Summary: In order to be in the will of God, believers today must be filled with the Holy Spirit. Anything else is utterly ridiculous.
1. Two contrasts and two comparisons (17-18)
2. To be filled with the Spirit is to overflow with praise (19)
3. To be filled with the Spirit is to overflow with thankfulness (20)
4. To be filled with the Spirit is to overflow with humility (21)
I love my kids with all my heart. But have you ever noticed what happens to people when they become parents? Our kids can cause us to absolutely lose our minds. It’s amazing how otherwise normal, sane, intelligent people can be reduced to stammering idiots. Watch a frustrated parent sometime. Moms are the most fun to watch—from a distance. They lose all normal speech functions. They can’t even finish a sentence. “I told you… if you… what if… I’m gonna… AAAH!” Sometimes they’re better off with the stammering. Because when they are able to get a sentence out, it doesn’t make any sense. They can come up with some of the most impossible statements. “Don’t look at me in that tone of voice.” “Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about.” “If you fall out of that tree and break your leg, you’d better not come running to me.” “You’d better shut your mouth and finish your dinner.” Hmmm… stop crying or you’ll cry more. Don’t run if you break your leg. Eat with your mouth shut. Doesn’t make very much sense, does it? That’s because those are completely impossible situations. You can’t run with a broken leg and you can’t eat with your mouth closed. Paul starts out our passage this morning by laying out two parallel sets of equally ridiculous contrasts. Just like you can’t run with a broken leg, you can’t be foolish and understand the will of the Lord. Just like you can’t eat with your mouth closed, you can’t be a drunk and be filled with the Spirit. Notice that I said that verses 17 and 18 are parallel. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul uses a writing tool called parallelism. That means that corresponding parts of each verse are equal. In other words, “be ye not unwise” points to both “understanding what the will of the Lord is,” and “be filled with the Spirit.” So, if you’re unwise, you don’t understand God’s will and you aren’t filled with His Spirit. Saying a drunk understands the will of the Lord and is filled with the Spirit is as ridiculous as saying, “Stop crying or I’ll make you cry.” It’s nonsense. It doesn’t make sense. It is irrational. By making those parallel contrasting statements, Paul is making a point. He’s telling the Ephesian Christians that the only rational choice they have is to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Then he goes on to explain what that means. Do you think that message still applies to us today? There are people all around us who say that they can live any way they want to live and still call themselves Christians. They say they can live exactly like the world and still be a Christian. Paul says that’s ridiculous. He compares living a sinful, debauched lifestyle to being unwise and foolish. He says that you’re a fool if you live that way. And fools aren’t filled. And if you’re not filled, your faith is flawed. And if your faith is flawed, there’s a good possibility you’re not forgiven. And if you’re not forgiven, you’re not saved. You see, being filled with the Holy Spirit is a requirement. It’s not an option. In our passage, Paul uses the word “filled”. The word literally means to fill to overflowing. Just like these rivers that have overflowed their banks in the past week because of all the rain. The verb tense in the original language makes it a continual, ongoing action. In order to be in the will of God, you must be continually, constantly, filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit every moment of every day. Anything else is utterly ridiculous and foolish. I don’t want any of us to leave this place foolish this morning. I want each of us to be in the will of God by being filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit. But what does that mean? Is it some sort of mystical, out-of-body experience? Something you have to work yourself up into a frenzy to make happen? Is it speaking in tongues, and falling down, and chaos and disorder? No. It’s really much simpler than that. And a whole lot less dramatic. This morning, we’re going to look at three ways you can know if you are filled with the Spirit. First, if you are filled with the Spirit, your life will overflow with praise. Look with me in verse 19:
To be filled with the Spirit is to overflow with praise. Wednesday night was the last night of our revival meetings. I told everybody then that I wish I’d been smart enough to plan it that way, but it turned out that each night we had very distinct types of music. Sunday night we heard Black Gospel. Tuesday night, our praise team brought us some contemporary praise choruses. Wednesday night a group called Called Out brought us some good Southern Gospel music. They were three completely different styles of music, but they all had one thing in common. They all were praising our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I’ve been around lots of music ministers who love this verse. They love it because they use it to point out the different styles of music that should be sung in church. While a case can be made for that, that’s not the point that Paul is making here. In fact, there’s not much difference that scholars can come up with between psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Psalms were praise songs taken directly from Scripture. Most were from the Book of Psalms, but not all. Hymns were songs with religious content, but didn’t necessarily quote Scripture directly. Spiritual songs were probably personal testimonies put to music. Musical style and instrumentation was probably interchangeable among all three types. It was the words that distinguished the categories, not the musical style. Now, all that’s interesting. And I think the biggest thing it shows us is that most of the disagreements we have over musical styles are based on our personal tastes and desires rather than Scripture. But that’s not the point. And we know it’s not the point because of the first word Paul uses in this verse. He opens a verse where he talks about praising God in song with the word “Speaking.” How odd is that? Well, it’s not odd when you see what his point is. Think about all the songs that we sing in church. Does singing songs show that you’re filled with the Holy Spirit? Music can get you emotionally charged, but does it do anything to fill you? Not if you aren’t living what you’re singing. Turn with me to James 3: