Friday, September 4, 2015

The call to be Spirit-filled in sanctification (i.e practical holiness) - Ephesians 5:1-14

Ephesians 5:1 "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children"

Ephesians 5:18 "And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit"

Ephesians 6:18 "With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with allperseverance and petition for all the saints"

Yesterday we concluded a two part post series on what occurs at the beginning of salvation and what ought to follow one's conversion to Christ in saving faith. We closed out yesterday's post by looking at Ephesians 5:1-6:20. I felt it necessary to take that block of scripture and unpack what the Holy Ghost is saying to us through it. The heart of Ephesians 5-6 centers around the heart of post-conversion sanctification - the Spirit-filled life. Such a life is available and expected of every Christian. Sadly, there are more Christians who regularly operate by the desires of self and the flesh than by the indwelling Holy Spirit. The aim of today's post is to grasp what Paul is communicating through this key section in God's Word on the Spirit-filled life. We will first offer a brief outline of the passage and then offer a few comments on each point. First, the outline...

Spirit-filled living - Ephesians 5:1-6:18. Notice....

1. The call to be Spirit-filled in our sanctification (i.e practical holiness). Ephesians 5:1-14

2. The command(s) to be Spirit-filled Ephesians 5:15-18 

3. The consequences of the Spirit-filled life. Ephesians 5:19-6:18.

These truths mark out what ought to occur after salvation as begun in regeneration/conversion. Considered all together, we can truly see how great our salvation is in both it's beginning and progression through this life! To be filled with the Spirit means to be under the control, influence and leading of Him. Is this type of life only available to a select few Christians? Is the Spirit-filled life optional? What does such a life look-like in the practical areas of everyday life such as marriage, parenting, employment and one's prayer time? Let us now consider each heading in brief.

1. The call to be Spirit-filled in our sanctification (i.e practical holiness). Ephesians 5:1-14
We saw yesterday that sanctification is the progressive work of the Holy Spirit, following from and beginning from the moment of conversion. In sanctification, the Christian is cooperating with God by becoming in experience who they are declared by God to be in position. Central to the Christian's progress in sanctification or post-conversion Christian growth is the repeated experience of the Spirit-filled life. What do we learn about this experience? How is it entered into by the Christian? We learn here in Ephesians 5:1-14 that the Spirit-filled life is a call from God to a deeper walk with Him. 

Ephesians 5:1-2 headlines the theme of the call to the Spirit-filled life - holiness: "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children;2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as afragrant aroma." The commentator R.C.H Lenski notes about these verses: "The sins against which he warns are seen in their true light when they are viewed as Paul views them, against the whole background of our holy life in God and in Christ." 

As we are called to holiness in the Spirit-filled life, such holiness expresses itself positively in relationship to God and negatively in its rejection of sin. Lenski notes concerning our imitation of God as dearly beloved children: "To be sure, our Father loves us; but 'beloved' makes evident our normal relation. Some ordinary children are unnatural; they act in such a manner that one would scarcely believe that they belong to their parents. Not so 'children beloved.' This word 'beloved' strikes the note of this paragraph: our love is to imitate God's love." Like a small child who desires to bring pleasure to the parent that they love and are loved by, a Christian ought to be so inclined to imitate God in their attitudes and actions. Little children become greatly saddened when even the thought of doing something contrary to their parents wishes crosses their minds. Such a reverence or healthy "fear" of bringing displeasure to the parent corresponds to what the scripture calls "the fear of God" (see Proverbs 8:13).

Holiness then is first and foremost a positive effort in being like the Lord Jesus Christ. By themselves, Christians cannot ever hope to attain to such a high-calling. The Spirit-filled life is what supplies the Christian the power to heed the call given here in Ephesians 5:1-2. 

As we already noted, the holiness of conduct and life headlining the call of the Spirit-filled life expresses itself positively in desiring to imitate God and walk in love in Jesus Christ. Such a positive, Spirit-filled desire should naturally correspond to the negative expression of avoiding and combatting sin. If we as Christians think of practical holiness as having to do with imitating God and Christ in the power of the Spirit - the hatred for sin will be a supernatural by-product of such love.

Negative commands in the scripture can sometimes be better understood when we re-state them postively in our application of them. In brief, notice the key commands to hate sin in Ephesians 5:3-14:

Ephesians 5:3 "But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints." When we restate this text positively for our application, it can look like the following, namely that Godly morality and generosity out to be named among you, as this is proper among the saints. Or consider Ephesians 5:6-7 "Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them." When restated positively for our application, such a command to holy living in the call to the Spirit-filled life could look-like this: Be influenced only by full words of truth from God's word and share in the partaking of such words with others. 

One more example should suffice to show how holiness is the headline theme in the call to the Spirit-filled life. Consequently, this final example will also validate our method of taking a negatively stated command (a "do not" command) and restating it positively for application and understanding. Consider Ephesians 5:11-12 "Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; 12 for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret." The Holy Spirit Himself inspired Paul to take this thought and re-express it positively in Ephesians 5:14 "For this reason it says, “Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

When we try to heed this call of holiness in the Spirit-filled life in our own strength or flesh, we fail. Such a call exceeds natural ability. Only the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit, influencing and controlling the Christian from the inside/out can attain to and achieve such a call. 

More tomorrow.............

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