Saturday, September 5, 2015

The command to be Spirit-filled - Ephesians 5:15-18

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 all perseverance and petition for all the saints"

The reader can note that the above three verses constitute what are key points in Paul's overall argument for the necessity of the Spirit-filled or Spirit-controlled life. In yesterday's post we considered the calling of the Spirit-filled life in terms of the practical holiness. In all reality, practical holiness (positively having to do with one's imitation of God and walking in love with Christ and negatively having to do with rejecting sin and worldliness) is requisite to being led and controlled by the Holy Spirit. Amos 3:3 reminds us - "Do two men walk together unless they have made an appointment?" All Christians are Spirit dwelt, however not all Christians are Spirit-filled. The Spirit's desire to fill (that is, control, influence, lead) is a calling and as we will see today, a command for all Christians. All Christians have access to the Spirit-filled life. However, not all Christians avail themselves of it nor do all Christians consistently walk in the Spirit, which is why it is a repeated experience following one's conversion experience. 

Like yesterday's post, 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 the second 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.

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? Today's post will consider the second of these three headings.

The command(s) to be Spirit-filled Ephesians 5:15-18 
Ephesians 5:15-18 comprise a set of three parallel commands that in all reality express one central idea: "Be filled with the Holy Spirit". It is in this particular section of Ephesians 5:1-6:20 that we see the non-optional character of the Spirit-filled life. But what exactly does such a life look like? How can we know that we are a Spirit-filled, Spirit-controlled people. The commands themselves yield the clues in answering such questions.

1. Spirit-filled Christians are careful in their conduct. 
Ephesians 5:15 "Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise." Just as someone carrying a hot cup of coffee is careful in how they walk (so as to not spill a drop!), the Spirit-filled Christian is more careful in how they carry their Christian testimony. Carelessness and neglect are as notorious for getting Christians out of step with fellowship with God as willful sin. Both patterns are species of carnality or walking according to one's fleshly desires. Whenever the Spirit is influencing our minds, emotions and wills, we will be a more careful, sober-minded people. 

2. Spirit-filled Christians maximize the use of their time.
Ephesians 5:16 "making the most of your time, because the days are evil." Christians who are more Spirit-led than carnally led will be more mindful of eternal things (Colossians 3:1-2). Maximizing one's time for Jesus' sake means not being idle and lazy. Conversely, the Spirit-filled Christian knows how to find rest, which is just as needful as industry in the affairs of God. 

3. Spirit-filled people are able to understand God's revealed will (in His word).
Ephesians 5:17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. God's will can be subdivided into three headings: unrevealed and revealed (Deuteronomy 29:29) and permissive will (James 4:15). Only God's revealed will (the scriptures) that is given to us marks the domain of our responsibility. Do we know God's word or unrevealed will. The Holy Spirit leading the Christian enables them to unlock the truths of God for themselves (1 Corinthians 2:10-13). To understand God's will in the scripture is equated with hearing God and thus following after God.

4. Spirit-filled people are under the influence of the Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.
Just as someone who has injested alcohol is "under the influence", so is the Christian who is filled with the Spirit. The great thing about being filled with the Spirit is that I get the same calming effect without the hangover. The HCSB rendering of this verse brings out even further clarity - "And don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless actions, but be filled by the Spirit". 

As we can see, these commands all approach the Spirit-filled life from different angles. To be a Spirit-filled Christian affects me morally, intellectually and gives true power for living! Therefore having observed the calling to the Spirit-filled life in holiness of sanctification in Ephesians 5:1-14 and the command(s) to be Spirit-filled in Ephesians 5:15-18, we will look tomorrow at the consequences of being Spirit-filled. In otherwords, why should one be a Spirit-filled Christian?

More tomorrow....

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