Under the Influence
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;- Eph 5:18
Growing up, for some weird, inexplicable reasons, I’ve always been fascinated by watching drunks stagger all over the place when they walked. I used to get a crack out of that, so much so that I would try to imitate a drunk staggering and slurring of speech. Yeah, I was mischievous as a child!
Now, as an adult, I realize that I still find it interesting watching on T.V. when the police give a sobriety test; and ask people they believe to be drunk to walk in a straight line! I find it amusing seeing the people staggering and unable to walk straight. Yeah, I guess I’m still mischievous as an adult!
Perhaps, what I found fascinating was how alcohol could completely dominate and alter the state and speech of a person. That is, how a normal and rational human being (a few hours ago) can be completely changed into something or someone totally different, few drinks later.
In Eph. 5:18, Paul urged us not to “be drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.” That is, we should not be filled with the other type of “spirit,” but be filled with the Holy Spirit.
Just like people under the influence of alcohol are completely controlled by the alcohol, I believe that when we are truly filled by the Holy Spirit, we should be completely controlled by the Holy Spirit. Our walk should be controlled and directed by the Holy Spirit. Our speech should be controlled and slurred by the Holy Spirit!
Over the years, here are a few things I’ve observed about people under alcoholic influence:
Unashamed - people under the influence of alcohol are usually loud and boisterous i.e., they lose their inhibitions. Apostle Paul in Romans 1:16 says:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
When we are truly filled with the Spirit, we would not be ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. Or ashamed to be associated with Jesus Christ. And we’ll be bold to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Altered state - One’s state is completely altered – people under the influence are no longer in control – the alcohol controls them; they are no longer themselves and are not self-aware.
In Gal. 2:20 Apostle Paul says:
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
In 2 Cor. 5:17 says:
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
When we are under the influence of the Holy Spirit, we are no longer in control of our lives. Likewise, people we encounter should notice a change in us; a change in our state of mind, our attitude, etc.
Altered walk - Their walk is altered – they no longer can walk straight (thus the staggering)
Apostle Paul in Eph. 4:1, admonishes us to “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.”
And in verses 17-19 reminds us saying… “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
And in 1 John 2:6 we are reminded to walk as Jesus Christ walked “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.”
Where we used to go, we no longer go. What we used to do, we no longer do. What and how we used to think, we no longer think, etc.
Altered speech - Their speech is altered – they speak differently. They slur their words.
Therefore, if we are under the influence, our speech should be different too. In Eph. 4:29, Apostle Paul says: Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
And in Col 4:6 says:
Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. – Col. 4:6
So, just as alcohol alters completely the state, walk and speech of a person, so also should the Holy Spirit completely alter our state, walk and speech. That is when we walk, having been filled with the Spirit, we should be able to walk circumspectly; walk worthy of our vocation in which we have been called.
Our speech should be “slurred” so much so that we are speaking wholesomely. That is, nothing profane is coming out of our mouths. No corrupt communication, but that which is edifying to the hearers.
And we are in a constant altered state - of prayer.
Now, seeing the character traits of someone under the influence, has caused me to ask myself this question, if I’m truly filled with the Spirit? I’ve had to ask myself this question because not always do I see my state or walk altered as a result of being filled. Nor is my speech slurred with words that are edifying to the hearer. After all, if I’m truly filled with the Spirit, shouldn’t I be living under the influence of the Spirit? And if I’m living under the influence of the Spirit, shouldn’t I be completely controlled and led by the Spirit at ALL times? And not sometimes?
Or can one be under the influence, and not be controlled by the influence? I think not!
To which I ask you the same question. Are you truly filled with the Holy Spirit? If you are truly filled with the Holy Spirit, shouldn’t your walk be altered as a result? Shouldn’t your speech be altered as a result? Shouldn’t your state be altered?
The question we all should be asking ourselves then is this: Are we truly filled with the Spirit? Or are we filled with something else? And if we say that we are filled by the spirit, by what spirit?