The Apostle Paul - “Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 5:16-20)
It’s hard to imagine that the Bible would include a verse comparing being filled with the Holy Spirit to being drunk with alcohol. In Ephesians 5:18, there are two commands. The first is that we should never be intoxicated as a result of drinking alcoholic beverages. The second is that we should be filled with the Holy Spirit. It is interesting that the Apostle Paul purposefully contrasts a person being filled with alcohol to a person being filled with the Holy Spirit. Honestly, what does being “drunk with wine” have to do with being “filled with the Spirit of God.” Why didn’t Paul write “Don’t commit adultery,” or “Don’t lie,” or “Don’t be filled with pride,” but instead wrote “Be filled with the Spirit”? In this scripture, Paul is speaking by the way of contrast and comparison. There is a sense in which the result of being filled with the Spirit may be compared to being intoxicated by alcohol.
In Acts 2, the Disciples were accused of being “drunk with new wine” when they were filled with the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. The Apostle Peter responded, “Listen carefully, all of you fellow Jews and residents of Jerusalem! Make no mistake about this. These people are not drunk, as some of you are assuming. Nine o’clock in the morning is much too early for that. No, what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.” (Acts 2:14-17) Peter didn’t deny that the people were seemingly intoxicated, but he was saying that they weren’t intoxicated by any alcoholic beverage. He was communicating, however, that in many ways the filling of the Spirit can be compared to being drunk with wine.
When a person is intoxicated, we describe them as being under the influence. Being under the influence of alcohol brings poor judgment, lack of coordination, slowed breathing, vision problems, drowsiness, and a loss of balance. As Christians, we should be described as being under the influence of the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul writes that the Holy Spirit brings “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23) These are the types of character qualities we should strive to have in our lives which can only be acquired through the filling of the Holy Spirit.
Followup Activity - Make a list of the benefits of being filled with the Holy Spirit. Read over it before every meal today. If you’re leading your family through this devotion, work together as a family to create the same list and read them together before you eat together today.
Prayer for Today - Lord, help me to never be drunk with wine but to always be filled with the Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name, Amen.