Please begin with prayer for an open heart, before you read the passage below. Ephesians 5:15-20 – 15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Please read the context of this verse and I would suggest starting at Ephesians 4:17 and going through 5:21. The headers in our Bible are helpful, but also break up the flow of the letter and cause us to miss the context.
The context gives example after example to the Christ followers at Ephesus of how they should live and how they differ from the ‘world’ around them. We are called to make the most of every opportunity that we have, because we are surrounded by evil. Paul continues and says that we should not get drunk on wine, which leads to this wild living he has been speaking about, but be filled with the Holy Spirit. Very interesting verse!
1) What do getting drunk on wine and being filled with the Spirit have in common? They are both things that ‘control’ you and create behavior that you are not capable of without outside intervention. Anyone who has ever had one too many drinks realizes quickly that they do not have full control over their words or actions. Rarely do you hear a story when someone was drunk and did something positive or productive.
Now, when someone is filled with the Spirit, they are not completely in control of themselves either. Both wine and the Spirit produce things in you that you are not capable of by yourself---one that can lead to unwise living and the other that leads to wise living, just like Paul said in V.15. When the Spirit is leading, you will make the most of every opportunity! Getting drunk is an obvious thing that can control us, but maybe it’s other elements of the sinful nature or our broken world that negate our receptivity towards the Spirit and limit our effectiveness as a believer.
2) The Greek work for ‘filled’ is in the present tense and shows that this filling of the Spirit is not a one-time thing. 1 Cor. 12:3 tells us that ‘…no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.’ So, every true believer is a believer, because the Holy Spirit called them to respond in faith and this Spirit dwells within us! This Ephesians passage is adding to our understanding and clearly shows even though the Spirit lives in us, there is this filling that can happen numerous times and in numerous ways. My first question that comes from this is how does the Spirit manifest itself? John 3 shows that the Spirit blows like the wind and Scripture shows that it manifests in various ways. So, this continuous filling can manifest in a variety of ways---some extremely demonstrative and others more subtle. We are not to compare manifestations of the Spirit or try to define the formula. However it manifests, it’s evident in how we act, speak, live within the body, and treat those far from God. We must humble ourselves, be receptive to the Spirit, and allow Him to manifest the way He desires in our life.
What controls your life---Spirit or some form of the sinful nature? How would you know? How have you seen the Spirit manifest in your life? (Not a competition, just honest sharing!) I would love to hear your journey and how this passage impacted you.