Ephesians 5 v 19 – 20
Our text from Ephesians last time was Ephesians 5:18
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
The first part of that verse issued a warning against drunkenness with wine and we saw how being filled with wine controls the mind and spirit of a person to such an extent that dishonour is brought to God the creator. Wine provides a picture for something which appears to be attractive, but which, by steady enticement draws the person into an inflamed and lawless condition.
Rather the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ is to, by contrast
“be filled with the Spirit.”
There has been so much misunderstanding about this term “the filling of the Holy Spirit.” The Bible teaches quite clearly that the experience of being baptised in the Spirit is a once only activity of the sovereign Lord Jesus Christ by his Spirit. We pass from death to life when baptised in the Spirit. We are redeemed from the curse of sin and granted the promise of eternal life with Christ. We are made right with God when we are immersed, baptised in the Spirit. The Baptism of the Spirit means that I belong to Christ’s Body.
On the other hand the Filling of the Holy Spirit means that my body belongs to Christ.
Just as drunkenness produces rioting and debauchery, so the filling of the Holy Spirit produces joy in the heart and a desire to serve the Lord more and to please Him in our Christian lives.
Therefore as we come to verse 19 this morning we will see the RESULTS of the filling of God the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life.
We start with a word of clarification, which is always necessary when we come to deal with such subjects.
There is the temptation with many to relegate God the Holy Spirit, the third person of the blessed Holy Trinity of the Godhead, to a mere force or an influence which somehow mysteriously comes into our souls like pouring water into a bottle.
But we must remind ourselves that He, the Holy Spirit, is a person, just as much a person in His own right as God the Holy, Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ His Holy Son. How can we illustrate this arrangement?
Let us suppose that you are a young lady. You have just met a new friend, a friend with whom you are very much taken, and who has made an instant impression on you – in fact if the truth were known, there is more to it than that – you have in fact fallen head over heals in love with that person. You spend more and more time with him learning about this one, drinking in and treasuring every tiny scrap of information concerning this object of your love and devotion. You cannot spend enough time in the presence of your new friend – and you long never to be parted. But when you are parted you cannot help yourself – you have to tell everyone about this wonderful person – to the extent, often, that your other friends become a little tired of your obsession and excitement with your love. In fact they begin to use such expressions as this to describe you, “Oh she is full of him!” What do they mean that you are full of that person? Has his soul poured itself into your soul in some miraculous possession? Of course it has not – but your speaking about him to others indicates how taken up you are with him. You are full of him. And the result of that fullness of him is what? A spring in the step – a gleam in the eye – a gladness of the mind and a joy in the heart – and a glorious anticipation of future increase of that joy as the relationship grows.
We are to be filled with the Holy Spirit. He is the Holy Spirit of our saviour the Lord Jesus Christ. Christians are to be full of Him, the One who died that they may be forgiven. But to what end? What is the purpose of this divinely inspired injunction from the Apostle to be filled with the Spirit?
It is with the distinct purposes outlined in these next few verses. Being filled with the Spirit enriches us with the precious treasure of lasting joy, deep insight and inner satisfaction. The spiritual condition will also sharpen our faculties for the perception of the divine will that was referred to back in verse 17.
So we come now to the Marks by which we can recognise in ourselves and in others, the fulness of the Holy Spirit. Paul announces these with a string of Participles in verses 19 – 21. (A participle is a verbal adjective – a describing word formed from a doing word which usually ends in “-ing.”) Let us notice them in three sections –
Being filled with the Spirit results in
1. Speaking, singing and making melody in our hearts v19 – we will be JOYFUL.
2. Giving thanks v 20 – we will be THANKFUL.
3.Submitting ourselves – v 21 – we will be SUBMISSIVE.
1. We will be JOYFUL when we are filled with the Spirit.
19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
We know that joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit as Paul points out in Galatians 5 v 22.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
What is joy? Is it a shallow emotion, that like the sea rises and falls every day according the tide? Is it like a barometer that indicates a rise and fall of atmospheric pressure – high one day and low the next? Is joy dependent on circumstances of the believer’s life or the atmosphere of home or workplace or society in general? No – Christian joy is a deep experience of adequacy and confidence in God despite the circumstances around us, whether good or bad. A believer can be joyful even in the midst of the most severe trials – pain, suffering, and adversity whatever it is. In fact Christian joy is less like a thermometer which rises and falls according to the temperature, and is more like a thermostat – one of those devices in your home that maintains an even temperature – that regulates and determines the SPIRITUAL temperature of circumstances. Paul knew the secret of this when he said in Philippians 4 v 11
I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
We noticed last time how Paul used the illustration of the familiar experience in the Ephesian pagan culture of drunkenness.
Be not drunk with wine
– which gives a false joy which only lasts as long as the wine has influence, but afterwards leaves the hangover –
but be filled with the Holy Spirit.
The crowd accused the believers at Pentecost of being drunk with new wine. There was such a joyfulness about them that the unbelievers in Jerusalem, from many different places in the world, could think of no better comparison.
* To begin with, the drunken intoxicated person is under the control of another force, since alcohol is actually a depressant. But he feels a surge of great release – all his troubles are gone. He becomes confident and can move mountains – and if anyone tries to stop him – let them try! He is not ashamed to express Himself (although more often than not what he does say is shameful and undignified) – and in drunkenness the disinhibition that is plain reveals what is going on in his life.
However the believer who is filled with God the Holy Spirit demonstrates that God is in control of his life and he experiences a deep and genuine joy that he is not ashamed to express to the glory of God.
* Of course, the drunken person is really out of control, since the alcohol affects his brain.
The believer on the other hand experiences a beautiful self-control that is really God in control. Self-control is another fruit of the Spirit in the list in Galatians 5.
* The drunkard makes a fool of himself – but the spirit filled Christian glorifies God and is willing to be “a fool for Christ’s sake” which is altogether different.
* The drunkard calls attention to himself, while the spirit filled believer is a witness for His Lord and points all the attention to Him who has saved him from his sins.
It should never be difficult to work with someone or live near to someone who is truly filled with the Holy Spirit and who is joyful. He has a song in his heart and sometimes on his lips.
* The drunkard often sings but his songs only reveal the corruption of his heart.
The Christian’s song comes from God, a song that he could never sing apart from the Spirit’s power. God even gives us songs in the night
Psalm 42 v 8 Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.
God fulfilled His promise in Psalm 42 to two men in the middle of the night. We read about them earlier in Acts 16. Paul and Silas after a most severe beating were able to sing praises to God in the jail at Philippi. Would we find ourselves singing praise to God after that sort of trial? The result of their singing was a testimony to the grace and power of God to save sinners. This testimony was heard and believed by the jailer and his family – they were converted and baptised calling on the Lord to forgive them. Then with great joy the jailer tended the missionaries’ wounds – happiness and gladness abounded – and they did not have to get drunk to enjoy it!
We as Christians who are filled with the Holy Spirit can speak to each other to encourage one another in the scriptures – and in particular the words of the Psalms, the Bible’s hymn book. There is an interchange between Christians of thoughts and feelings that are expressed in the Psalms. Consider the following verses from the Psalms –
Psalms 5:11 But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.
Psalms 16:11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
Psalms 32:11 Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.
Psalms 35:27 Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Let the LORD be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant.
Singing has ever been a part of Christian worship which historically has mostly been based on the singing of Psalms – noted here by Paul in their three categories – Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs – all three referring to different types of Psalms. By means of these, Spirit filled believers speak to each other the words of scripture and thereby remind each other of the great causes of joy that they have – through the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the Word of Christ that is the key here – because when we allow scripture to interpret scripture, we find the parallel verse to Ephesians 5 v 19 in Colossians 3:16
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.
Our fellowship as Christian believers is founded on our mutual submission to the Word of Christ. When we receive the word of Christ our only response can be praise. These two verses do not mean then that the only instructions that we can give and receive are through song! The Word of Christ dwells in us and the praise that we utter to God is to be addressed to God alone – at the same time though, in our corporate praise, we minister one to the other lifting each others spirits. Poetry is the language of emotion, but joyless singing is a contradiction. Jonathan Edwards said, “The duty of singing praises to God seems to be appointed wholly to excite and express our religious affections. No other reason can be assigned why we should express ourselves to God in verse rather than in prose.” Thomas Manton remarks on the “benefit that we can convey to others by our singing together. The lively voice does not only give vent to affections, but increases them.”
Furthermore Paul expands on this singing –
singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
The conjunction “in” in this phrase can properly be translated “with”
singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord.
Our worship in singing should be HEART FELT – with all of our hearts. There is nothing worse than heart less singing – when a congregation does not seem to have the heart to Praise the Lord with all of the energy that is due to His great Name. When therefore we are filled with the spirit our songs and our singing will be joyful. Our hearts will overflow with music and song in public worship. The Christian faith is a happy, joyful, singing faith, that takes the words of Scripture, scriptural themes, the Word of Christ, and produces joyful ministry to God and to each other as a congregation, emanating from our Spirit filled lives. This is making music and melody with our hearts.
Are we prepared my friends to come to the Lord’s house to concentrate on our worship in Spirit and in Truth? Are we ready to contribute, as this text calls us to, to the glorifying of our God and saviour when we sing? Are we ready to encourage one another, to lift each other’s spirits as we sing with heart and voice together?
Spirit filled believers will do this – Joyful acclamation in Song.
Being filled with the Spirit results in
2. Giving thanks v 20 – we will be THANKFUL.
20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
Thanksgiving is something that most Christians find easy. We come to know the Lord Jesus Christ and feel that amazing sense of Joy that we have just been thinking about. We feel that great relief from the burdens of our sins knowing that the Lord Jesus Christ has rescued us from certain disaster – had we not been converted. We grow to know the Lord more and more and come to appreciate the great debt that we owe Him. If it were not for the Lord Jesus, and what he did on the cross for us, we would be still under the terrible sentence of judgement and the prospect of everlasting punishment in hell.
BUT WE ARE NOT! That will not come to us – and so we are thankful. We are not only thankful but we spend time in prayer and praise to God giving thanks to Him – but I wonder if we do what this verse say that we should as Spirit filled Christians? Notice the words –
Giving thanks --- always --- for all things ---
ALL things? Are we to give thanks when things go wrong? When injustice comes? When death intrudes into our otherwise secure world? When sickness pokes its nose into our usually routine world and causes irritation? Can we still sing and give thanks when times are hard?
Once more we have an example in Paul and his friend Silas in the jail at Philippi to see what it means to be filled with the Spirit. Joy and thanksgiving are inseparable friends. We are to be involved in perpetual joyful thanksgiving – always for all things. Even when treated unjustly and locked up with our feet in the stocks, as they were.
What is it that makes us moan so much about things?
Perhaps it is this – that we are not thankful always for all things. When we are not thankful always for all things we take things for granted. The husband who freely takes, without thanks, his meals, washing, ironing and cleaning performed by his wife for him is taking her for granted. Are there husbands here who have fallen into the habit of rarely saying ‘Thank you’ to his wife for the blessing she is to him? Is there a wife who takes her husband’s work and provision of her security for granted so that she has forgotten to thank him for what he does for her and what he is to her? If this can be happening in our ordinary relationships, what about our relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ? Is it not very rude to rarely thank the Lord for saving us from hell? How desperate were we when we were converted? There was once a man living in a country that was being over run by an enemy. He was caught by a kindly soldier who was about to execute him, for those were his orders, when the captured man pleaded with the soldier, “Please save me and I will be your willing slave for the rest of my life and ever be thankful to you.” The soldier took pity and kept the man for his servant. After the war and some years later the soldier retired and decided to give his servant his freedom. But the servant again pleaded not to be sent away – he loved his rescuer so much and was so thankful that he had preserved his life, that he wanted to stay in this thankful relationship as long as he lived.
The Lord Jesus Christ has rescued us and saved us from eternal death. Are we thankful? He has made arrangements for our lives, our well being while on earth, which sometimes includes hardships and griefs. Are we still thankful? He has granted us freedom to serve Him and stay with Him forever – how much do we thank Him and stick close to Him?
Grateful hearts promote harmony in church, family and society. A grateful heart is a humble heart. The person who thinks that the world owes him a living is never thankful for anything. The humble thankful heart is one that gladly acknowledges that every good and perfect gift comes from God above.
Certainly there are special times of thanksgiving in our lives – but we are commanded here to be thankful for all things at all times. The exhortation itself proves our need for the filling of the Spirit, because in our own strength we could never fulfil this commandment. Because this text calls us as believers to be thankful for suffering, disappointments and even bereavements! Notice the number of times that Paul was thankful –
Ephesians 1 v 15 Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, 16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;
Ephesians 5 v 4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.
Colossians 1 v 3 We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
Colossians 2 v 6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: 7 Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.
When we find ourselves in a difficult situation we should immediately give thanks to the Father, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ by the power of the Spirit, to keep our hearts from complaining or fretting. What happens when we start to complain is that the devil moves in – but thanksgiving in the Spirit, by the Spirit filled believer, defeats the devil and glorifies the Lord. Of course this is what we should do – but it is so hard isn’t it?
A similar verse is in 1 Thessalonians 5 v 18
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
The words gratitude and grateful come from the same word that means GRACE. If the Lord has saved us by His grace, then we ought to be thankful for what the Lord brings to us. To the words thank and think also come from the same root word. If we would think more, we might just thank more!
The Apostle Paul is not telling us to do anything more than he was prepared to do himself. I like that about Paul – it was a mark of His inspired leadership. Paul gloried in his afflictions.
Romans 5:3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
He rejoiced in sufferings –
Colossians 1:24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:
And never let us forget where Paul was when he wrote these things – in prison!
We are to be constantly giving thanks, and thereby prove that we are filled with the Spirit. Dare we ever moan or complain again, my dear brothers and sisters? Do we really want to be considered those who are not filled with the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ betraying ourselves by our ungratefulness or lack of joy?
May the Lord give us all a truly Spirit filled Christian life that is overflowing with joy and full of true thanksgiving in every circumstance in the days that we have left on earth. As we shall see next week, verse 21 opens up the third area of demonstrating the Fullness of the Holy Spirit – submission, in the fear of God, to Him and to one another.
Finally, let us also be aware that it is likely, that as soon as this service is over, as soon as we face a new week then we are likely to be tested on our response to this word from Ephesians 5 v 19 and 20. How will we come out? Are we ready to encourage one another? Pray for one another? Be concerned for one another? Will the singing of our last Hymn be a ministry to each other as well as praise to the Lord? As we praise God in the fear of Him who loved us and gave Himself for us, may our whole beings be taken up with joyful thanksgiving and blessing to each other. May it be so for His glories sake.