The fruit of the Spirit is love…
The infilling of the human soul by God is an indwelling of the Spirit of love. It is more than a wistful thought that pure love might dwell within us; it is a result of our conversion. Every believer receives the Spirit at conversion (Romans 8:9), but some seek and receive the filling of the Spirit. I am convinced that this is the greatest spiritual need in our daily lives and in our churches – for believers to be filled with the Spirit of love.
Many try to substitute the love of God with mere human sentimentality – the thought that love and human kindness are essentially the same things. But human kindness is so capricious to our own biases that it is a miserable substitute for the real love of the real God. Human kindness is blinder than human justice, being kind to some and rude to others based merely on some personal whim or emotional reaction from their appearance. Or, the flawed sense of kindness we feel that can even conflict with the righteousness of God. I have known for Christians to pray for the release of someone from prison, even though the person’s guilt is clearly known and the best thing for him spiritually would be for him to pay for his crime.
The love of God is, however, completely other. To be filled with God is to be filled with love, and the intent of God’s love is for an eternal blessing in a human life. The essential nature of sin is selfishness, the expressed opposite of love. It is the “choice of self as the supreme end which constitutes the antithesis of supreme love to God.” In this world’s values, the “supreme end” or chief purpose of life is to love and take care of ourselves, regardless of the pain it causes others. We may, of course, stop from hurting someone if it bothers us too much – so that we will not have a troubled conscience – but this also is just another expression of self-love. God’s love, however, draws us in the opposite direction, and the love to or for God is possible because we have been touched by and filled with His love. We cannot go the journey alone, nor even begin it. To love God, to go in the opposite way from the pull of sin, requires God to do in our hearts what only He can do.
Being filled with His love removes all other competing loves. He, instead, changes our thoughts and directions in life. We repudiate false ways and seek only to go God’s way. This affects us in many ways. For example, there is no conflict whatsoever for the one filled with God to say, “I love You, God,” and also say, “I love Your Word,” or “I love to do Your will,” “I love the redeemed,” or “I love the lost people of the world.” Love of God, for God, from God, in God, by God, to God, does not have a cafeteria style of effect on our souls, where we are left to then choose what and who we will love. God’s love transforms the heart.
D.L. Moody had his own private “Pentecost,” as he called it. For weeks he had been praying for a fullness of the Spirit and his prayer seemed unanswered. Then suddenly the Lord moved so strongly in his heart that he felt he must be alone with God. He then rushed to the house of a friend and asked for a private room.
His host thought best to humor him. Moody locked the door and sat on the sofa. The room seemed ablaze with God, Moody dropped to the floor and lay bathing his soul in the Divine … “I can only say that God revealed Himself to me, and I had such an experience of His love that I had to ask Him to stay His hand.” Turmoil of mind glided into peace, conflict of character snapped into integration … [He was left] gentle as a babe, utterly dependent on a power beyond his own.
The work of God’s Spirit is expressly to poor His love into our hearts. The power that transforms ministries must first change perspectives and priorities, must first melt our hard hearts and soften our strong wills. God promised through Christ, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26).
Under the Old Testament you know the Holy Spirit often came upon men as a divine Spirit of revelation to reveal the mysteries of God, or for power to do the work of God. But He did not then dwell in them. Now, many just want the Old Testament gift of power for work, but know very little of the New Testament gift of the indwelling Spirit, animating and renewing the whole life. When God gives the Holy Spirit, His great object is the formation of a holy character. It is a gift of a holy mind and spiritual disposition, and what we need above everything else, is to say:
“I must have the Holy Spirit sanctifying my whole inner life if I am really to live for God’s glory.”
You might say that when Christ promised the Spirit to the disciples, He did so that they might have power to be witnesses. True, but then they received the Holy Spirit in such heavenly power and reality that He took possession of their whole being at once and so fitted them as holy men for doing the work with power as they had to do it. Christ spoke of power to the disciples, but it was the Spirit filling their whole being that worked the power.
This doctrine of being filled with the Spirit is a staggering thought. That our heart and soul, and all that is within us, might be filled to overflowing with the Spirit of the God of love, defies explanation and merely commends itself to us as an experience of grace. The filling of God waits until the soul is fully prepared to truly die to sin and self and to seek only to be mastered by God.
Lord, forgive us when we have complicated what You have made profoundly simple: to be mastered by You. Take our heart, our mind, our will, our emotions, our experiences, our talents, our private thoughts – all that comprises “me” – and master us. Fill us with Yourself. Amen.
 A.H. Strong, Systematic Theology (Judson Press, 1907), p 567.
 John Pollock, Moody (Zondervan, 1963), p. 90.
 Andrew Murray, Absolute Surrender, (Original by Moody Press, 1895; paperback by Whitaker House, 1981), pp. 22-23.