Full, Not So Full, Empty
“Be full of the Holy Spirit”. This expression is sometimes used in Christian Churches, but not always properly. What does the Scripture say about this?
“To fill” always consists of two things:
The action of “filling” happens when “something” enters into a certain “space” and then the space is totally occupied by what is entering.
Let's say we have a glass: If we proceed to “fill” the glass with water, we will pour water inside of it to the brim, and we will say: The glass is full. Or if a bus stops for people to climb on it, when there is no space for any more, we say: the bus is full.
“To fill” is the action, and when within a space there is no more place for whatever is flowing in, we say “it is full”. The previous moment (when that something is flowing into the space) to being full would be “to be filled”, and the beginning of the action could be called “it is starting to be filled”.
In the matter that occupies us, that "something" that fills, is a person: The Holy Spirit. And the "space" into which He enters, is all human being, man or woman, that has believed in the redemptive work of Christ Jesus. All the Christians are the space to be occupied by the Holy Spirit.
Finally let us add that the expression “to fill” is always entwined with the concept of “fullness”. A place occupied completely.
These verses speak of that fullness, and the context shows the results of being full of the Spirit, by what happens in and around those full ones.
Notwithstanding that fullness is the goal, the same verses let us understand that:
The desire and purpose of God is for His Children to receive the Holy Spirit and that they may be fully filled. Nevertheless, if someone is not FULL, he does not lose the condition of being a Child of God. We add this comment, because on occasions the following question has been heard: Can one be a “child” and be empty of the Holy Spirit?
The Life received by the believer, received from Jesus, is not withdrawn if someone does not have the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit (the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, the same One we are talking about here) gives Life to all who believe that Jesus is the bread of life that descended from heaven. This is the Good News of the Gospel. But to receive Life and to receive the Holy Spirit are not the same thing.
The believers -the redeemed Children of God-, as it can be understood from the words of the Apostle Paul we just read, can be full, not so full, almost empty or -empty! of the Holy Spirit.
Relying on the Apostle John's words…
…we understand that to be “Children” it is necessary to have life, which certainly those receive, as we read above, who believe that Jesus is the Christ.
In His last days before being crucified, being Jesus with His disciples He blew over them saying: “Receive…” Was He talking to “Children” of God? Yes. But did they have the Comforter? No. They did not have the Holy Spirit. This was sent to them later.
Another situation shows us Paul as during one of his missionary trips met with certain disciples.
These had believed in Jesus as the Christ, and God had given them life. Without doubt they already were “Children”. Yet the existence of the Holy Spirit was unknown to them.
Can one be a “Child of God” and at the same time be empty of the Holy Spirit?
But, here is the great promise: It is possible to be full!