Summary: Paul begins here to teach us how we should relate to one another in the Lord. (#8 in The Christian Victor series)
“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, 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.”
Folks, we’ve been lied to.
I don’t know who started it. I don’t even know how the lie was first presented; whether in words, or attitudes; implications; body language; I don’t know.
But it was a lie, nonetheless, and we as a Christian culture have suffered for believing it.
The lie? That we’re supposed to be serious and reserved, and that to demonstrate proper Christian behavior we’re to go about acting like pious, God-fearing, clean-cut pillars of the church. Shy and meek (by the world’s definition), always grieving just a little bit and always just a little bit concerned for… whatever…
That must be the message, because I see a lot of Christians acting that way. Someone must have told them they should.
I wonder where Paul was on the day of Pentecost. He wasn’t a Christian yet. But where was he? Maybe right there in the crowd as Peter preached? Seething in rage because of the blasphemies he was hearing? Maybe even one of the ones who shouted, ‘they’re drunk!’
Surely, even if he wasn’t present, he must have heard of it by day’s end. This was 9am, and 3000 people believed in Jesus that day. He must have heard something of the nature of the incident.
The sound of a mighty, rushing wind; a large group of people coming down out of that upper chamber babbling; their countenance aglow with an overwhelming joy.
I wonder if someone said to him, “Saul, you should have seen them! We thought they were all drunk with wine. They were laughing and waving their hands and hugging each other.
Then they started speaking to the crowd, and though there were many languages and cultures represented in the crowd, each one was hearing them speak in his own tongue.”
And Paul prods him for more. “What were they saying?”
“Um… Saul, you don’t want to know… you‘re not gonna like it.”
Well of course I don’t know and no one does. But for whatever reason, he uses drunkenness as a parallel of sorts with the spiritual joy of the Christian.
I don’t think he was just snatching the opportunity to condemn wine drinking. I think he was saying there’s a greater ‘high’ to be had for the one who is Spirit-filled.
BE FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT
Now we just got done talking about this; focused an entire sermon on it; so I won’t go into it a lot here, except to maybe give you a little refresher.
You may remember that I said Dr. Lloyd-Jones likens this kind of ‘filling’ to people around us who may have a strong influence in our lives, and we might use a term like, “Full of so and so”, meaning a person is so constantly thinking about another that he or she is ‘full’ of that person. One has a controlling influence over the other.
So note that he says, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit”.
Being filled up with wine may make you temporarily happy, if you’re a happy drunk, but it is a dissipated sort of happiness. And like I said, a temporary one.
By contrast, he says, be filled with the Spirit. You’re a Christian. You have the life of Christ in you. You have the Holy Spirit in you. But there’s more.
There is a daily surrender to the Spirit of Christ, and through the Word and prayer being filled to overflowing with His controlling influence.
During the pagan practices of worship to Artemis there was a great deal of wine guzzling and drunkenness.
The Ephesians, many of whom had been so recently caught up in that life of debauchery, must have had some very vivid memories pop into their heads when they heard or read these words of Paul.
Remember the last time you were reeling with wine and falling down drunk during your time in the pagan temple? Well put that away from yourself, and be filled with the Holy Spirit. Drink Him in. Be made blessed in His presence and invite Him to control your thoughts and your actions and the use of your members. There is no dissipation here; only joy.
SPEAKING TO ONE ANOTHER
Now Paul turns once again to the relationship between believers. In chapter 4 he exhorts us to be diligent in preserving the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. He has admonished us to relate to one another in humility and gentleness, patience and love. In verse 25 of that chapter he says to speak truth to one another, as we are members of one another.