Thursday, June 9, 2016

Can You Lose the Holy Spirit?

Readings for the Day
Ecclesiastes 10-12, Psalm 94, Ephesians 5

Ephesians 5:18-20 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In Chapter 5, Paul turns to how the Ephesians should live their lives after being saved by grace. He warns them not to return to their previous way of life, which consisted of living according to their desires and the sinful nature. He warns them to not mimic the idolaters, swindlers and adulterers in the world, go for no one who is mastered by these things will inherit the things of the kingdom.

Then, Paul moves to how they can actually do the things Jesus taught and showed us. He says, "don't get drunk on wine which leads to debauchery (usually means some kind of immorality, but be filled with the Holy Spirit". Notice he is not prohibiting drinking wine, but getting drunk with wine. Too much of any good thing can be bad. Importantly he says instead, "be filled with the Spirit". What does this mean?

We all know that when we believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior and are baptized, we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit. So, what is Paul saying when he says, "Be filled with the Holy Spirit?" Can we lose the Holy Spirit? Can he leak out? While this is debated by some, I think the scripture teaches that we don't ever "lose the Spirit". Since we are born again by the Spirit, we would have to be "unborn again"! Since we are baptized with the Holy Spirit, we would have to be "un-baptized". If the Holy Spirit is a gift given to us when we come to faith, would God take away the gift because we had sinned? We would all be in trouble.

Paul makes this most clear when he says earlier in chapter 1, "And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory." If we are sealed with the Holy Spirit, how are we un-sealed?

So then, what is Paul saying when he exhorts them to be "filled with the Holy Spirit"? I think this is similar to when Paul says, "Do not quench the Holy Spirit" in 1 Thessalonians 5:19. In another passage Paul says, "Fan into flame the Holy Spirit which has been given to you!" Meaning we have this gift, but like any gift we need to understand and use it. In fact, since the Holy Spirit is a person, to be filled with the Holy Spirit means to be in a vital relationship with God the Holy Spirit. There can be much more said about the believer's relationship to the Holy Spirit, but suffice it to say the Holy Spirit is the means for everything we do in the Christian life. Without the Spirit we can do nothing that will have eternal value.

I don't know about you, but if I am have been given this gift I want to experience the Holy Spirit in the richest and fullest way possible on this side of heaven. Come Holy Spirit and fill us to overflowing so that we might lead lives worthy of you and experience of all God that we can!

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