You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
– Galatians 5:13-18
“Paul began discussing the believer’s relationship with the Holy Spirit in terms of a walk. We are not sure why he departed from the filling terminology. Perhaps he thought it would be confusing to use the same word picture to describe two different concepts – indwelling and influencing. We can only speculate. The point is, other than Ephesians 5:18, Paul never used the filling model again to describe the believer’s ongoing relationship with the Holy Spirit.”
– Charles Stanley, The Wonderful Spirit Filled Life (emphasis the author’s)
In Galatians 5:16, the Apostle Paul says to walk by the Spirit. Let’s see. You walk by your best friend. Your best friend is not just a person, but an important person. This imagery of walking with the Holy Spirit fits in nicely with that concept.
In the English language, a similar word to ‘Spirit’ is spirits, the 100-proof kind of spirits. We can be ‘filled’ with spirits, alcohol, to a point. When they indwell you they often influence you as well, and not for the better. English is not the original language, but the comparison with what Charles Stanley was saying about the Apostle Paul’s use of words struck me when thinking of adding an “s” to the word. Of course, in adding the “s” and having an indwelling of ‘spirits’ is what Paul was talking about in the Scripture above. We would be engaging in the desires of the flesh. I’m not saying drinking alcohol is bad, just over-indulgence is gratifying the flesh and to some, a single drink is too much. Pastor Stanley’s reference to Ephesians 5:18 is a direct comparison to not being filled with alcohol but filled with the Spirit. So, maybe my mind has not wandered too far.
Another problem that people may have with the ‘filling’ terminology is in filling provides a mental image of something other than a person. Many fill multiple cups of coffee and drink it before they are functional in the morning. Coffee is a means to an end, not a person. Also, when drinking the coffee, how do you know when you have enough? Are you a quart low (four standard cups) first thing in the morning? Or do you need more? Is that too much? In thinking of the Holy Spirit, it would be dangerous to think of Him in such terms. We are indwelled by the Holy Spirit. All of Him. He is a person, just like the Father and the Son. Thinking of something that ‘fills’ leads to an image of pouring, in some people’s minds, which leads to having more or less of a fluid, rather than a person.
I am sure you might think of other mental images regarding the concept of ‘filling’, but my brain is nearly fried today.
But when we think of walking, my mind goes to Enoch. Genesis 5:21-24 states, “When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years. Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.” Now that is walking with God.
My wife and I are starting slowly on personal physical therapy, walking being the best exercise for open heart recovery. But that might have to wait a couple of days. There are new tires on the car. My wife’s first words were, “Road Trip!” Not too far, but far enough to see trees, lakes, and livestock that we have not been seeing every day for a few months. But when we are driving around or when we do start our walks, we will also talk. Once we get past family and extended family, we mostly talk about Jesus or the Holy Spirit. Even talking about family usually involves how Jesus would make things better.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.