“Be filled with the Spirit,” Paul wrote to Christians in Ephesus (Ephesians 5:18). Why would Paul tell these Christians to be filled with the Holy Spirit when they had already received the Holy Spirit when they were saved (Romans 5:1-5)? Because the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, which comes at the moment Jesus becomes Savior, is not the same occurrence as being continually filled with the Holy Spirit. Oh, yes, it is the same all-powerful Holy Spirit, but He does not stop at salvation.
"Brother Saul (Paul),” Ananias told Paul following his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, “the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here, has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 9:17). Jesus’ presence on the road introduced the power of God’s glory to Saul. But he was blinded for God’s purposes. Ananias prayed, and the power of the Holy Spirit swept through Saul. As the Holy Spirit rested on him, he became Paul. His eyes suddenly received spiritual vision, and he received the infilling Holy Spirit for God’s purposes.
After this initial infilling of the Holy Spirit, Paul continually received the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit through many years of ministry. The Holy Spirit that had first come on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4), was now alive in Paul, empowering him to preach the gospel in places it had never reached, and to disciple new believers to be strong and fearlessly live the message of God’s redeeming God. It was the same Holy Spirit which, on the day of Pentecost, turned a band of weakened and tired followers, into men who would change the world.
Being continually filled with the Holy Spirit is not just for then. It is for now. It is what we need to make a difference in a world that does not know His love. In the next few days I would like to explore what this means for you and for me. It will cost us. It means dying to self in order to receive all of Him. It means allowing Him to be Lord of every area of my life. In letting go of who I have perceived myself to be in Him, I discover who He has known all along that I could be.