The Book of Ephesians ~ Chapter 5:18 ~ The Filling of the Holy Spirit

Vol. 16 No 21 – May 14, 2017

05 14 17 Filling of the HS The Word 1 John 1 vs 9

Specifically related to our verse, Eph 5:18, here we will discuss the “filling of God the Holy Spirit,” as one of His unique ministries to the believer in the Church Age. In sequence, “filling” comes before His teaching and praying ministries, as His filling is absolutely necessary for either of those two ministries to function.

The command to “be filled” with the Spirit is from the Present, Passive, Imperative of the verb PLEROO, literally, “keep on being filled with the Spirit,” In other words, it is optional. It is Passive, denoting that we receive the action that God has to accomplish in us. It is Present, meaning it is to be an ongoing action. It is Imperative because it is a command for us to follow habitually. Also, the command is plural, so it applies to all Christians and not just to a select few.

In the Bible, filled means, “influenced or controlled by.” As we noted in the exegesis of this passage, PLEROO has four meanings in regard to being, “filled with the Holy Spirit,” (FHS).

To fill up a deficiency. The FHS fills up our deficiency of power to execute the spiritual life. We are deficient of Bile doctrine at salvation and the Spirit works within us to fill our soul with God’s Word.

To fully possess. The believer must be fully possessed by the Holy Spirit to execute God’s Plan. This kind of possession does not mean we lose all control of our thinking and faculties, but it means to be fully occupied by Him and His holiness and righteousness. That is, we cannot have one foot in sin and one in holiness, we must function 100% in holiness to execute God’s Plan for our lives.

To fully influence. The believer is fully influenced by the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit and Bible Doctrine so that he can have capacity for blessing.

To fill with a certain quality. The FHS along with Bible Doctrine is the highest quality with which the believer can be filled.

The Filling of God the Holy Spirit is the operational ministry of the Holy Spirit for empowerment and enablement of the soul of the Church Age believer to execute God’s Plan for their life. Through the Filling of the Spirit, we are empowered and enabled to execute the unique spiritual life of the Church Age believer. Therefore, to be “filled with the Spirit” means to be constantly controlled or influenced by the Spirit in our mind, emotions, and will.

The filling of the Holy Spirit, first occurs at the moment of salvation, but it is not a permanent thing, as noted by our verse that we can either be “drunk (filled) with wine, or be filled by the Holy Spirit.” Therefore, “filling” is a temporary or experiential thing, (as opposed to a permanent or positional thing like His indwelling), and is lost when we enter into sin, e.g., drunkenness. Yet, in grace, if we lose the filling of the Holy Spirit, it can be regained through the confession of our sins to God the Father, 1 John 1:5-9, with its resultant experiential cleansing, as we will note below.

As such, the Filling of the Spirit is an absolute, meaning that the believer is either permitting himself to be fully influenced by the Spirit or they are being fully influenced by the Old Sin Nature and Satan’s cosmic system.

The believer is filled with the Holy Spirit, when two synonymous conditions occur: The Holy Spirit fully influences the soul of the believer, as noted in the verb PLEROO, and the believer resides in the Plan of God, which combined is synonymous to yielding to the Holy Spirit, walking by means of the Spirit, having fellowship with the Spirit, etc.

Confession of sins, 1 John 1:9, “rebounding,” is the basis for executing all the mandates of God related to the word “yieldedness,” as found in Rom 6:13 and 12:1. “Yielding” is not dedication to Christian service, but complying with the mandates of God’s Power System, to execute and fulfill the spiritual life. “Filling” is related to yieldedness. When I am willing to allow the Spirit to do what He wishes, it is up to Him to do or not to do with me whatever is His pleasure.

Acts 15:52 noted one of the first episodes of Church Age believers being filled with the Holy Spirit, “And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”

Being filled with the Spirit is the only means by which the Holy Spirit produces the Christ-like nature and character in the believer. It is the only means by which the believer can execute the Plan of God. Spirituality is the result of the filling of the Holy Spirit.

What Does it Mean to be Filled with the Spirit?

The filling of the Spirit takes place in the soul of the believer when he allows God the Holy Spirit to influence his soul. It is a dynamic, whereas the indwelling of the Spirit is static, meaning it never changes and it is eternal. The filling of the Spirit is the operational power of God the Holy Spirit, which empowers the believer to execute the will of God the Father.

The filling of the Spirit enables the believer to be conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ, meaning to become like Him experientially in His death and resurrection. It enables the believer to become like Jesus Christ in thought, word, and action or in other words, it gives the believer the ability to acquire the character of the Lord Jesus Christ, as we noted in vs.1-17, (love, light, wisdom).

We are given the analogy of being filled with the Spirit in contrast to the man who is drinking, which is the reason Paul uses it here, cf. Acts 2:13-18. The man who is drinking is possessed by the wine. You can tell that a man is drunk. In contrast, it is the Holy Spirit who should be the One to possess the believer. It is a Divine intoxication that is to fill that need. This is not an excessive emotionalism, but that which furnishes the dynamic for living and for accomplishing something for God. When we are filled by the Holy Spirit, it means that we are controlled by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, instead of continuing in drunkenness, we are to go on being filled with the Spirit. We might have expected Paul to plead for abstinence as over against intemperance. But he takes a more startling and positive line. He urges us to draw on the reinvigorating resources of the Holy Spirit, which was the case on the day of Pentecost when the effect of such an experience was mistaken for drunkenness, Acts 2:13-18.

The walk of the believer and his being filled with the Spirit are closely related. Paul says a believer is to walk “carefully” or “circumspectly,” (KJV), and “be filled with the Spirit.” This filling is a constant renewal of the believer’s life for strength and action, as indicated in our verse by the use of the present tense. The Spirit-filled believer not only walks wisely, but his Christian character is evidenced by the fruit of the Spirit, Cf. Gal 5:22-23.

Therefore, the filling of the Spirit and walking by the Spirit are two sides of the same coin. You cannot walk by the Spirit unless you are filled or more accurately influenced by the Spirit. Being influenced by means of the Spirit is directly related to the believer’s mental attitude, whereas walking by the Spirit is directly related to how the believer conducts himself. A person’s conduct is governed by their mental attitude, Mark 7:22-23. The believer who is applying the Word of God is influenced by means of the Spirit; therefore, the filling of the Spirit is directly related to being a doer of the Word of God since the Spirit inspired the Scriptures. 2 Peter 1:20-21. Read James 1:22-25.

Being “filled,” is directly related to the Word of God. To obey the Word of God is to obey the Holy Spirit since He inspired the Word of God and He speaks actively to you, the believer, through the Bible regarding the Father’s will for your life.

The commands to “be filled with the Spirit,” in Eph 5:18 and “letting the Word of Christ richly dwell in your soul,” in Col 3:16 are synonymous since each bears the same results: fellowship with the Father. The commands are synonymous, because the Holy Spirit speaks to the believer through the communication of the Word of God regarding the Father’s character and nature. The Holy Spirit inspired the Scriptures, 2 Tim 3:16; makes them understandable to the believer, John 16:13-16; guides the believer in the correct application of the Word of God, and reproduces the character of Christ in the believer who obeys the Word of God, Gal 5:22-23. None of this is possible if we have sin upon our soul. That is why the first step towards all of these things is to confess your sins for forgiveness and the purification of the soul from sin and getting back in line with the holy character and nature of God, (as commanded in 1 John 1:9).

Thus, a believer, rather than controlling himself, is controlled by the Holy Spirit. We could also say that the Holy Spirit is the “Agent” of the filling, Gal 5:16, (“Walk by the Spirit”), and Christ is the Content of the filling, Col 3:15, (“Let the peace of Christ rule your hearts). Thus, in this relationship, as a believer is yielded to the Lord and controlled by Him, he increasingly manifests the fruit of the Spirit, Gal 5:22-23. The Spirit’s indwelling, John 7:37-39; 14:17; Rom 5:5; 8:9; 1 Cor 2:12; 6:19-20; 1 John 3:24; 4:13, sealing, 2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:13; 4:30, and baptism, 1 Cor 12:13; Gal 3:27, all occur at the time of regeneration and thus are not commanded. However, we are commanded to be filled constantly with the Holy Spirit. Each Christian has all the Spirit, but the command here is that the Spirit have all of you.

Why Do I Need to be Filled with the Holy Spirit?

There are several reasons given in Scripture, including to have fellowship with God, but as far as the Spirit’s ministry to the believer in the Church Age is concerned, it is to produce what the Bible calls “The Fruit of the Spirit” in Gal 5:22, which we also call, “Divine Good Production,” that brings maximum glorification to God.

As vs. 25 indicates, we have physical and soul life from the moment of our birth by means of the Holy Spirit, and we have spiritual life by means of God the Holy Spirit from the day of our salvation. Therefore, since we live by the Spirit, Gal 5:25 also exhorts us to “walk” by the Spirit, which means to live our lives under the empowering and enabling ministry of God the Holy Spirit. When we do, we then produce “the fruit of the Spirit.”

This ministry of the Holy Spirit is the third prong in regard to the Trinity to lead us to produce Divine Good, as in John 15:1-5, 8, 16; Rom 7:4-6; Eph 5:9-11; Col 1:10ff; James 3:17-18.

Believers need an attitude adjustment, but they do not need the spirits that come from a bottle; they need to be filled with the Holy Spirit, so that they might radiate the joy of the Lord. The apostle John says that one of the reasons he wrote his gospel and epistles was so that “your joy may be made full,” John 15:11. This fullness of joy is achieved through our fellowship with the Father and with Jesus Christ, 1 John 1:3-4. Therefore, we ought to have a good time and have fun as we walk in the Spirit. Not the kind of pseudo fun that comes from drunkenness, but the joy that comes from the Lord. That kind of joy comes through the filling of the Holy Spirit, as we will see in Eph 5:19-21.

Hence, the Holy Spirit is the means by which believers are also filled with Christ and discover God’s will for their life, as we have noted in the parallel passage, Col 3:16, where Paul states,Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

How Am I Filled with the Holy Spirit?

The Filling of the Holy Spirit is the result of applying in faith what God’s Word tells us in 1 John 1:5-10. There, the believer is told to confess their known sins to God the Father. This means that we first must recognize that we have sinned or offended God in some way, according to His Word, and then confess those sins to God the Father in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. We also call this “The Rebound Technique.” This is not just a ritualistic action that we partake in, but a change of mind/heart regarding the fact that we were operating in sin, by recognizing in humility that we were wrong, and then approaching the Throne of Grace in confidence, Heb 4:16, by naming those sins to God the Father, in obedience to His Word as stated in 1 John 1:9.

1 John 1:5-10 does not tell us to feel bad or guilty about our sins, although you might have those feelings, but it only instructs us to name our sins to God.

1 John 1:5, “This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.”  First, we see that God does not have a relationship with “darkness” which represents sin. Therefore, if we are living in sin, we cannot have an experiential relationship with God.

6If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” Secondly, if we “walk in darkness,” which means we sin and keep walking in it, we cannot have fellowship with God.

comparison 27But if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” This tells us to “walk in the light,” just as Eph 5:8-9 does, which means we do not have sin upon our soul, which is God’s desire. Notice the similar language between Eph 5:8-9 and 1 John 1:5-7. In Eph 5:8, “we were formerly darkness, but now we are light in the Lord.” This is another proof that 1 John is speaking to believers only. And the use of “walk” in both passages speaks to our volitional responsibility to either “walk in darkness,” i.e., sin, or to “walk in light,” i.e., filled with the Holy Spirit, as Ephesians progresses to in vs. 18. Therefore, the confession of our sins to restore fellowship with God and walk in the light, is also the means of being filled with the Holy Spirit in Eph 5:18, and to walk in love, light, and wisdom as noted in Eph 5:1-17. In addition, the Greek word for “fellowship,” in 1 John 1:6-7, is the Noun KOINONIA. In Eph 5:11 we are warned to not have “fellowship” (KJV) with darkness, translated “participate” in the NASB. The Greek word in Eph 5:11 is, the Verb SUNKOINONEO, made up of the prefix SUN meaning, “together with,” and KOINONIA. Therefore, if we are not to have fellowship with darkness in Eph 5:11, it means we are to have “fellowship” with God instead, by being filled with the Holy Spirit, Eph 5:18. So there is a direct link between the passages of Eph 5:8-18 and 1 John 1:5-9 that tells us to confess our sins for forgiveness and cleansing, 1 John 1:9, that results in the filling of God the Holy Spirit, Eph 5:18. Given the multiple connections between these two passages, “walk, light, fellowship,” etc., there is overwhelming evidence to see the connection between 1 John 1:9 and Eph 5:18, and it does not get much plainer or simpler than that.

In addition, Jesus noted in John 13:5-10, during His discourse with Peter, that we only need to wash our feet, (the Greek NIPTO, in the Aorist, Middle for an overview of the action of cleansing from our daily walk), because we have already been bathed, (LOUO in the Perfect, Passive for a one-time act). You see, there is the washing (LOUO) of regeneration at the moment of our salvation for our Positional Sanctification, cf. Titus 3:5, (LOUO), and there is a cleansing, 1 John 1:9, (KATHAIZO – cleansing, Aorist tense), for our Experiential Sanctification that causes us to have fellowship with God, the Filling of the Holy Spirit, and to be able to walk by means of the Holy Spirit to produce Divine Good Production. All begins with the confession of our sins, and none is possible without the confession of our sins. The second half of 1 John 1:7, tells us of the object of this whole passage “the Cross of Jesus Christ.”

8If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” John uses the 1st person plural pronoun in this passage over and over again, which means he is including himself in this. John was absolutely saved at the time of writing this book under the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit, so this is not a passage for the unbeliever, but for the believer, as also noted above in the comparison with Eph 5:8-9. Unfortunately, we believers continue to sin after our salvation. This passage is the remedy for our post salvation sins, so that we can walk in the light of God and have fellowship with Him. As such, the filling of the Holy Spirit is only temporary, because once saved we still have a Sin Nature and we will sin and fall out of fellowship with God. To regain fellowship, we utilize 1 John 1:9 and are again filled with or influenced by the Holy Spirit.

9If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This tells us to name our known sins to God the Father in prayer. It does not tell us to feel guilty or bad about our sins, even though we may. It also tells us, when we confess the sins we know about, we are “cleansed from all unrighteousness,” which means we received cleansing of our unknown sins too. Therefore, as a result of the confession of your sins, your known and unknown sins are forgiven experientially, and you are cleansed from all the “unrighteousness,” (unholiness), that you committed, (sins), and as a result you regain fellowship with God, which includes the Filling of the Holy Spirit.

Unknown sins are the sins we have committed that we are either unaware that we committed, or those that we did not know we committed, because we have not yet learned enough doctrine to know all the kinds of sins we can commit. So, in the grace of God, and based on the Work of Jesus Christ on the Cross to pay the penalty for our sins, we are forgiven “experientially” of all the sins we committed, the known and unknown ones, since we last confessed our sins to the Father.

10If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” This addresses the hypocritical believers, who thinks that they either do not sin after their salvation, or do not need to confess their sins. Remember, John wrote this through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and he says “I, even I, need to do this.”

Once someone has confessed their known sins to God the Father, they receive “cleansing” of their soul, which means the garbage of sin is wiped clean in their souls, and they now have the filling of the Holy Spirit and fellowship with God experientially. This is analogous to John 13:5-11 when Jesus washed the feet of the disciples. They already took a bath, (LOUO in the Greek), i.e., are saved, now they only needed to wash their feet, (NIPTO in the Greek), i.e., confession of sins, to have fellows with Jesus Christ, cf. John 13:8b, “If you do not wash, (NIPTO), you have no part with Me.” Having a cleansed soul experientially results in walking in the Light of God, which also results in fellowship with God, which also means being filled with the Holy Spirit of Eph 5:18; given the connection of terminology and relationship in all the verses noted above.

Confession of Sin for the Believer is a Long-Standing Doctrine of the Church.

What Did Jesus Say About Confession of Sin?

In Mat 6:9-13, the Lord clearly taught the necessity for the confession of our sins. This is our Lord’s “template” prayer as it were, as He instructed in 9, “Pray, then, in this way.” It has been misnomered as “the Lord’s Prayer.” In verse 12 our Lord said, “And forgive us our debts.” Our “debts” refers to the sins we commit, post salvation. The point in this template for prayer is that the believer’s post salvation/conversion sins are forgiven. He is clearly teaching the confession of sins for the believer, (not for salvation), and uses the same Greek word for forgiveness, APHIEMI as does John in 1 John 1:9. Keep in mind that our sins were paid for at the Cross once and for all time, and the confession of your sins in 1 John 1:9 is a reminder of that fact.

Jesus also illustrates confession of sin and the extraordinary forgiveness of God in the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32. In vs. 18, the prodigal son says, “I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight.” The confession of this son was first toward heaven and then to his father. This is the true order of all confession. It must be first to God and then to those who would be wronged by the withholding of our confession.

Why does the son need to confess his sins? Until confession is made by the one who has sinned, he is contending for that which is evil and thus is in disagreement with the Father. Amos 3:3, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” God cannot agree with sin. The child can agree with the Father, and this is true repentance which is expressed in true confession.

So, this is the son’s prayer of the confession of his sins, (i.e., rebound). If this passage is speaking of the unbeliever who repents for salvation, then you must also say that in order to be saved we must confess our sins for salvation, as some wrongly say 1 John 1:9 does. However, there is only one command for the unsaved, namely believe on the Lord Jesus, John 3:16-18; Acts 16:30-31.

Therefore, instantly, when a complete confession is made, regardless of additional words the penitent one would present, the restoration to fellowship with God is achieved and we are filled with the Spirit. The blessing does not depend upon sinless perfection; it is a matter of not grieving the Spirit. It is not an issue concerning unknown sin; it is an attitude of heart that is willing always instantly to confess every known sin.

As we noted above, later, in the Upper Room in the night before Jesus went to the Cross, as He was instructing His disciples and preparing them for the Church Age, He washed their feet. Remember that our Lord told Peter and the other disciples in the Upper Room on the Passover night in which he was betrayed in John 13:10-11, “Jesus said to him (Peter), “He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you. 11For He knew the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, ‘Not all of you are clean.’

Although this passage was clearly instructing them to serve one another, there is a lesson within the lesson. Here our Lord used two distinct words, LOUO for “bathed” and NIPTO for “wash.” This is the distinction. The unbeliever needs a bath, that is, to be cleansed from all their sins. That occurs when he accepts Christ as His Savior. Yet, the believer needs only to wash his feet. Why? Well, even though he has salvation, he still has a sin nature, and he still sins on a daily basis. When we sin, we are picking up the filth of our Old Sin Nature and Satan’s Cosmic System. To be cleansed of the filth and garbage, the believer needs to only wash his feet. The unbeliever first needs a LOUO for the cleansing of his body – Salvation, but clearly the believer needs a NIPTO for the cleansing of the filth picked up in his daily walk – post-salvation / post-conversion.

This is the same picture, and same lesson as taught in Mat 6. The Lord washes the dirt we pick up during our daily walk off our feet, (our sins), after we have been cleansed due to confessing our sins to the Father. We in turn are to wash each other’s feet, i.e., forgive each other. This is in line with our Lord’s “template” for prayer, and we are able to do both because of the Union/Position we have in Christ based on His completed work upon the Cross.

What Does the Old Testament Say About Confession of Sins?

The confession of sins for forgiveness is not a doctrine exclusive to the Church Age and New Testament, or to any other Age for that matter. It is a universal doctrine. Numerous passages in the Old Testament point to the believer to confess their sins to God. Here are a few.

The Law taught confession of sin, Lev 5:5, “So it shall be when he becomes guilty in one of these, that he shall confess that in which he has sinned.” Lev 16:21; 26:40; Num 5:7. These are precursors for the confession of sin for the Church Age believer.

David acknowledged confession of sin in Psa 32:3, “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long.”

Psa 32:5, “I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”, and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah.”

Psa 38:18, “For I confess my iniquity; I am full of anxiety because of my sin.”

In Psa 51, David is again rebounding and speaking of the consequences. Please read at least verses 1-4.

David, a believer, confesses his post salvation sins and God forgives Him of those sins, just as in 1 John 1:9 for the believer of the Church Age.

Solomon states in Prov 28:13, “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses, (rebounds) and forsakes them (recovers) will find compassion.”

In the dedication of the temple in 2 Chron 6; 1 Kings 8:47, Solomon again applies the doctrine of confession of sin as a prophetic supplication.

Daniel uses confession of sin in Dan 9:4-5, and especially vs. 18-20. Notice Daniel states in 18, “not on any merits of our own.” There we see that confession of sin is a non-meritorious act of faith, just as believing in Jesus Christ is a non-meritorious act of faith.

Isaiah used confession of sin in Isa 55:7, “Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the LORD, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” In fact, Isaiah noted that unconfessed sin was an hindrance to the spiritual life in Isa 59, cf. Psa 66:18; John 9:31. Doing the will of God is to obey His Word, including 1 John 1:9.

Nehemiah used confession of sin in Neh 1:6-7; 9:33-35. Cf. Job 1:5.

Ezra used confession of sin in Ezra 9:5-15; 10:1.

What Does the New Testament Say?

  • The primary context is 1 John 1:5-2:2. The primary issue here is, “is this written to believers or unbelievers.” To answer that question, please note that the “we” in 1 John 1:9 does not refer to unbelievers but to believers. John the Apostle was writing to the Church of Ephesus. To understand this, I present the writings of Dr. Daniel Wallace, Professor of NT Greek, Dallas Theological Seminary, the author of “Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics”, one of the greatest Greek grammarians and scholars of our day, who notes on pg. 689, regarding 1 John 1:9, “This verse is frequently seen to be a more probable future condition. As such, it is sometimes viewed as referring to unbelievers who have not yet confessed their sins (though the “we” is problematic). More likely, it is a present general condition in which the subject is distributive, (“if any of us”).”

Then in footnote 35 on the following page he states, “To see “we” in 1 John 1:9 as referring to unbelievers would be to take the pronominal referent to mean, “you, but not me.” Such is not impossible, of course, but it is highly unlikely and apparently otherwise unexampled in the N.T.”

Therefore, one of, if not the greatest Greek scholars of our day, is stating that the “we” in 1 John 1:9 does not refer to unbelievers, because it has to include John the Apostle. Therefore, 1 John 1:9 is a prayer for believers only. Please see the end of this paper for more on this with a piece from Pastor Bill Wenstrom.

  • Other passages regarding confession of sin for the believer includes Mat 6:12, (which we noted above), cf. James 5:13f.
  • Also note that the first and third of the six basic Doctrines of the Bible in Heb 6:1, have something to do with all of this. In that book, the writer also warns against the misinterpretation or application of the basic doctrines or even simply forgetting them, n Heb 5:11-14. So, in two of the first three “basic doctrines,” we have application for 1 John 1:9, “repentance from dead works,” which is first achieved by being saved, but those believers who walk in sin also have dead works, John 15:1-6, compared with 1 Cor 3:10-15; and “washings,” which relates to John 13 when our Lord washed the feet of the disciples.
  • Just after giving instructions for the Communion Supper, Paul notes in 1 Cor 11:28-32, “But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. 30For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. 31But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. 32But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.”

Examining and judging are both acts of self-reflection, using the Greek words DOKIMAZO and DIAKRINO. First, we are commanded to look introspectively to see if we have sin upon our soul or not, and then to make a judgment upon ourselves; are we guilty of sin or are we not guilty of sin? Who is Paul talking to here? Believers! 1 Cor 11:33. The context here is, we need to examine ourselves to see if we have any sins that we have committed, especially before partaking of the communion supper, the most solemn act of our worship of Jesus Christ during the Church Age. So, we must judge whether we have sin or not. When it says, “judge yourself rightly,” it means acknowledge that you do or do not have sin. And because of prior teachings of the Old Testament regarding the confession of sin and Jesus’ statement in Mat 6:12a, etc., the known conclusion was to confess it to God. When you do, you avoid God’s Divine discipline, as also taught in the Old Testament. Because of the abuse of confession of sins for the believer, John much later had to write to the church at Ephesus to clear this up. That is why we have 1 John 1:9.

What Do Our Early Church Fathers Say About Confession of Sin?

In the Epistle of Barnabas 19:12, it states, “Thou shalt not make a schism, but thou shalt pacify those that contend by bringing them together. Thou shalt confess thy sins. Thou shalt not go to prayer with an evil conscience. This is the way of light.” (Brn 19:12 APE).

Ignatius of Antioch was Among the Apostolic Fathers, was the third Bishop of Antioch, and was a student of John the Apostle. “Moreover, it is in accordance with reason that we should return to soberness of conduct, and, while yet we have opportunity, exercise repentance towards God.” (ISI 9:1 APE)

“Soberness of conduct” reminds us of Eph 5:18, “do not get drunk with wine for that is a waste of life.”  Then it goes on to say, “But be filled with the Spirit.”

The Shepherd of Hermas also called just “The Shepherd” is a Christian literary work of the 1st or 2nd century, considered a valuable book by many Christians, and considered canonical scripture by some of the early Church fathers such as Irenaeus. The Shepherd had great authority in the 2nd and 3rd centuries. It was bound with the New Testament in the Codex Sinaiticus, and it was listed between the Acts of the Apostles and the Acts of Paul in the stichometrical list of the Codex Claromontanus. It pays special attention to the Church, calling the faithful to repent of the sins that have harmed it.

Hermas Similitude 9 23:4, “If our God and Lord, who rules over all things, and has power over all His creation, does not remember evil against those who confess their sins, but is merciful, does man, who is corruptible and full of sins, remember evil against a fellowman, as if he were able to destroy or to save him? (HSI 23:4 APE) I, the angel of repentance, say unto you, As many of you as are of this way of thinking, lay it aside, and repent, and the Lord will heal your former sins, if you purify yourselves from this demon; but if not, you will be delivered over to him for death.” (HSI 23:5 APE)

“Remember evil against a fellowman,” reminds us of Mat 6:12b, “as we also have forgiven our debtors.” That continues into vs. 14-15, “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”

“Lay it aside, and repent, and the Lord will heal your former sins,” reminds us of 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

The Late L.S. Chafer, Co-Founder of Dallas Theological Seminary.

In his Systematic Theology, Chafer states that we never pray for the filling of the Holy Spirit, because it happens when, “He (God the Father) awaits the requisite human adjustments, He is waiting for the believer to yield all to him,” (page 222, bottom of the page.) [Brackets mine]

On Page 240 at the bottom of the page and the top of page 241, we see that indeed Chafer taught confession of sins resulted in the filling / fellowship of the Holy Spirit, but making it clear that we do not ask for the filling, we just adjust to God’s justice through the non-meritorious act of faith in confession of our sins, and thereby avoid the Father’s discipline, as he notes 1 Cor 11:31-32, which is another way of saying confess your sins, with the terms “examine and judge yourself rightly.” To confess your sins, you must first examine your soul and judge if you have sinned or not. Then you can name them to God.

“However, if the sinning child of God will not thus judge himself by a full confession, it becomes necessary for the Father, being the perfect disciplinarian that He is, to bring His child into judgment. This is the force of the Apostle’s words: “If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.” The voluntary act of self-judgment satisfies every divine demand and no judgment from the Father will be imposed. It is only when the Christian withholds his confession and by so much assumes the attitude of self-justification concerning his sin, or through love of it refuses to be adjusted to the holy will of God, that the Father must bring him into the place of correction. It will be recognized again that the issue is not one of sustaining union with the Father, which union, like sonship, when once established can never be broken; it is rather the issue respecting communion and fellowship. Accordingly, it is asked: “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3). God cannot walk in the dark with the believer, nor can fellowship be experienced when the believer is calling black white and white black. The Christian must agree with God that white is white and black is black. Having come into agreement with God, there remains no obstacle to hinder and fellowship is restored by the gracious forgiving and cleansing from God.”

In L.S. Chafer’s Systematic Theology, (Volume 5, page 148, at the bottom of the page), he explains the Lord’s washings of the disciple’s feet in the Upper Room, distinguishing the difference between “bathing” and “washing” and then concludes at the bottom of the page, “For the Christian, (believer’s only here), there is cure for sin constantly and instantly on a basis of faith in Christ’s blood, which cure is secured by confession of sin.”

In Chafer’s Systematic Theology, (Volume 6, page 238-240), regarding 1 John 1:5-2:2, he notes the right application of 1 John 1:9. “John is the experienced witness in regard to an unbroken fellowship with the Father and with the Son, as indicated by the first verses of 1 John. In the first chapter of this epistle, a message is brought forward directly from Christ’s earthly ministry which does not appear in any Gospel record. The message has to do with maintaining communion with the Father and with the Son. In contemplating such a relationship, it should be remembered that “God is light,” which phrase refers to moral or holy perfection, and it’s with such a One that the believer is to have fellowship. The bringing of the Christian into communion with God is not achieved by lowering that which pertains to God; it is rather gained by lifting the believer up to the level upon which communion with God is possible. For one to say that he has fellowship with God, while at the same time he is walking in darkness, is to lie and to do not the truth; but if the Christian walks in the light as God is in the light, it is to experience fellowship with God, the fellowship which is the normal experience of all who are saved. Such fellowship is not a special concession from God, but is rather that which is provided for all who are rightly related to God. All this immeasurable blessing is conditioned on “walking in the light.” To walk in the light is not to become the light, which would be sinless perfection; it is to be adjusted to the light. When the searchlight, which God is, reveals needed changes in one’s life before God, then in order to walk in the light, one must adapt one’s self to the will of God thus revealed. When thus adapted, the blood of Jesus Christ goes on continuously cleansing from all sin. Fellowship does not depend upon an impossible sinless perfection, but on the willing compliance with all that God desires and makes known. Thus confession, which is the outward expression of an inward repentance, becomes the one condition upon which the child of God who has been injured by sin may be restored to unbroken fellowship again. Not only will that restoration be absolute to the extent of infinity, but the divine grace that forgives and cleanses is accomplished on a basis which is righteous to the degree of infinity. Since it is God’s own child that has sinned to whom He is bound with eternal ties, He is “faithful” to those relationships; and since Christ has met all the righteous judgments against the sin which is in question, He is “just” to cleanse and forgive. It was thus in the Old Testament order, and it must ever be thus wherever God the Holy One deals with human sin. The Israelite brought his sacrifice, and it was after the priest offered the sacrifice that the comer therewith was forgiven. Leviticus 4:35 declares: “And he shall take away all the fat thereof, as the fat of the lamb is taken away from the sacrifice of the peace-offerings; and the priest shall burn them upon the altar, according to the offerings made by fire unto the LORD: and the priest shall make an atonement for his sin that he hath committed, and it shall be forgiven him.” Great emphasis is placed on the fact that the one condition to be met for restoration of a believer to fellowship with God is confession of sin. Too often prayer for forgiveness is substituted; but prayer for forgiveness is not an adjustment to the Light which God is. Prayer for forgiveness really assumes that God Himself needs to be changed in His attitude toward the one who has sinned.”

Chafer goes on to say on page 249-250, “The cure of the effects of sin on the spiritual life of a child of God is promised to the one who in repentance of heart makes a genuine confession of his sin. Sin is always sin in the sight of God. It is no less sin because it is committed by a Christian, nor can it be cured in any case other than through the redemption which is in Christ. It is because the redemption-price has already been paid in the precious blood of Christ that God can save sinners who only believe and restore saints who only confess. Not one degree of the punishment that fell upon our Substitute can ever fall on saint or sinner. Since Christ bore it all for us, believing or confessing is all that can righteously be demanded. Until confession is made by the one who has sinned, he is contending for that which is evil, and thus is in disagreement with the Father. “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” God cannot agree with sin. The child can agree with the Father, and this is true repentance which is expressed in true confession. Again, let it be said: repentance is a change of mind. By it those who have sinned turn unto God from sin. The blessing does not depend upon sinless perfection; it is a matter of not grieving the Spirit. It is not an issue concerning unknown sin; it is an attitude of heart that is willing always instantly to confess every known sin. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The Christian who fully confesses all known sin will have removed one—if not all—of the hindrances to the fullest manifestation of the Spirit. “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption,” (Eph. 4:30).

From the foregoing discussion, it may be determined that one of the conditions upon which the believer may be Spirit-filled is met when that which grieves the Holy Spirit is removed by complete confession, which confession is the expression of a contrite heart. The secret by which this aspect of responsibility may best be maintained is to keep short accounts with God. Let the first impression of spiritual depression be a signal to ascertain at once the cause and as readily to apply the remedy–confession to God.”

He also concludes: Thus in the briefest and most vital manner three great responsibilities—the three which condition spirituality—are gathered up in three words, namely, confess, yield, and walk.”

Therefore, in relation to 1 John 1:9, it is not a passage for unbelievers but for Christians. We look back to the Cross of Christ when we recognize we have sinned and confess them knowing they are forgiven.

The Late R.B. Thieme Jr. Regarding the Confession of Sins:

In his book “Rebound Revisited” He notes the following, The apostle Paul, above all men, completely understood the importance of rebound, i.e. naming sins privately to God the Father. When rebound is neglected, carnality is perpetuated and the spiritual life self-destructs. Without rebound, the filling of the Holy Spirit is grieved and quenched; the Christian way of life disintegrates.”

He goes on to say, “Rebound is the divine solution for recovering fellowship with God and defeating fear in life. Just as faith in Christ for salvation is accomplished in the status of spiritual death, so rebound for the recovery of the filling of the Holy Spirit is accomplished in the status of carnality. In each case God does all the work. That is grace…. Our responsibility is to simply acknowledge sins to God. We never earn or deserve the wonderful recovery of fellowship God provides for us.”

In his book “Rebound and Keep Moving,” he states:

“WHY REBOUND? If all sins were blotted out at the cross, why is sin still an issue? If all sins are already forgiven, why must you rebound? The penalty for sin is removed once and for all at the cross, but repercussions of personal sin in the life of a believer must be confronted. When a believer sins, the initial repercussions are loss of fellowship with God and loss of the filling of the Holy Spirit, the empowerment for the Christian life. No member of the Trinity can fellowship with a believer having sin in his life. Sin destroys our temporal fellowship with the Lord, but cannot jeopardize our eternal relationship with Him. Rebound, confessing or naming our known sins to God the Father, is the only means compatible with grace for restoration of fellowship with God and recovery of the filling of the Holy Spirit. Rebound is our access to intimacy with the Lord, the gateway to divine power in our life, our license to serve the Lord.”

Regarding the Filling of the Holy Spirit in Eph 5:18, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled [PLEROO] with the Spirit.” He states, “In the imperative mood the Greek verb PLEROO designates a divine mandate, a command that involves our choice. God would not mandate a status we already possess. We must choose to be or not to be filled with the Spirit. PLEROO means “to fill up a deficiency, to fully influence, to fill with a certain quality.” No believer has the ability to obey God’s mandates through human power. The Holy Spirit fills up this deficiency by giving us the power to live the Christian way of life. But why, if we are filled with the Spirit at salvation, is this command necessary? The reason is our old nemesis, the sin nature. The filling of the Spirit is lost when we sin. In carnality, we are no longer controlled by the Holy Spirit, but by the sin nature. How can we escape this control? REBOUND!”

“Rebound is for believers only. If you have not accepted Jesus Christ as Savior, confession is utterly useless. Judas Iscariot confessed his sins, felt sorry for his sins, and even made restitution (Matt. 27:3-4). He did everything except believe in Christ. His confession was futile. He was lost and died an unbeliever.”

Concerning the misuse of 1 John 1:9, he states, “Often those with legalistic tendencies become upset because they think rebound is a license to sin. Some believers who fail may use rebound for exactly that purpose. But rebound restores the believer to a position where he can live his spiritual life and serve God, not excuse or rationalize sin. No believer can be in God’s plan apart from the divine power which comes only through the filling of the Holy Spirit. Rebound is the only way to recover from sin and regain the filling of the Holy Spirit.”


The Filling of the Holy Spirit is temporary, depending on whether or not you first confess any known sins to God the Father, and second, you continue to faithfully walk in the love, light, and wisdom of Christ. But remember that regardless of whether we are filled with the Spirit or not, we are always indwelt by the Holy Spirit, (eternal salvation and security), which we cannot lose, John 10:27-30. The Filling of the Spirit and fellowship with God are not mutually exclusive. They are inextricably related. In fact, experiencing one’s sanctification, walking in the light, and abiding in Christ or His Word, are also inextricably tied to each other. They all speak of experiencing fellowship with God from different perspectives. Thus, when a believer confesses their sins, they are not only restored to fellowship with God, but they are filled with the Spirit. Being “in fellowship with God” demands obedience to His Word. When we are, we also experience sanctification and walk in the light, i.e. live according to God’s holy standards. Therefore, to Produce Divine Good, we must be “Filled with the Holy Spirit” and “keep walking by means of the Spirit.” But if we “grieve or quench” the Spirit, we are out of fellowship with Him and we cannot produce Divine Good. “The confession of every known sin and the maintaining of the principle of reliance upon the Spirit in the daily walk depend on the action of the human will, but it is equally true and far more consequential that the human will be empowered by the Holy Spirit, else it does not act to God’s glory.” (Chafer’s Systematic Theology.) Therefore, it is impossible to please God, Eph 5:10, unless we are Filled with the Holy Spirit, Eph 5:18b, which is only achieved through the grace provision of 1 John 1:9.

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 If you would like more information on this subject, you may watch/listen to lesson:
#17-050 & #17-051 & #17-052

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If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I am here to tell you that Jesus loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His life for you. God the Father also loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His only Son for you by sending Him to the Cross. At the Cross Jesus died in your place. Taking upon Himself all of your sins and all of my sins. He was judged for our sins and paid the price for our sins. Therefore, our sins will never be held against us. Right where you are, you now have the opportunity to make the greatest decision in your life.

To accept the free gift of salvation and eternal life by truly believing that Jesus Christ died for your sins and was raised on the third day as the proof of the promise of eternal life. So right now, you can pause and reflect on what Christ has done for you and say to the Father:

“Yes Father, I believe that Your Son, Jesus Christ, died on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins.”

If you have done that, I welcome you to the eternal Family of God!

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