In The Spirit

This is our continuation of our journey on experiencing God.  This message was brought on by a discussion with our father-in-the-Lord, James Nichols.  We were talking about praise and worship, and he mentioned to me how he wished I would lead people in singing in the spirit.  I told him I was worried about freaking them out.  Then he made a life-changing comment.

The preaching wouldn’t change anyone, teaching wouldn’t change anyone.  Only the Holy Spirit could change anyone.  I realized then that, by giving in to others’ fears (which fed my own fears), I was actually stopping them from experiencing moving “in the spirit”. I was not being the spiritual mother I was called to be.  I was not being a good and faithful steward of my gifts or my calling.

So at that moment I decided that I would not be afraid, but instead would deal with the issues that make people feel uncomfortable with singing in the spirit. So we didn’t record this session – we talked about our fears and our bad connotations from childhood about some spiritual things, and took our first step of understanding, experiencing and responding in the spirit.  Here’s to the beginning of something truly “awesome” in our worship, both together as a group, and individually.

  1. Isaiah 63:14

like cattle that go down to the plain, they were given rest by the Spirit of the Lord. This is how you guided your people to make for yourself a glorious name.

  1. Ezekiel 11:24

The Spirit lifted me up and brought me to the exiles in Babylonia in the vision given by the Spirit of God. Then the vision I had seen went up from me,

  1. Ezekiel 37:1

The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones.

  1. Matthew 4:1

Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

  1. Matthew 12:28

But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

  1. Matthew 22:43

He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says,

  1. Luke 2:27

Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required,

  1. Acts 20:22

“And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there.

  1. Romans 2:29

No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heartby the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.

  1. Romans 8:6

The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.

  1. Romans 8:13

For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

  1. 1 Corinthians 2:13

This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.

  1. 1 Corinthians 3:1

Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ.

  1. 1 Corinthians 6:11

And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

  1. 1 Corinthians 12:3

Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

  1. 1 Corinthians 14:2

For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit.

  1. 1 Corinthians 14:37

If anyone thinks they are a prophet or otherwise gifted by the Spirit, let them acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command.

  1. Galatians 5:16

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

  1. Ephesians 3:5

which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets.

  1. 1 Timothy 3:16

Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great: He appeared in the flesh, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.

  1. 1 John 3:24

The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.


  1. John 4:23

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.

  1. 1 Corinthians 14:16

Otherwise when you are praising God in the Spirit, how can someone else, who is now put in the position of an inquirer, say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since they do not know what you are saying?

  1. Ephesians 6:18

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

  1. Philippians 2:1

Imitating Christ’s Humility ] Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,

  1. Colossians 1:8

and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.

  1. 1 Peter 3:18

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.

  1. Revelation 1:10

On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet,

  1. Revelation 17:3

Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns.


What do you think about when you hear people talk about being “in the spirit”?

What does it mean to pray in the spirit?

What does it mean to sing in the spirit?

What does it mean to walk in the spirit?


in (or in the) spirit

1. in thought or intention though not physically.

“he couldn’t be here in person, but he is with us in spirit”

But the Holy Spirit is a “person”, just as God is a “person”, with a personality, thoughts and actions.

Being “filled with the Spirit” means to be continuously kept filled with the Spirit. The idea is one of keeping yourself constantly filled, as you yield moment by moment to the leading of the Spirit. It fits perfectly with the process of walking by the Spirit.  “Be filled” is actually in the passive voice and indicates that you receive the action–the Holy Spirit is continuously filling you. It is simply another facet of the Spirit’s indwelling ministry, which allows you to have daily, moment-by-moment effectiveness and fulfillment in your Christian life.

Facets of Spiritual Filling

When we use the word fill in English we normally think of something being placed into a container such as milk being poured to the brim of a glass, water being run into a bath tub, or gasoline being pumped into a gas tank. But none of those examples conveys precisely the meaning of to fill or be filled as does the Greek pleroo, a form of which is used in Ephesians 5:18 .

Pleroo has three shades of meaning that are helpful in illustrating the scriptural meaning of Spirit-filled. The first carries the idea of pressure. It is used to describe wind billowing the sails on a ship, providing the impetus to move the vessel across the water. In the spiritual realm, this concept depicts the Holy Spirit providing the thrust to move the believer down the pathway of obedience. A Spirit-filled Christian isn’t motivated by his own desires or will to progress. Instead, he allows the Holy Spirit to carry him in the proper directions. Another helpful example of this first meaning is a small stick floating in a stream. Most of us have tossed a stick into a creek and then run downstream to see the twig come floating by, propelled only by the force of the water. To be filled with the Spirit means to be carried along by the gracious pressure of the Holy Spirit.

(Note that the boat is not tied to the dock.  You must be willing to let the Spirit move you in some direction.  Also note that you can’t be steered in any direction unless you are moving. A rudder and a steering wheel don’t help when the vehicle is not moving.)

Pleroo can also convey the idea of permeation. The well-known pain reliever Alka Seltzer illustrates this principle quite effectively. When you drop one or two tablets into a glass of water, they instantly begin to fizzle and dissolve. Soon the tablets are transformed into clear bubbles throughout the glass, and the water is permeated with the distinct flavor of the Alka Seltzer. In a similar sense, God wants the Holy Spirit to permeate and flavor our lives so when we’re around others they will know for certain we possess the pervasive savor of the Spirit.

There is a third meaning of pleroo, actually the primary one in the New Testament, which conveys the sense of domination or total control. It is used by the Gospel writers to indicate that people were dominated by a certain emotion.  “filled with fear”,  “were filled with rage.”  Most people are able to balance their emotions from day to day. But there are times when the emotional balance is tipped to one extreme or another. But in our spiritual lives we are commanded to yield to the total control of the Holy Spirit, so every emotion, thought, and act of the will is under His direction. That kind of complete spiritual control is for our benefit and totally in line with God’s will.

A directly parallel passage to Ephesians 5:18 is Colossians 3:16, which explains in a slightly different way the meaning of the command “be filled with the Spirit.” The Apostle Paul says, “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you.” One can be filled with the Spirit only when controlled by the Word. It is knowing truth and obeying it.

Doing anything in the Spirit means being guided by the Spirit and empowered by the Spirit in whatever we do.

What worries us, or what are we afraid of when it comes to being guided and empowered by the Spirit?

Others seeing us and us being embarrassed.

(Do something foolish in front of the others, and/or turn your chair to the wall so no one can tell what you are doing.)

We will all do something foolish, or do something to anger or annoy or irritate others.  That cannot be what stops us from obeying the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Practical consequences of being filled with the Spirit.

Ephesians 5:17-20 – 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Moses and the people of Israel praised God after they were delivered from the Egyptians (Ex. 15). Deborah and Barak sang following their victory over Sisera (Judges 5). And the Psalms are filled with references to song, music, and praise, culminating in this exhortation in the very last verse of the book: “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!” (Ps. 150:6).

Other references in the New Testament are also significant in their mention of song. Jesus and His disciples sang a hymn at the close of the Last Supper (Matt. 26:30Mark 14:26). Believers in the early church were probably singing their prayer in Acts 4:24-30, and Paul and Silas definitely were singing as they sat chained in the Philippian dungeon (Acts 16:25). Paul delineates the importance of singing in Colossians 3:16, the parallel passage to Ephesians 5:19 (cf. James 5:13). Finally, in the last book of the New Testament, the Apostle John makes this prominent reference to song:

Revelation 5:8-14

New International Version (NIV)

And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. And they sang a new song, saying:

“You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased for God
persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.
10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign[a] on the earth.”

11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12 In a loud voice they were saying:

“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!”

13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!”

14 The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

a “new song,” which in the Greek means not merely a new song chronologically, but a new one qualitatively.

“The expression of gratitude is therefore a most blessed response to favors undeserved. While it lasts, worries tend to disappear, complaints vanish, courage to face the future is increased, virtuous resolutions are formed, peace is experienced, and God is glorified”

Take time now to write down your thoughts and feelings about God.  It can come from your own head, or take words from the Scriptures.  The easiest place to start is in the Psalms.  Read until a scripture resonates with you, like you feel like that fits your situation, or like God is trying to impress something upon you by it.  Write it down and meditate on it.

Next, say that phrase or scripture out loud. (We can take turns trying it to get over fear of others.)  We can say it all at the same time.

Next, we can say it with a melody or a tune.  Try it.

Next, we can hear one person who has a phrase that they are singing, and we can sing with them, or echo the words, or add to the words.

That is singing in the Spirit.


Psalm 100

A psalm. For giving grateful praise.

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
    Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his[a];
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.