Spirit – Baptism – BT5
The context of Ephesians 5:18 filling by the Holy Spirit tells us more about God’s will
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Now let’s get back to how all this ties into Ephesians 5:18 I mentioned earlier: “And/coupled I strongly urge you do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery (a) but be routinely filled by the means/instrument of the Spirit.” <Notes> a) waste due to reckless, excessive, extravagant, self-indulgent, wanton, profligate, behavior along with its dire consequences.
We will get to the nitty-gritty but let’s first look at the immediate context leading up to this in Ephesians 5:15-17, “Therefore, look carefully how you walk (live), not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but sunemi ‘connect-the-dots’ to understand/know what the will of the Lord [Jesus] is.” Evidently being “filled by the Spirit” is key to “understanding the Lord’s will!”
Paul starts with oun “therefore” as a logical conclusion to Ephesians 5:6-14, just as a lawyer would do in presenting a case, paraphrasing: “Don’t continue doing the things you once did when living in the ‘dark,’ because you know that God’s wrath is going to be poured out on such people. Don’t be conned into doing this ‘dark’ stuff with them, but as ‘children of the light’ continue living in God’s light, trying to dokimazo habitually learn through testing (a) what pleases the Lord. Let the “light” of Christ shine on you and let your life in the light expose the darkness that is in the world. This is really about Christian lifestyle witness/evangelism that all Christians can do to fulfill the “Great Commission” (b). God’s will isn’t as spelled-out as many preachers have you to believe as they point to their bibles! The way to ‘connect-the-dots’ to know God’s will is NOT through habitual investigation of a bible as we will find out! Discernment is something that even little children before reading age can do – see Least Among Us – BT8 and New Covenant Ways – BT16. <Notes> a) dokimazo: discern, test, examine, scrutinize to demonstrate or prove something is acceptable, genuine, approved, good, and approved, b) Matthew 28:16-20.
Everybody is so concerned about “time-management” nowadays, and I used to teach it in the business world! My wife will tell you that I have real issues with time, or what I see as the shortage of it! Well, Paul is saying that the smartest thing you can do with your little bit of time on this planet is “to take advantage of every opportunity” (a) by “dokimazo discerning what is pleasing to the Lord” (b). Thus, the wise man takes the time to “suniemi ‘connect-the-dots’ to understand/know what the Lord’s will is” (c). To do otherwise, would be “unwise” (d) or downright “foolish” (e). <Notes> a) Ephesians 5:16, b) v. 5:10, dokimazo: discern, test, examine, scrutinize to demonstrate or prove something is acceptable, genuine, approved, good, and approved, c) v. 5:17, d) v. 5:15, e) v. 5:17.
However, Paul didn’t leave it all up to his readers to figure out what to “make a habit of examining, scrutinizing, or investigating in order to prove the worthiness of” in order “to please the Lord” or to “suniemi ‘connect-the-dots’ to understand what the Lord’s will is.” I don’t think Paul wanted his readers to go on an endless, getting-lost-in-the-jungle journey looking for the answer and risk falling into the traps the false teachers had set. No! Paul gives some concrete aspects of God’s will but more likely the resultant lifestyle consequences of following the only imperative to “be routinely filled by the Spirit!”
Paul proceeds in vv. Ephesians 5:18-20: Verse 18 “strongly urges us” by the imperative to practice habitually (h) being [passively] filled by the means/instrument of the Spirit, instead of being filled by booze to the point of getting drunk. Now many believe that the following verse are more aspects of God’s will be order to us to obey or actively practice, but they are not in the imperative voice, but simply present active participles describing habitual practices that I believe are not a formula on “how-to” obey the imperative in verse 18 but as I’ve found in personal experience are natural results of obeying verse 18! Instead of more commandments to follow like the OT has, I only see 1 strong “urging or encouraging exhortation” and the rest is a description of how the Holy Spirit will naturally express itself. This is in keeping with Galatians 5:16-26 that describes how “walking by the flesh” versus “walking by the Spirit” manifests itself. This is not a list of rules to follow but educating Christians to recognize the influence of the flesh versus the Spirit.
Here in Ephesians 5:18-20, we have to remember the context: Tavern throughout the Roman Empire, private & public parties, weddings, and even temple celebrations were full of wine to get drunk from and people get very loud with singing, laughing, and trying to talk over the sound of the crowd or music – I’ve been in so many bars where the band and crowd were so loud I had to yell to the person right next to me! In these Roman environments, they were easily getting into arguments & fights, into course-joking, into vulgarity, into sexual innuendo, into sexual flirting, and into dirty dancing that is “foreplay on the dance floor” and a prelude to “hooking up” for sex. Some cities like Corinth were known for “What goes on in Vegas stays in Vegas” sinfulness! Temple worship involved gluttony and sacrificial orgies! Nothing has changed today. Cabo San Lucas Mexico was completely out of control, like there were no laws or social norms! All day & night drinking, partying, nudity, sex, or whatever you were into! Everyone went crazy at night! I lived in bars and strip-clubs for 15 years along with so many of my buddies from the world! Every form of debauchery certainly results once you get drunk, but even before in those environments! What Paul is proposing to Christians lured back into this prevalent lifestyle – I was backslidden and partied with many others just like me – is instead of asking “the bartender” for drink that “the power of the spirits” can then influence you to sin is to instead ask the Father for more Holy Spirit, and when you get drunk on this Spirit, then He will influence you for holiness. You still be habitually “partying” but in a radically different way and with completely different people! Let’s see how.
Verse 19 speaks of being habitually involved in community worship – “speaking to one another with psalms (a), hymns (b), and odes (c) of/belonging to the Spirit” – “habitually involved in singing [vocally] and/coupled making melody (d) in your hearts (e) to the Lord. Verse 20 speaks of being habitually involved in giving thanks to the Father for each other (or for everything). Verse 21 speaks of being habitually involved in being submissive (f) to one another out of reverence (g) for Christ. Then in verse 22 and further, Paul goes into more details and examples of “submitting to one another.” <Notes> a) songs with instrumental accompaniment, b) pre-composed praise songs without instruments, c) spontaneous music, acapella or instrumentally-accompanied, d) psallo: ‘psalming’ by rubbing/touching, twitching, twanging a stringed instrument to celebrate/worship, as with Psalms since these were songs, odes, or chants with musical accompaniment, e) the key to “acceptable worship”, f) passive yielding, g) awe, respect, h) as the present participle indicates.
As Christian musicians, are we leading people to biblical sources of God’s will that are very sporadic, incomplete, and vague? Are we dragging them backwards into an OT “It is written” method of God communicating the content of His Logos Message, even if we are told we have been “set free from the yoke of slavery to this ministry of the gramma written letter, which is a ministry of death?” Or are we leading people directly to The Source of God’s will that is God Himself under a completely different-in-kind New Covenant method of Jesus Christ NOW being the Living Logos Message communicated directly to us by “The One Teacher” of “the Holy Spirit of The Truth who guides us into ALL the truth so that we have absolutely in fact no need that anybody teach us because of the anointing of the Holy One that gives ALL of us impartial access to ALL knowledge of God?”
We really can’t live in 2 opposite paradigms! The OT says read, study, memorize, and debate this book to know God’s will! The NT says that “God’s will in order to really know what pleases Him” is to be “dokimazo routinely learned through testing, examination, and discernment” in order to suniemi ‘connect-the-dots’ to understand/know it,” which in turn is a product of the Holy Spirit’s grace-gift of discernment to reveal truth to us! You have to choose either the way of second-hand knowledge filtered down through a myriad of bible scribes over thousands of years of copying and translation OR the way of the prophets which is direct, first-hand knowledge. Which do you think is more reliable? If you go with the first, just know that there are tens of thousands of manuscript differences, many of them quite significantly changing the meaning – see Bible Info! Remember that God is impartial. Little children and other uneducated “least among you” can NOT know God reliably themselves through the “It is written” approach but they absolutely can “by the Spirit” approach! Per 2 Corinthians 3:6-7, is your ministry going to be about “letters that even kill” or about the “Spirit that gives zoe genuine-life?”
It’s really easy to look through the Old Testament filter and see the New Testament as a list of rules. Although there many strong urgings in the imperative voice in the NT, I could only find 2 officially decreed, universal entole commandments of having trusting-relying-faith in Christ and unconditionally-loving one another, so nicely combined in 1 John 3:23! What too many people miss is that the NT is simply describing “the walk of the Spirit” versus “the walk of the flesh” or “might and power” of Zechariah 4:6. Instead so many people see these descriptions as commandments to work at obeying in order to please God. Instead they are simply results of “being routinely filled by the Spirit with all the abundant-fullness of God.” Just as “spirits sold here” have a “power to entice our flesh to sin,” the Holy Spirit has enabling-power to move us toward holiness!
Our only part is to routinely, submissively ask, seek, and knock (A.S.K) for our Father to fill our mind/heart/innermost-being with Himself instead of the bartender filling our glasses with booze. Once we get “drunk on God by the Spirit,” radical changes will indeed occur in our lives that powerfully moves us toward holiness or godliness, which is simply the nature of God!
Yes, we will still habitually “party” but with a radically different crowd than the bars or world’s parties! We will still be singing and dancing, but not because we are out of control by booze and hoping to “hook up” for sex. Instead, we will be “possessed by the Spirit of holiness” – not by “spirits and wine sold here.” We won’t be “crying into our beers” about our jobs, marriages, and politics but instead filled with gratitude toward God. We won’t be trying to aggressively assert our pride and will over others nor pick fights in the bars, but instead yield respectively to others because of the reverent, serving character of Christ now living in us! Our lives become the result of the Holy Spirit’s filling, not a “secret deposit” within us but “filling up so completely” that He “manifests and demonstrates” His presence through grace-gifts, signs & wonders, and through our new behavior!