Ephesians 5:15-21 Filled with the Spirit

Christians are often confused about the work of the Holy Spirit.  Some think of him only as the giver of miraculous gifts or supernatural experiences.  Some react against this outlook and have little to say about the Spirit’s work.  Neither approach is consistent with the Bible’s teaching about the ongoing work of the Spirit in the lives of God’s people.  We consider now Ephesians 5:15-21 Filled with the Spirit.

1. The wisdom we should exercise

Paul issues a summons in v15 ‘Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise’.  We are not to drift with the world, imbibing the attitudes and values of non-Christians.  We are to live in a way that is ‘wise’.  In the Bible wisdom is not a matter of intellectual ability or education – it is always moral and spiritual in content.  Wisdom is bound up with a right relationship with God.  Note Psalm 14:1 ‘The fool says in his heart, “There is no God”.  We are wise when we ‘understand what the |Lord’s will is’ (v17).  We know the right way to live as a child of God in the world he has made.  If we want to have wisdom, we must ‘ask God’ (James 1:5).  We must cultivate a close relationship with him – ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’ (Psalm 111:10).

2. The diligence we should apply

The Christian life is a serious matter – a race (Hebrews 12:1), a battle (Ephesians 6:10ff).  We have the urgent exhortation in v16 about ‘making the most of every opportunity’.  Time is always limited, and we must make the best use of it.  In context, this refers to occasions to let our light shine and expose the nature of sin.  There is good reason for diligence – ‘because the days are evil.  That is the character of the world into which we are sent ‘like sheep among wolves’ (Matthew 10:16).  That evil will become worse (2 Timothy 3:1ff).

3. The filling we should seek

We can never fulfil the Lord’s demands in our own strength, but he does not make any demands on us for which he does not supply all we need.  Crucial is v18 ‘be filled with the Spirit’.  He empowers us for service, makes us willing to obey the Lord, helps us to understand God’s will and gives us courage to act.  Nothing else is to control us: ‘Do not get drunk with wine’ – it is the way of folly, leading to ‘debauchery’ and all kinds of sins.  Only the Spirit of God should be in control, and we must ‘keep being filled’ – continuously.

4. The results we should expect

            (a).  We will use ‘psalms, hymns and songs’ (v19).  The adjective ‘spiritual’ applies to all three and indicates ‘Spirit-given’.  These are the songs of the Book of Psalms.

            (b).  There will be an attitude of thankfulness (v20).  All good gifts come from the Lord (James 1:17).  We can be thankful in hard experiences for what the Lord is doing in us.

            (c).  Note v21 ‘Submit to one another’.  We are not concerned with our own status and do not insist on our own way.  The motive – ‘out of reverence for Christ.  Life centres on him.