Posted by: bellissimanh | January 29, 2009

Sailing, anyone?

One of the passages I’ve been studying is Ephesians 5, this verse in particular:

“And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit…” (Ephesians 5:18)

I shared with y’all how excited I was to catch the connection between “dissipation” and the Prodigal, and today I can’t wait to tell you what I learned about the second part of this verse, being “filled with the Spirit”.

Before getting into the really cool word pictures, let me get the technical stuff out of the way. The word here is “pleroo”, and it’s a present passive imperative. Huh?

Present tense – indicates that this is to be a continual practice… a lifestyle, rather than a one time thing. It indicates that we are not to rely on a past filling, nor live in expectation of a future filling, but can live only in present tense or continual filling.  

Imperative mood – this is not a suggestion, my friends… it’s a command!

Passive voice – this just means I’m the recipient of the action. I do not fill myself, but I allow the Holy Spirit to fill me.

The first description of this “filling” is that of sails being filled with wind. John Bunyan writes, “Seaman cannot create the wind, but they can hoist their sails to welcome it; neither can we create the breath of the Spirit, but are we to miss is when it comes through failure to keep our sails unfurled?” Don’t you just love that?


Second, “pleroo” can also convey the idea of permeation, like salt permeating meat to flavor and preserve it. This was kind of reinforcement for something I was meditating on last week — being the fragrance of Christ.

Lastly, it is the idea of being controlled or dominated by something or Someone. To be filled with the Spirit is to have Christ’s Word and the Holy Spirit be that which fills my heart and mind, and therefore controls me. John MacArthur gives us this picture:

“The Christian who is filled with the Holy Spirit can be compared to a glove. Until it is filled by a hand, a glove is powerless and useless. It is designed to do work, but it can do no work by itself. It works only as the hand controls and uses it. The glove’s only work is the hand’s work. It does not ask the hand to give it an assignment and then try to complete the assignment without the hand. Nor does it gloat or brag about what it is used to do, because it knows the hand deserves all the credit. A Christian can accomplish no more without being filled with the Holy Spirit than a glove can accomplish without being filled with a hand. Anything he manages to do is but wood, hay, and straw that amounts to nothing and will eventually be burned up (1Co 3:12, 13, 14, 15). Functioning in the flesh produces absolutely nothing of spiritual value.” [John MacArthur – Commentary on Ephesians]

Here’s what is perhaps the most challenging to me. In order to be filled with the Spirit, I have to be empty and yielded.  So what would a careful examination of my life reveal? Are there things taking up residence that crowd out the Spirit?

A sail being filled is what moves a vessel along the water. Am I moved by the Holy Spirit, or by my own selfish desires? Am I doing all I can to unfurl the sails and allow Him to breathe His life into mine?

Am I so filled with the Spirit that the fragrance of Christ permeates a room after I’ve left it? Do people walk away from an encounter with me thinking, “Wow… Jesus was all OVER that girl!” ?

What truly controls me? Am I serving my own agenda, or seeking God’s will for my life? Do I recognize that all the power comes from Him, and that without Him I’m nothing but an empty limp shell of a glove? If so, do I let others KNOW that I know that, or am I tempted to take credit myself?

And maybe this is the REAL test — would my family describe me as a wife and mother who is “filled with the Spirit”?

Thought provoking questions… tough ones. I’m not even close to being completely empty and yielded to Him… but oh, how I long to be!

There’s another interesting comparison that my study led me to… a connection to a “sister” passage, if you will. Another time. *s*



  1. Don’t you just LOVE word studies!!??


  2. “would my family describe me as a wife and mother who is “filled with the Spirit”? — that is the goal, but I dont think they can always say that about me…….but that is what I long for…….I want my boys to say that their mother influenced them MIGHTILY for Christ……

  3. Yes, being fulled with the Holy Spirit is beautifull, after being fulled with the Holy Spirit you know the differance in your prays, and how God talks to you while reading the bible and people see God through you. Always keep being fulled with the Holy Spirit, as we are in a spiritial battle.

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