Summary: EphesiansI is addressed to those who are “saints who are Ephesus, and who are faithful in Christ Jesus.” So, when he commands us to be filled with the Spirit, Paul recognizes that many Christians are not filled of the Spirit.
Ephesians: Our Identity in Christ ~ Part 22
Consequences of the Spirit-filled Life
. . . but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. (Ephesians 5:18b-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.
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 unbelievers. It is addressed to those who are “saints who are Ephesus, and who are faithful in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 1:1). 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 continually stay filled. 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.
The Inward Consequence
. . . speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:19)
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 33:1 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 40:3 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 96:1 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.
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.