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Spirit-Filled Submission

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew
The Truth Network Radio
January 22, 2024 1:00 am

Spirit-Filled Submission

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew

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January 22, 2024 1:00 am

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If you would turn with me in Paul's letter to the Ephesians, chapter 5. Ephesians, chapter 5. I'm actually going to begin reading at verse 17, beginning of that paragraph. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is, and do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the 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.

Let's pray. Father, we thank you for the gift of your Word, for the gift of your Spirit that illuminates and applies your Word to our hearts and lives. We pray that tonight you would teach us, Holy Spirit, and change and transform us by the power of your Word. We pray in Jesus' name.

Amen. When we last visited this letter of Paul to the Ephesians, we had arrived at chapter 5, verses 15 through 17, and there the apostle gives us one more way in which this new life in Christ is different and distinct from the old way in which we formally walked. He began this whole section back in chapter 4, the first verse of chapter 4, calling us to the unity of the body, something that is characterized by humility and patience and love, a life that is worthy of God's call and that causes the body to grow up and to be built up in love, that we would no longer remain babes in Christ and children tossed about by the winds of doctrine. And then he used the metaphor of clothing and talked about putting off the old ways and putting on this new self that is created in the likeness of God, a new self that is kind and tender-hearted, forgiving toward others. And he tells us to be imitators of God, to be light in this dark world.

And then, as we saw last time, we are no longer to be foolish and unwise. Rather, we are to be walking in wisdom and understanding what the will of the Lord is. And so tonight, we begin a large section of this letter that continues actually all the way through chapter 6, verse 20. And so we're going to look tonight at the beginning of this, where Paul kind of gives us a summary of what he's been through and what he has been through, and then he gives in this section very specific instructions regarding our life as members of the body and as members of families and households. He tells us what wisdom and understanding look like in the life that is controlled by being in Christ, life that is filled with the Spirit of Christ. And so we begin tonight with the first phrase of verse 18, where he says, do not get drunk with wine. Why suppose he starts with this vice, of all the vices he could pick to contrast with the Spirit-filled life?

I think there are a couple of reasons for this. For one thing, drunkenness has some similarities to being filled with the Spirit. You remember on the day of Pentecost when the apostles were filled with the Spirit, and the Spirit was given on that day, and some of the people who saw them, observed them, didn't know what was going on, and they said, oh, they're drunk here early in the morning. There are some similarities because the alcohol controls and reduces inhibitions and allows a person to be expressive in ways that they are not normally so. But there is a great drastic difference, of course, and that is that drunkenness, as Paul says here, leads to excess, to debauchery, in opposition to what the Spirit of Christ leads to. A person who is under the influence of alcohol loses inhibitions. In fact, we use that term, don't we, to speak of that condition.

We talk about the DUI, the driving under the influence. There is an influence on the person that causes them to do things they wouldn't normally do, and it leads to just a wasting of life. They throw away their morality, their chastity, purity. There's an evil control of the life. And so Paul says, don't be like that. Don't be drunk with wine.

That's debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Now, this command that is given to us to be filled with the Spirit is given in what's called the present imperative and the second person plural. What does that mean?

That means that it is not an option. It's a command, and it's present tense. That means it's ongoing.

It's continuous. It's to be the way of life. We should live like this all the time, be filled with the Spirit, be being filled with the Spirit at all times. And it's second person plural.

That means, as we would say here in the South, you all. It's for all of us. This is for every believer to be filled with the Spirit of God. And so just while we're talking about grammar, and you may say, well, what's the point of this? Well, it's amazing how much you can see the point of a passage and get the message of it when you understand some of the grammatical structure that is there. When you look at Paul's writing, of course, you find sentences that are paragraphs long. It's amazing how long he can go on in a sentence. This first sentence here is a typical Pauline sentence.

It starts in verse 18 and goes all the way through verse 21, just that one sentence. And when I was looking at this, I asked Libby about diagramming. She loves grammar and loves to diagram sentences. And so I asked her about diagramming on a Paul sentence. She said, well, you need a poster board.

And then she changed and said, no, you need butcher paper, whole roll. Paul's word is often given in very lengthy sentences. This particular sentence is what I'm told is called a compound complex sentence. And what that means is that we have here two independent clauses, those commands. We have a negative command and a positive command.

And then out of that negative command flows this dependent clause that tells us why we should not get drunk. And then the rest of the sentence has to do with these five participle phrases that give us things like speaking and singing and making melody and giving and submitting. And so we have a structure here that gives us a message that is a complete idea and thought in this one sentence. Notice also that if you look closer at these phrases that begin with speaking to one another, singing, making melody, giving thanks, so forth, each of these not only points us to an activity that we're to be engaged in, it also tells us the direction of that activity.

We are to address one another, speak to one another, we're to sing to the Lord, we're to give thanks to the Father, and we're to submit to one another. And it also gives us the means or the motive behind that. As we walk through this, we'll look at each of these. By the way, one commentator points out the fact that these, each of these five flow out of the command.

And because of that, they carry the force of a command. They are imperative. These are things that we must do if we're going to live life in Christ that we should be living as Spirit-filled believers. So we begin then with this first phrase which says we are to be addressing one another or speaking to one another. Spirit-filled believers speak.

Paul has written about this earlier in the letter. He's talked in verse 15 of chapter 4 about speaking the truth. And then in verse 25, he says, let each of you speak the truth, for we are members one of another. This activity of addressing and speaking to one another is a fundamental activity in the life of the body. You know, with our words, we can encourage one another, we can exhort one another, we can comfort and teach. We can also tear down and divide and create disunity. Paul has said back in chapter 4 again, verse 29, he says, let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but only that which is good for edifying, for building up, that'll give grace to the hearers. And so we are to speak to one another, we're to speak truth, and we're to speak to one another.

It's important that we recognize the direction of this activity. New life in Christ is not individualistic. We can't be Lone Ranger Christians and believers. We have to live together in the body, in the household of God.

There's a corporate nature to the Christian life, and that is fundamental to our being spirit-filled believers. You cannot be a member of the body and isolate yourself from other believers. In fact, Hebrews chapter 10, verse 25, warns us that we're not to neglect the meeting together. We're to come together, and when we come together, we're to encourage one another and stir up one another. You know, when we gather, it is for worship. It is not primarily to just enjoy one another's company. That's a part of it, and we do enjoy and love being with God's people. But primarily, we come together not just to enjoy one another, but to encourage one another, to stir up one another. Brother Doug this morning this morning was kind of stirring us up, wasn't he?

And we're to do that. That's a part of why we gather, is to stir up one another and to encourage one another to love and to good works. Spirit-filled believers speak to one another, and what is it that they speak? We are to speak the words of God. Notice what Paul says here, that we are to speak to one another, to address one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.

Our words, as we speak to one another, as we encourage one another, our words should be saturated with the Word of God. The Gospel of John tells us that this was true of Jesus' words. In chapter 3 of John's Gospel, verse 34, we read, He whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. Notice again the connection between the Word that we're speaking, the Word of God, and the fullness of God's Spirit. It says, He whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure.

Christ, just as is true for us, was filled with the Spirit of God and spoke the words of God. Before going on, let's just pause a moment and consider these three words, psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. Psalms, of course, mainly refers to the book of Psalms, the biblical Psalter.

And I love the fact that we, as a body, give attention to that, and we sing these songs to one another. We, in almost every service, sing at least one psalm, and it's important that we do that. This is God's Word. These are songs that Jesus sang.

In fact, Timothy Keller has written a devotional book for the whole year. It's based on that fact, and he calls it the Songs of Jesus. We are to sing and speak to one another through the psalms as we sing them to each other. Also, there is this matter of the hymns. This is a word that has to do with a song of praise, specifically, especially in the New Testament, a song of praise to God. It's directed to God in praise of him. Then there's this other word, spiritual songs.

That one is a little bit tricky. We're not really sure what that means, but William Hendrickson, I think, has put his finger on something that might explain what this is about. In the hymns, we have praise that is directed, is singing directly to God, praising him. We have hymns like that. We sing things like holy, holy, holy, Lord God almighty, early in the morning my song shall rise to thee, and we're singing directly to God. But then there are other songs that have lyrics that are not directly addressing God, but are more about our life together, speaking to one another. We might sing something like it is well with my soul, and we're professing and confessing our faith to each other, not singing directly to God. That would be a spiritual song. We have examples of this even in the New Testament. In fact, in this very chapter up in verse 14, there's a little poem that may have been part of one of those songs that they sang, one of those spiritual songs that was not directly praising God.

When he said, Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. That may be a quote from one of the spiritual songs that they sang. And so we have the opportunity and the privilege and the responsibility, because we're commanded to speak to one another with songs and hymns and spiritual songs.

Hendrickson has a little story that I think is a good illustration of what this is all about. It tells about a soloist who was asked to sing, and she sang about the fact that her Redeemer lives. All of us probably are familiar with the song, I know that my Redeemer liveth. And when she had sung through, the director asked her, said, Daughter, do you know that your Redeemer lives?

And she affirmed that her Redeemer lives, and she affirmed that she did. And he said, Okay, well sing it again, and this time sing it to us. We need to speak to one another as we sing and to declare our faith, and that needs to be something that is a vital part of what we do as we come together and address one another. We have such a wonderful gift from the Father and the Son, the gift of the indwelling Spirit, and being filled by Him, we are to speak to one another, and we don't have the option to not sing.

That's not allowed. We are commanded to sing, and we need to know that this is an expected result of being filled with the Spirit of God. And so when we come together, we are to speak to each other in song. But we also are to do this singing and making melody, as it says in this next phrase, we are to sing and make melody with our heart to the Lord. Singing and making melody.

So, you know, just a personal question. When we come together for worship, do you sing? Do you make melody when we come together? Bob Coughlin points out that singing is referenced in the Bible over 400 times. In fact, there are more than 50 direct commands to us to sing in Scripture. The longest book in the Bible is a book of songs, and New Testament commands, not just once but twice, we're commanded in New Testament to sing. So we are to be a singing people.

In fact, that is one of the distinctives of Christian faith. We are singers. We have something to sing about, and it's not just repetitive mantras that we sing. We sing the words of God. We sing to God. We sing to each other, and we rejoice. In fact, the Old Testament reveals to us that our God is a singing God, and he exalts over his people with song.

And that's what we're to be like. We're to reflect that as we sing together. So we sing and make melody to the Lord. Have you noticed as we've been looking at this that there's this revelation of the blessed Trinity in this passage? We are commanded in verse 18 to be filled with the Spirit, the third person of the Trinity. And here we are to sing to the Lord, the second person of the Trinity. And again, down in verse 21, we're to submit to one another in the fear of Christ. And in verse 20, when we come to that, we'll be commanded to give thanks to the Father.

Our worship is of the Triune God. We sing in response to the majesty and the glory and the wonder of the Triune God. And the melody of praise and thanksgiving comes out of the very core of our being. We are to do it from the heart, with the heart, singing and making melody with the heart.

You know, whenever I contemplate Christian singing, the worship of God's people as we sing together, I remember often Paul's word to the Corinthian church. He said, I will pray with the Spirit. I'll pray with the mind also. I'll sing with the Spirit.

I'll sing with the mind also. Being filled with the Spirit doesn't mean some kind of mindless ecstasy and thoughtless emotion. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth. That's how Jesus refers to him. On the night before he was crucified, as he was sharing with his disciples there in John chapter 14 through 16, as he's telling them about the Holy Spirit, that he and the Father will sin among them.

He refers to him three different times as the Spirit of truth. Our scene in worship, especially in corporate worship, is to be from the heart and from the very core of our being, and it's to be truth that we sing. The more we understand what God has done for us, the more we comprehend the greatness of the salvation that is ours in Jesus Christ, the greater will be our worship and our praise and our joy in him. And when our hearts are filled with the joy of salvation, they just overflow in melody and song and expression of that joy. And a large part of that expression will be what he comes to next in the giving of thanks. That's the fruit that Paul points to next here in verse 20 when he says, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Spirit-filled believers are grateful. There's gratitude and thanksgiving in our hearts. In fact, giving thanks is a fundamental expression of the life that God gives us in Christ. You remember back in Romans, Paul expresses the fact that those who suppress the truth of God, who do not acknowledge God, one of the characteristics is that they are ungrateful. In Romans chapter 1 verse 21, it says, For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him.

A lack of gratitude is characteristic of that old life. And as believers, we are to be constantly giving thanks. The Holy Spirit reveals to us how desperately we need to be rescued from our sin. And it births in our hearts a sense of gratitude, eternal gratitude for the grace that we've received. So we are to be as Spirit-filled believers, we're to be giving thanks. And notice when we're to give thanks and what we're to give thanks for. He says, giving thanks always for everything.

One of the dictionaries that I looked at with this word always says that it literally means every when. When did you give thanks? Every when, all the time. Always we are to be giving thanks. That should be a characteristic attitude of heart and mind that we're constantly giving thanks. You know, nothing fosters our contentment with what God has given, like giving thanks for all of it. And we need to be constantly expressing gratitude.

My mentor, when I was in seminary, kind of took me under his wing and discipled me. And one of the things that he used to say to us young men, he said, What if tomorrow the only things you had were the things you'd given thanks for today? And he said, one of the things that he always gave thanks for was toothpaste.

That is quite a gift, isn't it? And not everybody in the world has that. But we have so much that God has given us, both physically and materially, as well as spiritually. We should be giving thanks always for everything.

We can do that regardless of our circumstances, because we know, as Paul says in Romans 8 28, that for those who love God, all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose. So we see what we are to do. We're to give thanks.

When? Always. And for what?

For everything. To whom do we give the thanks? Spirit-filled believers are grateful to the Father, giving thanks always for everything to God the Father. In our gratitude, we must remember who the source is of all the blessings that we enjoy. Our giving of thanks is to be directed to the giver of the blessing. James reminds us that every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.

It comes down from the Father of lights, and there's not even a shadow of turning with him. We are to give thanks to the Father. And how do we do that?

What is the means with which we give that? Spirit-filled believers give thanks through Jesus. In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, we are to give thanks. You see, we have access to the Father, and we must know that we come to him only through Jesus Christ, only through the mediator. Jesus is our access. Paul wrote to Timothy, there is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ. Earlier in Ephesians in chapter 2, Paul writes that through him, that is through Christ, we have access by one Spirit unto the Father. It is through Jesus Christ that we have access to the Father. He is our standing before God the Father. He is our high priest. We can come to God boldly even as his children because of what God has done in Christ. Even our praise and thanksgiving ascend to the Father through Jesus Christ. Hebrews 13-15 says, through him that is continually offered the sacraments of the Lord, that is continually offered the sacrifice of praise, that is the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name.

We come to God the Father with our gratitude and our thanksgiving through Jesus Christ. One more command that we look at here and we're through with this, and it's probably the hardest one, isn't it? Verse 21, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. We don't like submission.

We don't really want anybody telling us what to do, and we don't really like submission. There's probably nothing that is more opposed to our fallen fleshly bent than being told to submit, to put ourselves up under somebody, and yet there's nothing that is more attuned to the mind and heart of our Lord. Christ lived that way.

He was God, and yet Paul writes in Philippians 2 that he emptied himself by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men, and being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death across. Christ lived it out, and he taught it. He said, whoever would be great among you must be your servant.

I have washed your feet, and you also ought to wash one another's feet. Paul commanded this when he wrote to the Philippians. He said, do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. We've already seen this kind of submission to each other at the beginning of this section in chapter 4, when he starts the application of the doctrine that he gave in those first three chapters.

In chapter 4, verse 1, he says, walk in a manner worthy of a calling to which you've been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love. One commentator translated that, enduring one another. We are to submit ourselves to one another in the body. And one of the hard things about submission is the fact that we don't get to choose the ones to whom we are to submit. We often rationalize our rebellion by saying, well, if this person over me were just so-and-so, then I could submit.

No, we don't submit because we're rebellious in our hearts. It's who we are. It's characteristic of our flesh and our sinfulness. And our sinfulness. But we are to be submitted to one another.

Paul writes to the Corinthians in chapter 12 of 1 Corinthians, God arranged the members of the body, each one of them, as he chose. The eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of you. Nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. We don't get to submit and serve only the brothers and sisters that we like, that are like us, that we get along easily with. We must submit ourselves to one another, not because of who the other brother is, but because of who Christ is and who we are in Him. We are to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. This is the motivation really that should be behind everything that we do, is it not? Reverence for our Lord. Jesus is our Lord and Savior.

And that relationship is why we are to put off the old self and live this new life. And Martin Lloyd-Jones has put it so well, a man who is filled with the Spirit is a man who is always remembering the Lord Jesus Christ. The Spirit points to him. The Spirit glorifies him. The Spirit always leads to him. And so the man filled with the Spirit will ever be looking to him. Everything we do, we must do out of reverence for Christ, always having him at the forefront of our thinking. So don't get drunk, but be filled with the Spirit. Be filled with the Holy Spirit as you speak truth to each other in love.

And as you sing with all your heart to the Lord, as you give thanks always for everything to God the Father, and as you serve one another out of reverence for Christ. Amen. Let's pray.

Let's pray. Father, these words are hard and yet they are encouraging. And because you have given us your Spirit to indwell, to enable, to empower, to work in us, to manifest the life of Christ in us. Grant, dear Lord, that we would live in constant awareness that we belong to you, that your Spirit is available to enable us to reflect you, to be imitators of you, to be your children who walk in love, submitting to one another in the joy of salvation. May it be so, we pray in Jesus' name. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-21 20:11:12 / 2024-01-21 20:21:55 / 11

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