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Watch Where You Walk

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Ephesians 5:15-20

Introduction:  In this passage Paul advises us to watch where or how we walk.  He contrasts wise living and foolish living.  And he gives us great counsel on how to practice this wisdom.

I. Carefully     vs. 15

     A. Literally, Paul begins this thought with the words “See then accurately how you walk.”

     B. KJV translates the word “accurately” with “circumspectly,” which means “carefully considering all circumstances and possible consequences.”

     C. The NIV is a better translation, “Be very careful.”

II. Not as unwise, but as wise    vs. 15

     A. σοφός: pertaining to specialized knowledge resulting in the skill for accomplishing some purpose; skillful, expert; pertaining to understanding resulting in wisdom; prudent, wise, understanding.  

     B. James 1:5   If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all men generously and without reproaching, and it will be given him.

     C. Redeeming the time   vs. 16

          1. The word translated “making the most" in the NIV is one Greek word that comes from a root word that literally means “to redeem”. … It means to buy up. It is a word from the market place. Many of you are probably like me. I watch the ads for the grocery stores and when they have bargains on items I use frequently, I go to the store and buy those items in large quantities. And if I have coupons so I can get that item even cheaper, that’s even better. I know that those bargains won’t last long, so I have to take advantage of them while they are available to me. So I make the most of them and buy them up. I make the most of this limited opportunity.   From a sermon preached by Pat Damiani in April, 2008

          2. The word translated “opportunity” [or “time”] is also an important word here. … The word Paul uses here is a word that describes a specific and often pre-determined period of time, or a season. It represents the best time to do something, the moment when circumstances are most suitable.   From a sermon preached by Pat Damiani in April, 2008

          3. Because the days are evil   vs. 16

              a. We live in evil times.  Instead of thinking this is bad, we should be looking for opportunities to do good or live as wise people.

              b. What he is saying here, essentially, is that evil days create opportunities, and, therefore, understanding this, we must make the most of those opportunities. But unfortunately many of us have a much different view of those evil days. Instead of seeing opportunities, we see pressures, obstacles, and defeating circumstances.   From a sermon preached by Pat Damiani in April, 2008

              c. Evil days cause people to seek God.

     D. Understand what the Lord’s will is.    vs. 17

          1. Learn what the Lord wants you to do.  New Century Version

          2. Three primary ways to do this:

              a. Scripture

              b. Counsel of wise people

              c. Following God’s ordained leaders

     E. Avoid drunkenness    vs. 18

          1. A taste of wine may be ok, but drunkenness is sinful   Romans 13:13; 1 Corinthians 5:11; 6:10

          2. ἀσωτία: behavior which shows lack of concern or thought for the consequences of an action; senseless deeds, reckless deeds, recklessness;

               debauchery, dissipation, profligacy.  “Prodigal” is the noun form of this word.

          3. Alcohol causes your self-control to relax, causing you to try sinful things that you would not normally do

     F. Be filled with the Spirit    vs. 18

          1. What it is not:

               a. A dramatic, mysterious experience of suddenly being energized and spiritualized into a permanent state of advanced spirituality by a second act of blessing subsequent to salvation.

               b. Temporary “zap” that results in ecstatic speech or unearthly visions.

               c. Trying to do what God wants us to do, with the Holy Spirit’s blessing but basically in our own power.

               d. The same as possessing, or being indwelt by, the Holy Spirit; He indwells every believer at the moment of salvation.

               e. A process of progressively receiving Him by degrees or in doses.

               f. The baptism of the Spirit; every believer has been baptized with and received the Spirit.

               g. Being sealed, or secured, by Him.    This point comes mostly from John MacArthur

          2. Be continuously filled

          3. Always willing to do what the Spirit says   (see vs. 17)

               a. πληροῦσθε has the connotation of total control. The person who is filled with sorrow (John 16:6) is no longer under his own control but is totally under the control of that emotion. In the same way, someone who is filled with fear (Luke 5:26), anger (Luke 6:11), faith (Acts 6:5), or even Satan (Acts 5:3) is no longer under his own control but under the total control of that which dominates him. To be filled in this sense is to be totally dominated and controlled, and it is the most important sense for believers.[1]

               b. How do we do that?  Die to self and live to Him.

          4. Evidence of being filled with the Spirit     vs. 19-20

               a. In contrast to singing drinking songs, you sing “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs”

                    As most scholars hold, it is difficult to draw any hard and fast distinctions among the three categories of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs mentioned both here and in the material in Col 3:16.

                    The three terms used here are best seen as another example of this writer’s fondness for piling up synonyms, which in this case he has been able to take over from Colossians. They are the three most common terms in the LXX for religious songs and occur there interchangeably in the titles of the psalms. Elsewhere, Josephus associates ὕμνοι, “hymns,” with ψαλμοί, “psalms,” in Ant. 12.7.7 § 323 and with ᾠδαί, “songs,” in Ant. 7.12.3 § 305. Their synonymity makes it all the more likely that the adjective πνευματικαῖς, “spiritual,” although agreeing in gender with only the last in the series, embraces all three terms. The songs which believers sing to each other are spiritual because they are inspired by the Spirit and manifest the life of the Spirit.[2]

               b. Live thankfully    vs. 20

Conclusion:  Be careful in every circumstance of your life.  Consider the consequences of your actions and decisions.  Remember who you are representing.  Even when things don’t look good, they look evil, look for opportunities to serve God and people.  And be thankful for being able to demonstrate walking in the light in a dark and evil world.


[1]MacArthur, J. (1996, c1986). Ephesians. Chicago: Moody Press.

[2]Lincoln, A. T. (2002). Vol. 42: Word Biblical Commentary : Ephesians.  Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

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