Be not drunk with wine, but be filled with the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 5: 18)
What do you allow to control you, to take over your mind and body, to cause you to do what you normally would not do? It could be alcohol or other drugs. Maybe it’s the elixir of power. Or, food may be your thing. Perhaps you crave the approval of others. You may be controlled by the pursuit of money or “things.”
It’s a challenging chore of personal growth to try to release yourself from the clutches of old mental and behavioral habits that control you, intoxicate you, and rob you of peace and productivity. When you try to do it by yourself, at best that’s a back-and-forth, up-and-down, in-and-out affair. It’s hard to get any kind of lasting results. Old habits have a way of stubbornly refusing to leave.
But is it bad to be controlled? Depends! Depends on to whom or to what you surrender control. I’d like you to consider a paradoxical concept: you can gain control by giving up control – when you surrender control to Him. When you release the reins of your will and your life to the One Who empowers you to do it differently and with a different attitude – that’s a game-changer!
The Apostle Paul used alcohol as the metaphor for explaining to the Ephesians about being controlled by the Holy Spirit. Consider the similarities.
- Being “drunk with wine” or (controlled by any habit) clearly affects how you think, what you do, and how you feel. Placing your life in the Hands of God and giving up control to Him does the same. However, instead of “going stupid,” God enables you to think clearly, solve problems wisely, and behave in helpful not hurtful ways. The Spirit of God gives joy that lasts and and is not the kind that comes to an abrupt end when you “sober up,” and reality hits all over again.
- Drunkenness removes the inhibitions, which can be a big problem when good judgment goes out the window. However, when God removes your inhibitions, He gives you courage to do the right thing even when it’s not comfortable. He infuses boldness to speak in love what needs to be said. He removes paralyzing self-consciousness so that you are released to relate to others freely. When the Holy Spirit removes inhibitions, He does it for a purpose.
- An intoxicating substance (or activity!) even affects your alertness, your consciousness, your awareness. It “puts you to sleep,” sometimes literally and physically, but always spiritually and psychologically. (That’s called denial.) The good news is, being filled with the Spirit wakes you up! Paul talks about this shortly before he gives the “drunkenness/being Spirit-filled” comparison. He said, “Wake up, sleeper!” (v. 14) As you totally give yourself to the Lord, He opens your eyes to the significant facts you’d rather ignore. This makes available to you the truth you need in order to grow and become your best self.
- Drunknness affects the way you walk and talk. So does surrender to God’s beautiful work in you and through you by His Spirit. When you yield all of yourself to Him and ask Him to fill you with Himself, your “walk and talk” are gradually transformed. Healthy, transformative habits replace life-draining, destructive ones.
Isn’t that a beautiful divine paradox? When you give it all up to God – including, especially including, that devilish obsession to control things yourself – your life takes on a refreshing new sense of order. You develop roots that are steady any time stress begin to blow. Yes, you are “intoxicated” in the Holy Spirit, but in the best way ever!
God, I welcome the absolute control of Your Spirit in my life. Thank You for the joy You inspire – with no bad side effects. Help me to use the boldness that You give me to touch people’s lives for Your Kingdom!