The Key to being Spirit-Filled

by Mike Ratliff

Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. (Romans 6:13 ESV)

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (Romans 12:1 ESV)

As we have seen in this study, there are many requirements for the Christian to become and remain Spirit-filled, but there is one thing that is truly the key to that filling. We find the Greek word that exemplifies this in Romans 6:13 and Romans 12:1 (above). The ESV translates this word as “present” in both cases. While these translations describe the action Paul intended, I think it would have been more descriptive and more theologically correct for them to have used forms of the the word “yield” here instead of “present.” Why? I believe we are talking about self-sacrifice here, a form of worship, in our daily walk. In this, we are not only growing in Christian maturity, but God is using our surrender to His will by our yielding in obedience to Him as living sacrifices, to mold us unto Christlikeness. Hence, we are Spirit-filled and are able to walk unto the works laid before us by our Father. In John 15:5 Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” He’s not saying we cannot obey God and do good works. He is saying that we cannot do them unless we abide in Him and are, therefore, Spirit-filled. Just a a bit earlier he also told his disciples in John 14:14-17, “If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” Yieldedness to obey  God’s Word before we even know what it says is the key. 

Let’s take a closer look at Romans 6:13 and Romans 12:1.

μηδὲ παριστάνετε τὰ μέλη ὑμῶν ὅπλα ἀδικίας τῇ ἁμαρτίᾳ, ἀλλὰ παραστήσατε ἑαυτοὺς τῷ Θεῷ ὡς ἐκ νεκρῶν ζῶντας καὶ τὰ μέλη ὑμῶν ὅπλα δικαιοσύνης τῷ Θεῷ. (Romans 6:13 GNT)

Here is my translation of Romans 6:13: “but not yield the members of you weapons of unright to the sin, but yield yourselves to the God as from dead living and the members of you weapons of rightness to the God.

While the direct translation word order may not be as clear, I think the idea of “yieldedness” is different from simply saying “do not present” your members as instruments of sin, but rather “present” them as instruments of righteousness. The words in question in Romans 6:13 are παριστάνετε, which is the present tense, imperative mood, active voice form of παρίστημι or paristēmi, which literally means “to cause to stand near or before.” The other usage in this passage of this word is παραστήσατε, which is aorist tense, imperative mood, active voice form of παρίστημι. What does all that mean? The first usage in present, imperative, active form is negated with the preceding μηδὲ or “but not” so this is a command to stop doing something. The present, imperative, active form is a command involving patterning ones life after something. This is continuous or repeated action. We are commanded to stop yielding our members as instruments of sin as a way of life and, instead, “yield ourselves to God as from dead to life, and our members to Him for righteousness.” This is in the aorist, imperative, active form, which means it is a command to do something that must be begun at that very moment.

Let’s look at Romans 12:1:

Παρακαλῶ οὖν ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, διὰ τῶν οἰκτιρμῶν τοῦ Θεοῦ, παραστῆσαι τὰ σώματα ὑμῶν θυσίαν ζῶσαν, ἁγίαν, εὐάρεστον τῷ Θεῷ, τὴν λογικὴν λατρείαν ὑμῶν (Romans 12:1 GNT)

Here is my translation of Romans 12:1: “I pray then you, brothers, through the mercy of the God yield the bodies of you sacrifice living holy well-pleasing to the God, the reasonable service of you

Here the word I translated as “yield” and the ESV as “present” is παραστῆσαι the aorist tense, infinitive mood, active voice form of παρίστημι or paristēmi. This is simply Paul’s way of telling us that it is by God’s mercy that we are even able to yield our bodies to Him as living sacrifices. Paul could have structured this in such a way that it would have looked like a command that we could do in and of ourselves, but here it is clear that, since the infinite can have a direct object and adverbial modifiers, it is “through the mercy of God” that we are able to “yield the bodies of you.” So much for legalism. So much for antinominism. We are called to obey God, but we obey Him by His mercy, by His grace, as we abide in the Son. Our yieldedness is both the key to our abiding and what grows deeper and more deeply rooted in our Lord as we yield more and more in our walk as Christ’s δοῦλος or doulos or bondservant or slave.

For the Christian, the only acceptable worship is to offer self completely to their Lord. Under God’s control, the believer’s yet-unredeemed body can and must be yielded to Him as an instrument of righteousness rather than an instrument of sin. According to Paul here, this is τὴν λογικὴν λατρείαν ὑμῶν or the reasonable service of you.

A yieldedness to the will of God is not demonstrated by some one particular issue: it is rather a matter of having taken the will of God as the rule of one’s life. To be in the will of God is simply to be willing to do His will without reference to any particular thing He may choose. It is electing His will to be final, even before we know what He way wish us to do. It is, therefore, not a question of being willing to do some one thing: it is question of being willing to anything, when, where and how, it may seem best in His heart of love. It is taking the normal and natural position of childlike trust which has already consented to the wish of the Father even before anything of the outworking of His wish is revealed. This distinction cannot be overemphasized…There must be a covenant relationship of trust in which His will is assented to once for all and without reservation. – Louis Sperry Chafer – from He That is Spiritual pp.91-92.

This yieldedness is the primary part of being Spirit-filled. Without it, the flesh will always be able to gain control. The issue is actually a microcosm of what is going in in the visible church all over the world right now. That is, Biblical Authority is under attack everywhere. We must settle it in our own hearts ourselves. We must nail that one down before we can even begin to be Spirit-filled. It begins there. To be yielded, then, is to covenant with God to obey His Word before we even know what it says.

Soli Deo Gloria!

13 thoughts on “The Key to being Spirit-Filled

  1. Mike, would you please explain what you mean by “covenant” in your last sentence?
    My understanding of the word seems to be inadaquate.


  2. Kathy, perhaps so, but what I meant by that in this post was to come to God before His throne and, as part of our covenantal relationship that includes our obedience and our surrender and yieldedness as our Lord’s slaves, we give ourselves to Him as living sacrifices. He is God, we are His to do with as our Sovereign Lord. On His side, we trust that He will keep all of His promises to us we know from His Word. That is what I meant.


  3. Pingback: The Key to being Spirit-Filled « Possessing the Treasure |

  4. Dear Mike,
    Wow! Do you hear the swords clanking in the background? This is KEY and this is where the power of God is – in His Word! You fear Him. This is the beginning of the wisdom that you are sharing with His sheep. You reverence His mighty Word that is living and active. This post has a power that only the Spirit-filled can understand. May God continue to bless your love of His truth and may our hearts be yielded to His perfect will!


  5. Hi Mike,

    Good study. One observation. The word “present” seems to me to be the best choice here, rather than “yield.” I think Paul is looking more at our consecration to God. When Jesus left the tomb He presented Himself to God. It may be that Paul is reflecting on this as the duty of the Christian who has been resurrected to a newness of life and that his next step is to consecrate himself and to present himself as a holy vessel consecrated to the service of Heaven which appears to fit the context of the verses.

    Just my thoughts,

    Steve Blackwell


  6. Thank you Mike. Trusting obedience is the fruit of the Holy Spirit using His word to work His will in the regenerated person. Who is man to stand in judgment over God’s very word to him, just because he does not completely understand it? Only by grace are we justified and only by grace are we sanctified through true faith given to us by God. The Holy Spirit indwells the believer such that he trusts God, not trusting on human wisdom or understanding but in God’s word. Often, I grow in understanding AFTER I lovingly obey the Lord’s word, and not before. Practically, I have experienced growth in understanding only after surrendering my conditional and prideful desire to understand BEFORE I would obey. His word is sufficient and when we yield to His will found in it, His love and grace make us into His image. What an incredible gift faith is.


  7. Yieldedness to obey  God’s Word before we even know what it says is the key. 

    You are so right, Mike. Thank you for that precious nugget of truth.


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