The Spirit-Filled Life

Colossians 3:1-3  
1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 

Before knowing Christ we believed in lies. Our reality is now set with Christ as our focus, and we are given clear vision through the help of the Holy Spirit.1  In Colossians 3, Paul speaks to the church of Colossae, reminding them – and us – that we are now to live with a new kind of mentality. We are to depend on Biblical wisdom to define our truth, and “set our hearts [and]…minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Paul is reminding us that even our hearts and minds need to be changed by the gospel. As we depend on the Lord, our lives will be transformed.

Living the Spirit-Filled Life 
The Holy Spirit is one person of our triune God and is interchangeable with God. Jesus gave us the Spirit, “Helper,” when He ascended into heaven.  Living a Spirit-filled life separates those individuals who are truly changed by Christ’s death on the cross, and those that are not.  Galatians 5 says that if you belong to Christ you will put your old sinful self to death and live led by the Spirit.  Living a life led by the Spirit should compel the believer to practice what we refer to as “spiritual breathing.”  When one physically breathes, they both inhale and exhale.  Spiritual breathing implies an “exhaling” of sin (through confession), and an “inhaling” of Christ (through inviting the Holy Spirit’s help).  Here we will look at what it means to belong to Christ and to live a “Spirit-filled” life. 

  1. The Mystical Aspect. The Holy Spirit is mystical and mysterious, but is meant to be a helper to all who follow Christ.  To not seek understanding about the Spirit is to remain ignorant about what God can do in you and through you.
    • The Holy Spirit – who is God – is in you! 2
    • Paul often uses this aspect of the Spirit’s filling as motivation for living in holiness.  We are to call on the Holy Spirit to help us flee from sin and pursue godliness.
  2. The Practical Aspect. As we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we will read, obey and meditate on biblical truths.  We are also to seek this biblical truth through wise counsel from others who truly follow Christ.
    • Renew your mind 3
      • Preoccupy your thoughts with spiritual things.
      • Meditate on and memorize Scripture. 
    • Encourage the Body 4
      • Speak Truth to one another.

How Are We Filled? 

  1. Mystical Aspect. We receive the Holy Spirit when we become a Christian.  He dwells within all those who belong to Christ.
    • God sends His Spirit into our hearts when we receive Christ.5  We will never lose the Spirit’s presence; He cannot be taken from us.
  2. Practical Aspect. We need to remind ourselves of the Truth.
    • Happens when we read God’s Word and pray.
      • God’s principles and nature are found in His Word.  To the extent that you live a life based on God’s principles is the extent to which you are filled.
      • Filling occurs when we increasingly allow the Spirit to permeate each area of our lives.
  3. Spiritual Breathing 
    • Exhale (Confess sin and repent)
      • 1 John 1:9, 2:1
      • Example: You have been hurt by a fellow believer and have responded in anger without forgiveness. A proper “exhaling” response would be to    confess your sin to the Lord, recognizing His forgiveness. You would then go to your brother or sister in Christ and confess your sin to them and ask for forgiveness. 
    • Inhale (Be filled with the Spirit)
      • Appropriate grace and forgiveness
      • Consider your sin as having been forgiven through the blood of Christ 
      • Example: You live in the knowledge that you, having recognized your sin and repenting of it, are free from its chains. This is simply because of   Christ’s grace and forgiveness. 

The Roles of the Holy Spirit 

  • Helper
    • John 14:16-21, 26 
  • Parakletos
    • Comforter, encourager, advocate, helper, one who steps forward on behalf of another or to represent another. In the classical Greek, it took the meaning of legal advisor. 
    • This role of the Spirit seems to be tightly identified with the notion of Christian obedience. 
  • Assurance of Salvation
    • Romans 8:15-16 – bears witness, produces testimony. 
  • Conviction of Sin
    • John 16:8

If we call ourselves Christians, our lives should be changed by the gospel.  However, we cannot do good things on our own.  We cannot even know the heart and will of God without His help.  For all who have responded to the cross, we have been given the Holy Spirit to dwell in us and to assist us in our life-long pursuit of holiness.  We must seek to know God through His Word and allow that to soak into every aspect of our lives.  If we are in Christ, we never lose His Spirit. Yet if we are in Christ, we have an obligation to submit to his Spirit.

Application Questions 

  1. Is the Holy Spirit God?
  2. When does the believer receive the Holy Spirit? Can an unbeliever receive Him?
  3. What does the Holy Spirit enable us to do? 
  4. What are three areas of your life that you are struggling to give over to the Lord?  Why are you refusing to surrender these?  What does Scripture say about these?
  5. If you recognize your sin and want to turn from it and start anew, take this opportunity to practice the Spiritual Breathing exercise of confessing and receiving forgiveness for these sins. This may be done alone or with another believer in Christ.

Memory Verses
Colossians 3:1-3
1 John 1:9 

How does this study reinforce your belief in the gospel? 


  1. John 14:26
  2. Colossians 3:1; 1 Corinthians 6:19
  3. Colossians 3:1; Romans 12:1-2
  4. Ephesians 5:18-19
  5. Romans 8:15-16

Other Resources

Here are a few websites we recommended you use to receive further training and help aid your worship of Christ:

The Gospel Coalition
for Theology and Worldview

The Resurgence
for Theology and Worldview

Desiring God
for Theology and Worldview

God Squad
for Campus Ministry and Evangelism

Gospel Centered Discipleship
for Accountability

FCS Urban Ministries
for Urban Ministry & Community Development

for Urban Ministry & Community Development