Talk given at Poole High School for Poole Christian Fellowship on 1 October 2017.
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Reference: Ephesians 5 v 18-22
Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
When we became Christians, we received God’s Spirit. An amazing fact. From that point on, we are able to live Spirit-filled lives – or we are able to quench the Spirit. Today’s brief passage shows us how we can promote the ongoing infilling of the Holy Spirit and what the effects of that infilling will be.
We need to be in a kind of virtuous circle/ Jesus fills us with His Spirit, we lead godly lives, which enables the Spirit to fill us more….and so on.
So the five challenges before us today, are actions that will brief promote the infilling of the Spirit, and demonstrate that it is effective in our lives.
1. What Drives your life?
Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery.
We choose what we submit our lives to. If we choose to allow alcohol – or anything else harmful to control our lives, we will reap the effect of that. Sin, remoteness from God and everything that we don’t want.
So, the question that we have to ask is….what do we allow to control our lives ? It may be something that causes addiction, but the most harmful thing is something that is god, but which we choose to put ahead of God. This can be career, family, relationships – all good things that come from God, but which only finds their true fulfilment in submission to God.
2. How Do you speak to Others?
speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit.
These verses are often cited as things to consider during a worship service. But Paul seems to be concerned with the kind of things we are speaking about when we are with one another. Are we speaking about things that come from the Spirit – or things that drive us away from God.? A Spirit-filled person will speak of spiritual matters (Not all the time, that would be hopelessly super-spiritual!) But our conversation will be driven by things that are pleasing to God.
3. What’s Going on Inside?
Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,
If our words are wholesome, it is because we have a praising heart. The Spirit produces in us a heart that loves to sing God’s praises – and that will overflow when we come together.
4. What’s Your Attitude like?
always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ
Spirit-filled people have thankful hearts. This is counter-cultural in Britain, where we have made whinging a fine art – but the Spirit-filled Christian will increasingly rise above that, and made thanksgiving a dominant motif of their life.
5. How Do You Relate to Others?
submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ
“Authority” has been described as that this people both crave and resent in equal measure. We want there to be authority to take care of us and to protect us…but let anyone tell us what to do, and that’s a different matter.
As sinful people, our default position is that we oppose authority – it doesn’t really matter what the authority is – we’re against it! The Spirit-filled person is quite different. There are detailed instructions later in Ephesians and elsewhere as to how this works out in practice, but basically as Spirit-filled believers our default position is that we submit to one another. Not blindly, but willingly. The greatest example of that is the Trinity –a community of equals in which the Sn chose willingly to give up some of His rights to be subject to the Father, and in which the Spirit choose to exalt the other two persons of the Trinity. Submission between equals is what God models for us.
So there you have it. Five challenges for us as Christians. Five things that the Holy Spirit works into our lives, and as we respond to them, provides room for the Holy Spirit to fill us again.
But, although there is a part for us to play, we are dependent on God for Him to make the river flow. How does that work?
Jesus had a very clear answer to that question.
“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
So – let’s ask. Shall we?