The Blessing Secured
"Be filled with the Spirit."--Ephesians, 5:18.
I may have some air, a little air, in my lungs, but not enough to keep up a healthy,
vigorous life. But everyone seeks to have his lungs well filled with air, and the
benefit of it will be felt in his blood and through his whole being. And just so the
word of God comes to us, and says, "Christians, do not be content with thinking
that you have the Spirit, or have a little of the Spirit; but, if you want to have a
healthy life, be "filled with the Spirit." Is that your life? Or are you ready to cry out,
"Alas, I do not know what it is to be filled with the Spirit, but it is what I long for." I
want to point out to such the path to come to this great, precious blessing which is
meant for everyone of us.
Before I speak further of it, let me just note one misunderstanding which prevails.
People often look upon being "filled with the Spirit" as something that comes with a
mighty stirring of the emotions, a sort of heavenly glory that comes over them,
something that they can feel strongly and mightily; but that is not always the case.
I was recently in Niagara Falls. I noticed, and I was told, that the water was
unusually low. Suppose the river were doubly full, how would you see that fulness
in the Falls? In the increased volume of water pouring over the cataract, and its
tremendous noise. But go to another part of the river, or to the lake, where the
very same fulness is found, and there is perfect quiet and placidity, the rise of the
water is gentle and gradual, and you can hardly notice that there is any disturbance
as the lake gets full. And just so it may be with a child of God. To one it comes
with mighty emotion and with a blessed consciousness, "God has touched me!" To
others it comes in a gentle filling of the whole being with the presence and the
power of God by His Spirit. I do not want to lay down the way in which it is to
come to you, but I want you simply to take your place before God, and say, "My
Father, whatever it may mean, that is what I want." If you come and give yourself
up as an empty vessel and trust God to fill you, God will do His own work.
And now, the simple question as to the steps by which we can come to be "filled
with the Spirit." I shall note four steps in the way by which a man can attain this
wonderful blessing. He must say, (1), "I must have it," then, (2), "I may have it,"
and, then, (3) "I will have it," and then, last, Thank God, "I shall have it."
1. The first word a man must begin to say, is, "I must have it." He must feel "It is a
command of God, and I cannot live unfilled with the Spirit without disobeying God."
It is a command here in this text,--"Be not drunk with wine, but be filled with the
Spirit." Just as much as a man dare not get drunk, if he is a Christian, just as much
must a man be filled with the Spirit. God wants it, and oh, that every one might be
brought to say, "I must, if I am to please God, I must be filled with the Spirit!"
I fear there is a terrible, terrible self-satisfaction among many Christians,--they are
content with their low level of life. They think they have the Spirit because they are
converted, but they know very little of the joy of the Holy Ghost, and of the
sanctifying power of the Spirit. They know very little of the fellowship of the Spirit
linking them to God and to Jesus. They know very little of the power of the Spirit
to testify for God, and yet they are content; and one says, "Oh, it is only for
A very dear young friend once said to me as I was talking to her--(it was a niece of
my own)--"Oh, Uncle Andrew, I cannot try to make myself better than the
Christians around me. Wouldn't that be presumptuous?"
And I said, "My child, you must not ask what the Christians around you are, but
you must be guided by what God says."
She has since confessed to me how bitterly ashamed she has become of that
expression, and how she went to God to seek His blessing. Oh, friends, do not be
content with that half Christian life that many of you are living, but say, "God wants
it, God commands it; I must be filled with the Spirit."
And look not only at God's command, but look at the need of your own soul. You
are a parent, and you want your children blessed and converted, and you complain
that you haven't power to bless them. You say, "My home must be filled with
God's Spirit." You complain of your own soul, of times of darkness and of
leanness; you complain of watchlessness and wandering.
A young minister once said to me, "Oh, why is it I have such a delight in study and
so little delight in prayer?"--and my answer was, "My brother, your heart must get
filled with a love for God and Jesus, and then you will delight in prayer."
You complain sometimes that you cannot pray. You pray so short, you do not
know what to pray, something drags you back from the closet. It is because you
are living a life, trying to live a life, without being filled with the Spirit.
Oh, think of the needs of the church around you. You are a Sunday School
teacher; you are trying to teach a class of ten or twelve children, not one of them,
perhaps, converted, and they go out from under you unconverted; you are trying
to do a heavenly work in the power of the flesh and earth. Sunday School
teachers, do begin to say, "I must be filled with the Spirit of God, or I must give up
the charge of those young souls; I cannot teach them."
Or, think of the need of the world. If you were to send out missionaries full of the
Holy Ghost, what a blessing that would be! Why is it, that many a missionary
complains in the foreign field, "There I learned how weak and how unfit I am?" It is
because the churches from which they go are not filled with the Holy Ghost.
Someone said to me in England a few weeks ago, "They talk so much about the
volunteer movement and more missionaries; but we want something else, we
want missionaries filled with the Holy Ghost." If the church is to come right, and the
mission field is to come right, we must each begin with himself. It must begin with
you. Begin with yourself and say, "O God, for Thy sake; O God, for Thy church's
sake; O God, for the sake of the world, help me! I must be filled with the Holy Ghost."
What folly it would be for a man who had lost a lung and a half, and had hardly a
quarter of a lung to do the work of two, to expect to be a strong man and to do
hard work, and to live in any climate! And what folly for a man to expect to live--God has told him he cannot live--a full Christian life, unless he is full of the Holy
Ghost! And what folly for a man who has only got a little drop of the river of the
water of life to expect to live and to have power with God and man! Jesus wants
us to come and to receive the fulfillment of the promise, "He that believeth in Me,
streams of water shall flow out from him." Oh, begin to say, "If I am to live a right
life, if I am in every part of my daily life and conduct to glorify my God, I must have
the Holy Spirit--I must be filled with the Spirit." Are you going to say that? Talking
for months and months won't help. Do submit to God, and as an act of submission
say, "Lord, I confess it, I ought to be filled, I must be filled; help me!" And God will
And, then comes the second step, I may be filled. The first had reference to duty;
the second has reference to privilege--I may be filled. Alas! So many have got
accustomed to their low state that they do not believe that they may, they can,
actually be filled. And what right have I to say that you ought to take these words
into your lips? My right is this--God wants healthy children. I say to-day a child of
six months old, as beautiful and chubby as you could wish a child to be, and with
what delight the eyes of the father and the mother looked upon him, and how glad
I was to see a healthy child. And, oh; do you think that God in Heaven does not
care for His children, and that God wants some of His children to live a sickly life? I
tell you, it is a lie! God wants every child of His to be a healthy Christian; but you
cannot be a healthy Christian unless you are filled w