Summary: 49th in a series from Ephesians. The kind of music that flows from our lives when we are controlled by the Holy Spirit.
Over the past several decades the church has engaged in what has become known as the “Worship Wars.” We’ve experienced a seemingly endless debate about what is the right kind of music to sing in our worship services. Hymns or praise choruses? Traditional or contemporary? Organs or guitars? But when we look at the Scriptures, we find that our music is intended by God to be a unifying force, not something that divides us. And as we continue our journey through Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, we’ll find that Paul gives us some very practical instruction about how our music can unite us rather than divide us.
For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been in this section of Paul’s letter that begins in Ephesians 5:15 where Paul commands followers of Jesus Christ to live carefully. He then goes on to provide us with some practical principles to help us do that. We are to make the most of the opportunities that we have due to living in evil days. We are to understand God’s overall plan and will and conform our lives to it. And, as we saw last week, we are to be filled, or controlled, by the Holy Spirit by saturating our lives with the Word of God.
Although we’re going to focus primarily on verses 19-21 this morning, let’s read together beginning with verse 18:
18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Ephesians 5:18-21 (ESV)
The command in verse 18 to not get drunk on wine, but to be filled by the Holy Spirit, is one of three contrasts that Paul used to help his readers understand how to live carefully. Verses 19-21 contain five participle phrases that describe to us the results of being filled by the Holy Spirit:
• addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
• singing and
• making melody to the Lord with your heart,
• giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
• submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Last week, we discovered that being filled by the Holy Spirit is primarily a matter of Him controlling our lives. That is not some one-time event, but rather a process that must continue in our lives on a moment-by-moment basis. It is also something that should not be true just for us as individuals, but also applies to us as a body as well. That is even more apparent when we look at how Paul describes the fruit of lives that are under the control of the Holy Spirit.
Certainly those results are not limited to what happens when we gather together on Sunday mornings for what we call a “worship celebration” or “worship service”. The actions Paul describes for us in verses 19-21 ought to characterize all of our interactions within the body. Perhaps Paul’s readers could understand that a lot better than we can since they had much more frequent contact with each other than just an hour or two on Sunday mornings.