Ephesians 5:18-19 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Be filled with the Spirit. It’s a command. In these two verses we see what the Spirit-filled life is not, and we see a description of what it is. We’ll start the way Paul does, with a note about what the Spirit-filled life is not.
The Spirit-filled life is not a self-centered life.
Ephesians 5:18 says, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery.” Debauchery refers to extreme indulgence in bodily pleasures, especially sexual pleasures and behaviors involving sex, drugs and alcohol. If I would sum it up, I would say a person who is involved in debauchery inappropriately uses people and things for personal pleasure. That person is living for self and the kind of momentary pleasure that comes from focusing on gratifying fleshly desires. To people engaged in debauchery, people are just pawns. They don’t respect them. They use them. Those behaviors may seem fun and gratifying in the moment, but what happens when the moment is over? You have to immediately start planning your next person or substance to use in order to achieve the feeling or experience your flesh craves. That’s the thing…a fleshly appetite, when fed, will just keep growing and will never be satisfied. The person who goes that route has to find bigger, riskier, wilder ways to get the same high, to achieve the same buzz.
So, Paul says, “Don’t pursue a fleshly life, a sinful life which will cause you to live recklessly. Don’t chase pleasure because it is a dead-end pursuit. He says, “Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” Before I leave this point let me say that Paul is contrasting being drunk with wine to being filled with the Spirit. Many different words could have been used in place of wine here. The point Paul is trying to make, the question he is trying to ask is simply this: What will control your life? The flesh or the Spirit of God?
Paul says don’t be fueled and fooled by the flesh. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.
He goes on to help us understand what the Spirit-filled life looks like: The Spirit-filled life is a life of worship.
Verse 19 says, “19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit.”
Paul is talking about a way of life that keeps our minds where they belong which is not on the flesh, but on the realities of the Kingdom of God and Jesus’ presence in our lives. Listen, when we worship, we get in alignment with Jesus. When we worship, we feast on the promises of God. When we worship, we become more conscious of our identity in Christ and gain strength to fight life’s battles. When we worship together, we have a recognition that God has united us in a family and that we have a responsibility to one another beyond a Sunday morning handshake. When we worship, we become aware that we are filled with the Spirit of God to represent Jesus on the earth. In that sense, worship keeps us mindful of our mission. What I am trying to articulate is that the mindset of a worshiper is on a different plane from the call of this world to live for an urge or for the favor of our friend group. Those who live to please the flesh, their mind is on earthly things, but Spirit-filled people are always focused on higher ground.
The life of a worshiper is the high life. As we let the Spirit lead us, and as we respond to and cooperate with the Spirit, the playlist of our lives becomes an affirmation of all things Jesus. The soundtrack of our lives becomes Jesus Christ crucified, risen and coming again, and all of the joy and fulfillment and satisfaction that comes from knowing Him puts a song in our spirit that cannot help but make its way to the surface. Jesus, and sharing Jesus, becomes a focal point in our going and our coming every day and underscores all we do because worship isn’t a Sunday morning activity. It is the lifestyle of those who follow Jesus.
Just as the content of our worship music is filled with the truth of the Gospel, the characteristics of our majestic and holy God and our need to be humble and to confess our need for forgiveness, so too, should our conversation with one another exalt Christ and cause us to walk humbly with our fellow man. This is what the Spirit enables us to do. It isn’t just about Spirit-led worship, but it is about a Spirit-led lifestyle!
If you are a Christian and you are up one day and down the next and in one day and out the next, you need to ask yourself how much you are allowing the Holy Spirit to lead your life. Because a lifestyle of worship will keep you living above the pull and pains of this world. I say that because living a lifestyle of worship puts our minds on the victory of Christ. If we dwell on Christ’s victory and begin to internalize that His victory is our victory, we won’t have to run to a substance or a sexual encounter to escape our pain, rather we will be able to exercise spiritual authority as we walk through the trials of life and will be able to do so in victory as we keep our integrity and commitment to Christ intact. We’ll be able to worship instead of worry. We’ll be able to do spiritual warfare as we worship instead of living a “woe as me” existence.
Paul says here in Ephesians 5:19 that the Spirit-filled worship is a life of thanksgiving. Look at the end of verse 19: “…always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
People who are filled with the Spirit are sensitive to the ways God works. When favor is given, when healing comes, when something shifts to open a door for you, when God brings people into your life in ways that bless you, if you are filled with the Spirit, you have an immediate recognition that God has done something for you, and it causes thanksgiving to overflow. A person who is thankful doesn’t stay incognito.
Notice that Paul says we are to give thanks for EVERYTHING. Giving thanks for everything can be tough, unless you are filled with the Spirit. It’s not natural to worship when life is beating us down. It’s not our inclination to shout praises to God when we are struggling to make it through each day. I Corinthians 2:14 helps us understand that people without the Spirit struggle to see things God’s way, but the person with the Spirit of God can discern and be thankful for God’s activity in their lives in the darkest of times.
You have a decision to make today. Will you be filled with self and worship the flesh, or will you be filled with the Spirit and worship the Lord? How you answer that question will determine what controls your life, and what controls your life will determine your destiny. Do you want to be controlled by the flesh or do you want to be led by the Spirit of God?