These early leaders of the church were sensitive to the leading of the Spirit. Because they had surrendered their own wills to the Spirit’s control, they were delighted to obey His promptings and guidance.
To be filled with the Spirit means simply that the Christian voluntarily surrenders life and will to the Spirit. Through faith, the believer’s personality is permeated, mastered, and controlled by the Spirit. The meaning of “filled” is not to “pour into a passive container” but to “take possession of the mind.” That’s the meaning found in Luke 5:26: “They were filled with awe.” When we invite the Spirit to fill us, the Spirit’s power grips our lives with this kind of strength and passion.
To be filled with the Spirit is to be controlled by the Spirit. The Christian leader’s mind, emotions, will, and physical strength all become available for the Spirit to guide and use. Under the Spirit’s control, natural gifts of leadership are lifted to their highest power, sanctified for holy purpose. Through the work of the now ungrieved and unhindered Spirit, all the fruits of the Spirit start to grow in the leader’s life. His witness is more winsome, service more steady, and testimony more powerful. All real Christian service is but the expression of Spirit power through believers yielded to Him (John 7:37–39).
A. W. Tozer warns against: No one whose senses have been exercised to know good or evil can but grieve over the sight of zealous souls seeking to be filled with the Holy Spirit while they are living in a state of moral carelessness and borderline sin. Whoever would be indwelt by the Spirit must judge his life for any hidden iniquities. He must expel from his heart everything that is out of accord with the character of God as revealed by the Holy Scriptures…. There can be no tolerance of evil, no laughing off the things that God hates.
Chadwick, the noted Methodist preacher, said that when he was filled with the Spirit, he did not receive a new brain but a new mentality; not a new tongue but new speaking effectiveness; not a new language but a new Bible. Chadwick’s natural qualities were given a new vitality, a new energy.