Many Christians believe that being baptized by and being filled by the Holy Spirit are the same thing. They’re not.
Who is the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit is God. He is a member of the Trinity and has a will and a distinct personality. The Holy Spirit also has a purpose and specific work that He wants to do in our lives.
Before we became Christians, the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin and draws us to Christ. And once we believed in Christ, the Holy Spirit sealed us. Now the Holy Spirit leads us, empowers us, and fills us each day.
Baptism By The Holy Spirit
At the moment of conversion and salvation the believer in Jesus Christ is said to be baptized into the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit. The baptism and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit are related and happen at the same time.
Romans 10:9-10 (NKJV)9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the event where Jesus becomes our Lord and we are joined with other believers in the body of Christ.
1 Corinthians 12:13 (NKJV)13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free--and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.
Galatians 3:27 (NKJV)27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
When you received the baptism of the Holy Spirit at salvation you were indwelt (permanently present in your soul or spirit) by the Spirit.
1 Corinthians 3:16 (NLT)16 Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you?
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NLT)19 Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself,20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.
2 Timothy 1:14 (NLT)14 Through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard the precious truth that has been entrusted to you.
When you are indwelt you are also sealed.
Ephesians 1:13-14 (NKJV)13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
Filled By The Holy Spirit
While the baptism and indwelling of the Holy Spirit happen only once at conversion, the filling of the Spirit can happen multiple times after conversion. The idea of being filled by the Spirit is more about an ongoing sense of God's Spirit working in a person's life, not a one-time experience.
There is never any commandment in the Bible for one of us to be baptized by the Spirit, or to be sealed by the Spirit, or to be indwelt by the Spirit, or to be anointed by the Spirit, but there is an imperative command and mandate that we be filled by the Spirit.
Ephesians 5:15-20 (NLT)15 So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise.16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.18 Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit,19 singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.20 And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
To be filled is to be controlled completely by the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit’s filling has nothing to do with our emotions. People often confuse the gifts and work of the Holy Spirit with being filled with or by Him.
I Corinthians 12:4-11 NKJV There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.
When we’re filled with the Holy Spirit, it simply means the Spirit controls us. When we ask God to fill us with His Spirit, we are asking Him to control our lives. The word the apostle Paul used in Ephesians 5:18 to describe the filling of the Holy Spirit also means “to permeate”, or spread throughout, penetrate, percolate through, extend throughout.
Ephesians 5:18 NKJV And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, (emphasis mine).
In other words, the Holy Spirit wants to be part of every aspect of our lives. He wants to permeate our careers and our ministries. He wants to be a part of everything.
So let the Holy Spirit permeate every area of your life. Let the Holy Spirit fill you and control you. It isn’t about trying harder; it’s about realizing there is power available to help us live the Christian life.