The proof is in the pudding
“The proof is in the pudding” is a familiar phrase in our modern vernacular. It is actually an abbreviation of the phrase, “the proof of the pudding is in the eating.” It simply means that the true value or quality of something can only be judged when it is actually put to use. That is, it is the result that counts.
We have a command in scripture to…be filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). How can we know that we are being filled with the Holy Spirit? Some would tell us it is in the reception and use of certain “gifts of the Spirit.” Scripture teaches quite the opposite in the very context of this command. There is an inward evidence, an upward evidence and an outward evidence. Yes, the proof is in the pudding!
II. An inward evidence (v. 19)
What is the inward evidence? Singing…making melody…in your heart…to the Lord. Do you want to know if you are being filled with the Holy Spirit? You will have a song in your heart. Buddhists may have their impressive temples, but they do not have a song in their hearts. Hindus may have their mantras, but there is no song in their hearts. Islam might pride herself in her morality, but where is her song?
Notice that we are not making rhythm in our hearts. That appeals to the flesh. Nor do we make harmony which has its primary appeal toward our soulish realm of emotions. But we make melody which appeals to our spirit. And the song is in our heart. Like Paul and Silas in a Philippian jail, we may be in difficult straits, but there can still be a song in our heart even at midnight.
III. An upward evidence (v. 20)
What is this upward evidence? Giving thanks for all things unto God…. The one who is being filled with God’s Spirit is one who is thankful for all things. He or she has an attitude of gratitude. We cannot stay filled with the Holy Spirit without being in a spirit of thankfulness to God for ALL things.
IV. An outward evidence (v. 21)
There is finally an outward evidence in how we relate to one another. Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. What is the outward evidence? Submission, each of us esteeming others as better than ourselves. This was never more evidenced than in the upper room when our Lord, Himself, became the servant of all and washed the others’ feet.
Therefore, what is the proof that one is genuinely being filled with God’s Spirit? Our command is to be filled with the Holy Spirit (v. 18). In the Greek text there is no period after this verse. It flows right into the next three verses which pose to us that the proof is in an inward evidence (v. 19). We will have a song in our heart. It is in an upward evidence (v. 20). We will be living in a spirit of thanksgiving to God. And, it is an outward evidence (v. 21). We will live in mutual submission. Yes, the proof is in the pudding!
(For a more complete exposition, see O. S. Hawkins’s book, Getting Down to Brass Tacks, page 126, which includes Greek word studies and illustrative materials.)