The Filling of the Holy Spirit

Some of you know that growing up, I was a reluctant participant in my family’s hobby of showing horses.  This was a small time operation, and we only had a couple of horses at a time.  I say reluctant because my role was the dirty jobs: feeding the horses in the winter, pitching the manure out of the stall, driving all over the state for shows, and worst of all, watching my sister not do any of those things yet riding the horses in the shows, winning the trophies, and getting her picture in the paper.  Was it ever noted in all the press the key role I played?  No.  Hence, reluctant.

Being around horse shows, the real show is the event called “reining.”  This event is the culmination of a long and difficult process between the horse and the rider.  It begins by breaking in the horse.  Really, it’s breaking the horse.  They begin by building trust, feeding the animal.  Petting and rubbing it.  Building trust.  Eventually getting the horse to accept a bridle.  Once the bridle is on, they start to walk the horse, put it on a rope and have it run in circles.  The day finally comes when the trainer gets on the horse for the first time.  This is the decisive moment as it is a battle of wills.  The horse vs. the trainer/rider.  Really, it is a battle for control.  Who is going to be in control?  Who is leading?  Who is submitting?  Typically there’s some kicking and jumping, but if it goes well, the horse surrenders to the will of the rider.  Now he is broken.  Now he can be ridden.  Now he is useful.  Now this is a horse that a talented rider can do amazing things with.  If you have ever seen “reining,” you know what I am talking about.  Left.  Right.  Nudge of the reigns, slight kick, off and galloping.  Stop on a dime.  Slow.  Backup.  There are even contests that go one step further.  No saddle.  No bridle.  Just horse and rider.  The surrender of the horse allows the rider to guide and direct and the two of them can do amazing things together.  When there is confusion between horse and rider, that is not a horse show, that’s a rodeo.  The more the horse trusts and surrenders to the rider, the more the horse and rider can do together.

In the metaphor, we are the horse.  The Spirit is the rider.  The analogy is not perfect but at conversion, we are broken and the Spirit is now with us, like a rider.  To be filled with the Spirit is to daily surrender my flesh’s desire to control and allow the Spirit’s active presence and power to rule.  Like a horse to its rider, should be a Christian to the Spirit.

But wait, didn’t I do that when I was saved?  Didn’t I surrender?  Yes.  But just like every time the rider gets on the horse, every day I wake up I must yield to his right to lead.  Gal. 5:16, walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.  To be full of the Spirit is the ongoing experience of the Holy Spirit in which his will and His Word have permeated the entirety of our personhood are controlling and empowering our lives.

Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

© 2010 Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s web site address ( on the copied resource.

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