The Results Of A Spirit Filled Life!
Reading: Ephesians Ch. 5v19-21.
It is certainly possible to live as a Christian and be devoid of spiritual power. The mediocrity, which passes for Christianity, is undeniable evidence of this fact. Tragically, this sub-normal living has been accepted, even defended, as the normal Christian life.
An irate woman met her husband when he got off a merry-go-round and said, “Now look at you: you spent your money, you got off right where you got on, and you ain’t been nowhere!” Dr. Vance Havner Quote Book.
That is precisely why the apostle Paul addresses the command to be filled with the Spirit to Christians living in a local church. We must remember that the book of Ephesians was written to the Church at Ephesus. This is not a book written to a body of unbelievers. It is addressed to those who are “saints who are in Ephesus, and who are faithful in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 1v1). He is writing to Christians like you and me who are attempting to live our lives for Jesus.
So, when he commands us to be filled with the Spirit, he is recognizing the fact that many Christians are not so filled. It is possible to be a Christian and be spiritually empty. Just because you are born again, and have experienced the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, does not mean you are filled with the Spirit. Being filled with the Spirit is a different relationship to the Holy Spirit than the experience of His indwelling presence through the new birth.
Being filled with the Spirit means a personal surrender to Him whereby we are endued with power as the Spirit takes charge of our lives. A Christian can seek to maintain control and never experience the filling of the Spirit. If we continue to walk in the flesh, we will grieve and quench the Spirit. Even if we have at one time experienced the filling of the Spirit, it is possible to grieve and quench the Spirit and thereby loose this filling.
So the command is to be filled with the Spirit. The verb is in the continuous present tense. The idea is that we get filled at some point, and that we be continually being filled, it is an ongoing, daily process. We are to live our lives in such a way that the Spirit of God can control us continually. That is the way we experience the power of God to live for Jesus. As we experience this power, there are many consequences of this filling. In the verses before us, the apostle mentions three. As we will see, there is an inward consequence, an upward consequence, and an outward consequence.
To quote Dr. Vance Havner again, “Much of our Christianity today is like the feast at Cana, we have a feast of good things: there is plenty of teaching and preaching; churches and conferences spread the tables loaded with superabundance. But we have no wine. The exhilaration of the spirit is lacking”.
1. The Inward Consequence!
"Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord" (5v19).
As believers, our lives are to be characterized by joy. This joy manifests itself in singing. As joyful believers, we are to be singing and making melody . . . to the Lord. A singing heart is a joyful heart. If the Holy Spirit fills your life, you should be experiencing a joy, which expresses itself in singing.
Psalm 33v1 says, “Sing for joy in the Lord, O you righteous ones; praise is becoming to the upright.”
Those who trust in the Lord have always had a song. In fact, God himself gives us a song. In Psalm 40v3 we read, “And he put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.” The Scriptures also speak of singing a new song to God. Psalm 96v1 says, “Sing to the Lord a new song.” It is evident that believers are to praise the Lord in song out of the overflow of joy, which the Spirit puts in their hearts.
In the book of Revelation, as we are transported from this earthly realm to the heavenly realm, we see singing everywhere. The twenty-four elders, the four living creatures, and the multitude burst forth in song. When God delivered the children of Israel from Egypt, the very first thing they did was to call a celebration and sing praises to God. At the Last Supper, before Jesus and his disciples departed, they sang a song. Paul and Silas, when they were put in prison in Philippi, were up at midnight singing praises to God. Being filled with the Spirit means there will be a song on your lips, a song of praise to God.
A. Among whom do we sing?
We sing among the saints. This kind of singing is never for entertainment. We are not performing for an audience. This is singing praises to God. We are to be speaking to one another. The one another refers to other believers. In the Scripture there is no mention of singing as a means of evangelism. It is true that the words of the Gospel may be put to music and thereby have a great impact, but what is in view here is singing songs of praise and worship in the congregation of God's people.
A sacrifice of praise will always cost you something. It will be a difficult thing to do. It requires trading in our pride, our anger, and most valued of all, our human logic. We will be compelled to voice our words of praise firmly and precisely, even as our logic screams that God has no idea what he's doing. Most of the verses written about praise in God's Word were penned by men and women who faced crushing heartaches, injustice, treachery, slander, and scores of other intolerable situations. Joni Eareckson Tada.
B. What do we sing?
We sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. Psalms are the words of Scripture put to music. We have an entire book of them in our Bible. What better way to praise the Lord than by singing to Him the words of praise which He has inspired and placed in His Scriptures? Hymns are human compositions of praise to God. Some of them are directed to God. Others are directed to God's people as hymns of exhortation. Spiritual songs could be spontaneous songs created by the Spirit as we express our praise to God. We sing with the heart because we love Jesus; because He has blessed us because He has filled us with His Spirit.
C. From where do we sing?
Singing which the Spirit inspires always comes from your heart. There can be many motivations for singing. Some sing for fame. Others sing for money. You can have the most trained and beautiful voice and not sing songs accepted by God because you don't sing from the heart. Singing doesn't have to be beautiful. It doesn't even have to be in tune or good. But it must be from the heart. We sing with the heart because we love Jesus; because He has blessed us; because He has filled us with His Spirit.
“Thy statutes have been my song in the house of my pilgrimage” (Psalm 119v54).
Statutes and song, we don’t often place those two together. Statutes are the Fundamentals, Doctrines and teachings of Scripture. What the Psalmist is saying make your theology doxology!
D. To whom do we sing?
We always sing to the Lord. We sing among the saints, but our audience is the Lord. That is what sets Christian singing apart from entertainment. The inward consequence of being filled with the Spirit is joy expressed in psalms and hymns and spiritual song.
As the children of God sat by the rivers of Babylon, their captors said sing us song! Sing us a song of mirth or sing us a song of Zion, sing us a happy song or sing us a holy song, but they could sing neither. “How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?” They could not sing because they had lost their song because of sin.
You don't learn to praise in a day, especially since you may have been complaining for years! New habits take time to develop. But you can begin today, and practice tomorrow, and the next day, until it becomes part of you. - Erwin W. Lutzer.
2. The Upward Consequence!
"Always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father" (5v20).
Not only is there an inward consequence, there is also an upward consequence of the Spirit-filled life. The upward consequence is thankfulness.
We have a little chorus that we sing entitled “Give thanks with a grateful heart, give thanks to the Holy One; give thanks because He's given Jesus Christ, His Son give thanks.” which expresses the attitude of thanksgiving every believer should have. We have so much for which to be thankful. Our hearts should indeed be grateful for all God has done for us. Experiencing the goodness of God in the past, we should anticipate His future goodness and be thankful for that as well.
I keep in my desk a list of 100 things for which I am personally thankful. You might try to make such a list. You will be surprised at how many things you can find to be thankful for. It will be easy to choose only 100. If you will make such a list, and periodically read it through in prayer to God, thanking Him for each item, you will be amazed at how thankful you become. There is a line in a hymn, which goes, “Count your blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.” By literally doing that, your attitude of thankfulness will grow.
A. How Often Are We To Give Thanks?
Our text says that we are to be always giving thanks. The presence of the Holy Spirit within us will produce a continual giving of thanks. When you think of it, there is really no time when we should not give thanks. There is no situation in which we should not give thanks. We may not be able to give thanks for everything or what we perceive to be a bad situation, but we will be able to thank God that He is present with us in every situation.
B. For What Are We To Give Thanks?
Our text says “Giving thanks always for all things” 1 Thessalonians 5v18 says, “In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.” The will of God is for you to give thanks in everything. In every situation there is a reason to give thanks. There may be a tragedy for which you think you cannot give thanks. If you were to fall down and break your leg, you probably wouldn't thank God for the broken leg. But you could thank God for His grace, which will enable you to deal with having a broken leg. We are to give thanks in everything. When we are exhorted to give thanks not for everything but in everything, we are being asked to thankfully remember that God is the source of all our blessings. The Bible teaches that He gives us good and perfect gifts. Good things come from God.
C. In Whose Name Are We To Give Thanks? Our Lord Jesus Christ.
In other words, to give thanks in Christ's name is to give thanks consistent with Christ's character. We give thanks because Christ dwells within us. We give thanks because it is Christ's nature to be thankful. This nature has now been imparted to us, and we are being conformed daily to the image of Christ. As this process of conformity takes place, we are becoming more like Him. We are acting more in harmony with His nature. This is what it means to do something in the name of Christ. And just as Christ was thankful, so we are thankful. The One to whom we are to be thankful is God, even the Father. He is worthy of our thanksgiving. He is the author of our salvation, and the One to whom all praise is due. Before His throne we shall bow with humble and grateful hearts. We have the privilege to give thanks to Him in advance for all He has done.
Our biggest problem in church today is the vast majority of Sunday Morning Christians who claim to have known the master’s cure do not return on Sunday evening, to mid-week service or attend any special meeting arranged for their benefit to give thanks by their presence, prayers, and support of the Church which Christ loves and gave Himself for. We, in fact, take Him for granted and what we take for granted we do not take seriously. Dr. Vance Havner Quote Book!
3. The Outward Consequence!
"And be subject to one another in the fear of Christ" (5v21).
Just as there is an inward consequence of joy, and an upward consequence of thankfulness, so there is an outward consequence of the Spirit-filled life. The outward consequence is humility.
In his book with Ken Blanchard, Everyone's a Coach, Don Shula tells of losing his temper near an open microphone during a televised game with the Los Angeles Rams. Millions of viewers were surprised and shocked by Shula's explicit profanity. Letters soon arrived from all over the country, voicing the disappointment of many that had respected the coach for his integrity. Shula could have given excuses, but he didn't. Everyone who included a return address received a personal apology. He closed each letter by stating, "I value your respect and will do my best to earn it again." There are two ways to gain respect. One is to act nobly. The other is when you fail to do so, to make no excuses. Leadership, Vol. 17, no. 1.
We are called to be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. It is a call to submission. We are being asked to submit to each other. True submission always takes humility.
In the next few verses of this chapter the subject of husbands and wives relationships to each other is discussed. But here there is no distinction made according to gender or role. As fellow believers, we are to submit to one another regardless of age, sex, or role. The only qualification is that we are all fellow-believers.
One man returned home to his wife one Sunday morning after the pastor spoke on this passage and said, "The Pastor said I am the head and you are nothing!" "Wonderful" said his wife, so you are head over nothing!"
The reason why we are to submit to one another is clear. God has placed us into a Christian community. It is called the church. The church is not one member, but many. We are placed into this Christian community because we need the ministry each member can supply. There is safety in being in this community. God can keep us from making serious mistakes if we submit to the correction, which comes from fellow-believers.
There is encouragement, which comes from this Christian community. When we are down, God can lift us up through the well-chosen words of our brothers and sisters in Christ. God can speak to us through this Christian community. He will use the most unlikely people to get His message through to us. He could speak audibly, but He has chosen to use people. And the people He uses are the people in the local Christian community called the church.
The key is to be willing to be subject to one another. Because we are in the Christian community, we no longer have the privilege to do whatever we want. We need very desperately to be accountable to one another. To do that means we must have humility. Only the Spirit can produce humility. Only people who are filled with the Spirit can experience true humility. It is not our nature to be humble. The Spirit must be in control for us to be truly humble. Only the humble person is able to be subject to another person.
As we submit to one another, we do so with the expectation that God will meet us through that other person. We are really submitting to Christ in the other person. We do not receive one another “after the flesh” but “after the Spirit.” There is a responsibility on our part to seek to live as those who are led by the Spirit. When we share with others, we should not share simply our opinion. We should be seeking to find the mind of Christ. We should be seeking to share the mind of Christ. And when we receive from others, we should be seeking to hear what Christ is saying through them. By doing this, we will be fulfilling the command to be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.
Only the filling of the Spirit can produce this inter-relatedness in us. Without the humility He produces in us, we will let our egos keep us from receiving from one another. But when we allow the Spirit to take control, we will no longer choose to be offended. We will want to hear from God through whomever He chooses to send.
Joy, thankfulness, and humility --- these are consequences of the Spirit-filled life. It all begins with the command to be filled with the Spirit. The path to being filled is the way of surrender. Surrender yourself to the Spirit's control. Ask Him to fill you. As He does, He will produce these qualities in you.
Funerals of pastors are solemn affairs. At times when I attend one, however, I am struck by a strange kind of irony. After a lifetime of ministry supposedly focused on grace, love and humility, we bring the poor soul to his grave with eloquent eulogies and high tributes that give the lie to it all. All the deceased's good works are magnified and, of course, all shortcomings passed over.
I am often reminded at such times of Lincoln's remark at the burial of one of his generals "If he had known he'd get a funeral like this, he'd have died much sooner." And that is our vexing temptation, isn't it, not only in death but also throughout life. We think we are a gift to God himself instead of remembering that ordained ministry is a gift to the one who has it and to those who hear it and must be exercised and received in humility. - Herbert Chilstrom, Leadership, Vol. 6, no. 3.