by Mike Ratliff
For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one origin. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, saying, “I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.” (Hebrews 2:10-12 ESV)
The last few days have been pretty rough. However, as most of you are aware, prior to writing those posts on profanity and coarse language, I wrote several posts on humility and boldness. Part of being that humble believer who boldly stands in the gap, sword drawn, and fighting the good fight is taking the hits from fiery darts and blows to the shield, helmet and armor. I know that I am far from perfect. I know, unless I am Spirit-filled, I will be involved in fleshly pursuits that are sin.
I counsel each of you reading this to stay out of the battle unless you prepare first. The spiritual oppression and resulting deception that inhabit these battles is very real and can cause much doubt and heartache unless we remain on our knees and obedient. The enemy will tell you that the battle we were in these last few days was simply what words are okay to say what words aren’t okay for Christians. That was not what this battle was about at all. This battle was about the veracity of the Spirit-filled life as taught in scripture. What does it mean to be conformed to this world or not? What does it mean to be holy as God is holy? Are we regenerate and, therefore, a new creation as scripture teaches, or are we simply religious people who can live any way we want? Is Jesus Lord or not?
How do we become holy, as God is holy? The answer is found in Ephesians 5:17-18.
Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, (Ephesians 5:17-18 ESV)
People not controlled by the Holy Spirit are living in foolishness and darkness. Whom does the Holy Spirit control? The Holy Spirit controls the Spirit-filled believer not those bound to their flesh. Please notice that this is a command for us to be filled with the Spirit. This being so, what are the consequences if we are obedient? We find the answer to that in vv19-21.
addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:19-21 ESV)
When God’s Spirit controls us He will put a song in our hearts and on our lips, give us thankfulness to God, and make us submissive to others. The song here is not some secular music or even those hymns or other Christian songs that we may like. This song is a new song that only the Spirit-filled know. The Spirit-filled life produces music that submits the heart to God and glorifies Him. This produces a level of joy in the Spirit-filled believer that manifests itself in this godly music that also guides us into praying continually and submitting to those God puts in our lives. Will the believer who obediently becomes Spirit-filled by letting the Word control them, pursuing pure lives, confessing all known sin, dying to self, surrendering to God’s will, and depending on His power in all things be those who shake their fists at those who preach repentance unto personal holiness?
The Spirit-filled believer lives a life that is meant to glorify God in all of its parts. He or she does this through their worshipful, thankful, and music-filled heart. The Spirit-filled believer is always thankful. He or she recognizes God’s control over their lives in every detail as He seeks to conform them unto the image of His Son. For what do they give thanks? They thank Him for all things because all they can give to Him is simply grateful recognition that all they have is from Him. They thank God in the name of Jesus Christ to give thanks consistent with who He is and what He has done. They thank the Father for all things because even those things that come through others come from God.
Spirit-filled believers will submit to fellow believers. The filling and control of the Holy Spirit will lead us to a spirit of humility. As we submit to the control of the Holy Spirit he will give us the desire to seek the welfare of others before our own and be mutually submissive.
Now, what about rebuke of false teachers and apostasy and heresy? How does a Spirit-filled believer tackle those things, or are they to do so at all? Are we to fellowship with everyone who calls himself or herself Christian even though they are obviously in the deceit of false religion, human reason, and darkness? No, we don’t submit to them. We remain humble and non-compromising. We put our armor on and obey our Lord in telling the truth. Those that hear may very well have their hearts opened by God and then repent and come into the light. Those that refuse to hear are in the Lord’s hands. He may very well use us in their judgment.
What are the consequences of obedience compared the consequences of disobedience? The consequences of not becoming Spirit-filled are to be foolish, remaining in darkness and in bondage to the flesh. Sadly, most professing believers are in disobedience to this command and are, therefore, completely enslaved to their flesh. They are not humble, but are eaten up with pride, arrogance, and deceit. They do not walk in victory. On the other hand, the Spirit-filled believer will walk with God’s hand upon him or her. They may suffer abuse. They may be persecuted for their uncompromising stand of obedience. They may be looked at by those in the deceit of their spiritual darkness as hypocrites or judgmental. However, they are upheld by their Lord and rejoice in their suffering because their Lord is glorified in them because the Holy Spirit controls them.
Soli Deo Gloria