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Summary: In Ephesians 5:19-21, we see that Spirit filled people do three things. They: 1) Sing (Ephesians 5:19), 2) Say Thanks (Ephesians 5:20) and are 3) Submissive (Ephesians 5:21).

Ephesians 5:18b-21 [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. (ESV)

For many things that seemed everyday occurrences before COVID, life now is so much different. We would go out to concerts, movies, and other public events as a normal course of life. Even worship itself was seen as just another simple activity. The last few months have taken the simple out of every activity. Indoor concerts, movies and worship itself is has been restricted. There is a lot more planning, set up, technical coordination, physical distancing, sanitizing and medical precautions to achieve what was once so straight forward. Yet with corporate worship directly commanded in scripture, whatever the effort needed to achieve this endeavour, we must try all we can do.

For all our commanded endeavours, apart from the truth in verse 18, which is the heart of Paul’s message, the book of Ephesians would appear to be legalistic. Every exhortation he gives would have to be fulfilled through the power of the flesh. Believers would need to rely on their own resources and strength to follow the great road map of the Christian life that the apostle presents in chapters 4–6—and would, of course, find themselves completely deficient. Christians cannot walk in humility, unity, separation, light, love, and wisdom apart from the energizing of the Holy Spirit. To walk without the Spirit is to walk unwisely and foolishly (Eph. 5:15–17). We can “be imitators of God, as beloved children” (Eph. 5:1) only as we are filled with the Spirit (cf John 15:5). Being “filled” with the Spirit” in Scripture... refers to our being so under the Holy Spirit’s control and leading that our thought and life are entirely taken up with Jesus Christ, to whom it is the Spirit’s chief responsibility to bear witness. ... The reason why we should desire to be so filled with God’s Spirit is that we might bear a faithful and effective testimony to Jesus Christ. Quite obviously, this will be a testimony conveyed by the upright character of our lives (Boice, J. M. (1988). Ephesians: an expositional commentary (p. 188). Grand Rapids, MI: Ministry Resources Library.)

In Ephesians 5:18–21 Paul first presents the contrast of the way of the flesh with the way of the Spirit. As we saw last week from the beginning of verse 18, the way of the flesh is characterized by the pagan religion out of which many of the Ephesian believers had come, a religion that centered around drunken, immoral orgies of supposed ecstasy, in which a person tried to progressively elevate themselves into communion with the gods. It is the way of self, pride, immorality, greed, idolatry, confusion, deception, fantasy, falsehood, and even demonism. Reflecting what he said from verses 3-17 it is the way of darkness and foolishness. In the second half of verse 18-21 the apostle gives the other side of the contrast—the godly walk of God’s children that expresses itself in the Spirit–controlled life and worship of beauty and holiness. He first gives the central command of the epistle (which is the focal point of the New Testament for believers) and follows it with an outline of the consequences of obedience to that command. In Ephesians 5:19-21, we see that Spirit filled people do three things. They: 1) Sing (Ephesians 5:19), 2) Say Thanks (Ephesians 5:20) and are 3) Submissive (Ephesians 5:21).

Spirit filled people:

1) Sing (Ephesians 5:19

Ephesians 5:19 [19] addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, (ESV)

Following His command to be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18b), Paul now gives a summary of the consequences of obedience to that command. Consequences of the Spirit–filled life (which greatly enrich our understanding of its nature) are mentioned throughout the remainder of the epistle, and in Ephesians 5 we are given three of the most significant ones: singing, giving thanks, and submission. When God’s Spirit controls us He will put a song in our own hearts and on our lips, give us thankfulness to God, and make us submissive to others. The first is initially inward, the second upward, and the third outward. In addressing one another, the tense is present continuous (literally, ‘speaking’). This does not mean that they talk rather than sing, but simply stresses the importance of the words over the lyrics of praise, and the mutual encouragement to be gained from this exercise (Uprichard, H. (2004). A Study Commentary on Ephesians (p. 296). Darlington, England; Auburn, MA: Evangelical Press.).

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