Filled with the Spirit


Filled with the Spirit

February 13th, 1966 @ 10:50 AM

Ephesians 5:18

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
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Dr. W. A. Criswell

Ephesians 5:18

2-13-66     10:50 a.m.


And proud to say this is the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and you who look on television and listen on radio are sharing the services with a vast throng in God’s house this morning. Now, the title of the sermon this morning is Filled with the Holy Spirit.  This is the message toward which we have been preparing and building for a long time.  There are several ways that a sermon can be presented.  A sermon can be a homily: it can take a verse at a time and comment on it.  A sermon can be textual: it can take a text and expound on the text.  It can be an exposition, an expositional sermon: take a passage and seek to tell the people what that passage means for us, applied to us.  A sermon can be topical, like “How to Win Souls for Jesus,” or “The Church,” or “The Life that is to Come,” or “The Destiny of the Nation,” or “The Triumph of the People of God.”  A sermon can be topical.  But once in a great while—and I don’t know whether many of you in this congregation ever heard a sermon like it—once in a great while, a sermon can be exegetical; it can be an exegesis.  That is, the preacher will take the passage in the Bible, and believing—and he’d have to believe this to do it—and believing that the words that are used are theopneustos, inspired of God, God-breathed, and exegete, that is, take the words and find their meaning.  What is it God has said?  Not putting words in God’s mouth; that would be eisegesis, making God say what we want Him to say.  But exegesis is taking God’s words—believing that they are inspired [2 Timothy 3:16], that this word was used and not some other word—taking God’s words and seeing the meaning of what God said.  So that shall be the message this morning.  It is an exegesis of Ephesians 5:18: “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.”

There are several Greek words of interesting meaning that mean “to fill.”  The Greeks in the New Testament day had a word for “fill” that referred to one who was hungry and had eaten and was filled.  The Greek word is chortazō; chortazō, to be hungry and to be filled, and the word is used just for that and not any other way.  In the fifth chapter of Matthew the Lord says, “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled, chortazō, filled” [Matthew 5:6].  In the fourteenth chapter of the First Gospel, Matthew describes the feeding of the five thousand, who after they had eaten of the five loaves and two fishes were “filled,” their hunger satiated [Matthew 14:20].  In the sixteenth chapter of the Gospel of Luke, the Lord tells the story of the poor man Lazarus who was laid at the rich man’s door, desiring to be “filled” with the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table [Luke 16:21].  In the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John, the Lord says to the multitude that followed Him around the lake to the synagogue at Capernaum, “Verily I say unto you, Ye seek Me, not because you saw the miracles, the power of God, but because you ate of the loaves, and were filled, chortazō” [John 6:26].  Wherever that word is used it applies to being filled, having been hungry.

James, in the second chapter, for example, will say about faith and works, “Faith without works is dead [James 2:17].  For if you say to a man who is hungry and cold, Go in peace, be warmed and filled, he is still hungry” [James 2:15-16].  In the nineteenth chapter and the last verse of the Book of the Revelation, at the end of the battle of Armageddon the announcement is made for all of the birds and fowls of the air to come and to eat the flesh of the slain in battle, and be “filled” [Revelation 19:17,21].  That’s the only way the word is used.

Now there is a second word that the Greeks use: plethō, a shortened form of pimplēmi.  And that is a word that refers to the factual filling something with something, and has no other particular significance.  Plethō is to fill a thing with something; just a factual act of filling.

  • In the fourth chapter of the Book of Luke, the story of our Lord’s visit to Nazareth, Luke says that the townspeople of Nazareth, as they listened to the sermon, were “filled with anger” [Luke 4:28].
  • The next chapter, chapter 5, Luke describes the wonderful miracle of the draught of fishes, and he says there were so many fish caught, when they were placed in the two little boats they were “filled” and began to sink [Luke 5:7].
  • In the nineteenth chapter of the Gospel of John, when the Lord was dying, and said, “I thirst,” someone ran and “filled” a sponge with vinegar, and gave it to the Lord to drink [John 19:28-29]; the factual act of filling.
  • In the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Acts, in the riot over Diana the goddess of the Ephesians, Luke writes again, “The city was filled with confusion” [Acts 19:29].

Now that factual word “filled,” plethō, is the one that is uniformly used with regard to being filled by the Holy Spirit.

  • In the first chapter of Luke, the father of John the Baptist, Zacharias, [is told] that the little child will be “filled” with the Holy Spirit from his birth [Luke 1:15].
  • In the same chapter, Elizabeth is described as being “filled” with the Holy Spirit [Luke 1:41].

When we turn to the Book of Acts, all of those stories of the visitation of the presence and power of God from heaven are called “fillings”; that plain, simple, factual word plethō.

  • At Pentecost the disciples were all filled, plethō, with the Holy Spirit [Acts 2:4].
  • And Simon Peter, filled with the Spirit [Acts 4:8].
  • And Stephen, full of the Spirit [Acts 7:55].
  • And the apostle Paul on the first missionary journey, filled with the Spirit [Acts 13:9].

That’s the word plethō, which means a simple filling; fill something with something.

Then there is another word, and if you’ll look at Thayer’s Greek New Testament, Greek Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, you will find a long discussion concerning this word: pleroō, the word used here.  The other words translated “filled” will have just a brief discussion, but pleroō will have a long discussion in Thayer’s Lexicon of the Greek New Testament.  This word pleroō, when it is applied to prophecies or promises, refers to their accomplishment, their fulfillment.  And almost inevitably it is translated like that.  As Matthew will write, “All of this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was written by the prophet, saying,” and then whatever the prophecy was: “A virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel” [Matthew 1:22-23]Pleroō—a promise made, a prophecy delivered, and the accomplishment of it, the bringing of it to pass is pleroō, “fulfillment.”

Another way that word pleroō is used is in reference to a ministry or a work that a man might receive from God.  He pleroō when he accomplishes that ministry.  In the twelfth chapter of the Book of Acts, Paul and Barnabas were sent down to Jerusalem to bring a gift to the poor saints in Judea [Acts 11:29-30].  Then the last verse says, “And they returned to Antioch, having pleroō, fulfilled their ministry” [Acts 12:25]; they completed it, brought it to pass, accomplished it.  In the fourteenth chapter of the Book of Acts, when Paul and Barnabas were sent on their first missionary journey, in those last verses they returned, having pleroō, fulfilled the mission upon which God had sent them [Acts 14:26].  In Paul’s letter to the church at Colosse, he says to the Colossians, “And say to Archippus, your pastor, say to Archippus, pleroō, the ministry that you have received from the Lord; fulfill the ministry, accomplish it, do it, the ministry you have received from the hands of God” [Colossians 4:17].

Now, when that word pleroō is applied to the Almighty, to the great God of the universe, it refers to the filling of the whole creation with the active presence and power of God.  For example, in the last verse of the first chapter of Ephesians, Paul writes of our Savior, that God gave Him to be the head of everything: “. . . all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church.”  He is our glory and the praise of our hope and expectation, “the church, which is His body, the fullness, the plērōma, the fullness of Him that filleth, pleroō, all in all” [Ephesians 1:22-23].  The great God of the universe fills the whole creation with His divine power and infinite and sublime presence.

Then the apostle Paul takes that same verb and applies it to the Lord Christ, who, “When He ascended up on high, took captivity captive.”  And “He that descended”—He was buried in the heart of the earth—“is the same also,” the same Lord Jesus, “that ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill, pleroō, all things” [Ephesians 4:8-10].  This is God’s mandate concerning the whole creation, that they will worship and bow down before Christ the Lord.

I am sometimes amused at the infinitesimal perception of some of these pseudoscientists who say, “We have sent a capsule a hundred miles above this earth, and we have found that there is no God, and no heaven, and no angels.”  A little minutia, a little speck, a hundred miles above the earth; how He that sitteth in the heavens must laugh! [Psalm 2:4].  For this great universe, that is but the footstool of the Lord God [Isaiah 66:1].  The first heaven is the one where the clouds are and the birds fly [Genesis 1:20]; the second heaven is the one where the starry universe is seen [Psalm 8:3], and the third heaven of heavens is the throne of God [Matthew 5:34].  And the Lord God established Jesus in that throne to fill the whole vast universe with His power and His presence [Revelation 3:21].

Then Paul applies that to us.  In the nineteenth verse of the third chapter of Ephesians, in the incomparable prayer, he prays that “We might know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God” [Ephesians 3:19].  Everything that God is and that God means and that God does is to be in us, at our fingertips—power without measure, illimitable [Matthew 19:26].  As the Lord God became a man, so man in Christ becomes like God [1 John 3:2].  And we are to be filled with all of the fullness of the Lord of heaven [Ephesians 3:19].

Now that is the word that Paul uses in the text: “Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled, pleroō, be filled with the Spirit” [Ephesians 5:18]; dominated by, directed by, filled by the power and the presence of God.  Now we shall take the word and look at it exegetically.  “Plerousthe en pneumati”: there’s that same phrase we found in 1 Corinthians 12:13, where Paul says, “En pneumati, in the Spirit, by the Spirit we are made a member, baptized into the body of Christ.”  Now, by the Spirit we are to be filled, plerousthe.  First, it is in the imperative mode; it is a mandate, it is a commandment [Ephesians 5:18].  There is never any commandment in the Bible for one of us to be baptized by the Spirit, or to be sealed by the Spirit, or to be indwelt by the Spirit, or to be anointed by the Spirit, but there is an imperative command and mandate that we be filled by the Spirit [Ephesians 5:18].

You see, a Christian can be fleshly and carnal and worldly.  Paul, in his nomenclature in the Greek New Testament, Paul will refer to a man as a trichotomy.  You will find that in 1 Corinthians 2 and 3 [1 Corinthians 2:12-16, 3:2-4].  A man has three parts [1 Thessalonians 5:23].  He is a somatikos man: soma, “body”; he has a physical frame.  A man is a psuchikos man: psuchē, “mind or feeling”; he is a sensuous man, he can will and he has feelings, emotions.  A man also is a pneumatikos man: pneuma, “spirit”; he is capable of fellowshipping with God.  Now Paul draws two distinctions here in this passage: he draws a distinction between the psuchikos man, the sensual man, the lost man, the unsaved man, and the pneumatikos man, the spiritual man, the man who is a Christian and devoted to the Lord.  He will say for the psuchikos man, the natural man, the man of the mind and the emotions and the will, the man lost in his natural state, “He receiveth not the things of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.  But the pneumatikos man, the spiritual man receives and knows all things that God reveals” [1 Corinthians 2:14-15].

Then he divides once again, he divides the pneumatikos man, the spiritual man, he divides the saved man who is given to Christ from a sarkikos man—sarks, “flesh”—writing to the church at Corinth, he says that they are babes in Christ [1 Corinthians 3:1-3]; they are sarkikoi anthropoi, they are fleshly Christians, they are carnal Christians.  So not only is there a difference between a lost man and a saved man, a psuchikos man and a pneumatikos man, but there is also a difference between a pneumatikos man, a man spiritually given to God, and a sarkikos man, a worldly and fleshly and carnal Christian.

That’s the point that Paul is driving straight into our souls.  In the fifth chapter of Galatians, in the sixteenth and seventeenth verses, he says, “The sarks, the flesh, wars against the pneuma, the Spirit; and the pneuma, the Spirit, wars against the sarks, the flesh: and these two are contrary one to the other” [Galatians 5:16-17].  And there is no Christian but that knows that civil war in his soul.  If you are a Christian, you fight, you war, you go to battle.  There’s a somebody on the inside of you that is full of every worldly compromise, and every lustful desire, and every false and vain ambition.  There is a life of sin and a seed of iniquity in all of us, and that wars against the Spirit of God that is in us that seeks to elevate us and lift us up and to present us holy and without blemish to the Lord [Ephesians 5:25-27].  That’s why Paul is saying to the Christian, “Plerousthe, mandated, God asks of us and commands us, that we be filled with the Spirit” [Ephesians 5:18]; not carnal, not fleshly, not compromise, but wholly given to the service and ministry of our Lord.

Look again. “Plerousthe en pneumati”: it is present tense.  It is not only imperative mode; it is present tense.  Now, to us, in the English, a tense is a time, and in our language we can’t speak without time.  Whenever you say a word, you have to put it in some kind of pigeonhole of time; it’s past, or past perfect, or present, or future, or future perfect.  You can’t do anything else in the English language.  But in the Greek language they did not have tenses as we think of tenses, time, but their verbs expressed kinds of action.  They had an aorist tense: a thing happened like a pinpoint.  Aorist: it happened.  Then they had what we call the present tense: the action is construed as enduring, as continuing, as being repeated, and that is the present tense of this word plerousthe: being filled continually with the Spirit [Ephesians 5:18].  Not one time, or just again, or just again, but over and over and over and over again; a continuous action.

If a man were able to give himself to God, yielded to God moment by moment, that moment by moment would he be filled with the presence of the Holy Spirit of the Lord.  And in our actual experiences, sometimes in those fillings there are great mountain peaks: a Kilimanjaro, the highest, greatest mountain in Africa, or a Fujiyama in Japan; one great peak, one great experience that stands above all others.  Most of us will not have such a great high experience.  Most of our experiences will be like a mountain range, with peak and peak and peak and peak, all somewhat of the same grandeur.  But if we are filled with the Spirit, there is not just one experience we can have with God, nor just two.  And my next message is going to be on: is there a second work of grace, is there a second blessing?  There’ll be a third one, and there’ll be a fourth one, there’ll be a fifth one, and we never get to a plateau in our spiritual lives where God has nothing left, nothing beyond.  However exalted we may be in spirit, whatever marvelous experience we may have in the Lord, whatever high elevation we may rise, God always has something yet and other and beside and greater for the child of God.  It is present tense: “Be ye being completely filled with the Spirit, on and on and on, to be filled again and again and again,” just as it is recorded here in the Book of the Acts.

Will you notice again, it is plural in number?  Plerousthe, plural: “You,” plural, “be filled with the Spirit” [Ephesians 5:18].  All of us, not just the pastor, not just the deacon, not just the dedicated layman like Dr. Bright, but all of God’s people are to be filled with the power and moving presence of the living Lord.  If you ever really study, you will find that the Book of Ephesians is an encyclical; it is a circular letter.  It was not written just to one church.  There are ancient manuscripts where “to Ephesus” is not in the manuscript.  Some of the ancient manuscripts will have “to Laodicea.”  Some of them are blank.  What Paul did, he wrote a letter to all of the Christians, and as the letter was presented to a church, the name of the church was put there in the salutation, and the one we have happened to be the letter that was delivered to the church at Ephesus, the capital of the Roman province of Asia.  But the letter is an encyclical: the letter is a general letter, and the letter is addressed to all people.  And there is no such a thing in the Bible as a demarcation in the witness, and the life, and the power, and the testimony of a layman and a preacher.  That’s a modern development.  All of us are witnesses.  All of us are saved to save others.  All of us are to be filled with the Spirit; plural number.

Will you notice again, it is passive voice: “But be filled, plerousthe,” passive voice, “be filled with the Spirit” [Ephesians 5:18].  By the word “passive voice” we mean that the action is on the subject.  In English, if you say, “He was carried,” that’s passive; the subject is being acted upon, he’s being carried, or he was swept away, or he was hurt, or he was crucified, or whatever you would say.  That’s passive voice.  Passive voice: the action is on the subject of the sentence.  And that’s passive voice here, “Plerousthe.”  You are being acted upon; that is, there is a domination, there is a direction, there is a power, there is a presence that directs your life from without.  It’s not something you are doing; it is something God is doing, and you become another person, and another creature, and another creation, and another somebody under the presence and power of this influence that comes into your life.

Then Paul illustrates that: “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is asōtia, asōtia,” translated here “in excess” [Ephesians 5:18].  That’s all right.  What the word actually means is “abandonment.”  Now, he’s not contrasting there drunk with wine and filled with the Spirit.  What he is doing—he is using a parallel, he is describing an illustration.  Here is a man under the influence of the spirits of alcohol, and here is a man under the influence of the Spirit of God; and he’s trying to bring to us a parallel.  They are outside themselves, abandonment, asōtia; they are somebody else, and under the influence of this something other, the man is different.  He acts different, he talks different, he is different; he becomes another personality.

I don’t suppose there’s anything more familiar to us than that; a man who is under the influence of the spirits of alcohol.  Here’s a fellow who is neat, and tidy, and immaculate, and he combs his hair, and he dresses, and he ties his tie, and he shines his shoes, and he’s just, oh so like Fauntleroy.  And then he gets under the influence of the spirits of alcohol, and his hair is disheveled, and his tie is awry, and his clothes look as though he had slept in them for a week.  He’s another man; he’s another personality.  Something has happened to him.  Same way about a man who may be shy and reticent, but he gets under the influence of liquor and he talks like a blue streak; you can hardly stop him.  There’s a fellow who never sang a note in his life, and he gets under the influence of liquor, and he sings at the top of his voice.  And a man may be reticent, and afraid, and timid, and filled with all kinds of complexes, and then he gets under the influence of the spirits of liquor, and he will attempt anything, do anything.  He’s another personality.

There were two drunks, and one of them said, “Watch me jump out the window and fly around the block and come back in.”  So after it was over, the other drunk, both of them sober now, went to the hospital, to see the first one who jumped out the window to fly around the block.  And the fellow in the hospital said to his friend, “Why didn’t you stop me?”  And his friend said, “Well, I’ll tell you why: I thought you could do it.”  That is a new personality, under the influence of the spirits of alcohol.

Now Paul is saying the same thing about a man under the influence, under the dominance of the Spirit of God.  He talks in a new way.  He has a new language.  He doesn’t say the same words.  He does in another way.  He doesn’t do the same thing.  He’s leading a new life, and he doesn’t dream, or think, or love, or follow the same things.  He’s a new personality.  He’s a new man.  He’s a new creation [2 Corinthians 5:17].  God has done something to that man:  he is filled, plerousthe, he is filled, he’s under the direction and dominated by the Spirit of God [Ephesians 5:18].

Now, just a little brief word, for we must hasten.  Our time is almost gone.  The longing of the Holy Spirit is to indwell us, to fill us, to sanctify us, to make us new creatures.  Did you ever wonder what this passage meant in James 4:5?  “The Spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy.”  Isn’t that an amazing passage?  “The Spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy.”  What does that mean?  The reason we don’t see its meaning in the King James text is because we are not familiar with that 1611[AD] Old English word translated here “lust,” lust.  To us, lust has an evil concupiscence.  In the very heart of it, to lust is to be vilely and criminally and sinfully desirous; lust.  But when this King James Version was translated, the word “lust” meant exactly what epipotheō meant.  Epipotheō meant “earnestly to desire,” and in 1611 [AD] when they translated it “The Spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth,” it meant exactly that in those days.  “The Spirit of God earnestly desires us, even unto envy.”  That is, when a man gives his mind to the world, the Holy Spirit envies the world.  “Ah,” the Spirit says, “that that mind might be dedicated to God” [James 4:5].

I have felt that a thousand times, as I have seen beautiful girls giving themselves to all of the voluptuous rewards of a cheap, tawdry recompense.  And when I see her, oh, what she could mean to God!  And I feel that way when I see a young man, so gifted and so able, and he trades his life for a mess of pottage.  What he could have done!  I envy for God; earnestly desiring.

That’s what it says here:  The Spirit of God that dwells in us earnestly desires, even to envy [James 4:5], that God had you; your mind, and your hand, and your genius, and your gifts, and that they were dedicated to the glorious cause of our Savior.  As Galatians 2:20 avows, and I nearly named this sermon that: “Not I, but Christ.  Not I, but Christ.”  And one who follows through in a dedication like that would always find himself yearning before God, agonizing before God, “O God, it is all of me and none of Thee, O God”; and then as we grow in grace, maybe it’d be, “Some of us, and some of Thee”; then as we stand, and pray, and kneel, and fall, and weep in the presence of God, maybe it would be, “Less of self, and more of Thee”; and maybe finally, in the goodness and grace of our Lord, it could be, “None of self, and all of Thee”: like a cup emptied of self, and God fills it; like our hands turning loose of everything in this world, and letting God fill our hands; like our hearts emptied of every selfish and vainglorious and carnal desire, and filled with all of the glorious goodness of God.  “Plerousthe, be ye filled with the Spirit” [Ephesians 5:18].

Lord, grant it to us.  Grant it to us as we dedicate hand, and heart, and life, and soul to Thee.  Grant it, Lord.  Grant it.

Now our time’s passed, and we must sing our song of appeal.  In this great throng in the balcony round, there are more than a thousand seats in that balcony.  In the throng in this balcony round, in the press of people on this lower floor; oh, I wish God would do it again this morning.  At the 8:15 service, God gave us a harvest from one side of this front to the other.  It was so precious and so blessed, family after family, youth after youth coming.  Does the Lord bid you here today?  Do you fight in your soul?  Let God wage that war with you.  He never lost a battle; He never will.  Trust God and come [Acts 16:30-31; Romans 10:9-10].  “Here’s my family.  We’re all coming.  This is my wife; these are our children.  All of us are coming.”  A couple you, one somebody you, a child, a youth, as the Spirit of Jesus shall press the appeal to your heart, make it now.  “Here I am, pastor, and here I come.”  On the first note of the first stanza, do it.  “By God’s grace, I will” [Ephesians 2:8].  And when we stand up, stand up coming.  Make it now, make it now, while we stand all, and sing.


Dr. W.
A. Criswell



I.          Greek use of words interesting,

A.  Chortazo
– to be hungry and to be filled(Matthew 5:6,
14:20, Luke 16:21, John 6:26, James 2:14-17, Revelation 19:21)

B.  Pletho
– to fill a thing with something; a factual act of filling(Luke 4:28, 5:7, John 19:28-29, Acts 19:29)

1.  Uniformly
used with regard to being filled by the Holy Spirit(Luke
1:15, 41, Acts 2:4, 4:8, 31, 9:17, 13:9)

C.  Pleroo
used in several ways

1.  Fulfillment
of prophecies, promises(Matthew 1:22-23, 2:14,
Acts 1:16)

2.  Fulfillment,
completion of a ministry or work given by God(Acts
12:25, 14:26, Colossians 4:17, Revelation 3:2)

3.  Applied
to the Almighty and to Christ(Ephesians 1:22-23,
3:19, 4:8-10)

4.  Applied
to us(Ephesians 5:18-19)

II.         Plerousthe

A.  Imperative
mode – we are commanded to be filled(Ephesians
5:18, 1 Corinthians 12:13)

      1.  Paul refers to
a man as a trichotomy(1 Corinthians 2, 3)

a.Distinction between natural
and spiritual man(1 Corinthians 2:14-15)

A man spiritually given to Godvs. worldly Christian(1
Corinthians 3:1-3)

The civil war in the soul(Galatians 5:16-17)

B.  Present tense – an
enduring, continuous action; repeated again and again

C.  Plural – a command addressed
to every Christian

      1.  Ephesians is a
circular letter, written to all churches

D.  Passive voice – the
subject is acted upon

      1.  Paul’s
illustration – a man “acted upon”, controlled by alcohol

a. Under the domination
of alcohol a man is outside himself

b. Under
influence of the Spirit he is a new man

III.        The longing of the Holy Spirit to
indwell, fill, and sanctify us

A.  He jealously desires
the whole of us(James 4:5)

B.  None of self, all of God(Galatians 2:20)