In the first three chapters of Ephesians Paul tells us a great deal about who we are in Christ. He begins chapter 4 by saying, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called.”
Because of everything Christ has done for you, I’m begging you walk worthy of that calling.
In the next three chapters he gives us a snapshot at what a believer’s life should look like when we are under the control of the Holy Spirit and living out that calling.
Isaiah 59 & 60
Snapshot of a Spirit Controlled Life
Not Wine, but the Spirit
For the last two days we’ve been talking about what a mature or Spirit-controlled life should look like from Paul’s instructions in Ephesians 4-6. Today we’ll look at the second half of chapter 5 beginning in verse 17.
17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit.
As believers we should not allow anything other than God to control our lives—not a substance like alcohol or drugs, nor anything else that our hearts crave like power, wealth or prestige. Instead we should be filled with and controlled by the Holy Spirit.
One major way we should be changed, when we do, is in the way we communicate.
We’re to speak “to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (v. 19).
Paul isn’t suggesting we behave like a character in The Sound of Music by bursting into a song in the middle of a conversation, but there should be joy in our lives and our conversations should be filled with praise for all that God has done for us.
We should have an attitude of gratitude, “giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 20).
It should affect our relationships toward each other, “submitting to one another in the fear of God” (v. 21).
Submitting isn’t just for those under one kind of authority or another. The Holy Spirit’s work in us enables us to submit our selfish wants and desires and prefer others above ourselves.
23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it (Lk. 9).
3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others (Phil. 2).
Within the husband and wife relationship, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord … Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her (vss. 22, 25).
Wives are called to submit to the leadership of their husbands and husbands are to lay down their lives for their wives, each in unique ways. This is a sacrificial love that involves laying down what we want (those selfish desires, Matt. 9.23-24), preferring each other as more important than ourselves (Phil. 2.3-4), submitting even when the other one isn’t doing his or her part (1 Pet. 3.1-6), giving honor (1 Pet. 3.7), and showing respect (Eph. 5.33).
We’ll continue tomorrow with more of Paul’s snapshot of a Spirit controlled life.
Today’s Other Readings:
Isaiah 59 & 60:
Headlines: Our Courts Oppose the Righteous!
Wow! As I reread today’s passage, it occurred to me the phrases could be headlines in today’s newspapers!
Headlines like: “Our courts oppose the righteous,” “Justice is nowhere to be found,” “Truth stumbles in the streets,” “Honesty has been outlawed,” “Truth is gone,” and “Anyone who renounces evil is attacked” Look at chapter 59.13-15 in the NLT:
13 We know we have rebelled and have denied the LORD.
We have turned our backs on our God.
We know how unfair and oppressive we have been,
carefully planning our deceitful lies.
14 Our courts oppose the righteous,
and justice is nowhere to be found.
Truth stumbles in the streets,
and honesty has been outlawed.
15 Yes, truth is gone,
and anyone who renounces evil is attacked.
Verse 13 reminds us that all sin is first against the Lord. Notice it says, “We have turned our backs on our God.” When we deny and turn our backs on the Lord we are expressing contempt for Him, in effect, saying that we are dissatisfied with His blessings, that He is not good, that we want and deserve something better than what He has given us.
This passage says we sin willingly, knowingly, “We know we have rebelled … we know how unfair and oppressive we have been, carefully planning our deceitful lies.”
And when the believers in a nation begin to compromise and live like the rest of the world, all of society suffers. Look at the list in verses 14 & 15 again:
Our courts oppose the righteous.
Justice is nowhere to be found.
Truth stumbles in the streets.
Honesty has been outlawed.
And anyone who renounces evil is attacked.
Verses 18-19 (NLT):
18 He will repay his enemies for their evil deeds.
His fury will fall on his foes.
He will pay them back even to the ends of the earth.
19 In the west, people will respect the name of the LORD;
in the east, they will glorify him.
For he will come like a raging flood tide
driven by the breath of the LORD.
God is slow to anger and rich in mercy. He is patient even with the unrighteous, not desiring that any should perish:
“… beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (1 Pet. 3.8-9).
But … there will be a day of accounting:
” … the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up” (1 Pet. 3.10).
Not only will the time to repent come to an end for mankind as a whole, but it can and does come to an end for individuals.
“… ‘Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.’ … Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? And to whom did he swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey?”
We tend to think that’s not for today. We’re under grace! But Paul told the Corinthians that because they had failed to examine themselves in the light of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, many were sick and some had even died (1 Cor. 11.28-32).
And Romans 1.18-32 paints a picture of God “giving over” unrepentant sinners to sin without restraint and allowing them to suffer the consequences of that downward spiral of sin.
Is God a God of grace? Absolutely! Is He patient and longsuffering with us? Yes, but He is also zealous for the purity and holiness of His church.
When Enough is Enough
As the psalmist said in verse 3:
“Our God is in heaven. He does whatever He pleases.”
At times it looks as if God is ignoring sin and unrighteousness, but He is in control and can use it all for His holy, just and righteous purposes. But He also knows when enough is enough.
Earthenware Covered with Silver Dross
“Fervent lips with a wicked heart are like earthenware covered with silver dross.”
It’s not enough to call ourselves Christians, go to church, attend Bible studies or even serve in some area of ministry. That can easily be silver dross over a life that is far from God. Jesus said in Matthew 15.7:
“Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying. ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.’”
We can’t claim to worship God one minute and then act unloving toward our brother the next. We can’t claim to be in right relationship with God, yet not with our spouse.
“If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also” (1 Jn. 4.20-21).
If the relationships in our lives are not right, we need to make setting them right a high priority. Matthew 5.23-24:
Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
In the next few days we’ll talk about angry children, hypocrisy, the armor of God and more.
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