What do we do to become Spirit-Filled?

by Mike Ratliff

12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, 13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. Romans 6:12-13 (NASB)

1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. Romans 12:1 (NASB) 

There are many requirements for the Christian to become 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 NASB 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; he who abides in Me and I in him, he 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. I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides 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.

13 μηδὲ παριστάνετε τὰ μέλη ὑμῶν ὅπλα ἀδικίας τῇ ἁμαρτίᾳ, ἀλλὰ παραστήσατε ἑαυτοὺς τῷ θεῷ ὡσεὶ ἐκ νεκρῶν ζῶντας καὶ τὰ μέλη ὑμῶν ὅπλα δικαιοσύνης τῷ θεῷ. Romans 6:13 (NA28)

13 do not present your members as tools unrighteousness to sin; but yield yourselves to the God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of rightness to the God. Romans 6:13 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Look at the contrast between the caution or warning in the command from Paul to “not present your members as tools unrighteousness to sin” with the command to “yield yourselves to the God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of rightness to the God.” In both commands it is the same Greek word but with different grammar structures. The first one is παριστάνετε, which is the present tense, imperative mood, active voice form of παρίστημι (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 or presenting 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:

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 (NA28)

1 Therefore, I urge you brothers through the compassions of God to yield your bodies as living, holy sacrifices, well pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service. Romans 12:1 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Here the word I translated as “yield” and the NASB as “present” is παραστῆσαι the aorist tense, infinitive mood, active voice form of παρίστημι (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 your bodies.” 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 (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 your spiritual service.

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 condition of becoming 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!

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