Summary: Living under the influence of the Holy Spirit means living as light.
In 2013, a South Dakota man received his 16th DUI conviction. That means he was found guilty 16 times of driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol—the first conviction was way back in 1977. But from the little research that I did, he isn’t the record holder for DUI arrests and/or convictions in the US. There apparently is another South Dakotan who racked up an astonishing 30+ DUI arrests. It makes you wonder why more wasn’t done to keep those drivers off the streets. Those under the influence of alcohol are not able to react like they should when driving a car. They’ll be slow to brake and avoid other vehicles so that they are a danger to everyone on the road.
Long before there were laws against driving under the influence, the Apostle Paul spoke about the dangers of living under the influence of alcohol. He instead urged every Christian to live under the influence of another kind of spirit—the Holy Spirit. Let’s see why this is what we’ll want to do as we continue our sermon series on the New Testament book of Ephesians and take in a God’s-eye view of someone under a good kind of influence.
Paul wrote in our text, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:15-20).
Paul shouldn’t have to remind us that the days are evil. The morning headlines do that just as well. So how are we going to handle these evil days in which we live? We could simply close our eyes to all the bad stuff and pretend that it doesn’t exist. We could say that shootings and threats of violence at schools only happen in other communities…but they don’t do they? Even St. Albert, which was rated last year as the best place to live in Canada, has had its shootings and threats of violence at schools. Instead of burying your head in the sand, or drowning it in a bottle of booze Paul says that we need to put our heads in the book, that is the Bible. In this way we will be filled with the Holy Spirit and understand what God’s will is in our lives.
We will come to understand for example that even though there is evil all around us, God’s angels walk with us every step of the way. We’ll also understand that even if God allows bad things to happen to us, we know that he will keep us from eternal harm. For the Christian, not even death is evil. One of my favorite passages is this one from Isaiah: “The righteous perish, and no one takes it to heart; the devout are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. 2 Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death” (Isaiah 57:1, 2).