "Lord, Lord!" who will are being saved, but those who through faith and patience inherit the promises -- not the least of which is the promise that we will be given a new heart and a new spirit. I can't stress it enough - if you are at peace with sin, your Christianity is only lip service, and you are hell bound no matter what church you attend, no matter how moved you were, no matter what experience you had. Your experiences, and your lip service have nothing to do with the faith that saves sinners from sin. I say to you, what Christ has always said: repent and believe the gospel, that you might be saved from your sin.

To the rest of you who struggle trying to be filled with the Holy Spirit; I say stop! You're trying to do what you cannot do, and what has already been done. Instead do what scripture directs and commands you to do: present the whole of yourself to God - you want to know how that looks in a practical way? Nothing could be simpler. Recall in the OT how various Judean kings were "good" and others were "bad"? Consider and learn from what the good kings did as soon as they came into their kingdom - they cleaned out all the gunk that the bad kings let build up in God's temple. They restored the beauty and holiness of His temple. Sound familiar, that's because the NT says that this is God's will for you: that you be sanctified. How can I spell that out in clear language? It is God's will that you deal with sin daily and directly. You clean the temple, not because you are worried that if you don't God will spank you, you clean the temple because you love God, and desire God to fill the temple. Good gravy, it's not rocket science; If you want to clean the temple in order to make God like or accept you, you aren't worshipping God, you are just trying to pacify Him. The whole point is that you work out your own salvation (from sin) with fear and trembling - because it is God who works in you both to will (He is the one who causes you to hunger for fellowship) and to do (He will strengthen you to every good work He has ordained beforehand for you to walk in - your sanctification being the PRIME one), and all this because it pleases God to fill you, to fellowship with you - to make His home in you.

Don't play at Christianity brother, sister - you have only so many heartbeats left, and each one brings you closer to judgment - my desire is that every last one who reads this will enter into that judgment in Christ - unashamed workers, and not disillusioned slackers who thought they were genuine, only to discover their error too late. If God convicts you today, don't put it off till tomorrow.
posted by Daniel @ 1:03 PM  
  • At 1:53 PM, October 02, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…

    Yeah, sorry I haven't been posting lately, I have been preoccupied by other pressing things.

  • At 1:18 PM, October 03, 2009, Blogger Unknown said…

    Really glad you were able to find some time to post this one. I also find the imagery of the sail very helpful.

    Here's a slightly different spin I've used while trying to explain this to others. As I remember from a high school chem/phys class, a gas is an expansive thing, occupying whatever volume is available to it. We might compare the Holy Spirit to a gas (an easy allusion based on "pneuma") Who will occupy every part of your life that is not otherwise occupied by other "stuff", what with nature hating a vacuum and all that. At salvation, you receive all the Holy Spirit you're going to get; the question is how much of you that He gets. Like a gas confined to a smaller volume, the pressure grows/intensifies and it is necessary to jettison some of that junk to relieve the pressure. You can take it from there.

  • At 4:35 PM, October 03, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…

    Bob - that's a very illustration, better than mine. I will probably use it many times from here on in. Thanks.

  • At 7:23 PM, October 03, 2009, Blogger Strong Tower said…

    "Consider and learn from what the good kings did as soon as they came into their kingdom - they cleaned out all the gunk that the bad kings let build up in God's temple."

    Ahem... then how did the kingdoms decline?

    I'll bet they couldn't clean themselves out of the kingdom. Which is what the disciples understood as an impossibility, riches unable to be sold, and something which Christ affirmed is only possible with God.

    As to gas... well that is all good and fine but the Holy Spirit doesn't care what you think, Bob, period. Your concept of the HS as a gas, stinks. You don't determined anything. We work out our salvation with fear and trembling because it is God working in us. That little holy sprite that you're talking about can't over come you. But the Holy Spirit can. It it the Spirit which circumcises the junk, not you. If you're doing it, you're fooling yourself, you're just replacing the junk with mounds of hardened pride that you think is the Holy Spirit.

    Daniel, you could search high and low and never get out enough to satisfy the demands of the Spirit. That was the point of the Law, that was the point of the good kings, or as Jesus said, there is only one good king, the rest of us when ever we do the Spirit's work bring the sin of our flesh with us. Those kings of old couldn't get their flesh out of Israel and that is why it collapses time and time again. Pursue that path, Daniel, and you will pursue frustration and in the end become embittered or decieved into believing you have actually found all the impurity in the household of your heart and made it ready for the Passover Lamb to occupy.

  • At 9:51 PM, October 03, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…

    Strong Tower,

    I think you may be missing the point.

    The point I was highlighting in the post, and that was originally being discussed in the meta, had to do with some of the pitfalls I see regarding one particular model that is used to describe what the filling of the Holy Spirit is supposed to look like.

    Briefly, one model - which I will call it the Moody model, paints this filling of the HS as though the HS in constantly seeping out of "leaky" believers, and the other, which I believe to be more biblically correct, paints this filling in terms of a one time filling of the Holy Spirit, that can be grieved by sin.

    The grieving that sin produces is likened in a spatial sense, to a displacement, rather than an evacuation - which, when understood, transfers the prayer from "fill me, fill me!" to "empty me of all that isn't you".

    I am under no illusions regarding how utterly impotent every last one of us is when it comes to cleaning out the sin in our lives, and I am sorry if anything I wrote was so poorly expressed that it gave you that impression.

    The point we are discussing is not how to do the work of the Holy Spirit for/instead of Him, but rather, how to avoid the error of looking for fillings, when you ought to be looking for the repentance only God can grant.

    On another note, though I do not answer for Bob, you might want to read over your first comment in this thread again; you come off (and this may just be my opinion) as a little condescending towards him...?

  • At 9:23 PM, October 05, 2009, Blogger Jim said…

    Daniel, what does Paul mean in Ephesians by "Be filled in spirit"?

  • At 11:46 AM, October 06, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…

    Jim - Didn't I just explain that in the whole post? :)

    Do not be drunk with wine in which is dissipation, but be being kept filled with the Holy Spirit.

    The admonition addresses an error and it's correction, as in: You are not to do "X" you are to do "Y".

    If that verse had no context whatsoever, we could/would read it in the most wooden and superficial way possible, that is, we might imagine that Paul is simply concerned about drunkeness, and offering a Holy alternative.

    But Paul's epistle to the Ephesian believers can't (soberly) be whittled down to a shallow shopping list of dos and don'ts, it begins with a prolonged declaration of the orthodox faith (1:3 - 1:23) proceeds on to an orthodox description of who we were prior to receiving Christ (2:1 - 2:5a), moves onto who we are after receiving Christ (2:5a - 2:13) moving onto a strategic description of the Christ with Whom have a relationship (2:14 - 2:22) and then having laid out who we were, who we are, and who Christ is, holds these truths up to us as the reason for his writing, because we were such and such, and became such and such and have a relationship with Christ who is this way, and not some other - it is because of these truths, or so Paul writes, that he is inclined to teach the very things he is about to teach.

    We see that at the beginning of chapter 3. But just before Paul begins the instruction that he is grounding in these things, he underscores his own authority in giving it, as we see in the remainder of chapter three. Paul isn't about to teach something just for the fun of it - he is about to say these things because Christ Himself has put the burden on him, and given him the authority, and responsibility to do so.

    In chapter four he begins - because you were once sinners, because you are now saints, because of your new relationship with Christ, and because of who Christ is, and because I am sent by Christ Himself to teach you what Christ would now have you do, and he begins with a summary statement in 4:1 - walk in a manner that is worty of the calling with which Christ has called you.

    Immediately Paul begins to put flesh on that summary - what does it mean to walk worthy? Here is where we find our context, as Paul is now giving instruction on what we ought to be doing, what walking worthy of our calling looks like.

    We want to note that Paul isn't giving instruction in a vacuum. The epistle was written to the Ephesian believers because they were -not- walking worthy. When Paul gives, therefore a "Do x and not y" kind of instruction, we take x to be something that the Ephesians in particular were doing, and y to be the orthodox expectation that x was transgressing.

    We see several examples of this in chapter four (strating at verse 17) and leading up to the verse in question (5:18). By the time we get to 5:18, we are dealing with a particular error in their worship - they were engaged in the error of Nadab and Abihu - that is, they were co-opting the way other God's were worshipped, and trying to worship God in the same way that false gods were being worshipped by their culture.


  • At 11:46 AM, October 06, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…


    Paul's admonition is that rather than immitating the worship found in other religions, they should be imitators of God, having been given Christ incarnate to learn from. Walk in love as Christ walked, surrendering yourself up for others - not full of foul language, greed, and what having, but full of thanks giving, for those who practice other religions are idolators as is evidenced by the fact that they continue in these kinds of sin. He exhorts the Ephesians not to be deceived by religious systems that leave you sinful - that you shouldn't be partakers with them in such things because, to reiterate, you were once that way, but now you are not. What they do is disgraceful, but you should not be disgraceful, because unlike them, you are not dead in your sins, that is, you are not "asleep", but have been awoken - that is why the scriptures (or so Paul writes) command you to awake out of sleep - because doing so is to rise out of the grave of your tresspasses and sins, and to have Christ shine on you. Because these things are all so, Paul writes, you are not to continue on like a fool, doing what is disgraceful, keeping yourself ignorant of what God expects from you - no, says Paul, you are to stop being "drunk with wine in which is disipation".

    At this point, it is good to review imagery from chapters 17 and 18 of the book of Revelation. There (in the book of Revelation) the whole phrase is rendered "drunk with the wine of immorality" - and it refers to the nations who reject Christ.

    I believe that just as the Holy Spirit used the same imagery of the pursuit of immorality as being drunk on "the wine of" immorality in the book of Revelation, so the Holy Spirit here, inspiring Paul's hand, writes for us who ought to walk worthy, not to be drunk on that which intoxifies the world - not referring merely and singularly to the fermented juice of grapes, but more broadly to being "drunk" (as a metaphor) on the things of the earth. The context certainly bears that thought out.

    Notwithstanding, we know that other religions were engaged in drunken orgies as a means of worshipping false Gods, and that it was commonly believed that severe intoxication allowed for unimpeded communion with God, so that this sort of thing was (understandably) begining to infiltrate the church (as people just changed the name of their God to the Christian God, and continued to "worship" as they always had). But even in light of this, I believe that Paul's admonition while certainly nodding in that direction, is not limited to it.

    When Paul begins by saying, you were such and such, now you are this, now you have a relationship with Christ, and Christ is this; Paul's instruction here falls into this same rut - he is saying, don't be as you were, drunk with the wine of immorality, but be as you have become - keep yourself free from those things - do not be filled by them, as you once were, but be filled with Christ, that is be being kept filled with only Christ by and through the power of the Holy Spirit.

    That is what I think Paul means.

  • At 7:30 AM, October 08, 2009, Blogger Bob Johnson said…

    When I made my post, I forgot to check the option for an email of follow-up comments; so I guess it looks like I've been laying low, but just now getting back.

    Strong Tower, I'm guessing you love the Lord your God will all of your heart, soul, mind and strength. I commend you and am grateful for you.

    I should know better that to jot off a quick thought in such a forum without including the requisite disclaimers about this single remark failing to express the entirety of my theology and how ANY analogy and metaphor fails at some point, particularly those that aspire to describe the character of God. My bad, please excuse.

    God bless you all - I love you.

  • At 11:07 AM, October 09, 2009, Blogger Jim said…

    Sorry Daniel, I didn't read the post adequately enough. Thanks for the additional thoughts however. I think I see now what you are saying about the vacuum vs. the displacement of the Spirit by other things. That passage in Ephesians really ties in well and I would have to agree that Paul was probably talking about being drunk with more than just wine. We can be consumed with so many different things in this world and not be filled with the Spirit.

    It seems that Paul is contrasting the drunkenness with worldly things by being filled with the Spirit, and this by speaking and singing and the giving of thanks always. So there is no neutral ground, we cannot sit by passively but must actively pursue the things of God and thereby become filled with His Spirit.

  • At 5:21 PM, November 04, 2009, Blogger Ruby said…

    Great post!

    I've thought of it as being a cellulose sponge, which can be fully saturated and dripping - if we are harboring sin in those inner bubbles then we won't be filled with the Spirit entirely.. in fact we might have the stench of hypocrisy etc.

    Encouragement I needed today, thanks.

  • At 8:20 AM, August 16, 2017, Blogger Daniel said…

    Rereading these old posts... I liked this one.

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