Ephesians 5:21 NLT - "And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ."
Paul takes his readers from their living a wholesome life before the Lord to their personal relationships with one another. He brings up the word "submission." Believers are to live submissive lives to one another.
Ever since Christ taught His disciples about how to be "great" in His kingdom He has always focused on their humility to each other and their obligation to serve one another. He used Himself as the Prime Example in Matthew 20:28, "I came not to be served, but to serve and to give My life a ransom for many." He was the Lord of all, but He chose to live His life amongst man as a servant to all! And we should do no less.
Now note this, the effects of being filled with the Spirit are seen as singing praise to God and being thankful for all things. But this verse is also part of the effect of the Spirit's filling. The believer will find the Spirit leads them to be submissive to one another, placing others as better than themselves, Philippians 2:3. Believers are expected to be humble and reverent to their Savior, but that also means they will be humble and respectful to their brothers and sisters in Christ.
Submissiveness is not being a "doormat to be stepped on" and put down, but to be a stepping stone to allow someone else to be lifted up! When you submit to Christ you're not just expecting that you will be obedient to Him. You're really seeking to honor Him in all you do that He will get the praise! When we submit to one another we are seeking to lift each other up in "honor, preferring one another," Romans 12:10 KJV. Nothing wrong with that.
Ephesians 5:20 NLT - "And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."
First, take note of the wording: "...give thanks FOR everything..." (emphasis added!) My point? Too often we think we should thank the Lord "in everything" and assume He doesn't expect us to be thankful "for" all that happens. However, Paul clearly uses the wording, "for everything." What was his point? Everything that God allows in our lives will eventually be used for His glory and our good, Romans 8:28. We need to see things through God's eyes.
Second, not only is singing a sign of the Spirit's filling, but also is thanksgiving. A truly Spirit-filled Christian will be a thankful Christian. A believer will see that God is working in our lives and uses everything to accomplish His will in us and through us. And let's remember that expecting God to fulfill His will in our lives is not for our benefit as much as it is for His benefit.
We thank the Father. Remember chapter one and verse 3, "All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing..." God the Father made sure we would have everything we needed to live a victorious life for Him. And it is to Him that we show our appreciation.
Ephesians 5:19 NLT - "Singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts."
What a wonderful way to show the fullness of the Spirit in one's heart than to be singing songs of praise to the Lord and to one another! The Bible speaks of entering into the presence of God with songs. Music has been one of the nicest ways to give God praise and show the JOY in one's heart for all the Lord has done! This is probably one of the great hallmarks of a happy Christian. The world expects Christians to sing. And Christians share some of their greatest times of fellowship in praise!
Think of the three categories of music - psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Psalms, of course, come directly from the Word of God. Sure, the great "Hymnbook of the Bible" is the book of Psalms. But these psalms of Ephesians may be more than just words from that book. Some believe the doctrinal statement of 1 Timothy 3:16 was a song for the believers to sing their beliefs. Psalms speaks of "singing the Scriptures." Putting the literal words of the Bible to music. A more modern example? Handel's Messiah!
Another category is hymns. These are the grand songs of the faith that we share in formal times of praise in our worship services. They have also been used as one of the greatest ways for Christians to meditate on God and His works as they move through life.
And the final category is spiritual songs. The wonderful joyful choruses that Christians have grown to love starting in their childhood and finding their greatest pleasure during their youth. These often start off as the "contemporary songs" of the day. Too many of us "older believers" forget that the choruses sung in our youth were "contemporary" when they were first written!
Whatever the music - God expects believers to sing and praise Him in their fellowship together and in their own personal private moments of worship with Him.
Ephesians 5:18 NLT - "Don't be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit,"
This is one of those key passages of Scripture that touches at the heart of Christianity. We often say that our faith is more than a religion. It is a relationship with God, and particularly with the Lord Jesus Christ. We were saved by Him and He came to live in our lives in the person of the Holy Spirit. Christian living is nothing less than Jesus Christ living His life in and through the Christian. And that can only happen when the Holy Spirit has complete control of the Christian's life.
That brings us to this verse. Its no error that God chose to compare being filled with the Spirit of God with being drunk with wine. Yes, it is a HUGH contrast and one would wonder what is God seeking to tell us. Probably the best way this has been described is to consider what happens when a person gets drunk. They willfully take alcohol and keep consuming it. It is a conscious decision a person makes. Then, the effects take over. They lose control of themselves and the wine's influence takes over how they think, how they act, and quite literally, how they walk! Most people who have experienced that feeling know how ashamed they are after they sober up. They not only think of the foolish things they said, but perhaps some of the awful tragic things they did while drunk. They regret what they did and they wish they would never do that again. Now, much more could be said, but let's move on to the other picture given in this verse.
Being "filled with the Holy Spirit" is having Him do exactly what wine's influence did. As a "drunk" willfully drinks, so the Christian has to willfully know they already have the Holy Spirit living in them. Learning about the Holy Spirit allows the Christian to be aware of His presence in their life and the kind of influence the Spirit can have over them. First, the Spirit takes control of the believer's life. He directs how they think, how they act, and He guides them in how they walk as a Christian. Instead of being ashamed, the Christian rejoices in the outcome of the Spirit's control. The Christian doesn't have to regret anything but is blessed to know they their lives have been put to meaningful service for the Lord. And when a Christian experiences that they want to make that a daily way of life! They are filled not only with joy, but also all the other aspects of the "fruit of the Spirit" mentioned in Galatians 5:22,23.
How can one be filled with the Spirit? I'm going to suggest that we first have to believe this can happen to us! God didn't say to do something that He knew couldn't happen! He wants us to take this command and obey it with faith believing that we can see this happen in our lives. Second, we need to recognize the Word of God and prayer are two of the most important elements in the Christian's life that the Holy Spirit uses to bring us to the place of being filled by Him. Read and study His Word daily especially concentrating of passages like John 14-16 where Jesus speaks of His sending the Spirit to us. Third, we need to consciously yield control to the Spirit in prayer. I might suggest this prayer, "Lord Holy Spirit, fill me with Yourself. Take control of my life and help me to depend on you in every circumstance and situation of my life. Thank you for answering this prayer."
The Holy Spirit wants to fill us. Do we want Him to?
Ephesians 5:17 NLT - "Don't act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do."
How often do we hear the excuse, "Well, I never thought about that!" Or, "I just wasn't thinking." We seem to make and accept these excuses as a normal part of our fallen behavior. And somehow we don't seem to feel we should seek to make a serious change in our ways. But, "thoughtlessness" can be anything but a good excuse! God gave us a brain to think, and to think on things that matter. Too often we stuff our brains with entertainment and meaningless endeavors while starving our brain, and more importantly, our hearts from spiritual food that can give us spiritual strength and wisdom to deal with life.
God's will is what God wants us to do. A Christian would find a far more important activity taking time to read God's Word, fill their minds with the things that God calls important such as the "menu of the mind" in Philippians 4:8, "...Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." If we would think on those things it would change the way we live! Proof: Proverbs 23:7 NKJV, "For as he thinks in heart, so is he." What your mind dwells on affects the way you will live.
Study God's Word to see what is God's will. A good way to start is to take a good concordance and a good reference Bible and look up passages that speak of the "will of God" and check the cross references. Note 1 Thessalonians 4:3 and 5:18 to start with. Doing right is "thoughtful behavior."
Ephesians 5:16 NLT - "Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days."
As I closed yesterday's commentary about being alert to those opportunities to touch the lives of others, so Paul emphasizes this thought here. Time is a commodity that exists for everyone in equal measure. It's not that some people have more time than others. We all have "all the time there is!" It's how we use that time that makes the difference. What Paul wants us to think of is perhaps said differently by someone else, "Every day is made up of 24 hours. 24 hours you have never lived before, and 24 hours you will never live again." What will we do with today? What will we do with this hour? As you study history you can't help but see that certain people rose up to the opportunity that was placed in front of them and did "great things" in a short time. They saw the chance and seized the moment and life was never the same. That can definitely be true of any Christian. Do you realize that the ministry of compassion on one soul in one moment of time can alter their eternal destiny?!
Now Paul also stresses that the days are evil. And he was speaking 2,000 years ago! Think the days have gotten better?! NO, they haven't. We're seeing evil on the rise and righteousness being suppressed as Paul spoke of in Romans 1:18. NOW is the time to live for the Lord! Don't live your days ending them in regret for missed opportunities. End each day with praise for the privilege of being used of Him to touch the lives of others for His glory and for their eternal good!
Ephesians 5:15 NKJV - "See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise."
Commentary: (Second Commentary on This Verse)
I began to speak yesterday of the dangers to watch out for in our Christian walk. The devil is no fool when it comes to dealing with us. He knows our weak spots and is sure to attack us whenever he can. I had a professor in Bible College who warned us that though we might resist the devil and he appears to be running away, we can be sure he will find another way to seek to trip us up. We'll never be free from his attacks this side of Heaven. Paul encourages us to be wise which means, in part, to learn from our past and be aware of the probability of being tempted again in the same manner.
Today, I'd like to suggest that we also be aware of the good opportunities afforded us to be used of God to minister His grace to others. Too often we're too late to recognize a chance we just had to witness to someone or show some tender care in the name of Christ. Think of Jesus when He moved from place to place. He was observant, like seeing Zacchaeus up in a tree, a woman in a synagogue who was crippled and needing to be healed, or numerous other times when He "seized" the opportunity to teach when He saw it, as when He observed the poor widow casting her two coins into the offering basket, or when He heard the disciples arguing who would be greatest in the coming Kingdom. Jesus was always aware of His situation. He walked circumspectly! He didn't trip up and He didn't miss a chance to show His Father's love to lost and broken humanity.
Basically our daily verse is saying, "Live with you eyes wide open and don't be a fool to fall for Satan's schemes but be wise to seize every opportunity to do good."
Ephesians 5:15 NKJV - "See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise."
Commentary: (First of two commentaries on this verse).
I'm quoting this verse from the New King James Version because of the word, "circumspectly." I remember how that word was described years ago by several preachers. The idea is to have a circular perspective and examination of your situation each and every moment. Pay attention to your surroundings with concern that you avoid danger and that you don't miss the opportunities made available to you.
As far as danger is concerned let me share an incident that happened to me nearly 40 years ago in New York State. I was pastoring a small farm community church in the Mohawk Valley region. My wife loved to bake, and still does, Praise the Lord! She asked me to pick elderberries from a sight someone had told her about. Well, I went out to this sight early one morning around 6:30. It was off a dirt road in a wooded area with some tall grass that I had to walk through before I came to the elderberry bushes. I immediately went in and starting putting the berry branches into a large plastic bag I was carrying. All of a sudden I felt and heard two alarming things: the "feeling" was like a barbed wire was wrapping itself around my left ankle and the sound was a LOT of BUZZING!! What happened? I did not walk circumspectly!! I didn't look carefully at my surroundings and I stepped into a yellow-jacket colony!! The bees immediately attacked my ankle and then began to swarm around me! I saw the tall grass I had walked through earlier and I headed straight through it hoping that some of the blades of grass would hamper the bees from getting through. I didn't drop my bag, however. I fought hard for those berries and I wasn't leaving them behind! I got home and my wife and I counted 11 stings. Not all that bad, but a lesson was learned.
Now, in our lives the devil is casting his darts of doubt and temptation constantly. We need to walk with our spiritual eyes on the lookout! That's part of the rest of our verse, don't walk as a fool right into the "devilish colony" and get stung! Be wise and be careful! (More tomorrow).
Ephesians 5:14b NLT - "This is why it is said, 'Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead and Christ will give you light.'"
The statement that is quoted may be from Isaiah 60:1 along with other comments. Much like a preacher reading a verse and then adding some of his own thoughts. Whatever it is the quote encourages the unsaved who realize the awful condition they are in to "Wake UP!" and come to the Lord who can give them light, as we said yesterday, to show them the truth of Christ and His salvation and to guide them how to live. They need to realize that a "sleeper" is oblivious to what's happening around him until it is too late. This is also part of the Christian's responsibility to help the unsaved to be aware of their condition but also to be aware of God's offer of salvation.
Of course, the unsaved cannot rise up from the dead on their own! But, turning to Christ, the Light, they are made aware of who to call upon to save them. Once they turn to the Lord, God raises them up by giving them new life, 2 Corinthians 5:17.
Ephesians 5:13,14a NLT - "But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, for the light makes everything visible."
As Paul has been speaking about exposing sin for what it is in order to warn Christians not be get involved with it, and as he also spoke about not being so graphic in the way sin is described, now Paul makes clear that God will shine His light and reveal the "hidden things" of darkness. What Paul is saying is that people will be held accountable for their sins, a warning that should put the "fear of God" in sinners!! The light that blesses Christians with revealing truth to them and then sheds light on their paths throughout their lives, is also the light that brings sinners to a place of accountability to their Creator!
Revelation 20:12 makes clear that every unsaved human being will stand before God at the Great White Throne! God will examine all they have done from their worst immoral sins to their self-righteous behavior which they thought would merit their entrance into God's heaven! They will hear those awful words, "Depart from Me, you cursed, I never knew you." But probably the worse thing He will reveal is the opportunities each person had to respond to God's witness to their heart of their need for Him! Every tract handed to them, every time someone spoke to them about getting saved, every time they felt a "tug" in their hearts to turn to Christ will be brought out in the open.
There's much more to be said, but let us who know the Lord do whatever we can to lead as many people to Christ as we can! Remember, someone told you! That's why Paul said in Romans 1:14, "I am a debtor..." KJV. We who know Christ have a responsibility to do our part that others can meet the Light of the World now in this life rather than to have to face Him as their Judge at that awful Judgment Throne.
Daily commentary and insight from Pastor Eckardt.
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Mt Ephraim Baptist Church | 25 S. Black Horse Pike | Mt Ephraim, NJ 08059
Senior Pastor, Stephen A. Eckardt | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Phone: 856.981.7288