When you believe in Jesus and His finished work, you receive his spirit. From then on it's your choice to be filled with the spirit. Being filled with the Spirit is when you allow the Holy Spirit to come upon you to bear fruit and empower all the gifts. That's the bottom line, but let's look a little closer.
After Jesus' resurrection, He appeared to over 500 people over a period of 40 days. One appearance was to His closest disciples where he gave them His spirit. "And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit." (John 20:22) Then he tells those same people to wait on the spirit to come upon them so they will be endued with power.
Acts 1:8 But you (same people he breathed on) will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
If they received His Spirit when He breathed on them, did they have His Spirit?
YES! So what did being "filled" with the Spirit mean?
Ephesians 5:18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit
From this context, you see that being filled with the Spirit is like being under the influence of alcohol, you have to choose to drink the alcohol just like you have to choose to yield to the Spirit. God will not violate your will or your authority as a human. Being filled with the Spirit of God is not when you get the Spirit in you, He's already in you giving you life if you believe in Jesus, being filled with the Spirit is when you choose to yield to His influence from within.
What about the new believers in Acts? Inevitably when you speak about the baptism of the spirit people bring up these passages.
Acts 8:14 NIV When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. 15 When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive (lay hold of or take) the Holy Spirit, 16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
There is a slight confusion because verse 17 uses the word received but in verse 16 we see that the Holy Spirit had not yet come ON them. The word receive means to "take" or "lay hold of". These new believers were born again, they had the Spirit IN them but they had not yet "taken hold" of the Spirit in their heart to allow him to come UPON them. Or they had not yet been FILLED with the spirit. The first disciples knew the importance of being empowered by the Spirit that dwelt within them, that's where the power to minister comes from.
Here's how Paul prayed believers would yield to or be filled with the spirit.
Ephesians 3:16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
The Apostle Paul is talking to believers, he prays that they strengthened in their inner man so Christ will dwell in their hearts that they will be filled with God. That's being filled with the Spirit even they already had the Spirit.
This is our problem, we don't make a regular practice of being filled with the Spirit. We're waiting for God to send something rather than step forward and take what he's already given. The strength to change any behavior is already within us, yield to or be filled with His Spirit and take the power. The wisdom you need for that next decision is already within you, yield to his spirit willingly and take hold of the answer. The power to work miracles is in you, get under His influence and let that power flow through you.
Stop waiting on God, you already have within you everything he will ever give you in this life, his Spirit. Cultivate his Spirit so that your heart can allow fruit and gifts to grow and flow.
Mind Renewal Exercise
Get quiet and still for a few moments. Begin to think about God's life essence being in you. What does it look like? What does it feel like?
Now become thankful for His spirit within you. Also think about this Spirit as love within you, flowing all through you. Notice if any scriptures come to mind.
Now see that spirit/essence/love/wisdom/power flowing out of you into your body or onto your life's circumstances. Watch what it does to that area.
In this moment open your heart to receive wisdom.
Write down any revelation you experience. Now decide how you'll put it into practice.