“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.” (Ephesians 5:18-21).
In Monday’s edition of Words of Hope, we discovered that Jesus became very angry with the moneychangers who were selling in the temple, which was the place where God was supposed to dwell. Jesus was angry, because, as long as there was sin and oppression in the temple, God’s Spirit could not dwell there in His fullness (and so promote healing, for example, which is often, if not always, a natural by-product of being in the presence of God’s Spirit).
Since the day of Pentecost, we know that Christian believers are literally the “new temple” of the Holy Spirit, and their bodies are His literal dwelling place. As such, we are to be concerned with keeping God’s temple clean — and that is done by following the directives as given in Ephesians 5:18-21. We will go over them, one by one, to see if we can gain more insight on them:
I. “And do not get drunk with wine.” In other words, if you really want God to fill your life and take full control (like He surely wants to), then you must give up the flesh completely. That may involve giving up drinking wine (etc.). However, it may involve anything else, as well, that causes your flesh to become “active.”
II. “But be filled with the Spirit.” This is broken down even further, as follows:
a. “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” — this may sound kind of strange, but it appears that what the Scriptures are actually teaching here is that we are to sing to one another, in order to be filled with God’s Holy Spirit. For example, do you have a son or a daughter or a spouse (or a close friend, with whom you can share)? Then, you are to actually sing to them! Try it out, and see if God’s Spirit of love, peace, and joy (etc.), does not begin to fill you. I think you find that He begins to!
b. “singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord” — this one now deals with the inner heart attitude which we have before God, and our need to sing to Him on a continual basis. Do you like listening to Christian music which will help you in this? You may want to get out that tape that has been sitting around, or invest in a good new one (there are plenty of good ones available, and we were designed by God, to respond in a positive way to good music like this. Yes, this can promote healing, too!)
c. “always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father.” Have you learned the secret of praise and worship unto God, by simply saying “thanks!” with a great sense of exuberance and joy? Paul says we are to rejoice in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4). Have we learned this secret? Remember, even in the midst of your darkest trial, you can learn to praise Him. Someone has said, “The true test of Christian character is not how a person responds when things are going well, but how he or she responds during that person’s deepest moment of pain.”
“And be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.” If keeping God’s temple (ourselves) clean involves first denying the flesh, and secondly being filled with the Holy Spirit (which involves signing spiritual songs to others, to God, and giving thanks to God), then, last of all, it involves being submissive to one another “in the fear of Christ.” The key here is “in the fear of Christ.” Many people are “fearfully submissive” to other people (for example, their bosses, or their husbands). However, this is not the type of submission being referred to here! The type being referred to here is “in the fear of Christ.” Friends, real submission has a lot to do with denying the flesh — that is what the earlier part of the verse says we must do if we are to keep God’ temple (ourselves) clean. Let us learn to say “no” to the flesh and “yes” to others, especially when what they are asking for is entirely reasonable. (A full treatise on good and bad types of submission cannot be gotten into here. There are some instances when it is not appropriate to submit.)