18 Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, 19 singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.
Ephesians 5:18-19 NLT
The first part of Ephesians 5:18, (Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life…”) is a no-brainer. We’ve all known and loved people who allow drunkenness to ruin their lives and the lives of their loved ones as well. Too much liquor over a short time, can at the very least, cause people to act foolishly, and at the very most, cause death, either from alcohol poisoning, or by drinking and driving. Drunkenness leads to a loss of self-control, and clouds one’s mind, leading to broken families, broken marriages and much pain, to oneself and to those who care about that person. This is a warning that all should heed.
… Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, 19 singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.
… Be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. Be filled with the Holy Spirit… What does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit and how do we get filled with the Holy Spirit? On the night before He was crucified, Jesus told His disciples how to be filled with the Holy Spirit…
15 “If you love Me, obey My commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, Who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive Him, because it isn’t looking for Him and doesn’t recognize Him. But you know Him, because He lives with you now and later will be in you. 18 No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. 19 Soon the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me. Since I live, you also will live. 20 When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in My Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you. 21 Those who accept My commandments and obey them are the ones who love Me. And because they love Me, My Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal Myself to each of them.”
John 14:15-21 NLT
Let’s examine this passage closely, and see what Jesus says about being filled with the Holy Spirit. The very first thing we must do, according to Jesus is to love Him and obey His commandments. Let’s ask ourselves, “Do I love Jesus?” If we do, we will obey His commandments. These aren’t my words or interpretation, they are the words of Jesus…
15 “If you love Me, obey My commandments.
John 14:15 NLT
Those are powerful words. Obedience isn’t popular these days. Perhaps obedience has never been popular, but it is absolutely necessary, especially if we claim to love Jesus. Do you love Jesus? If you do, obey Him. Do you hate Him? Then don’t obey Him. It’s just that simple. Those who truly love Jesus, obey Him. Jesus makes this very clear to us.
22 Judas (not Judas Iscariot, but the other disciple with that name) said to him, “Lord, why are You going to reveal Yourself only to us and not to the world at large?”
23 Jesus replied, “All who love Me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and We will come and make Our home with each of them. 24 Anyone who doesn’t love Me will not obey Me. And remember, My words are not My own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent Me. 25 I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. 26 But when the Father sends the Advocate as My representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—He will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.”
John 14:22-26 NLT
A lot of people say they love Jesus, but their lives tell another story. All who truly love Jesus will do what He says. Again, those aren’t my words. They are the words of Jesus. Anyone who doesn’t love Him, will not obey Him. These words force us to examine our own hearts. Do I obey Jesus? Or do I rebel against Him? What are Jesus’ commandments? An expert in religious law once asked Jesus this question:
36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”
37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
Matthew 22:36-40 NLT
Do we love the Lord, our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength? According to Jesus, this is the first and greatest command. Therefore, if we love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, we will obey His commandments, and that means that not only will we love Him, but we will love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
So, who is our neighbor? When He was asked that question, by an expert of religious law, Jesus answered by telling him the story of the good Samaritan, who showed mercy to an injured man, who normally would have been his enemy; while those who should have loved him and cared for him, left him to die. (See Luke 10:30-37) Therefore, according to Jesus, our enemies are our neighbors, and we must show them love and mercy.
So, let’s ask ourselves, “Do I really love Jesus? Do I truly want to be filled with the Holy Spirit?” If your answer to these questions is yes, then we must obey His commands. We must love our neighbor and our enemy, as we love ourselves…
43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For He gives His sunlight to both the evil and the good, and He sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. 48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Before we continue with our study of being filled with the Holy Spirit, let’s examine our own hearts. This command that Jesus gives us is not an easy command. It isn’t easy to obey this command to love our enemies.
I’ve heard many people preach and teach about loving your enemy, and I’ve heard a lot of false teaching about it, so I want to be sure that we truly understand Jesus’ command. The best example for knowing how to love our enemy comes from none other than Jesus. Let’s see how He handled His enemies, beginning with His betrayer, Judas Iscariot…
Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that His hour had come to leave this world and return to His Father. He had loved His disciples during His ministry on earth, and now He loved them to the very end. 2 It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had given Him authority over everything and that He had come from God and would return to God. 4 So He got up from the table, took off His robe, wrapped a towel around His waist, 5 and poured water into a basin. Then He began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel He had around Him.
John 13:1-5 NLT
Fully aware that Judas Iscariot had betrayed Him, Jesus still chose to lovingly wash his feet. Later, after the foot washing was done, Jesus spoke about His betrayer…
18 “I am not saying these things to all of you; I know the ones I have chosen. But this fulfills the Scripture that says, ‘The one who eats My food has turned against Me.’ 19 I tell you this beforehand, so that when it happens you will believe that I am the Messiah. 20 I tell you the truth, anyone who welcomes My messenger is welcoming Me, and anyone who welcomes Me is welcoming the Father who sent Me.”
21 Now Jesus was deeply troubled, and He exclaimed, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray Me!”
John 13:18-21 NLT
Think about what Jesus must have felt as He knelt down on His knees to wash Judas Iscariot’s feet, knowing that this man, whom He had loved and cared for, was His betrayer. What strength Jesus showed, in kneeling before him, and washing his feet, just as He had washed the feet of His other disciples. What kindness He showed Judas, by not revealing His betrayer’s identity to the other disciples…
22 The disciples looked at each other, wondering whom He could mean. 23 The disciple Jesus loved was sitting next to Jesus at the table. 24 Simon Peter motioned to him to ask, “Who’s He talking about?” 25 So that disciple leaned over to Jesus and asked, “Lord, who is it?”
26 Jesus responded, “It is the one to whom I give the bread I dip in the bowl.” And when He had dipped it, He gave it to Judas, son of Simon Iscariot. 27 When Judas had eaten the bread, Satan entered into him. Then Jesus told him, “Hurry and do what you’re going to do.” 28 None of the others at the table knew what Jesus meant. 29 Since Judas was their treasurer, some thought Jesus was telling him to go and pay for the food or to give some money to the poor. 30 So Judas left at once, going out into the night.
John 13:22-30 NLT
Whenever I read John 13, I can’t help but marvel at the great love Jesus showed to His betrayer. Although He knew very well that Judas was a thief (John 12:6), as well as His betrayer, Jesus treated Him with great lovingkindness and mercy. Just think about it, the closer you are to someone, the more painful the betrayal. Jesus loved His disciples like brothers, and this brother’s betrayal cost Jesus His life. Yet, even knowing this, Jesus didn’t shout his name out, so the other disciples would perhaps take care of Judas Iscariot on their own, and get rid of him, using any means necessary. Instead, Jesus lived what He taught. He lived a life of love and obedience.
What about you? Have you ever been betrayed? Have you been stolen from, lied to, used or abused? Do you love your abuser? Or do you hold on to your pain, hating those who have hurt you and betrayed you? Do you want to be filled with the Holy Spirit? Then choose to obey Jesus’ commandments, starting with His command to love…
Father, I pray that You would touch the heart of every person who reads these words, and that You would fill our hearts with Your love. Help us to love those who don’t love us. Help us to love those who love those who have harmed us. Help us to love others, just as You have loved us. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
Cheryl A. Showers