There is something every single one of us has heard at one point in time growing up. And that is “Make sure you look both ways before you cross the street.” What’s funny about this is that I say the same thing to my children, all the time. Why? Because we care deeply about them and the last thing we want to see is for them is to get hurt. Ever! I often wondered as a child, “Why would my parents remind me every day about this?” This should be something that is common sense or comes natural, as we explore this world. But we all know, we too, have forgotten at times how to look both ways before crossing once or twice in our lives. (Those close calls, or brushes with pending doom.) This statement is a statement of concern for your well-being and for you to apply this to your own life. With the same warning and urgency that our parents gave to us and as we give to our children. Paul is saying the same thing as we continue to dive into this section of his letter to the church here in chapter five.
We already know that we are saved by marvelous grace though the gospel confession as we read through chapter one. We already know that Christ Jesus suffered, bleed, died a sinner’s death and rose again to fulfill the Father’s wrath for sinners. We already know that we were darkness, but now we are children of light. And now… Paul says something that any good parent would say to their child as they leave the house to face the world and all its dysfunction.
Paul says “Look carefully then how you walk” (v15) This is based upon what has already been thought. For us who have been raised from the dead and living as lights that reflect the gospel of Christ we are to walk by observing how we walk in a world of darkness. We are to imitate our Heavenly Father seeking and walking in His wisdom over the foolishness of this present world system. The wise walk only suits the child of God for the glory of God.
Many times throughout the scripture we see this same urgent statement given to a child of God about walking worthy of the gospel. Romans 13:13-14 says “Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” We know we are not to walk as we once did and as those who don’t believe. Eph 4:17 We know we are to walk in the light of truth and holiness. 1 John 1:7 says “But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” It’s through the gospel we are able to walk worthy of our calling and worthy of the glorious Christ. It’s through the gospel we are declared holy and righteous, all on the grounds of the finished work of Christ.
So! What are we to be careful with? The answer is found in the next verse. “making the best use of your time, because the days are evil.” (v16) Our time as brothers and sisters in Christ are to be used and spent for His glory. What does Paul mean when he says “The days are evil?” During this time there were corruption, debauched living, paganism and ramped heresies plaguing the church and the families of God. We know this to be true by what we read in Eph 4:14. Greediness, dishonesty, and immorality was a way of life for the city of Ephesus and it was permeating into the church and this was a great concern for Paul and the witness of the gospel there. Eph 5:3-6
Understand Less than a hundred years after Paul wrote this letter, Rome was persecuting Christians and was becoming more intense and very cruel then it has ever been. Christians were burned alive, thrown to wild beasts, and brutalized on many occasions in many other ways. For this church evil times were going to become more and more evil. This would affect the church of Ephesus many years later with an encouraging remark, but a gentle rebuke. All because they forgot the most important thing during this time of evil for church of any age. Rev 2:2-4 says "I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name's sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.”
The evil of this world can make a Christian/Church, become callous to the world, to the church, and most of all, towards image bearers of God …refereeing to lost people. The evil of this world can make us hold to our doctrines, but lacking in compassion for those outside and inside the church. The evil that is around us can make us become religious and not genuine lights of the gospel. The evil of this world can make us become resentful and angry with our present world system, even to the point of not sharing the gospel. It’s the evil of this world that can make our hearts feel and say “I don’t care if they go to Hell”
We must, must, must pray that this is never said to us as a church on that day. We must pray this is not our own hearts this morning because of the evil that is around us. Paul said it was going to get worse not better so be prepared and walk as children of Light because the gospel gives us hope. The gospel and the glory of God is everything or should be everything to us as a church and as individuals. This is why we are to walk with wisdom that is from above through the leading and submission to the Spirit as the evil of this world continues.
Matt 24:3-14 reminds of this truth as Jesus said “As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?" And Jesus answered them, "See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. "Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
So Paul goes on to say “Therefore do not be foolish” (v17) “Foolish” or “fool” commonly refers to a person who acts unintelligently and irresponsibly. Scripture defines a fool as a person who says in his or her heart “There is no God” A fool according to the scripture is someone who is moral corrupt or morally bankrupt. The foolish man or woman is someone who lives there life apart from God. Psalm 14:1-4 says “The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good. The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one. Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers who eat up my people as they eat bread and do not call upon the LORD? A foolish person is someone who denies God all together by their words or actions.
This is a person who is born spiritually foolish Romans 1:21-22 says “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools,” The foolish and natural man or woman has more important things to do and they consider that more important over their eternal state. 1 Cor 2:14 says “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”
John MacArthur said when talking about the foolish man or woman “The natural man has the most important things in life exactly reversed. Consequently, he thinks foolishness is wisdom and wisdom is foolishness. No man can live without a god of some sort, and the spiritual fool inevitably substitutes a false god for the true God. He creates gods of his own making and, in effect, becomes his own god, his own authority in all things.”
We know this to be the problem then, now, and into the future, when Christ’s return! Why? Prov 12:15 says “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice” To help us from such foolish thinking and living, and so that we don’t fall to our natural ways of our fallen previous state. Paul uses some unorthodox language in this text; about how we are to live and be governed by the Spirit, and not by the flesh and our desires. (v18) “Do not be drunk with wine, but be filled with the Spirit” (v18)
Getting drunk with wine is not only a hindrance but a counterfeit of being filled with the Spirit of God. Many people think that drinking will help them find peace and joyfulness through a past or present struggle or a certain problem. But we all know it only leads to more heartache and pain. People drink to be happy but this is where we do not find true and lasting happiness. This is not God filled….. But a person who seeks ways to find happiness outside of God’s sovereign grace and care and wills for our lives. When we read the Proverb “A joyful heart is medicine” Prov 17:22. This is not refereeing or opening the door to social drinking; or something that is going to alter your ability to understand and function.
So what is Paul trying to say to us about this? We are to be under the influence of the Holy Spirit, when one is filled with the Spirit he or she is now under the influence and submission to the Spirit. “Be filled with the Spirit”(v18) We need to understand that being filled with the Spirit is not a dramatic mysterious experience like you been zapped by the Energizer Bunny. We need to understand that being filled is not the same as possessing, or being indwelt by, because the Spirit indwells the believer at the moment of salvation. Paul said “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.” Rom 8:9. We need to understand that being filled with the Spirit is not a kind of spiritual intoxication which we lose self-control, Why? Because “self-control” is one of the fruits of the Spirit. Gal 5:22. We need to understand that being filled with the Spirit is not some progression of receiving Him in small portions. Every Christian through the saving grace of the gospel, fully possesses the Spirit. God doesn’t just give you a part of Him. but all the fullness of the Spirit. John 3:34 says “for he gives the Spirit without measure.”
What Paul is saying is that alcohol is a depressant, while the Spirit is a simulant. Today the church needs the Holy Spirit in this way more than ever before. Many churches are spiritual empty of the joy that is found in Christ and the gospel, but not just the church age. We have seen this in the nation of Israel! Jer 2:5 the LORD asks the question “Thus says the LORD: "What wrong did your fathers find in me that they went far from me, and went after worthlessness, and became worthless? The answer is given in (v13 of Jeremiah chapter two) “for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” It’s seeking pleasures in something else, seeking to find that next and greatest high to fill their broken hearts with a counterfeit joy.
See to be filled with the Spirit is not like a flu shot or an evening of Bing drinking once and awhile. It’s a continuation of being filled by the Spirit of God for the purpose to displaying a genuine love and joy found in Christ alone. In the Greek this statement is referring to “Be being kept filled”. It’s a command that includes the idea of conscious continuation. Being filled with the Spirit is not an option for the believer but a mandate. No Christian can fulfill the will of God apart from God’s Spirit. John MacArthur said “Outside of the command for unbelievers to trust in Christ for salvation, there is no more practical and necessary command in Scripture than the one for believers to be filled with the Spirit.”
So the question we need to ask ourselves is….. How are we to walk with wisdom and not fools; being guided by the Spirit daily shining for Him and His glory? (v19) The answer is found in the remaining verses of this portion of scripture (v19-v21). Singing vertically to Him and His glory.
A Spirit filled life produces music to the Heavens and the glory of God.
This is not judged on your ability to sing or hold a note. This is pure worship and it’s promoting a gathering of like-minded people. We sing because He gives us the joy to sing for such a great salvation in His Son. See! It’s not our abilities, strengths, the ability to articulate or speak, it’s not even our ability to display mountain moving faith. It’s the manifestation of joy that Spirit provides to and through us, as we sing to Him for His glorious Name. “Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous! Praise befits the upright.” Psalm 33:1.
Giving thanks for His saving grace and giving us an eternal hope as we live in this darkened world as reflections of His glorious gospel.
It’s the expression for God’s children who have a genuine expression of gratitude that is pleasing to God. It’s our hope and desire for future things where we will finally taste the victory of the finished work of Christ. The glorious resurrection awaits those who are hidden in Him through the gospel. Our eternal joy of sinlessness and everlasting satisfaction in Christ alone and the complete denial of my sinfulness and desires that hinder my joy here on Earth. It’s the victory that Paul proclaimed when he said “As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom 8:36-39
Submitting to one another out of reverence for God is good.
A Spirit filled life leads us to walk in humility and it opens our eyes to see the needs of other and the welfare of the body of Christ. The general meaning here is, that Christianity does not break up the relations of life, and produce disorder, lawlessness, and insubordination. But submits to one another under the authority of Scripture and love for the church body. The church has a function with many parts and they need to work together because the end goal is to glorify our Father who is in Heaven. And the last thing I want to see you do, or I do, is offend a holy God by our rebellious and insubordinate attitude towards one another. “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God….” 1 Peter 2:16-17. This is something that sets the stage for the next section of Paul’s letter that we will look at in a couple of weeks. So stay tuned!
Charles Spurgeon had a question for his church family and it’s something I think we need to ponder today! As it relates to the child of God as we walk the walk of faith. 1 John 2:6 says “Whoever claims to live in Him, must walk as Jesus did.” Charles Spurgeon said “Hang this question up in your houses! "What would Jesus do?" And then think of another, "How would Jesus do it?" Why did Spurgeon say that? Because what Jesus would do, and how He would do it…..will always stand as the best guide to us. So church family! “Look carefully then how you walk”. As 1 Peter 2:21 says "Leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps." We as God’s children are supposed to make the most of our time about Christ and His gospel. Christians should make the most of their time about His work because we do not want to waste our lives on earthly pursuits. We must passionately shine our lights as a reflection of His glory for a world to see and taste the glory of the gospel. While we have breath may it used solely for Him!
Why? Because when we stand before Him in all His glory we will not regret having spent our lives wisely. So look both ways and use this time for His glory, under the authority and submission of the Spirit as we sing, give thanks and live our lives for His glorious Name. As 1 Thess 5:17-18 says “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. For this is the will of God for you and me