I love a good word picture. I especially like one that can change our lives. To set this picture up lets imagine for a moment what it would have been like to listen to the Apostle Paul as preacher. He says that he was not a great orator, but his comments sure had the ability to get a crowd worked up.
One of those moments might have been when the church in Ephesus first read the letter written to them. Paul paints a simple picture with the words, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead be filled with the Spirit.” (5:18) I am guessing that it would have gotten an interesting reaction from some in the crowd. It might still today.
Now the life changing word picture I want you to see here is not about whether Christians should drink or not. I will leave that for another day. But the picture that Paul is drawing should capture your imagination of what is possible in the Spirit filled life. Leaving aside the questions of drinking in moderation, Paul is saying don’t get drunk because of where it leads your life.
The power of what he points out as is its parallel: being filled with the Spirit. He is saying how getting drunk can lead down a road you don’t want to go so a life filled with the Spirit can take you to powerful places you never thought possible. He uses the language of drinking to give us a picture of God’s invitation to “drink” more of Him. As most sins are trying to fill a need that can only be found in God, so getting drunk is trying to fill a need that can only be filled by living a life in the Spirit.
There is a lot of depth to this word picture but let me give you one simple outflow. Smith Wigglesworth, the plumber turned preacher, talked about this verse and pointed out that a person “under the influence” may not realize how much they are impacted by what they have drunk. He said the same is true of people who are filled with the Spirit. Let me give you a couple examples.
The fruit of the Spirit: Have you ever been around someone who is so full of the Spirit of God that they just naturally express love, joy, peace and others of the fruit of the Spirit. It is not like they are trying hard, but since they are “under the influence” of the Spirit it is the natural “fruit” of their life. Have you ever seen a fruit working hard to grow? No they are connected to the tree and that is what comes out of their life.
The gifts of the Spirit: I have been around people who are so filled with the Spirit that the gifts just naturally flow out of their life. They may say something that I realize later was very prophetic and it didn’t even seem like they noticed. They asked God to fill their lives and that filling impacted people more than they realized.
Why is this word picture have the possibility of changing your life? Because the invitation is still extended to you. You too can be “under the influence” of the Holy Spirit. No matter where you are in your journey with God, let me encourage you to carry a two word prayer with you, “Fill me.” I think we will be amazed to see what happens.