Ephesians 5:15-21, Walk the Talk:

  • You’ve heard the saying, ‘don’t just talk the talk, walk the walk!’ Here we learn to walk the talk as Paul begins by urging us to watch ourselves carefully so that we might live wisely rather than foolishly (5:15–17). This way of walking includes being filled with the Spirit (5:18), which will be expressed by thanksgiving. We do this by;
  • 1) Paying attention to your walk, v15-17
  • 2) Spirit-filled living, 18-21.

 

  1. Pay attention to your walk: (15-17)
  • Let’s get right into it! The idea is to pay careful attention to how you live. It has the sense of “watch, or beware of.” It is similar to when Jesus said “be on your guard” (Mark 13:9, 23, 33). In the context of Ephesians 5, Christians must watch carefully because, though they are light, they are living in darkness, in the midst of evil days (Eph 5:8, 11, 16).
  • For this reason, Paul says, ‘not as unwise but as wise’ (5:15). Verse 17 makes a similar point. And so these verses connect Christian living to wisdom, a theme often expressed in the Old Testament. Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

 

  • This leads us to the encouragement in verse 16. The verb translated as “making the most of” means to “buy up” or “redeem.” It appears in Galatians, where Christ “redeemed us from the curse of the law” (Gal 3:13). And so a straightforward translation might be, “redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” Yet what does this mean and how can we do it?
  • We all are under the domination of evil, that’s the darkness. And we all live in a time when the battle between good and evil rages. Yet we are not captive or hopeless. So when we acknowledge the evil of these days, we have a chance to do something good, making the most of our time. We can’t “buy time” therefore, our use of it must be specific & God-glorifying.
  • And because of this reality, turn to verse 17. Understanding the Lord’s will does not in this context refer to knowledge of God’s specific plans for our lives. It means we begin to understand the story of redemption as God’s plan for us. When we have this reality before our eyes, we will avoid living foolishly and live wisely.

 

  1. Spirit-Filled Living: (18-21)
  • Here we see a few dimensions of Spirit-filled living. So firstly, verse 18. This verse might seem out of place, however, having just spoken about living wisely, Paul might be referring to Proverbs 23:31, which in the Greek Septuagint says, “Do not get drunk on wine, but talk with righteous people.
  • So it’s possible that Paul wanted to discourage Christians from imitating pagan festivals. And it is obvious why… drunkenness leads to “debauchery.” The Greek word used here can also mean “overindulgence.”

 

  • And the necessary contrast is further expressed, instead, be filled with the Spirit (5:18). This command is passive. The filling with the Spirit is not something we can do by our own power. God is the one who fills us with his Spirit through Christ.
  • But if God does the filling, then how might we respond to this command? Paul is telling us to make ourselves available to God as vessels ready to be filled. To be open in our worship of Him with openness to the Spirit.

 

  • Besides, this isn’t something that happens once and for all. The filling of the Spirit is something that can happen again and again in the life of the believer. There is a difference between being filled & indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
  • Romans 8:15 tells us that we received the Spirit when we put our faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Yet we who have the Spirit can also be filled with the Spirit so that we might worship or minister in God’s power.

 

  • And in that filling, Paul says … Sing and make music … giving thanks.… Submit (5:18–21). The filling of the Spirit often comes when Christians are speaking to each other, singing to the Lord, and so forth.
  • When filled with the Spirit, we will be “speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit.” Because the language of worship should spill over into our everyday conversation, shaping what we say and how we say it.

 

  • Moreover when we’re filled with the Spirit, we will also find ourselves singing and making music from our hearts “to the Lord” (5:19), as they address God explicitly. Hence Paul says, Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (5:20).
  • This verse identifies one of the most common and appropriate expressions of worship: thanksgiving. Whether in song or speech, when we are filled with the Spirit, we will offer expressions of gratitude to God. We do this “in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (5:20), that is, under the authority of Christ and for his purposes.

 

  • When should we do this? Always (5:20). This verse encourages us to pause in the midst of our busy lives to perceive God’s gifts and thank him for them. It also urges us to develop an inner perspective of gratitude, to live each moment with an awareness of the blessings we have from God and our debt to him.
  • And finally, verse 20. This reminds us of the corporate context of Ephesians 5:15–20. Being careful how we live, redeeming the time, avoiding drunkenness, being filled with the spirit, speaking to one another with music for worship, singing and making music to the Lord, and giving thanks to God are functions of the Christian community.

 

Application:

  • And so, in the sovereignty of God – we can be filled with the Spirit. But let us consider, John Piperasks “How can we not be thankful when we owe everything to God?”
  • Spurgeon notes, “I have not always found it easy to practice this duty; this I confess to my shame. When suffering extreme pain some time ago, a brother in Christ said to me, “Have you thanked God for this?” I replied that I desired to be patient, and would be thankful to recover. “But,” said he, “in everything give thanks, not after it is over, but while you are still in it, and perhaps when you are enabled to give thanks for the severe pain, it will cease.” I believe that there was much force in that good advice.”