Problems, irritations, hindrances, obstacles, or the Christian moniker, “tests and trials”…no matter what name you give them, all of us have had them. Sometimes you see them coming, and other times they are completely unexpected. Either way, the good news is that it doesn’t matter what they are, how or why they came, or how great or small they seem, the Bible gives us the way to overcome them ALL.
In Luke 4:1-2, Jesus set a precedent for overcoming the devil, And Jesus, being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being forty days tempted of the devil… In these verses, we are told that Jesus was full of the Spirit when He faced the devil’s temptations. It is very important for us to understand the need to be full of the Spirit before we encounter a test, trial, or temptation. Too many Christians are “running on empty” when they have a showdown with the devil. Their joy level is low and their peace level is low. This causes them to be in a weakened condition which makes it harder to use their faith, and unbelief thrives in this type of environment. This is no condition in which to stare down the devil and be victorious.
Are you struggling with a persistent problem or obstacle? There isn’t only one answer to that question, but oftentimes the answer lies in being filled with the Spirit—and staying full of the Spirit.
The Amplified translation of Ephesians 5:18 says, Keep being filled and stimulated by the Spirit. The implication is that being filled with the Spirit is an on-going process, not a one-time experience. We must not be satisfied with being filled with the Spirit the first time, which for many of us was a long time ago. Instead, we must maintain a Spirit-filled experience by living a Spirit-filled life.
The Bible says in Hebrews 2:1 that we are to give the more earnest heed to the things that we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. The Greek actually says, lest at any time they should run out as leaky vessels. Recognize that there is a part of us that leaks. Our spirit man is sealed by the power of God, but the rest of us leaks. Just the process of living every day will drain you and cause that experience of fullness to wane, if it’s not maintained. Yet, this Spirit-filled maintenance doesn’t happen automatically. It takes effort on our part to maintain the fullness of the Spirit. It’s not hard; it just takes determination.
Ephesians 5:19 tells us how, speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord. Colossians 3:16 adds to this by saying, Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. So we can see from these two scriptures that staying full of the Spirit, or letting the word of Christ dwell in us richly, is the result of speaking and singing the word of God to ourselves and to each other.
How do you know that you are full of the Spirit? Ephesians 5:18 says, And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit. From this scripture we can conclude that being filled with the Spirit is going to have some symptoms in common with being drunk with wine. Otherwise, what would have been the point of using the comparison? Reactions to alcohol vary, but many people who become drunk are often happy and carefree. They cast away their cares, and they don’t care about what other people think. This is the reaction that mirrors the symptoms of being full of the Spirit. When you are full, you will be carefree. You will be full of joy and peace, you will be spiritually alert, and your faith will be strong.
We find the end of the precedent Jesus set for us in Luke 4:14, And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee. Being full of the Spirit and overcoming the trial causes you to return in the power of the Spirit. Tests and trials in and of themselves do not make you grow spiritually. As I said earlier, problems come to everyone. So, if problems help you grow, everyone would be growing, and we know that is not happening. Yet, even though the problem doesn’t help you grow, what you do during the problem is a huge factor in your spiritual growth—and it will determine whether or not you overcome.
You are much more likely to do the necessary things to overcome, and keep doing them until you experience victory, if you are full of the Spirit. I know people who have gone through tests and trials, but because they didn’t start out full of the Spirit, they didn’t return in the power of the Spirit. Therefore, don’t wait! It is so important that you stay full of the Holy Ghost because you never know when another obstacle may be in your path. You can’t see every moment of your future. There are going to be things you encounter that are unexpected; that’s why its’s important that you stay full. Being full of the Spirit is the first step to overcoming that test and trial and living in victory.