Pastor and author Stuart Briscoe explored Paul’s unconventional analogy between drunkenness and being filled with the Spirit. From experiences in his younger days, he observed that when his fellow soldiers in the Royal Marine Commandos would go drinking, they would consume alcohol until it altered their thinking, changed their desires and motivations, and strongly influenced or even controlled their actions.
Being filled with the Holy Spirit alters our thinking, changes our desires and motivations, and strongly influences or even controls our actions—but unlike drinking excessive alcohol, the Spirit’s control brings glory to God. Living worthy of our calling, of the gospel, and of our salvation in Christ absolutely requires being filled with the Spirit.
A life of following Christ is put in terms of living wisely and “making the most of every opportunity” to share the gospel (vv. 15–16). The gospel is the highest form of wisdom, though to the world it appears foolishness (see 1 Cor. 1:18–25). True foolishness, though, is failing to comprehend what the Lord’s will is, while true wisdom means to understand and follow it (v. 17). For example, once we understand that we’ve been chosen by God from eternity past as part of His redemptive plan, we should strive to behave in a manner befitting our chosenness.
This is where being filled with the Spirit comes in (vv. 18–20). We could never live this way in our own strength. Thankfully, God has provided His strength through His Spirit. The phrase “filled with the Spirit” is in the present continuous tense, which means it happens constantly or on an ongoing basis. Whereas drunkenness leads to debauchery, being filled with the Spirit leads to worship, thankfulness, and praise to the Lord.
Wise and godly living takes attentiveness. Being careless or thoughtless leads to sin and selfishness. Too often we live on autopilot, making choices from mere habit. Does your typical day demonstrate the values you say you hold? Are your activities worthy of your calling? Are you daily seeking to be filled with the Spirit?