Ephesians 5:6-20
Filled With The Spirit

Authored By Rev. Takao Kiyohiro, Tokyo, Japan

In Psalms And Hymns And Spiritual Songs

1.  "Don't get drunk with wine.  It is the cause for the ruination of one's being.  Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speak to each other in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, and sing praise to the Lord from your hearts.  And, always, in all matters give thanks to God the Father through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ," (Ephesians 5:18-20).  Today, I would like for us to concentrate our hearts on these words in particular.

2.  Since [our] sanctuary was built on this land, seven years have passed.  All that time to this day we have assembled in this place together and have humbly offered up our worship.  This place, as it was in today's scriptural passage, has been a place for us to be filled with the Spirit, to speak psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to each other, and to sing praise from our hearts to the Lord.  And it will surely continue to be such a place from hereafter.

3.  But even with that, I think these scriptural words are very interesting in that they first say "Don't get drunk with wine."  In this biblical statement, being filled with the Spirit and worshipping the Lord is contrasted with getting drunk with wine.  Even though it says in the text, "Don't get drunk with wine," we shouldn't read this as a plain prohibition against drinking alcoholic beverages.  As everyone well knows, "it is the cause for the ruination of one's being," even though the Bible does not state it specifically here, other people will probably say it for us.  The important thing here is that this phrase is consistently contrasted with "the Spirit," that is, being filled with the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit.  In other words, it is certainly a major problem that getting drunk leads to self destruction, but the focus of the actual problem is about wine filling up what the Holy Spirit ought to fill up.

4.  It seems there is a hole in a person's life that only God can fill.  We might be able to ignore God, but we can't ignore the existence of this gap because it has to do with our real lives in the every day world we live in.  So, people try to fill this gap up with anything and everything.  At times alcohol is used to that end.  They say that when the Bible speaks of wine or alcohol here it has in particular at the background the frenzy and the excitement that goes along with the festival of Dionysius, the [Greek] god of wine, that used to be practiced back then.  This is the way people would at times seek to fill the void in their hearts through the frenzy and the excitement built up artificially.  Or it was not just that kind of wine usage, but anything you name it could become a false substitute as a simple way to pass away the time [and fill up the inner gap].  But, since it would only be a false substitute, in the passing of time, you would just be right back where you started all over again.  You would feel the hole gaping wide open just as ever right there.

5.  Thus, it means that when we are led to the sanctuary we are being led out of the way of being where we live to ourselves and fill our gap with these kinds of temporary substitutes.  Instead, we are called to be filled with the Spirit of God and live in fellowship with God.  That's the way it is, and as I mentioned before, this place is a place for us to be filled with the Holy Spirit, speak to each other with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, and praise the Lord in song from our hearts.

6.  Of course, the time we actually spend in this place is not very long.  It is no more than one day a week and really but only an hour of that day at that.  But when we spend an hour like that we determine and set in a solid direction how we ought to spend our other hours.

7.  Please look at the scripture passage we read earlier.  If [you're looking at] the New Interconfessional Version a sentence is cut off from verse nineteen.  But in the original text verse twenty is one sentence connected to verse nineteen.  The phraseology in verse nineteen "speak to each other in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs" is definitely words that in a certain sense are hard to grasp and strange.  But, at least we understand that since it says "speak to each other" this phrase presupposes that they are assembled together.  In other words, verse nineteen is an exhortation that has to do with when they assemble together [as a church].  In regard to this, verse twenty is an exhortation related to every day daily life as the words "always, in all things" show.  These are connected to each other.  In other words, it is but an hour that we assemble together, but it determines what we do "all the time regarding everything."  Since it begins there in verse nineteen, the exhortation can be given as "always, in all things, give thanks to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."

8.  If you think about it, this is exactly what you'd think it should be.  Thanksgiving is not forthcoming out of an empty life.  Even though it feels like we are filled for a little while by wine and artificial pleasures, as long as it is a false substitute, the only thing we will see appearing in our daily lives is but discontent and dissatisfaction.  To be filled with thanksgiving for God the Father in our lives, we ourselves must be filled by God.  We must be filled with [his] Holy Spirit.

Walking As Sons Of Light

9.  We'll [have to] go back a little in order to understand better what this phrase means.  Please look at verse eight.  This is what is written there, "You used to be darkness, but now as you are joined to the Lord you are become light.  Please walk as sons of the light," (verse eight).  Therefore, even the passage we read earlier we understand that it is part of the specific exhortation for walking as sons of light.  So now, I would like for us to think about what to "walk as sons of light" is.

10.  The reason it says "Please walk as sons of light" is that those who used to be darkness are made into light.  That's what it says in verse eight.  Please note that it does not say here in the text that "they used to be in the darkness."  A person who feels that he or she is in the darkness is probably not the least in the world.  If one expresses his or her life as "utterly dark," he or she would probably be thinking that of himself or herself living such a life of deep darkness as very unhappy and miserable.  But, the Bible does not say, "You used to be in darkness."  It says, "You were formerly the very darkness itself."  The person does not realize at all that the darkness is not external to him or her, but that the person himself or herself is the darkness and is a being that causes darkness.  This very thing is the dark grounds for the darkness.

11.  Therefore, the salvation given to us does not only place us who are in darkness into the light but is where we who are the darkness itself are made into light.  Thus, if made into the light, walking as sons of light is required [of us].  It says, "Please walk as sons of light."

12.  Then, that which we should not overlook is the phrase "now...," (verse eight).  [We have a] "before" and "after" or the way we used to be and the way we are "now."  When it says, now "joined to the Lord" is what makes it different.  It is being "joined to the Lord" that thoroughly makes [us] light.  The source of the light does not lie in us.  Christ indeed is the true light that shines into the world.  We are no more than like the surface of the moon.  That itself is but an eyesore like stubble.  But, when we are joined to Christ and receive his light, we can become light.  In this way, we are the light as long as we are joined to Christ.

13.  That the text says, "We are light," and not only that "we are in the light" means that we are expected to shine around us with that light.  It does not mean to "become bright shinning people."  Brightening up the atmosphere around us is not what is required.  Rather than that, the text has [something] much more severe.  Please look at verses eleven onward.  There it says, "Do not add to the works of darkness which do not yield fruit, instead, bring them into the brightness.  That which they practice in secret is shameful to even talk about."  "Bring their works of darkness into the brightness." -- This means to become the light that shines around you.

14.  However, this is not about that [we should] simply expose the hidden sins of other people and find fault with them.  If that were the case, even though the Bible doesn't say a thing, isn't everyone doing that?  Because even if it didn't, we have a tendency to make an issue of only other people's sins and find fault with them.  We need to read what comes next in order to correctly understand the meaning of what is being said here.  This is what it says there in the text, "But, all things are exposed by the light and made clear.  All who are made clear become light.  So then, it is thus said, 'O person stuck in sleep, get up.  Be [thou]1 risen from the dead.  In so doing, Christ will shine in you,'" (verses thirteen and fourteen).

15.  In verse fourteen, the words that Paul quotes are not found in the Old Testament.  It is believed they were probably part of a praise song back at that time.  "O person stuck in sleep, get up.  Be [thou] risen from the dead.  In so doing, Christ will shine in you."  Here we have a call extended to the dead.  It is not necessarily those who have lost their physical lives who are dead.  Being physically healthy and whether that same person is in a real sense "alive" are entirely separate sets of questions.  In chapter two and verse one of this epistle it says the following, "You used to be dead because of your faults and sins," (2:1).  When a person is separated from God, the source of life, because of sin, no matter how healthy his or her body may be, he or she is dead.  To such a person dead like that, God is calling out to him or her, saying, "Be thou risen up."  And he is wanting to shine into them with the light of Christ.

16.  In consequence, this light of Christ must not only be a light that exposes sin but must be the light of grace that saves a person from sin and grants forth eternal life.  God is wanting to bring to the world this type of light from Christ through those joined to the Lord and made as light.  That's what "to bring to the brightness" means.  Being shined upon by the light of Christ's grace sin is first made clear as sin.  Until then sin is not recognized as sin. Even though it is lewd or dirty, or even "too shameful to speak of" it is not recognized as sin.  We begin to come to an understanding how these things are the works of deep darkness when the light of Christ is brought in.  Thus, "all that is made clear becomes light," (verse fourteen).  In other words, then salvation from sin takes place.

17.  We don't need to "walk as sons of light" just if we're going to expose other people's sins and find fault with them.  But, we must walk as sons of light in order to live as the light of Christ and as persons who shine forth the light of salvation.  That's exactly what living as a person joined to Christ is.  Because "when joined to Christ, one becomes light."

18.  And, when it is written in this epistle to "be joined to Christ" a specific image comes along with it.  It is that of "the head and the body."  For example, after the passage we read today, there is an exhortation in the text to wives and husbands, but the following words appear in it as follows, "As Christ is the head of the church and he himself is the savior of the body...," (verse twenty-three), "we are part of the body of Christ," (verse thirty).  In other words, it is in the relationship of the head and the body that we are joined to Christ.  This body is the church.  In other words, we should not regard where it says "joined to Christ" and "in Christ" as simply an individual fellowship or relationship with Christ.  Because it is impossible for a part of the body all by itself to be directly connected to the head.

19.  Thus, within the specific exhortation to "Walk as sons of light," we understand why the language of worship has appeared in it.  Because in the very exact place where one is not drunk with wine, but filled with the Spirit, speaking psalms and spiritual songs and singing praises in our hearts to the Lord, the body of Christ truly joined to its head will show forth a specific form.  It begins from the life lived joined to the Lord, the daily life in which one walks as a son of light.  It's true, thus, it begins right from this place, where we are assembled each week.

End Note

1This shows that the passive is used.  God actually is the one doing the action of raising us from the deadness of our sin. Thou is you for old English and shows the passive command used here; God is the one who raises a person from the dead.

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