19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God. (Ephesians 5:19–21, NKJV)
Christians are to be “filled with the Spirit” of God instead of the intoxicating spirits created by men (Eph. 5:18). Several actions necessarily follow when we are filled with the Spirit through the word of Christ dwelling in us (Col. 3:16). 1) Speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs (v. 19). Speaking to one another takes the form of singing, of “making melody in your heart to the Lord.” It is singing words that communicate the heart’s message. This singing to the Lord encourages each Christian who sings from the heart. It is not entertainment. Neither is it a performance of a few for the many. This speaking is not playing, strumming, and humming songs. Nothing of the kind is in this verse. It does not say to play songs, but to speak to one another in songs. Let us not put words into God’s mouth (like “play”) that He did not say. 2) Give thanks always for all things (v. 20). Gratitude and praise exude from the life filled with the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). Our songs and lives express hearts that respect God in Christ as the Giver of every blessing (Eph. 1:3). 3) Submit to one another in the fear of God (v. 21). The Spirit-filled life lives for others, not oneself. We serve Christ by serving one another (Mk. 10:42-45; Matt. 25:40). Subordinating ourselves to each other is a token of reverential respect for God. Be filled with the Spirit. Worship. Give thanks. Serve one another.
5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:5–8, NKJV)
In yesterday’s Sword Tips, we studied from Ephesians 5:18-21 what it means to “be filled with the Spirit.” Today’s passage amplifies its meaning and its benefits. Today’s passage explains what living under the guidance of the Spirit (His truth) means. It means 1) We set our minds on the things of the Spirit (v. 5). We choose to focus on heavenly things (Col. 3:1-3). 2) We are spiritually minded, which results in life and peace (v. 6). 3) Being spiritually minded means we submit ourselves to the law of God. We yield ourselves to the will of God and obey Him because we are “under law toward Christ” (1 Cor. 9:21). 4) We please God (v. 8). To live “in the flesh” means to set the minds on carnal things and refuse to obey the law of God. The carnal mind is at war against God, and its outcome is death. We must choose to live under the law of God to be filled with the Spirit. This life will bear the fruit of the Spirit, bringing life and peace (Gal. 5:22-23).
And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, (Ephesians 5:18, NKJV)
Christians are to fill themselves with the Spirit, not with wine and its riotous excess. We do so by putting His word, the word of Christ, into our hearts and lives (Col. 3:16). Yet, a growing number of Christians justify the moderate consumption of intoxicating beverages. I wonder, do they also advocate for only being moderately filled with the Holy Spirit? If just a little alcohol is okay (as long as you don’t get drunk), then it follows that only a small amount of the Spirit in your life is okay (as long as you are not full of the Holy Spirit). Absurd? Absolutely. But, that is the consistent application of Ephesians 5:18 and the logical extension of the reasoning that promotes moderate alcohol consumption. The apostle contrasts being filled with wine and being filled with the Spirit. The fact that God’s word condemns drunkenness does not mean the drinking that leads to drunkenness is acceptable. The Scriptures must show it to be good, not merely asserted to be good (1 Thess. 5:21-22). Other passages teach us to be sober-minded, to use sound judgment, and to exercise self-control (Gal. 5:23; Titus 2:2, 6, 12). Consuming alcohol deconstructs and destroys these qualities the Spirit teaches us to possess. How can that be good? Drinking alcohol satisfies the desires of the flesh, but it is inconsistent with the mind of Christ and being filled with the Spirit of God (1 Pet. 4:1-4; Rom. 8:9-14).
“And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,” (Ephesians 5:18, NKJV)
Christians are to be filled with the Spirit, not intoxicated with alcohol. But, what does that mean? Does it mean having a warm feeling in the heart, confident in feeling that we please God? No, since “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Prov. 14:12). Since the Scriptures do not assign our feelings to the Holy Spirit, neither can we. Does it mean claiming some miracle at work in our lives? No, since the purpose of the miraculous gifts of the Spirit has been accomplished. Plus, how those gifts were received is no longer possible (1 Cor. 13:8-10; Acts 8:14-17). To “be filled with the Spirit” is a commandment, therefore, we choose whether or not the Spirit will fill us. Paul’s parallel statement in Colossians 3:16 says to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,” persuading us to conclude we keep this command by imbibing of the Spirit’s word which He communicated to us by the apostles and prophets of Jesus (Jno. 16:8, 12-13; 1 Cor. 2:10-13; Eph. 3:5). Instead of filling your body with spirits that rob you of soberness, sound judgment, and honorable conduct, fill your soul with the holy directives of revealed truth. In this way, by being filled with the Spirit you will dwell with Him and bear His fruit in your life (Gal. 5:22-23).
15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 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 (Ephesians 5:15–18, NKJV)
Having just exhorted Christians to “walk as children of light”, the apostle states several necessary things: “walk circumspectly”, “redeem the time”, “understand what the will of the Lord is” and “be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:8-10, 15-18). These are commandments, not mere suggestions. Without obeying them one cannot walk as a child of light. The question arises, how does a person obey the command to be “filled with the Spirit”? How do you do that? The answer is revealed in Colossians 3:16 (which corresponds to Eph. 5:18-19): “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord”. To be “filled with the Spirit” means to let “the word of Christ dwell in you richly”. The Holy Spirit helps the Christian walk as a child of light by means of the Scriptures, the word of Christ He revealed and inspired. There is no relationship with the Spirit of God where the word of God is absent from your heart and life. Be filled with the Spirit of God by being filled with the word of God.