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.
18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 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 5:18–21, NKJV)
Filling oneself with wine (intoxicants) dulls the senses. But, being filled with the Spirit enlivens the heart with thankful songs of praise. Being filled with the Spirit leads Christians 1) To speak to one another in songs of worship. Worshipful singing is not entertainment, but engagement. In it, we communicate teachings and admonitions that are consistent with the word of Christ (Col. 3:16). 2) To sing and make melody in our hearts to the Lord. We pluck the chords of our hearts to produce musical sounds of grace from our lips. Christians cheerfully sing praises to God from the heart (Jas. 5:13; Heb. 2:12). 3) To give thanks for all things. The Spirit of Christ teaches us to find blessings in everything, even in trials of pain and suffering, for they purge and purify our faith (Matt. 6:10-12; 2 Cor. 12:7-10; 1 Pet. 1:6-9). 4) To submit to one another in the fear of God. This submission to each other is not slavery, but service that is activated by a fear of God. Thus, we accentuate the welfare of others before ourselves (Phil. 2:3-4; 1 Pet. 5:5). Being filled with the Spirit is not a miraculous event. It means to put yourself under the Spirit’s guiding influence by following the truth He revealed (Jno. 16:13).
speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord (Ephesians 5:19, NKJV)
This passage explains several things about the musical worship we give God. It tells us to give God vocal music (singing). It tells us who sings and what it accomplishes, what we are to sing, how we are to sing, and to whom we sing. It is notable that vocal music – singing – achieves each of these purposes without adding an instrument. Forcing instrumental music into this passage (when it is not there) is a futile attempt to add to the sufficiency of God’s word. Worship music is vocal (singing). We speak “to one another” when we sing. Everyone sings – this is congregational singing – and by “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” we teach and admonish one another (Colossians 3:16). Sacred, religious odes that address spiritual subjects are what true worshipers sing (John 4:23-24). Singing is the mode of communication to use, not whistling, stomping, thumping, clapping, humming, or any other non-verbal expressions that attempt to heighten emotion and mimic musical instruments. The heart, our God-made instrument, is plucked as songs are sweetly and earnestly sung to the Lord. We can unite on the truth that singing is true worship to the Lord. Division came when musical instruments were added to worship. We know God put singing in His church. So, who put playing musical instruments in the church (Galatians 1:6-9)? [More on this in tomorrow’s Sword Tip.]