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Holy Spirit- True Worship Eph. 5

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Holy Spirit: True Worship         Ephesians 5:15-21                March 29, 2009

You’ve seen pictures of the 60’s and 70’s  – a world of happy hippies,  girls with long, straight hair and jeans that dragged in the dirt, and boys with beards and sandals, all proclaiming peace and love and smoking pot. But God was at work as well, and many of them came to faith in Christ. And if these believers were offered pot by their old friends, you’d hear them say, “Nah, I don’t do that stuff anymore, man, I’m high on Jesus!” And it was real – they carried well worn bibles which they devoured, they sang praises with zeal, they wanted to be holy and loving.

It’s what the Holy Spirit does – make every practical area of our life glow with the life of Jesus.

I.    The background of 5:18-21 is the stark difference between those who have the Spirit of God and those who don’t.

     A.            15 – Are we wise(σοφοί)or fools (ἄσοφοι)? The world splits along those lines.

          1.            We were “sons of disobedience” (6), “darkness” (8), doing “unfruitful deeds of darkness” (11).

          2.            But we are “saints” (3), “beloved children” (1), “children of light” (8), and those who try to “please the Lord” (10).

      B.            That difference in our walk – in our “lifestyle” – is presented starkly in 5:18. Notice some details.

          1.            18 – the grammar.

a.   It is a command. As much as any other order from our King, this text tells us what we must do: be filled with the Spirit. We can no more ignore this than the earlier command to forgive, or to not steal.

b.   It is in the present tense. It is not something we sign on to one time and then we’re done – like a wedding, but it is a continuous effort of the will.

c.It is passive. The Holy Spirit is the active agent – “allow the Holy Spirit to fill you.” Get out of His way. When you feel the impulse of the Spirit to sing, praise or serve – don’t say no!  

          2.            19-21 The command is followed by six participles – “ing” words: speaking, singing and making melody, thanking, submitting. They describe the (Stott, 204), the natural results of being filled with the Spirit.


II. Let’s try to understand this by looking at this strange contrast with “being drunk with wine.”

     A.            First: Don’t mix cause with effect.

          1.            Imagine if the command was reversed: “Don’t be filled with the Spirit, but be drunk with alcohol, slurring your speech, singing off color drinking songs, whining about life, and embarrassing your friends and family.” Doing all those things is not the way to get drunk – that’s just pretending. But if I get drunk, those things will naturally follow – I don’t have to pretend. They are the effects of alcohol.

          2.            In the same way, it’s not saying, “The way to be filled with the Spirit is to sing loudly and speak with psalms.” That would be pretending to be filled with the Spirit. No, all that is the natural consequence of the Holy Spirit infiltrating every part of our lives. If the Holy Spirit fills us His influence is felt unmistakably in every area of life.

      B.            Secondly, we can resist or welcome these influences.

          1.            We can pretend to not be drunk: talk very, very slowly so we don’t slur our words, eat breath mints, and avoid talking to friends because we know we’ll say things we’ll regret. That would be fighting against the effects of alcohol.

          2.            Similarly, we can suppress the Holy Spirit. Scripture talks about resisting, grieving and quenching [the Holy Spirit]n.

a.   The Spirit says, “Look what God has done for you in Christ. Give thanks!” And we say, “Me, thankful? For what?”

b.   The Spirit says, “Serve. Love.” And we say, “What about someone serving me for a change?”

c.And we resist the filling of the Spirit in the details of our lives.

      C.            Third, don’t accept cheap imitations.

          1.            Being drunk, smoking pot, getting high are the cheap imitations of what the Holy Spirit promises.

a.   We have needs: to relieve stress and anxiety; to forget about ourselves – what are people thinking of me? Did I say the right thing? Oh no, I’m not as funny as him! – so we can enjoy what’s happening!

b.   And pot and alcohol try to fill these needs. My friend, an insurance executive, is warm and friendly, works in a nice office. No one would guess that every day on the way home he parks a few miles away and smokes a few joints: it’s the only way he can face his family! We all need a little courage to face the challenges of life, don’t we?

          2.            But there is a downside because we weren’t created to get happiness, peace or enjoy friends in that way.

a.   That is “dissipation” (18) – (avswti,a, cf.“un-saved”) The meaning is captured by the way we describe someone who is drunk or high, “He’s wasted!” It’s someone whose creativity, abilities, and potential are wasted.

b.   So our brain cells die – intelligent young men and women think they are still bright, but their memories are shot and they can’t follow reasoning that has more than one step.

c.Mature men and women are emotionally stunted – their growth stopped when they stepped into the la-la land of alcohol or drugs and they’re still trying to catch up.

          3.            The truth is, these things make us less than we are, but when the Holy Spirit fills us we become all that God intends us to be.

a.   These things numb the uniquely human capacities God has given us. I look at my dog – he has few worries, and if the dog dish is full he has none! He’s never frustrated because he never tries to accomplish anything. He spends his life napping or staring peacefully and vacantly into space. I’m thinking he’s smoking pot!

b.   But God doesn’t want us to lower ourselves, instead He created us to be filled with the Spirit who gives us joy that makes us sing (without being drunk!), thankfulness flows from our lives (without dulling us to the realities and challenges of life), and relationships honor Christ Jesus (instead of disintegrating in the neglect and abuse of drink or drugs.)


III.                “Where can I experience the Holy Spirit?” Here’s the answer: on your tongue, in your attitude, in your relationships.  Just as drugs degrade all those things, the Holy Spirit regenerates them: adds the glow of worship to every practical detail of our lives.

     A.            Speaking and singing. (4:15, 25, 29-31ßà 5:4, 6, 12)  Once we told coarse jokes, our words were cruel and angry, but now we speak to one another in “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs…”

          1.            It’s not that we’re in a musical where we break into song in every conversation – that would be plain irritating!

          2.            But it means that our hearts (5:19b) have changed – bitterness and darkness have been replaced by the love and light of the Holy Spirit, and our manner of speech has changed.

          3.            We don’t have to punctuate every sentence with “praise the Lord…”, but the glow of praise and worship is evident in the very way we speak!

      B.            Giving thanks.

          1.            Once we were characterized by greed, covetousness and stealing.(4:19, 28, 5:3, 5) We always compared and were bitter about what others had.

          2.            But now the Holy Spirit brings a divine perspective: the Lord Jesus has forgiven you every sin, and promises to bless your life with His perfect love and wisdom. Who cares whether your bathroom has ceramic tile or linoleum?

          3.            This is not natural, but the experience of the Holy Spirit. Corrie Ten Boom wrote of her experiences as a prisoner in the Nazi death camp of  Ravensbruck. They were in a large dorm type room with 1400 women, bunks stacked high, with fleas infesting the dirty hay on which they slept. In the evening a small group gathered for worship, and strangely, the guards never broke it up. Even as Corrie Ten Boom complained about the fleas, but her sister Betsy pointed out that they should be grateful for the fleas: the infestation of the fleas kept the guards out! The Holy Spirit fills us with a overarching gratitude for the blessings of Christ.

      C.            Submitting.

          1.            Our relationships are transformed by the presence of the Holy Spirit. The word “Submitting” – or “subordinating” – means serve the purposes of the Lord our Creator.

          2.            We used to only ask, “Are my needs being met? Are people paying attention to me?” So our lives were filled with bitterness, slander, clamor (4:31), devilish anger (4:26) which refused to forgive.

          3.            But the Holy Spirit adds the glow of worship to all our relationships: “in reverence for Christ.” The influence of the Spirit is seen: instead of wanting our way, we delight in God’s way; instead of wanting to be served, we become servants; instead of asking if we are being treated well, we ask if we are treating others in a way that would honor our Lord Jesus.


IV.            Conc. The Holy Spirit makes our life glow with the glory of Christ – get out of the way, allow Him to fill your life.

     A.            Charles Spurgeon compared it to two cottages in the dead of winter (4/28/96, II.A.3). One has a roof piled high with snow, while the other roof is bare. Why? Because one is occupied: the stove is going, food is being cooked, someone lives there and the heat is melting the snow; the other is cold and empty.  

      B.            In the same way the filling of the Holy Spirit changes the way our lives look. So God’s Word says: “Be filled…” – allow the Holy Spirit to transform the way you speak, sing, worship and relate to one another. May we experience the Holy Spirit in every part of our lives.

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