Ephesians 5:15–21comment (0)
November 4, 2010
By Dale Younce
Related Scripture: Ephesians 5:15–21
Explore the Bible
Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
Sometimes adults devalue a sermon possessing a heavily negative tone that emphasizes what not to do. Those adults either do not find it appealing or automatically reject it. As a result, they may give very little attention to how they should live. Although a negative approach can have a certain limited value (see the Ten Commandments), the positive approach to Christian living holds a superior place. Such an approach is attractive to most believers, and it is especially encouraging to those who usually hear only the negative approach. This week’s lesson, taking a positive approach, demonstrates how Christians are careful about their behavior.
Be Wise With Your Time (15–16)
In some versions of the Bible, the metaphor of walking is used five times (Eph. 4:1, 17; 5:2, 8, 15) by the apostle Paul to describe the Christian life; it pictures our daily behavior. Walking is a process consisting of two steps repeated over and over again, one leg forward and then the other. The first “walk” Paul mentioned is to walk carefully. The most important thing is not where you walk but how you walk, living accurately and with great care. The opposite is walking carelessly and without proper guidance and forethought. Wise individuals plan and avoid behaving like fools. “Redeeming the time” means that we “buy up the opportunities,” making the best use of our time. Since our lifetimes are limited, we need to make the most of our time by fulfilling God’s purposes, utilizing every opportunity to worship and serve Him.
Be Aware of God’s Will (17)
Knowing and understanding God’s will through His Word is spiritual wisdom. “Understanding” points to using our minds to discover and do God’s will. We find God’s will as He transforms our thinking (Rom. 12:1–2) through His Word, prayer, meditation and worship. God wants us to know, understand and do His will. Through the Word, He reveals His plan (Col. 1:9–10), as the Holy Spirit works in our hearts and minds (Col. 3:15) and we rely upon His governing our circumstances (Rom. 8:28).
Be Filled With the Spirit (18–20)
The key to a God-honoring life is found here: “Be filled with the Spirit.” Paul was not writing about the Holy Spirit’s permanent indwelling (Rom. 8:9), which makes the believer’s body the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16). Nor was he speaking about the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which places the believer into the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13). Every believer is indwelt and baptized by the Spirit at the moment of salvation. Paul was giving a command to live continuously under the Holy Spirit’s power. The command is plural, meaning it applies to all believers. It is in the present tense, indicating that we should continuously be filled, not just on special occasions. The verb is passive, pointing out that we do not fill ourselves but permit the Holy Spirit to fill us. The term “filled” has nothing to do with contents or quantity as if empty bottles needed some liquid poured into them. Here “filled” means to provide power for accomplishing a task, as when a sailboat’s sails are filled with the wind, giving the boat the ability to sail through the sea. To be filled with the Spirit means to be constantly enabled by the Spirit to live a life dominated by Christ and His Word. There are three immediate personal consequences of being filled with the Spirit. First is joy, a deep-seated sense of adequacy and confidence regardless of the circumstances that expresses itself in singing, both public and private. Spirit-filled Christians enjoy being together and experiencing a sense of joyful oneness in Christ. Second Spirit-filled Christians are thankful for who God is and what He has done and is doing through His Son.
Be Subject to One Another (21)
The third consequence of being filled with the Spirit is submission to one another. Every Spirit-filled Christian is to be a humble, submissive Christian, willing to serve others rather than dominating them and exalting oneself over them. This is the foundational attitude for the Christian’s relationships and is rooted in his or her continuous reverence for God.