Be Wise, Be Filled With The Spirit
Topic: Sanctification Passage: Ephesians 5:15–5:20
What was going on in your heart this week? What is going on in your heart this morning? Is your heart troubled by fears, or cares, OR would you say there is a song in your heart today? Are you so filled with the Spirit that you are singing to the Lord in your heart? Is the Spirit of God so permeating your thoughts and emotions that thankfulness is overflowing from your heart? I have an important announcement to make: You CAN live that way! It says so right here.
You can be happy enough that you go around singing and praising God from your heart. You can be so content, and feel so blessed that you are always giving thanks to God for everything! You can be so filled with the Spirit, that you are lifted right out of your circumstances and into joyful singing and deep gratitude to the Lord. It fact we are COMMANDED to live that way!
That is the message God has for us in these verses. Yes, the days are evil! There is wickedness and trouble. Life in this world is not easy. YET we are given a prescription for how we are to live in evil days. God tells us to live wisely in evil days by living continuously filled with the Spirit, singing and giving thanks in all things.
He begins by telling us to be very careful. Most of us are used to being careful about some things. We know life is dangerous. People are in car accidents, people drown, people get sued, plaque can build up in your arteries, you can fall down the stairs and break a leg, you can get burned on a hot stove....How do we deal with all that? You take precautions. You buckle your seat belt, you put life jackets on your kids. You use a hot pad when you take a dish out of the oven. You are careful.
However these physical dangers are nothing compared to those spiritual things that wage war against your soul. It is about these things that God says to us, through Paul, BE VERY CAREFUL, because the days are evil. Life is spiritually and morally dangerous. Evil influences are at work upon you. There are many schemes and snares of the devil. You can be ensnared in bitterness, anger, malice, sexual immorality, covetousness, idolatry, or drunkenness. You can be captivated by fears and anxieties, or despair, which are just as destructive as any other sin.
So we SHOULD be concerned about driving safely, having a good doctor, but we should be FAR more concerned about living in spiritual safety. As Vs 15 says “Be very careful then, how you live-...” -how you live your life! Especially be careful about what you let go on inside of you, in your heart and in your spirit. That is where Satan has his arrows aimed. Be careful with the thoughts you allow yourself to think on.
Maybe you ran into somebody's fender in the parking lot at the store so you are upset, worried if your car insurance will go up. Or someone said something on Face-book that really irks you. So you are stewing over this and would really like to give them a piece of your mind. At least a part of the application of this verse is to be careful to NOT let the issues of life control what is going on in your heart. Something else is to fill our hearts, something else is to flow out of us.
The verse continues, “Be very careful then, how you live, not as unwise but as wise”, Be wise in how you live! - “making the most of every opportunity” or the ESV says, “making the best use of your time”. Use every moment to live for God. Use every moment for the best that moment can be used for. If you spend an hour or a day in bitterness or anxiety or fear, or complaining, or being mad at somebody, can you get that time back? You can't. Be careful with every moment of your time!
BECAUSE THE DAYS ARE EVIL, because there are so many sinful attitudes, so many sinful choices, so many dangers to your soul... BE CAREFUL with every moment!
Verse 17 says,
“Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is.”
Foolishness is ignoring the Lord's will. It is wise to know and do the LORD'S will. He is not talking about whether you should live in Iowa or Africa, or whether you should sell your house or buy a new car or a used van. He is talking about doing God's will in spiritual and moral matters. He is talking about doing God's will rather than doing evil. He is talking about doing God's will in your heart and mind and spirit. You are to understand the Lord's will down to your every thought and attitude.
“Do not get drunk on wine, but be filled with the Spirit..”
Getting drunk is foolish. It is not the will of God. So he says “do not get drunk on wine”. The wise thing is to be filled with the Spirit! To be singing in your heart to the Lord, to be always giving thanks to the Father! BE CAREFUL TO LIVE THIS WAY! THIS is how you use your your time wisely!
Today we call repeatedly getting drunk an addiction. The Bible calls it being enslaved to sin. Our culture thinks that is ignorant and cruel to call it a sin. But to call it sin actually gives hope, and shows mercy. If drunkenness is only a disease that means you probably have no hope of getting well. But IF drunkenness is sin there is an answer. There is the hope of being born again and being filled with the Spirit. So as a born again person you can obey this command, even if you have struggled with alcohol, “Do not get drunk with wine.” Do not get drunk on wine but be filled with the Spirit.”
There is an obvious contrast here. People drink to forget their troubles and their worries. They drink to medicate their sorrows. They are looking for a happiness they don't have. The question is: Where do you go to get happy? Where do you go when you are discouraged, or anxious, or depressed? Do you turn to excessive drinking? Or maybe its not drinking for you. Do you turn to overeating, watching TV for hours on end, to excessive shopping, do you start dialing the phone, calling this person and that person, OR...do you turn to the Holy Spirit.
The idea here is that our peace, our joy, our exhilaration is from God. We find happiness in communion with God, with his Spirit who dwells in us. Don't turn to alcohol for peace, turn to Jesus Christ for peace. In these evil days, be filled with the Spirit.
What does this mean to be filled with the Spirit? We know what it means to be filled with sadness. That means your heart, your thoughts, your emotions are permeated with sadness. We know what it is to be filled with anger. It affects your whole body! Your face gets red, your muscles tighten. We know what it is to be filled with anxiety or fear. You mind is filled with thoughts about that thing you are worried about. You wake up in the morning and you start worrying about how that problem will work out, you imagine these different outcomes that all end in disaster. Your heart rate goes up, you feel stress, you are filled with anxiety. (I am not suggesting that the Holy Spirit is just an emotion. He is a real person. But he does affect our entire being when we are filled with him.)
To be filled with the Spirit, means to have your heart, your thoughts, your emotions permeated with the Holy Spirit. It is something that AFFECTS YOU TO THE POINT OF SINGING AND THANKFULNESS. It means to have your whole life under the influence of the Spirit. It is giving up your right to complain, to mummer, to be discouraged, to sulk, or to be hard to get along with, and so on. It is yielding to him so fully that you are full of the love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, self control of the Spirit. Being filled with the Spirit is not passively waiting or hoping for some new feeling to come over you. It is actively giving him total access to your heart and mind and life. It is choosing to live in the righteousness, peace and joy of the Holy Spirit.
If you are a Christian, the Holy Spirit is present in you now. He is alive in you. He is always breathing, willing, working, within you. He is always inspiring you. He is expressing his will to you at all times, day and night, in your home or at work. We know he is communicating his will to us because his will can be disobeyed, therefore he can be grieved. We know that he is like a fire burning within us because he can be quenched. 1 Thessalonians 5:19 says, “Do not put out the Spirit's fire”. We know the Spirit can so saturate and our mind and heart with such joy that you are singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord and always saying thank you.
How do we begin to live (more) this way? You can ask to be filled with the Spirit. You can ask for the Spirit of God to permeate you with his joy, his love, his peace, his holiness and his POWER! That is good and we should. But this passage actually does not tell us to ASK to be filled with the Spirit. It says BE filled with the Spirit. It is a command. You have a responsibility to be filled with the Spirit. You are to yield to the Spirit, as a way of life, to such a degree that you are filled with him and overflowing with him. This is a command to LIVE FULL OF THE SPIRIT!
You can be filled because the Holy Spirit WANTS to fill you. He earnestly desires you. He is jealous for you. He is the “Filler”. He is ready and eager to fill you. You have to take the lid off the glass. You have to open your mouth and drink. You must actively let the Holy Spirit flow into you being. You don't have to work up something, you have to open up something! -Your heart! It is much like the image of Jesus standing at the door of the church in Revelation 3:20 “Here I am. I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”
In my experience, I find that I am filled with the Spirit as I practice three things:
One: I am filled with the Spirit: When I take adequate time alone with God, to be reminded of the truth and promises of God's word. I need times when I give God my whole attention and see him as great, and good and loving and able to take care of me. The Bible was written by the Holy Spirit. Part of being filled with the Spirit is being filled with the truths and promises of the Word! I read Psalm 103 earlier this week. “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love for those who fear him”. And it lifted my heart as it were into heaven.
Two: When I effectively renounce all forms of worry and fear, and place all my trust in God to save me, help me, in every way, in every situation. The word renounce is very important. It means to reject or repudiate something. Jesus said, Do not let your heart be troubled. Part of the way you are filled with the Spirit is to NOT WORRY ABOUT ANYTHING! Oswald Chambers said, “Bad attitudes do not go out by praying them out, they go out by kicking them out”. I can't be filled with the Spirit and singing when there is worry in my heart. (For you it might be critical thoughts or thoughts of self pity.)
Three: When I effectively deal with all guilt and condemnation, both by turning away from and confessing something I know is sin, and most importantly, by placing complete confidence in Jesus to remove all my sins from me. IE I am filled with the Spirit when I keep my eyes on the cross and glory in the cross and its sufficiency to cleanse me from all sins.
In my experience, when I practice these things, the Spirit rises up within me with joy and singing and thanksgiving spontaneously. I just find that I am filled.
Vs 19-20 Go on to describe what kind of outflow of the Holy Spirit you will see in your life. “Speaking to one another in psalms hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making music in your heart to the Lord”. It is a fact that, “Filled with his Spirit we sing”. Knowing God and being filled with him is so wonderful that just talking about it is not good enough! These are things that demand singing! If all we can do is talk about justification, or forgiveness of sins, or the love of God, in a kind of academic or theoretical way, then something is seriously wrong. We are to know these things in a way that causes us to sing!
The ESV says “addressing one another” in songs. Instead of addressing each other with sharp, angry words, instead of pouring out a steady stream of negative complaints, instead of talking about how bad your problems are, speak to each other in spiritual songs. Instead of noisy quarreling, there should be joyful singing among us. That is the difference the Holy Spirit makes when we are filled with him and when we are not.
It says here we sing FOR EACH OTHER, or TO each other. If you sing “A mighty fortress is our God”, you are saying to God, in my stresses, and troubles and fears, you are my fortress. BUT you are ALSO singing that to the person next to you and those around you. You are saying to them, “Lift up your heart. Do not fear. God is a mighty fortress”.
Vs 19 goes on, “Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord..” JBP translation says, “make music in your heart for the ears of the Lord”. We sing to him because the Lord himself is our inspiration to sing. Maybe nothing else in your life would really inspire a song, but he does! If you are filled with his love, his promises, his Spirit, you will sing to him. David said “I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing to my God to my last breath.” Psalm 104:33.
This joyful singing in the Spirit, opens a thousand doors, it solves a thousand problems, it overcomes a thousand bad circumstances. It brings a deep satisfaction and sense of well being that nothing else can even come close to. If your heart is happy in the Lord then you have all a person could want in this life. Proverbs 15:15 says, “A cheerful heart has a continual feast”. We could say a heart filled with the Spirit has a continual feast.
Another part of being filled with the Holy Spirit, is that you are always giving thanks to God the Father for everything”. Thankfulness or gratitude is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. When you are complaining the Holy Spirit does not have the primary influence in your heart and mind. When you are complaining you are not filled with him.
You can get so used to saying things like: I am having a really bad day. When it rains it pours. This did not go well at all. Oh well, what are you going to do? Sometimes we can let a continual stream of Anti-Spirit thoughts and words flow out unchecked, seemingly with NO AWARENESS that our attitudes are against the Spirit.
Hannah Hurnard, “The secret of victorious Christian living is to go through each day praising God for everything – the bad things as well as the good. As I look back at the past few years of my own life, I am astonished beyond words by two things, First, the complete transformation in my whole life, outlook, inner experience, and most of all, in my own character, as well as bodily health which has resulted from the practice of this one simple principle – to react to everything with praise and thanksgiving, instead of grumbling, moaning, protest and resistance. Second the extraordinary fact that I had lived as a Christian and a missionary for so many years without realizing that this is a vital Christian principle.”
People filled with God's perspective are always seeing something to give thanks for in all things. When Paul was thrown in prison, he didn't say, “This is terrible. My ministry is destroyed. I will just rot in here. I hate this place.” He said, “Now I want you to know that what has happened to me (being thrown in prison) has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly...It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, supposing they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. BUT WHAT DOES IT MATTER? The important thing is that Christ is preached, and because of that I rejoice! (I will be happy in prison!) Yes and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.”
This thing of being filled with the Spirit is not just God talk. It MEANS SOMETHING! It works in prison, in trial and blessing. It goes right to the core of your being, how you are thinking, how you are talking internally, how you are talking to others. It affects you at the most basic level of your heart. It is expressed in the attitude that oozes out of your being, the look in your eye, the countenance on your face, the brightness in your words, the hope in your expressions. Do you see that in Paul's words?
This is being careful how you live! This is living NOT as unwise but as wise! This is how you make the best use of every moment of your time!
*What are you filled with right now? If it is anything other than singing and giving thanks, repent. Become aware of what you are filled with, what is flowing out of you.
*Are you committed to being under the control of the Holy Spirit in every facet of your personality at all times in all places with all people, including your spouse? Do not be content to live 5 minutes without the filling of the Holy Spirit. Nothing is more important each day than this. Really! My dad used to say, if I don't get anything else done today I am going to get this garage cleaned out. Good to have that purpose. But should we not say this about being filled with the Spirit more than anything else?
*Do you want this enough to renounce the things in your life that are hindering this? Do you want to live filled with the Spirit? Do you want to live with a song in your heart and gratitude flowing out of your heart? You may have to renounce a lot of other things that may be there right now in order to make room for the Spirit. It is not drunkenness and the filling of the Spirit. It is not anxiety and the fullness of the Spirit. It is not jealousy and the Holy Spirit. It is not anger and the Holy Spirit. Paul could just as well have said do not get drunk on worry as do not get drunk on wine. The point is you can't be under the influence of any other thing, if you want to be full of the Spirit.
I hope you do want this. I am on a determined mission to live the way life is described here in these verses. Many others here are too. Come and go with us.