Are You Drunk on God’s Spirit?

Ephesians 5

15So be careful how you live, not as fools but as those who are wise. 16Make the most of every opportunity for doing good in these evil days. 17Don’t act thoughtlessly, but try to understand what the Lord wants you to do. 18Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, let the Holy Spirit fill and control you. 19Then you will sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, making music to the Lord in your hearts. 20And you will always give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:15-20, NLT)


The Daily DAVEotional

In this section of Ephesians Paul is summarizing what He’s shared earlier in chapter 5 where he has given a number of examples and admonitions for what it means to follow God.

The summary of all the guidelines is to live wisely instead of foolishly.

What does it mean to live wisely and what does it look like to live foolishly?

Examples of wisdom and foolishness are replete throughout the Bible. The book of Proverbs contains a wealth of knowledge contrasting wisdom from foolishness. Additionally, Paul gives many exhortations and commands in his many New Testament letters, including what he’s shared earlier in chapter 5.

However, in this short segment, Paul summarizes wise and foolish living with 3 ideas:

First, people who live wisely make the most of their time. They don’t waste their time, but use their time for doing good.

Secondly, the wise person doesn’t act thoughtlessly but considers what the Lord’s will is. The implication here is that the wise person KNOWS the Lord and His word. Knowing God’s word is vital to understanding His will because it is the primary means by which we understand God’s character and His purposes.

Third, the wise person doesn’t get drunk but instead is filled with the Holy Spirit.

I think it’s interesting that Paul compares and contrasts being filled with the Spirit with being drunk. Why does he do this? How are these two things similar and how are they different?

Most states have strict laws about driving while drunk but if you get pulled over and charged, the official term is often “DUI”, which stands for driving under the influence.

When we drink too much, we are under the influence of alcohol and it affects us mentally, physically and emotionally. In short, we lose control of ourselves and often do things and act in ways that are totally out of character.

In the same way, to be filled with the Spirit is to be under the Spirit’s control. It means that I allow God’s Spirit to lead me and influence my decisions and my actions.

According to verse 18, the end result of being drunk is that it ruins our lives. Some translations say that being drunk leads to “dissipation”, which means “wasteful living.” The idea is that really nothing good comes from being drunk. It’s a waste of time and energy that leads to nothing good or productive.

The key question is: who is in control of my life? Is it me? If I’m in control, making my own decisions and living for myself, then I’m living foolishly and I’m apt to do foolish things, just as someone who is drunk.

However, if God’s Spirit is in control, then I’m living wisely, following His lead, doing good instead of evil and as a result, my life has purpose and direction.

Reflection

How are you using your time? In what ways does your schedule reflect God’s priorities? Are there things in your schedule that are time wasters? 

What are some examples that come to mind that demonstrate how drunkenness can lead to ruined lives or wasteful living?

Paul contrasts being drunk with being filled with the Spirit. How can a person be controlled by God’s Spirit? What steps can one take to be under the influence of God’s Spirit?

If you were to create your own list of foolish living versus wise living, what items would be on each list? What is the source of items for each of your lists?

How can you know what God’s will is? What steps and actions can you take to understand God’s will and ensure that you’re following God’s will?

 

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

You’re A Rotten Person!

17With the Lord’s authority let me say this: Live no longer as the ungodly do, for they are hopelessly confused. 18Their closed minds are full of darkness; they are far away from the life of God because they have shut their minds and hardened their hearts against him. 19They don’t care anymore about right and wrong, and they have given themselves over to immoral ways. Their lives are filled with all kinds of impurity and greed.

20But that isn’t what you were taught when you learned about Christ. 21Since you have heard all about him and have learned the truth that is in Jesus, 22throw off your old evil nature and your former way of life, which is rotten through and through, full of lust and deception. 23Instead, there must be a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes. 24You must display a new nature because you are a new person, created in God’s likeness—righteous, holy, and true. (Ephesians 4:17-24, NLT)


Chapter 4 of Ephesians is packed with theological truths that are vitally important for followers of Christ to understand.

Paul exhorts the Ephesians to live differently by contrasting the characteristics of the ungodly versus the characteristics of those who are in Jesus.

Paul describes the ungodly as darkened in their understanding because of their hardened hearts. A person with a hardened heart is someone who has made a decision of the will to live the way they want to and this shows up in their morals – they no longer care about right and wrong and their lives are filled with “all kinds of impurity and greed”.

Does this sound familiar?

But this shouldn’t be how the Christian lives. Paul admonishes us to throw off our old evil nature and former way of life which is rotten through and through. (vs 22). So according to Paul, you’re a rotten person! (I am too).

I love how the NIV states verse 22. It says:

22You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; (Ephesians 4:22, NIV)

That phrase “being corrupted” is in the present tense, which indicates an action that is ongoing. What this means is that your sinful nature is not just sinful, but it’s continuing in its corruption – it’s getting worse!

How are we to combat a sin nature that’s actually getting worse?

Paul says there must be a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes. And since the old nature is continually being corrupted, our new nature must continually be renewed!

The Christian life, contrary to what some might believe, is not a one-time decision. Yes, our decision to accept Christ as our Savior brings us forgiveness and adoption and a myriad of other spiritual blessings. It’s the start of our new life in a relationship with Christ. But to follow Christ requires a constant renewal of our thoughts and attitudes. If we neglect to do this, our sin nature will take over, and since it is being corrupted, we are at risk of living more like the ungodly than the righteous.

Reflection

What areas of your life are you most likely to see as “being corrupted”?

What are some practical ways you can renew your thoughts and attitudes?

What is your reaction to the idea that the Christian life is not a “one-time” decision, but rather, it’s a daily, even moment-by-moment decision to reject ungodliness and pursue righteousness?

 

Photo by Anita Jankovic on Unsplash