James Merritt - Full Up
When I'm on vacation, I go to other churches. And have you ever thought about who you're sitting with when you walk into a church service, particularly if you don't know anybody? Who you're sitting next to, or who you're sitting in front of, or who you're sitting maybe behind. And the truth of the matter is, if a church is healthy and if a church is doing his job, there should always be at least three groups of people in the room. First of all, there should be those who come to church who have no relationship with Jesus Christ. If we're doing our job and we're healthy, we all have those people. As a matter of fact, that's who all these, this is what the empty seats are for. That's who ought to be here. And if you are not a believer in Christ, we're glad that you're here. That's who we're looking for.
We want you to come and hear what the Bible says about having a relationship with God. And these people may or may not be religious. They may or may not own a Bible. They may or may not know very much about church. They may not, they definitely don't know the Lord. They don't have a personal relationship with Jesus, and those people should be, and I'm sure we have some in the room, and glad you're here. And then there's a group of people that come to church, and they know the Lord, but their lives are not much different from people who don't know the Lord. And so this may be you, and you're a believer, and it's not that you don't know Christ. It's not that you've not given him your heart and your life, but you know you're not hitting on all these cylinders in your Christian life. You know there's got to be more than the Christian life than what you've experienced, and you're not satisfied with where you are spiritually.
You know you're living far below what the Christian life ought to be. Maybe you don't read your Bible very much, if you read it at all. You never share Christ with anybody. You don't even have a desire to go on a mission trip. If you give anything at all, your giving is sporadic. And just being very honest, you really don't have the joy, and the peace, and the excitement, and the spiritual power that you know deep down you ought to have as a follower of Jesus. But then there's this group of people, they come to church, and they know the Lord, but somehow they've grown to understand the need and the desire to live a life that is filled with the Holy Spirit. They're not perfect. They tell you they're not perfect, but they're growing, and they're maturing, and they're full of joy, and they share their faith, and they give with gladness, and they willingly serve. And it just seems like they're living the Christian life on a different level than most Christians.
Now, I don't know which category of people that you fall in, but let me just say this. If you're in either one of the first two categories, you're not a believer, you don't have a relationship with Christ, you don't even pretend to have a relationship with Christ, and you don't know very much about the Bible, the Holy Spirit, or anything else. You don't even know much about church. I am glad that you're here. If you're in the second group of people, I'm a believer, but that's kind of about it. I know I've got eternal life, but I'm not having life abundant that Jesus talked about. I know that I'm living below what I should be. I know I'm not what I should be. I know where I'm not needing to, where I don't need to be. I'm glad you're here too because we're in a series we're calling Holy Who. Because even though we know the words the Holy Spirit, I'm convinced most believers know very little about the Holy Spirit, and most unbelievers know probably nothing about the Holy Spirit.
We're gonna learn a lot in this series. We're gonna learn for example, that you cannot come to know Jesus apart from the Holy Spirit. The truth of the matter is, even if you're a believer, you can't even witness effectively apart from the Holy Spirit. We just got through worshiping the Lord. You can't even worship the way God deserves to be worshiped and the way God desires to be worshiped apart from the Holy Spirit. Many of you maybe serve in our church, but you can't even work effectively apart from the Holy Spirit. Now, if you are a follower of Jesus, but you'd be honest enough this morning to say pastor, I'll be honest. You're right, I know I'm falling far short of what the Christian life ought to be. I know that I'm not what a Christian ought to be. Here's the good news. There's a fast track way for you to get to where you wanna go.
There is a fast track way on you to get from where you are to where you know that God wants you to be and to know where you are supposed to be. And that fast track is simply to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Now, I wanna throw something up on the screen, and it's a bold statement, but I really believe it's true. You cannot live the Christian life fully unless you're filled with the Holy Spirit. You cannot live the Christian life fully unless you're filled with the Holy Spirit. Now, if you were here last week, we said last week that the Holy Spirit lives in every Christian at the point of belief. When you give you to Jesus, Jesus gives the Holy Spirit to you. He comes to live inside of you and comes to live his life through you. And we all know people like this. I guarantee you've had this experience if you're like me. You find yourself sometimes in the presence of a Christian, and you're not around them two or three minutes, and you just immediately know, there's just something different about this Christian.
This man or this woman is living their life on a higher level than I am. You just sense they're close to God. You just sense, man, this guy's, this lady, this man is filled with God's presence and filled with God's power. When we went to visit with Dr. Billy Graham in his home several years ago, Theresa will vouch for this. He was sitting in his easy chair up on his Monterey cabin, and I was sitting right next to him. We weren't with him two or three minutes. We knew we were in the presence of God. We knew this was a man that really was filled with the spirit of God. This was a man that didn't just have the presence of the spirit of God, he had the power of the spirit of God. You say, well, yeah but that's Billy Graham. Well, here's the good news. The filling of the Holy Spirit's not just for Billy Graham. The filling of the Holy Spirit is not just for so-called spiritual superstars. You are going to see today, it is for every believer.
Now you say, well how do you know that? I know that because of one thing that one man wrote to a church in Ephesus 2000 years ago. If you brought a copy of God's word, I want you to turn to a book called Ephesians or do you got a smartphone or an iPad, Whatever it is you use, I want you to turn to a book called Ephesians. It's in the New Testament. Go to the gospels and go about four or five books to the right. You'll hit the book of Ephesians. I want you to go to Ephesians chapter five. There was a man that wrote just five words. I'm gonna share with you today. He wrote five words. And this was a man who, had you known that man, you would have said he would have been the least likely man, not only ever write a book in the Bible, ever to come to know Jesus. But not only came to know Jesus, he was not only brought to Jesus by the Holy Spirit. He lived the rest of his life filled with the spirit of God.
Now as a backdrop to everything I'm gonna say to you this morning, because I'm gonna say some things gonna make some of you maybe a little bit uncomfortable. I wanna put something up on the screen, and I want this, I want you to let this be kinda what you keep in the back of your mind for the rest of this message today, all right? I absolutely am convinced that the average Christian is so subnormal that when he becomes normal everybody thinks he's abnormal. I do. I believe that the average Christian is so subnormal that when he becomes normal everybody thinks he is abnormal. And let me tell you why I believe that. I believe that the spirit filled life is normal Christianity. I believe that's just what God expects of every believer, not just to the seminary graduate, the PhD, the pastor, the preacher, or anybody else. That's God's expectation for every true believer. It's what every believer ought to want to have, what every believer can have.
If you're a follower of Jesus, if you really are a follower of Jesus, there's got to be something in you that says, I do wanna be consistently, continuously, conspicuously, constantly filled with the Holy Spirit of God. You say, well, hey, how do I do that? Well in Ephesians five, we're gonna learn how. Here's what Paul tells us. Number one, Paul says, I must seek the filling all the spirit. Let's go back one slide, guys, if we can. If you can't, don't worry about it. I must seek the filling of the Holy Spirit. That's the first thing we learn, all right. Now, listen what we read in verse 18. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery, Paul says. Instead be filled with the spirit. Five short words. Listen, be filled with the spirit. Five short words. Yet unbelievably powerfully filled words. For example, the verb there to be filled is in the imperative mood, in the Greek language. In other words, this is not a suggestion. It's not a request. It's not even a good idea. This is a command. Paul says to every one of us who claim to know Jesus, you are commanded by the God who made you to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
So if you're trying to live the Christian life apart from the Holy Spirit, it's not just a mistake, it's not just bad judgment, it is a sin. You are disobeying a direct command of the Holy Spirit. And by the way, it is the will of God for every believer to be filled the Holy Spirit. You say, well, how do you know that? Well, let's don't take this verse out of context. Go back one verse and let's look at what Paul wrote just one verse before this one. He says, therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. We're here for one purpose. You were put on this earth for one purpose. You know what that purpose is? To understand the will of God, to know the will of God, and do the will of God. If you're not doing that, you're wasting your life. You're just taking up breath, taking up space, and taking up air.
We were all put here, not only just to know the God that made us, and the God that loves us, and the God that wants to know us. He says, look, I've got a will for your life. I've got a plan for your life. I want you to understand what that will is, I want you to know what that will is, and I want you to do what that will is, and to do anything apart from that is just a wasted life. So the question is, if it is God's will for me to be filled with the spirit, how do I do that? We'll remember, I told you last week, every believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. We said last week that when you give your life to Jesus, he gives the Holy Spirit to you, but then the very next thing he says is be filled with the spirit. In other words, Paul said, there's a problem. The Holy Spirit is resident in every believer, but he's not president over every believer.
You see, what sometimes we fail to understand is this. This is for everybody. When he says here, be filled, another thing you wouldn't see in the Greek language there, the verb there to be filled is plural in number. In other words, literally translated, here's what Paul wrote. He didn't say you individually be filled. That's not what it says in the Greek language. Here's what it says. Y'all be filled with the Holy Spirit. Paul was from Southern Israel, okay? He said, y'all be filled with the Holy Spirit. You all should be filled. Not just a pastor, not just a TV religious superstar, not just a seminary graduate. He said the spirit filled life is for everybody. And oh, by the way, it doesn't matter whether you've been a Christian five days or five years. That's irrelevant. If you are a believer, you are to be filled with the spirit. And by the way, it's also in the present tense. And in the Greek language that knows continuous action. That's why Paul didn't say, get filled with the Holy Spirit. He said, be filled with the Holy Spirit.
See, the question that I'm asking every one of us in this room right now who are believers, and all of you guys who are listening out there, if you're a believer, here's the question I'm asking you. I'm not asking you, have you ever been filled with the Holy Spirit? I'm not asking that. I'm not even asking you, have you recently been filled with the Holy Spirit? I'm not asking that. The question I'm asking is, are you right now filled with the Holy Spirit? And you know why I'm asking that question? Because yesterday's filling won't cut it today. You may say, well, pastor, I was filled yesterday. Well, yesterday he's gone. What about today? Today's filling won't carry over until tomorrow. When I woke up this morning, the two things when I wake, every morning when I wake up, there are two things I say the Lord right off the bat. Lord, I love you, and Lord do not even let me get out of this bed without filling me with the Holy Spirit. I want my life before I even walk out of my bedroom to be filled with the spirit because there's not an automatic reset on your heart.
You've got to continuously choose on a daily basis whether or not you're gonna be filled by the spirit and controlled by the spirit, or controlled and filled by something else. So let me put it to you this way. You don't choose for the Holy Spirit to live in you. Once you give your life to Jesus, he moves in. However, you do choose whether to be led by the Holy Spirit. Because when you choose to follow Christ and you surrender your life to him, at that moment, he comes to live with you forever. But then after that, here's what the Holy Spirit is saying all the time. You want me to control you? Do you want me to fill you? Do you want me to take over you? How's this going to work? Because see the Holy Spirit doesn't share a seat. He doesn't room with anybody or anything. You can fill your heart with anything you wanna fill it with. Anything, it's your heart. It's really God's heart, but he gives you the freedom to choose. So you can fill your heart with anything you want to. However, you cannot fill your heart with the Holy Spirit and fill it with something else.
Now here's what I wanna promise you, And this is why a lot of you get frustrated in your Christian life. This is why a lot of you know you're living below your means. This is why a lot of you know, you wonder, why isn't my life different? My life's supposed to be different, but I'm kinda like everybody else. What is my problem? I can promise you this. If you are not filled with the Holy Spirit, I promise you, if you're a believer, then anything else that's filling your life is unfulfilling. If you're a believer, if anything other than the Holy Spirit is filling your heart and filling your life, it is very unfulfilling because the only way to be fulfilled as a Christian is to be filled full of the Holy Spirit, and you must seek the filling, or spirit filling moment-by-moment and day-by-day.
So the first question I wanna ask you is this. Are you seeking to be filled? Do you want to be filled? And let me, can I just be honest? This is not even in my notes. So I'm just kinda just get off on a little bit of a tangent here. Deep down you know what some of you are saying right now? Let's just be honest. I really don't wanna be filled with the spirit. You know why you don't? Cause you know, if I get filled with the spirit, that's going to change my giving habits. Yup, sure is. If I get filled with spirit, I'm going to start talking to people about Jesus. Yes you are. If I get filled with the Holy Spirit, I'm gonna have a hunger for the word of God, and I'm gonna have to set aside time. I wanna set aside time every day to read his word. Yup, that's right. If I get filled the Holy Spirit, I'm gonna have to give up being bitter towards somebody, and angry towards somebody, and upset and jealous over somebody because of what they'd done to me in the past. You're exactly right.
So let me just make a guarantee to you. Okay, this I will promise you. If you don't want to be filled with the Holy Spirit, you won't be. Cause he doesn't force himself on anybody. So the first step to being filled with the spirit is you've got to say, you know what? I don't care what it cost me. I won't care what price I have to pay. I don't care where it leads me. I want to be filled with the Holy Spirit. That's step one. Step two, I must submit to the filling of the Holy Spirit. Not enough just to seek it, you've got to submit to it. Now, I want to make sure again you understand something because one of the things I've learned as I prepared these messages was, James, if you're not careful, people get confused about the spirit, and I don't want that to happen. Paul even talks about that over and over. He kept talking about the Holy Spirit, spiritual gifts, cause the church kept getting confused.
I don't want you to be confused. Don't ever think that if you're not filled with the Holy Spirit, you don't have the Holy Spirit. I wanna say this again. Every Christian has the Holy Spirit. You don't have the Holy Spirit, you're not even a believer. So you have the Holy Spirit. He never leaves you empty, and he never leaves you at all. The problem is, if you're not filled with the Holy Spirit, it's not that you don't have the presence of the Holy Spirit. You don't have the power of the Holy Spirit. You can't walk in the Holy Spirit. You can't talk in the Holy Spirit. You can't live in the Holy Spirit. You don't ever have to ask the Holy Spirit to be with you. He never leaves you. When he comes in, he comes in to stay. We talked about that last week, but moment by moment you have to continuously submit to the power of the Holy Spirit.
I asked the folks at 9:15 this question. It's kind of rhetorical question cause I already know the answer and I could make it a statement. I'll go ahead and ask you this. Have you ever met anybody, and you didn't talk to them two minutes until you realized they were just absolutely full of themselves? You ever. I'm married to that guy, okay? Really, have you ever met somebody, and you're just, after two minutes, they're just full of themselves. Well, how did you know they were full of themselves? Because all they talked about was themselves, and all they thought about was themselves. And all they wanted you to talk about was themselves. And all they wanted you to think about was themselves. And all they wanted you to just focus on was themselves. Here's the problem. You cannot be full of the spirit, or you can be full of the spirit, or you can be full of you, but you can't be full of both. You can be full of the Holy Spirit or full of you, but you cannot be full of both.
And see, this is why Paul makes this real strange comparison. You notice this? Listen to this. He says, do not get drunk but be filled. That's kinda strange. He didn't say, don't steal but be filled, or don't lie but be filled, or don't kill but be filled. He says, don't get drunk but be filled. So he's obviously making this comparison, right, between being drunk and being filled with the spirit. And if you think about it, it's a very apt analogy because you can only be filled with the Holy Spirit if you're willing to submit to the power of the Holy Spirit with as much passion and as much desire as an alcoholic wants to submit to the power of alcohol. Because you know this, this is what happens if you drink. And by the way, just as an aside, if you drink, that's fine. I don't see in the Bible. I can't find where it's wrong to drink. Doesn't bother me if you drink. So if I ever walked into a restaurant and you're drinking, don't hide the beer, don't hide the wine, okay? Not a big deal. I'm not gonna come in and say, you're going to hell. Not gonna do that because I don't believe that, okay?
I just happen to, I just don't drink. That's just, I just never drink. That's just my own personal choice. But let me just tell you this. I've been around, I went to college, so I've seen my share of inebriated people, okay? I went to a fraternity rush one time for one hour. I said, I don't think I need this, okay? But I've been around a lot of drunk people, and I'll tell you what I've learned. When somebody is inebriated, and they're under the influence of alcohol, it's not just under the influence. They're under the control of alcohol. So you get to a point where, you know what you start doing? You do what the alcohol tells you to do. You know what you start saying? You say what the alcohol tells you to say. You all know this. The inebriated people get drunk, right? They just get so full of alcohol, and you know what happens? They start saying crude things, and lewd things, and profane things. And they say things they would never say if they were sober, but they're not sober. They're drunk.
And how many times have you heard someone, once they sober up, and you say, did you know you said this? You know you said that? They'll go, I said that? And you know what they'll say? That wasn't me. That was the alcohol talking. You know what? They're right. They're totally right. It was the alcohol talking. What happened? They got to a point where they were no longer consuming the alcohol, the alcohol was consuming them. And Paul says, that's exactly the kind of analogy I want you to think about when you're talking about being filled with the Holy Spirit. Now, listen, this is an easy question, so don't make it harder than it is. How does a person get drunk? Somebody tell me. Drinking. Good, good. You're with it today. That's great. All right, you get drunk by drinking. How do you stay drunk? You keep drinking, right? Okay, that's not hard.
Here's what Paul is saying. The same way an alcohol gets, an alcoholic or a drunk gets drunk, and the same way he stays drunk, it's the same way you get filled with the Holy Spirit and you stay filled with the Holy Spirit. You ought to have such a thirst to be controlled by the spirit of God that you say, Holy Spirit I cannot get enough of you. You cannot ever have enough of me. I want you to have all of me that there is. I wanna be under the direct influence of the Holy Spirit. See, listen, don't tell the police I said what I'm about to tell you. If you're a Christian, you ought to be guilty of DUI all the time. You ought to be guilty of driving under his influence, driving under his power, driving under his control. That's what Paul was saying. Paul was saying, it means absolute control. By the way, the term to be filled as a sailor term. It's a nautical. It's a Naval term. And it refers to the filling of a ship sails by the wind that results in that ship going wherever the wind blows it, wherever it wants it to go.
And what Paul was saying to these Ephesians believers was, and what he's saying to us is, here's the way it works. Pretend your heart is like a sailboat. You ought to set your sails to the wind of the Holy Spirit. And every day when you get up, you ought to say, Holy Spirit of God, you just blow the ship of my life wherever you want it to go. If you wanna blow it through a storm, let's go through a storm. If you wanna blow it to the beach, let's go to the beach. If you want to blow it into my office, you blow it into my office. Wherever you want to take me, that's where I want to go. So when you submit to the Holy Spirit, here's what you're really saying. And I just want to make sure you understand what you're getting into. When you submit to the Holy Spirit, you're saying, Holy Spirit, I want you to take me wherever you want me to go. Holy Spirit, I want you to lead me to do whatever you want me to do. And Holy Spirit, I want you to make me whatever you want me to be.
So think about it like this. Your life is like an empty glove. If you can see this glove, we spare no expense in our church. But your life is kinda like an empty glove. Until you've put your hand in that glove, that glove is useless, that glove is powerless, that glove cannot do anything on its own whatsoever. The only time that glove has any use is when somebody's hand goes in it. Now watch this. This is your life. Every morning when you get out of your bed, one of two hands is gonna go in that glove. Your hand or God's. Every morning, either your hand's gonna go into that glove or God's hand. But here's the difference. Here's the key. That glove is gonna do what that hand tells it to do. That glove is going to follow wherever that hand leads it to go. And what the spirit filled life is is when every day you give the glove of your life to the Lord and you say, Lord, I am totally empty. Fill me, Holy Spirit of God. You take the glove of my hand wherever you want it to go. You do with the glove of my hand whatever you want me to do. Paul says that must happen. You've got to submit to the filling of the Holy Spirit.
Now, here's the last thing. We're done. And this makes sense. If you seek the filling of the Holy Spirit, and if you submit to the filling of the Holy Spirit, then I must show the filling of the Holy Spirit. In other words, this ought to make sense. If you're filled with the spirit, two people ought to know it, you and somebody else. Other people would be able to look and say, man this person, this person's really filled with the spirit. So whenever you talk about being filled with the Holy Spirit, the question always comes up, and I know now what you're asking. You ought to be asking two good questions, and they're both great questions. Hey, number one, so how do you really get this? How do you really get filled with the Holy Spirit? I already told you part of that. And then number two, how will you know if you are filled? I mean, what are the marks of the spirit filled life?
Well, Paul does us a favor. Paul says, let me just give you a few. I don't think they're exhaustive, but Paul says would you like to know some things that'll be true about you, things that people will be able to see on the outside of you, that we'll be able to tell them and tell you that you are indeed filled with the Holy Spirit? And what I'm about to show you, frankly, is gonna really surprise you. It's gonna shock you. Because if I'd have said to you, so what do you think are some things Paul would say to be true about you, that if you're filled the Holy Spirit, what do you think he would say is true? You would not ever come up with the very first thing he told. I promise you never thought about this. He says, okay, let's just talk about this. If you're a spirit filled Christian, he said, first of all you will be joyful. You'll be joyful.
Listen what he says in verse 19, very next verse. Speaking, now this is interesting. Speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord. Now talk about a surprise. Paul says, the first mark of being filled with the Holy Spirit, it's not mountain moving faith, it's not being a dynamic speaker, it's not some kind of a sign like speaking in tongues. Paul said, you know one of the marks of being filled with the Holy Spirit, you will have a heart so full of God, you just wanna worship the Lord. There's just a song in your heart. Now let me just stop right here. I know what some of you are right now. Trust me. I can't sing. People know that. Trust me. By the way, I can't sing. I'm not a good singer. You say, I just don't sing very well. And you know what's even worse for some of you? Let's be honest.
You say, I don't even like to sing. I just don't like to sing. Now, here's what Paul said. He said, if you're filled with the Holy Spirit, you'll just sing. You won't have to sing. You won't feel like you. It's just something you will do. There'll be a song in your heart. But here's what I want you to see so interesting. Paul says, we will be speaking to one another. Now, what did he mean by that? You would of thought he would have said, we'll be singing to one another. He said, no, you'll be speaking to one another. You know what Paul, you know why when you worship together we ought to all to all sing or give it a shot. Because Paul says, when we're singing we're actually telling the people around us, I love God, and I wanna worship this God, and I love you because you're part of the family of God, and God loves you. And I'm so grateful that God loves us. And when you sing, you're actually speaking a message. You're not just singing. You're actually talking about your faith.
We're not talking about your ability to sing here. We're talking about your willingness to sing. Because when you come, and you gather with believers, and you love God like everybody else, you want everybody else to know that you love God. And if you love everybody else like you ought to love everybody else, you want everybody else to know that you do love everybody else. And you want to express to God and to your believers your love for both of them. You ever see anybody walking down the street and they're whistling or they're kind of humming a tune? Or one of my favorite things, have you ever been on the, stop at a red light, and somebody over in the car next to you, and they're having their own disco party? They're totally oblivious to the world. I mean, they're out there and they're just moving, and they're dancing, and they're singing in there.
And you're dying to know what is the song they're listening? You ever had that? I mean, I've done it, right? I mean, certain songs, I do it, unfortunately. You know what you can already know about that person? I don't have to know their name, their address. I know what is true of them at that moment in their life. They're happy. They're full of joy. There's a song in their heart. Listen to me, if secular music can do that for an unbeliever, how much more should spiritual worship do that for a believer? How much more should that do for us? We walk in here. How can you not sing if you're filled with the Holy Spirit? You will be joyful. There'll be a song in your soul. There'll be a melody in your heart. What's this? Paul said, you know another mark that'll be true of you if you're filled with the Holy Spirit? Not only will you be joyful, you'll be thankful. Listen to what he says in verse 20. He said, you will always be giving thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Now I'll guarantee one thing we'll all say about that. You can't do that apart from the Holy Spirit. You just cannot give thanks for everything and all things apart from the Holy Spirit. But Paul says, if you are filled with the spirit, you will not be grumbly hateful. You'll be humbly grateful. You will be a thankful person, and you'll find something in every situation to give thanks for. And I know that's somewhat hard to believe, and I know it sounds like it's impossible. And yet this is what Paul said. If you're filled with the spirit, practically in every situation, you can find something to be thankful for. I love this story. I don't know if I've ever told you this or not, but I heard about this young. The reason I loved it is because it reminds me of me and my first church.
There was this pastor, a very young pastor, and he was passing his first church. And there was this one lady in the church, and she was so negative. She was so critical. I mean, she could see a a dark lining in every silver cloud. I mean, she was just so negative. And after every service there were some kind of a complaint. The music was too loud. The sermon was too long. The building is too cold. The people are too mean. I mean, something was wrong every service. And I mean, it got to the point, after every service, he just got a knot in his gut just to see this lady coming. He'd just, he'd break out into a sweat, and he didn't know what to do. Well his dad was a pastor, very godly man, very spirit filled man.
So he called his dad up one day, and he said, "Dad, man, I got a problem. I need you to help me". His dad said, "Well, son, what is it"? He said, "Well". He said, "I've got this woman in my church". And he said, "She's just so critical, so negative. She's making my life miserable. You know, Dad, you're a spirit filled man of God, and you've always taught me that if I'm spirit filled I'll be thankful in all things, but I'm gonna tell you, when it comes to this lady, I just can't get there. I just can't get there. Can you help me"? His dad said, "Well, you know, son, it just so happens, I'm not preaching next Sunday". He says, "How about I come down to your church and let me meet this lady after the service". And he said, "Well, that'd be fine".
So the man, the dad came down, and sat on the very front row, and son through preaching. He's walked off the platform. Service is over. Here comes this lady. He saw her. He's making a B-line to his son. She gets in his face. She's letting him have it about something. And he kinda sidles over there, and he says, "Excuse me, ma'am". He said, "What is your name"? And she said, "Mrs. Smith". Every lady's named Mrs. Smith, right? Mrs. Smith. He said, "You know," he said, "You have such a passion for your church. You care so much about your church, and you want things to be just right in the church". She said, "Well, yes, I do". And he said, "Well, could we just kneel down? Let me just say a prayer of thanksgiving". And she said, "Really"? He said, "Oh yeah, would you mind doing that"? And she said, "Well, yes, that would be wonderful". She was so proud. And so they knelt down, and he puts his arm on her shoulder, and he says, "Oh God, thank you that this woman is not my wife".
Now, if you're filled with the spirit you can give thanks in all things. There's always something you can find to be thankful for. So if you're filled with the spirit, how do you know it? You'll be joyful. There'll be a song in your heart. You'll, you'll be thankful in all things. There'll be something to say, Lord, thank you. But then Paul said, you'll be graceful. He says, in verse 21, now watch this. He said, you will submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Let me tell you one thing I've always seen. I've never ever. I've pastored five churches. I've never dealt with a spirit filled believer that had any trouble submitting to the authority of the pastor in the church. Never. They just get it. They understand. It's not that I lord it over people. I've been your pastor a long time. I don't lord it over anybody. I don't try to. Don't have to. But I've never found a spirit filled believer this was not willing.
Listen, if you're spirit filled, if you're a spirit filled son or a daughter, if you're really spirit filled as a son or a daughter, you will have no issue submitting to the authority of your parents. If you're a spirit filled team, a football player, basketball player, you have no problem submitting to the authority of your coach. If you're a spirit filled student, you have no authority, you have no problem submitting the authority of your teacher or your principal. If you're a spirit filled employee, you have no problem submitting to the authority of your boss or your supervisor. When you're spirit filled, you just don't mind submitting to other people when you know they deserve for you to submit to them. You just don't have a problem with that authority.
Theresa and I, as you know, celebrated our 40th anniversary, and people now ask us. We'll go into a restaurant. We go to a restaurant. In fact, we were celebrating our anniversary, and somebody asked us, I told 'em we were celebrating a special occasion. They said, what are you celebrating? We're celebrating our 40th anniversary. Wow, people go into shock. Wow, there are people still married 40 years? And I said, well, we've been married 40 years. And so people every now and then will say, man, I just gotta ask you a question. I mean, are you happily married? And I'm telling you, I am more happily married today to that woman right there that I've ever been married in my life, more in love with her than I've ever been in my life. I just can't even imagine life without her. I just really can't. We don't have a perfect marriage cause you know she's not perfect, but we have a great marriage.
Okay, we have a great marriage. We have a very happy marriage. And so every now and then somebody will ask me the question. They'll say, so tell me what is the secret to having a happy marriage? And I was telling somebody one time, I said, you know. I said, we have learned this little principle that's called mutual submission. And that's how we've been so happy. They said, well, what do you mutual submission? I said, all right. I said, let me tell you how it works. I said, I sat Theresa down just before we got married. I sat Theresa down. I said, let me tell you how our marriage is gonna work. I'm going to make every major decision in our marriage. And you're gonna submit to my authority. You're gonna make every minor decision in our marriage, I'm going to submit to your authority. She looked at me, sweet little smile. She said, okay. Then they said, wow, how'd that work out for you? I said, it's amazing. 40 years of marriage, we've never made a major decision. It's just incredible. That's just how it worked out.
Now in all seriousness, there are areas in our marriage where I realized she's better than I am. She's wiser than I am. She knows more. She's she's better at it. I realized after being not married very long. She's a better money manager than I am. And so we, I just told her early on. I said, look you're gonna manage the finances. You're gonna run the household. You're gonna make all the major purchases for the home. And she knows I'll willingly, gladly submit to her wisdom and to her counsel. She reciprocates, all right? When I say, look I'm going to see Georgia play six Saturdays a year. I'm gonna be out of the house all day on Saturday. For some reason, she says, I lovingly submit to your leadership. So it kind of all works out. The point is, when you are filled with the Holy Spirit, you're always seeing how you can serve the other person, and now you can submit to the other person.
Now, I know it's rude to ask personal questions. I know that cause I'm going to wrap this up. I know it's rude. I know I shouldn't do it. There's certain questions you just don't ask, right? You don't go up to a woman and say, how much do you weigh? You don't do that. Or how old are you? Or is that a wig, or do you color your hair? You just, there's just certain questions you don't ask. Right? You don't ever go up to someone and say something like, did your plastic surgery not work out, or do you always look like that? You just don't do that, right? But I wanna wrap this up by asking you a very personal question. Now here's the question. Is the Holy Spirit filling you right now? I mean, this moment, while I'm up here talking to you, you're out there listening to me, is the Holy Spirit filling you right now?
Now there are only three answers you can give to that question. Yes, no, I don't know. Yes, I am. No, I'm not. I don't know whether I am or not. All right, let me help you. If you are not a believer, if you've never become a follower of Jesus, you not only are not filled with the Holy Spirit, you don't even have the Holy Spirit, and you need the Holy Spirit. On the other hand, if you are a believer, but you know there's sin in your life, there's unconfessed sin, there's unrepented of sin. You know there are things you're doing right now you shouldn't be doing, or you know you're not doing things that you should be doing. You are not filled with the Holy Spirit, but here's the good news. Everybody in this room, everybody, no exceptions, you can walk out of this building, get in your car, drive home, and know beyond a shadow of a doubt you are filled with the Holy Spirit. You say, okay, pastor, how can I do that? You just pray one of two things to God.
So let's say you're not a believer. Let's say you're not a follower of Jesus. If you have never come to Christ but you're willing to do one simple thing, if you're willing to say to this Jesus who was born, and lived, and died on a cross, and came back from the dead not just to save us, not just to make sure we go to heaven, but to give us the Holy Spirit, not just so we can live in heaven later, but live the life we ought to be living right now, if you would say to that Jesus, I want you, I need you, I'm a sinner, I need a savior, you're that savior, become my savior, I trust you, I give you my life, at that moment, like that, he will give you the fullness of the Holy Spirit, and you can walk out filled with God's spirit.
Now you say, well, I'm a believer. I'm already a believer, and I know I'm not filled, and I wanna be. Then if you would just simply say something like this. Lord, I don't care what it costs me. I don't care how painful it might be. If you will cleanse me of anything that's filling me, anything that's taking the place of the Holy Spirit, if you'll just get it out of me right now, and as you do, fill me with your Holy Spirit, this moment I receive and believe by faith the filling of the Holy Spirit, you will be filled. Because the Holy Spirit, listen, the Holy Spirit can be in you but not over you. So here's the issue as we wrap this up. The issue is not how much of the Holy Spirit do you have. The issue is how much of you does the Holy Spirit have. He's resident in every believer. He wants to be president over every believer. And that can happen when you are filled with the Holy Spirit.
So I'll close with this and I'm done. We're gonna say amen, pray, and go. I've been a believer since I was nine years old. I've not always been a spirit filled believer since I was nine years old, and I'm not telling you I'm filled every moment of every day cause I realize I sin like everybody else, but I'll tell you this. The older I get as a believer and the more I grow as a believer, the more I finally understand. The only way to live the Christian life the way it was meant to be lived is to be filled with the Holy Spirit because there is no joy, there is no peace, there is no excitement, there is no thrill like knowing that I'm not walking in the flesh, I'm walking in the spirit. I'm not living in the flesh. I'm living in the spirit. And the same power of his Holy Spirit of God that filled the man that wrote those words are the same power the Holy Spirit wants to fill this guy every day of his life. I've lived on both levels, and I'm telling you, the spirit filled life is first class Christianity.