Chapter 5:15-21 (ESV) - Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Question to consider: How are we filled with the Holy Spirit?
After telling the Ephesians to walk as children of light and expose darkness rather than take part in its unfruitful works, Paul in today’s passage explained why. The Bible defines a “fool” as someone who says in his heart, “There is no God.” (Psalm 14:1) An unwise person (fool) therefore lives in the moment for their own pleasure rather than considering the will of God. James, the brother of Jesus, wrote something similar to the Jewish Christians who were scattered about that region, “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” (James 4:13-17)
Understanding the will of God meant understanding that the days they were living in were evil, and the judgment of God would soon be upon them. Paul was familiar with the debauchery of the Gentiles. Festivals like those given for Bacchus were filled with gluttony and drunkenness. Also, Artemis, the huntress, had a famous temple in Ephesus, and when those in Corinth were being misled into doubting the resurrection of the dead, Paul’s response was, “What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.’” (1 Corinthians 15:32) Rather than aligning themselves with those who walked in darkness, Paul encouraged the Ephesians to walk in the light by continually filling up on the Spirit of God rather than getting drunk on the wine of men.
There is a terrible doctrine in the Charismatic movement that uses this passage to practice getting “drunk in the Spirit,” acting like wild beasts and stirring themselves up into an emotional frenzy to experience what they profess to be the Holy Spirit. However, the sentences that follow don’t speak of emotional frenzies or mystical experiences with the Holy Spirit, rather a desire to praise God, and show gratitude to the Father through Christ for what He has done for us. The manifestation of this gratitude was in submitting to one another as members of the body of Christ, and we are filled with the Spirit through the gathering of believers where we receive His word and good gifts to us.
Paul expressed this same idea to the church in Philippi when he wrote, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)
Dear heavenly father, thank You for giving us brothers and sisters in Christ who serve one another and build us up in the faith. Please fill us up with a desire to serve others in the name of Christ, recognizing that the times we live in are also evil. Amen.