Summary: This sermon presents us with two contrasts - living a life of drunkenness and debauchery, or living a life filled with the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 5:18-21

Whats your idea of a good time? A really smashing good time? Think about what you regard as a good time. Then think about what your friends who arent Christians think is a good time. Your friends, family, workmates, that is, the ones who dont know Christ. What do they regard as a good time? Now of course, there will be many answers to this question, as different people like different things. But one common one, one common idea of what constitutes a good time, a smashing good time, is to get smashed! Ive worked in a number of different workplaces, different types of workplaces, different jobs with people from different socio-economic backgrounds and different walks of life. But the conversation on Friday afternoon or on Monday morning is pretty much the same. On Friday morning the conversation, especially amongst younger people, is often along the lines of, What are you gonna do tonight?

Where are you going to party? And then on Monday morning there is the comparing notes, and the ones with the greatest stories to tell, of a great night on Friday are the ones who boast that they got so drunk they cant even remember the night - and thats regarded as a great night out.

I used to listen to this banter and be really confused. For me, if something was really great, Id hope Id be able to remember it! But apparently, not so. You know and I know this is not the case with every non-Christian, and so Im not trying to draw generalisations, but a lot of them regard a good night out, a good time, as a time of drinking too much and a time of general excess - of going too far, of wild living and reckless behaviour. And I remember from my time working in the secular workplace

that I wasnt the only one baffled. From my point of view, I just couldnt understand the idea that a good time is getting drunk and being reckless and not remembering anything.

But the misunderstanding went both ways. My workmates thought I lived a terribly drab, dull, boring life. They couldnt understand why I didnt want to get involved. Why I didnt want to drink with them. Why I didnt want to engage in other activities that went with it. They thought I was a prude. Once a stripper came to the workplace and I walked away, moved as far away as I could. I wouldnt participate. They couldnt understand that. In fact, many of them felt sorry for me, sorry for me that I was constrained by my religious beliefs, that I was constrained by this religious straightjacket and prevented from having fun.

You know, the idea of a good time as being a time of getting drunk, of drunken carousing and wild behaviour is not a new one! Its something that has been going on since the days of Noah and something very common in Ephesus when Paul wrote Ephesians. Hence he writes

Eph 518 And do not get drunk with wine (ESV).

He wouldnt have to write that unless it was a problem. And so he tells the Ephesians, and us, not to be drunk. And tells us what to do instead.

The passage we are looking at today continues very much on from what weve been talking about lately in Ephesians. Throughout Ephesians we are presented with the idea of contrasts. In Ephesians 2:1-10 we talked about death to life. We were dead in our sins, and now we have been made alive in Christ. And we have looked at how Christ died for us, to save us from our sins while we were still in our sins. And that we are saved from our sins not by anything we do, but purely by the grace the gift of God. But weve also been learning that although God has saved us by grace, that is, it is a gift, its something we didnt earn, that what He has saved us from is sin. That is , we are no longer dead in sin and that means we should be living lives that are moving away from sin and moving towards righteousness. In Ephesians 4:17 we were told that we must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. A few verses later, in verses 22-24, we were told to put off our old sinful selves and to put on our new sin-free selves. And weve been looking at a few areas where we need to do this. For instance, in the area of anger, our speech, and in forgiving others. A few weeks ago we looked at this in the area of sexual purity. And then the last couple of Sundays weve looked at making the most of our time, using what God has given us for His purposes. In all these things we are putting off our old self and putting on the new - living for God, the way He wants us to live. And today we are going to look at further at how God wants us to live.

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