How to Walk in the Light, Part 10 — Ephesians 5:17-21 (Revive the Family, Revive the Church, Awaken the Nation, O Lord #21I)

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A series of homilies on Ephesians 5 & 6

A homily is “a short talk on a religious or moral topic; a usually short sermon; a lecture or discourse on or of a biblical theme.”


I am sharing a verse-by-verse series of short messages on Ephesians 5 & 6 (as well as other passages of Scripture) specifically targeted at reviving families and encouraging and exhorting husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, and children to do what God has commanded them to do, for if the church is to be revived and the country is to be awakened, the family must be revived first.

Ephesians 5:17-21:

17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.

18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;

20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

——-

Warren Wiersbe said, “The trouble is that many homes are not governed by God’s Word — even homes where the members are professing Christians — and the consequences are tragic. Instead of angels being guests in some homes, it seems that demons are the masters. Too many marriages end in the divorce court, and nobody knows how many husbands and wives are emotionally divorced even though they share the same address. The poet William Cowper called the home ‘the only bliss of Paradise that has survived the Fall,’ but too many homes are an outpost of hell instead of a parcel of paradise.”

Leonard Ravenhill said, “There are three persons living in each of us: the one we think we are, the one other people think we are, and the one God knows we are.”

By way of review, I said on yesterday, Paul continues to talk about what it means for us to walk as children of the light in a world full of darkness. He commands, “Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.”

Paul is not telling us that Christians should not drink wine at all. (In fact, he tells Timothy, ‘Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.’) He is commanding Christians not to get drunk or become intoxicated. He says becoming drunk is “excess.” This word means profligate or wasteful. A person who is drunk repeatedly is wasting his life, and his time. He cannot be used effectively for God’s purpose if He has no control over his own body and mind. The Bible Knowledge Commentary says, “In this verse the literal sense of incorrigible seems best, for a drunken man acts abnormally. Rather than controlling himself, the wine controls him.” When he is drunk he is controlled by the wine, and Christians are not to be controlled by anything or anyone but the Holy Spirit of God.

That is why Paul includes a parallel command — “but be filled with the Spirit.” In the Bible, the word “filled” means “controlled by.” A man who is filled with the Holy Spirit is controlled by the Holy Spirit. When you are controlled by the Holy Spirit, you are in your right mind — the mind of Christ. The Christ-mind will lead you and guide you to do the right things and not to waste your life, or your time.

The Bible Exposition Commentary points out, “To illustrate this joy, Paul used the familiar image of drunkenness. When the believers at Pentecost were filled with the Spirit, the crowd accused them of being drunk with new wine. There was such a joyfulness about them that the unbelievers could think of no better comparison. But some practical lessons can be learned from the contrasts. To begin with, the drunk is under the control of another force, since alcohol is actually a depressant. He feels a great sense of release — all his troubles are gone. He can ‘lick anybody in the house!’ The drunk is not ashamed to express himself (though what he says and does is shameful), nor can he hide what is going on in his life. Transfer this picture to the believer who is filled with the Spirit. God controls his life, and he experiences a deep joy he is not afraid to express to the glory of God. Of course, the drunk is really out of control, since the alcohol affects his brain, while the believer experiences a beautiful self-control that is really God in control. Self-control is among the fruit of the Spirit. First Corinthians 14 says, ‘The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.’ The drunk makes a fool of himself, but the Spirit-filled Christian glorifies God and is willing to be a ‘fool for Christ’s sake.’ The drunk calls attention to himself, while the Spirit-filled believer is a witness for Christ. It is certainly not difficult to live or work with someone who is filled with the Spirit and joyful. He has a song in his heart and on his lips.”

This leads us to our next point — there are three marks of a person who is filled with and controlled by the Holy Spirit — they are joyful, thankful, and submissive.

We are going to look at the first trait today — joyfulness. Paul writes, “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” One great theologian Warren Wiersbe said, “Christian joy is not a shallow emotion that, like a thermometer, rises and falls with the changing atmosphere of the home. Rather, Christian joy is a deep experience of adequacy and confidence in spite of the circumstances around us.”

Obviously, there are many ways in which joy is shown forth in a Christian’s life, but Paul lists five. Today, we are going to look at three:

1. Speaking to yourselves in psalms. The “yourselves” whom Paul is writing to are the church at Ephesus. But this command also extends to Christians in the home. It is believed that the “psalms” referred to here are David’s psalms in the Old Testament, many of which express the joy of serving God and simply being alive in God’s world.

2. Speaking to yourselves in hymns. Adam Clarke defines hymns as “extemporaneous effusions in praise of God, uttered under the influence of the Divine Spirit, or a sense of his special goodness.” I don’t know about you, but I am one of those people who derives joy from even the small things of life. I spontaneously thank God for a good meal, a good nap, a safe drive home, among many other things. When we realize how much we have to be thankful for, we will find it easy to be joyful.

3. Speaking to yourselves in spiritual songs. The Greek word used for songs here is “odes”, which is defined as ‘premeditated or regular poetic composition.’ These are songs that are written down and set to music with the spiritual purpose of glorifying God and expressing the joy of being in a relationship with Him. We should communicate our joy through spiritual songs in the church, in the home, and in the community.

If you are filled with the Holy Spirit, then your heart will be full of joy to the Lord. And the joy in your heart will permeate your words and deeds.

Let’s pray.

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