I apologize for the slightly longer-than-normal reading, but it’s difficult to split up this section.
Paul is continuing his practical instructions to believers. Since God has done all this for you through Christ, this is how you need to think, speak, and act. Before he gets to specific directions to different groups (men, women, slaves, children, etc.), he’s going to give one last bit of guidelines for believers of all types.
Some quick points re: vss. 1-14:
· Because we’re God’s dearly loved children, we need to imitate Christ and walk in the way of love. Love—true love, not the tepid fake “love” that goes by that name today—should be the hallmark of every follower of Jesus.
· It’s not enough that we don’t indulge in a sexually immoral lifestyle. No, we must make sure that there isn’t even a hint of sexual immorality. The world should never even have reason to suspect that Christians are guilty of this. Any sexual immorality--both in our personal lives, and especially in the lives of church leaders—has to be shunned like the plague. There must be accountability and other preventative measures to avoid this.
· Other things which are inappropriate for God’s holy people are any type of impurity or greed.
· Our speech should reflect our Lord, and thus must scrupulously avoid “obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.”
· If you indulge in these types of things (as opposed to struggling with them), then you need to reexamine whether or not you really are a child of his, as vss. 5-7 make it clear
· In a classic case of “Be who you are,” Paul tells us that since we are “light in the Lord,” we need to live like it, exhibiting “goodness, righteousness and truth.”
Now we come to the verses I’d like to focus on for the rest of today. We need to be careful. We need to live wisely. How so? By “making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” Don’t waste your time, since you only have a limited amount of it. Every day I should be asking the Lord for opportunities to make an impact for eternity. Is there someone I can share the Good News with? Is there a fellow believer who needs a word of comfort and a hug? Are there any “good works” which my Father has prepared beforehand for me?
Lots of people question “What’s God’s will for my life?” My friend, my biggest problem is not ignorance of his will; it’s obeying what parts of his will which are crystal clear. If I don’t understand what his will is, it’s not God’s fault, it’s mine; I’m the one acting foolishly. And being a fool isn't an ignorance problem: It's an obedience problem.
And what’s a huge part of his will which is clear for everybody? “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” As we’ve discussed and as Scripture makes clear, every believer at the moment of salvation is immersed by the Spirit into the Body. Nowhere are we commanded to be baptized in the Spirit or to get the Spirit somehow inside us. Salvation is a “package deal,” and part of the package is that at the moment of salvation you’re baptized by the Spirit into the Body and have him living inside you forever.
However. . . not every Christian is filled with the Holy Spirit. That’s why he commands us to do this. Please forgive me as I quote from an earlier post on this topic:
Paul here starts by commanding us not to be drunk with wine. Instead, we’re to be filled with the Spirit. The Greek indicates a continuous--not a once-and-for-all--filling. Think about being drunk for a moment. When you’re smashed, you’re under the control of alcohol. You do things you would never do while sober. It’s sort of the same thing with the Spirit. By allowing the Spirit to control you, you’ll do things you’d never do if he wasn’t in the driver's seat.
How do you do this? Well, the rest of the passage tells us: 1) Speak to one another, 2) using psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (worship), and 3) giving thanks to God (a grateful attitude). If you look at the Colossians verses, you’ll see the same parallel phrases, which link being filled with the Spirit with letting Christ rule in our hearts (apparently different terms for the same thing). So to be filled with the Spirit, we also need to be 4) letting God’s word fill our thoughts and hearts, 5) teaching and admonish each other, and 6) doing everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.
I’d like to add one more thing to the list: A sign that you’re filled with his Spirit and letting Christ rule in your hearts is that you’re willing to submit to other believers “out of reverence for Christ,” willing to put others’ needs before your own, willing to give up your “rights” for the benefit of others.
Which we’ll dive into starting tomorrow.
Lord Jesus, when I read passages like this, I feel so guilty sometimes. That’s not the purpose at all, I know. The purpose of this is to drive me to you, to the foot of the Cross. The closer I’m walking next to you, the better off I’ll be. “Just a closer walk with Thee, grant it Jesus is my plea, daily walking close to Thee, let it be, dear Lord, let it be.”