Summary: Spirit filled people 1) Sing (Ephesians 5:19), 2) Say Thanks (Ephesians 5:20) and are 3) Submissive (Ephesians 5:21)
If there was one thing that was evident to be seen among the children that participated in Vacation Bible School this week, it was joy. They sang songs that talked about God and His love. They had assistance from leaders and helpers in everything from crafts to snacks. There were activities that they deliberately needed assistance to complete them, that encouraged a spirit of cooperation and thankfulness. Since all the activities came at particular times and in particular ways, it fostered a need to follow instruction. In many ways this was to a short explanation of the nature of the Christian life itself, to be filled the Spirit of God.
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.)
Spirit filled people:
1) Sing (Ephesians 5:19
Ephesians 5:19 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, 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.).
• The selfish approach is to keep silent or to address someone when we feel like it. In addressing one another, we a oriented to another's situation and needs. Here, there is the communal ministry in music.
The Spirit–filled life produces music. Whether one has a good voice or cannot carry a tune, the Spirit–filled Christian is a singing Christian. Nothing is more indicative of a fulfilled life, a contented soul, and a joyful heart than the expression of song. In Ephesians 5:19 Paul explains among whom, from where, with what, to whom, and how Spirit–filled believers are to sing.
Among whom do believers sing? Paul presumes that there is a horizontal dimension to our worship among one another. In praising God we consciously should be directing our worship to the edification of others. As Christ ministers to others by extending himself for them, when we worship with the needs of others as our concern, then we are ministering Christ and consequently being filled with his indwelling Spirit (Chapell, B. (2009). Ephesians. (R. D. Phillips, P. G. Ryken, & D. M. Doriani, Eds.) (pp. 263–264). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.).
How do believers sing? When they are filled with the Spirit, they are to be addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody.... addressing/speaking comes from laleô, is an onomatopoeic word that originated from chatter or babble, probably of little children first learning to talk, saying sounds such as “la, la, la.” It was also used of the chirp of birds or the grunts and other noises of animals. In its most basic sense, the term simply meant to make a sound. Here it includes any sound offered to God from a Spirit–filled heart. The music from an organ or choir is no more acceptable to God than the sounds of a guitar or home–made flute. The sound that pleases Him is the sound that comes as a result of a heart submissive to His Spirit and that sings or plays to His glory.
Psalms refers primarily to the Old Testament psalms put to music, but the term was also used of vocal music of any sort, such as solos and anthems. The early church did most of its singing directly from the psaltery, using various tunes familiar to the congregation—a pattern followed for hundreds of years by many European and American churches, and still used in some congregations today. The psalms primarily speak about the nature and work of the Father, especially in the lives of believers. Above everything else, they magnify and glorify God. Thus, although the psalmos was originally that which was sung to the harp, and here perhaps includes not only the psalms of the Old Testament, but those (like Luke 1:46–55, 68–79 and 2:29–32) which were songs of the new, but in the spirit and manner of the old psalms (Foulkes, F. (1989). Ephesians: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 10, pp. 156–157). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.)