Lesson 11: "Be filled with the spirit."
Paul's Prison Epistles.This is lesson #11. Near the end of our last lesson; we quickly read 5:1-21 and then outlined the rest of this book (ch. 5-6). Due to a lack of time; we agreed to do a quickie review of terminology early-on in this lesson. We said this is a continuation of Paul's admonition to do it right, i.e. to "walk worthy" (4:1). Paul started off (5:1): "Be... followers of God, as dear children." The adverb, "therefore," connects this back to chapter four. This following (or imitating, or walking) must be in love (v.2), i.e. "agape," seeking the highest interest of others. Give us an example Paul! Notice (v.2): "AS Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savor." This sacrifice idea reminds one of Gen. 8:20-21, where Noah, departing from the ark, made an offering and it says "the Lord smelled a sweet savour," i.e. a desirable smell. My illustration would be yeast bread baking in grand-ma's kitchen...! love it. God, our heavenly Father, appreciates Christians walking in love as dear children, i.e. obedient children. It might interest you, the book of Revelation, uses the word "prayers" only in the plural form and it occurs only three times in the whole book. In all three cases, prayers are associated with this "sweetsmelling savor" idea (Rev. 5:8, 8:3-4). Then, Paul began a series of contrasts (here, v.3), i.e. the other side of the coin (if you will). A listing of some of the things God, our heavenly Father, detests. Notice that "fornication" leads the list. "Fornication" means a promiscuous sexual act between two unmarried persons. Today, instead of "fornication", it is called'an "affair." That sounds better on T.V.; but, of course, that doesn't change God's opinion. It's still sin. Then, second on Paul's list is "uncleanness" (KJV). This term means some unnatural and perverted sexual indulgence. Other translations use words like: "impurity" and "sexual vice," trying to make it sound a little better than homosexuality, gays, or queers as they used to be known. Then, it's interesting, Paul said "or covetousness." The word "or" (0-R, v.3) is a conjunction expressing the idea of choice, either this or that. I had a little difficulty with this at first. The word: "covetousness", of course, means an unlawful desire for that which belongs to somebody else. One modern English translation says: "and the itch to get your hands on what belongs to other people." The point is: "covetousness" (here) is used to define and show the nature of "fornication" and "uncleanness." In other words, such unnatural and promiscuous sexual acts carry with them the UNLAWFUL DESIRE IDEA associated with that which does not belong to them. So, in that sense, "fornication" and "uncleanness" are a form of covetousness, you see. Or to put it another way: this covetous aspect of such perverted sexual acts may be the major factor that makes it wrong in God's sight. This lesson is badly needed in our day. It thwarts (cancels out) a lot of modern- day thinking, to put it very bluntly. If the gays can find a birthright approval in these passages, they'll have to give it a twist I cannot unravel. This condemns even those little innocent affairs, i.e. as worldly people see it... everybody's doing it, they say. And, sometimes it seems they've got a point! However, it is still sin in God's book. Then in v.4, Paul carried this idea further to even include talking about such evil, filthy and foolish things. Go back and re-read Matt. 15:18; to see the way Jesus analyzed this. Then in v.5 (here), Paul makes the point that this "covetous" aspect leads one on into "idolatry," really, i.e. it can become the object of one's worship; OR to put it another way (with some) the desire for such filth is stronger than (and therefore held above) their desire to obey God; thus making it classify as idolatry, you see. The bottom line is very blunt; but, very clear: no person guilty of such "hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God" (end of v.5). Then, v.6 is simply a warning: not to be taken in by ANYONE who might try to persuade you otherwise. V.7 is another warning! It means: have no part in any such filthiness...don't even get close to it. Then down in v.12, the apostle reiterates again, "it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret." Now, there may have been a time when you didn't know any better. In Paul's words: "ye were sometime darkness" (v.8). But, now you are enlightened. That's the "light" idea discussed (in v.8-17). Perhaps we should take a moment here to say: that if one is guilty of such things in their past life; they can be forgiven. I believe the Bible teaches this! When one repents and is baptized into Christ, his past alien sins are forgiven (Acts 2:38). That, of course, includes even murder (as Peter was accusing those people in Acts 2:23), and therefore; certainly includes such sins as Paul described (here). If one is tempted into such things after baptism, after his alien sins are remitted; it is still possible to be forgiven; if one will genuinely repent. The formula is in I John 1:9. However, don't miss the emphasis that Paul put on these things. Don't be lulled into complacency by those who advocate and participate in such things. They may preach: it's not all that bad. But, that is plainly: Satanic P-R, or salesmanship of the devil, to put it bluntly. Recognize it for what it is; don't buy it, in any quantity. Paul said: "Arise thou that sleepest..." (v.14). WAKE-UP! Don't be sucked in ...And, if you should find yourself involved ...Wake-up! Arise from the dead! You see, if you don't wake up and repent, you'll be eternally lost ...that's what Paul means by dead ...dead in sins. Then in v.17, Paul repeated the warning again: "Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is." In other words, don't be mislead, this is serious business.
Then in v.18, the apostle reiterates: simply stay way from things that intoxicate you (I'm paraphrasing). In stead of "excess" here in v.18, the ASV says: "riot," one translation says "wild living." Then in the middle of v.18: BUT, "but be filled with the Spirit." There's the contrast! With this thought Paul turns the coin over again, i.e. instead of spending your time in such things, as he has been discussing: do this, "be filled with the Spirit" (cap. "S"), i.e. Holy Spirit. In other words, allow the Holy Spirit (through his word, i.e. the holy scriptures) to use you to the fullest. How can we do that, Paul? All right, in v. 19-20-21, it simply means: in contrast to such things, spend your time in worship (v.19), spend your time in prayer (v.20), and spend your time in edifying and building up each other (v.21). Remember now, Paul is speaking to Christians at Ephesus; but, there sure is a lot of good spin-off (here) for our benefit. Have you heard the saying: an idle mind is the devil's workshop? Paul is simply saying, fill your mind and spend your time with spiritual things. Then, you see, there is no room in your mind and there's no time on your schedule for wild riotious living. While you're doing good; you don't have time for evil. Fill your mind (and your schedule) with spiritual things and there's NO ROOM for evil. It's just that simple.
Now, let me back up and ask YOU a question or two. When Paul said, "be not drunk" in v.13, (now here's the question): was that a command? You better believe it! Paul was an apostle (that's Eph. 1:1), Paul was an ambassador for Christ (Eph. 6:20). An ambassador speaks on behalf of his sovereign; i.e. on behalf of his king or his supreme ruler. Thus, this is inspired. This is not optional. Paul is here, talking about Christian duties, the way Christians should walk or conduct themselves. "Walk worthy!" (4:1). These are commands, the marching orders for God's people, if you will. When Paul said: "let it not be once named among you" (up in v.3) with reference to fornication and uncleanness, you see, that was a command. So then, I ask you again: if v.18 is a command with reference to our drinking; is v.19 not a command with reference to our "speaking?" Does v.20 not command us to "give thanks" and then tells us how to do it? V.21 is a command also: be submissive, one to another? Paul said it. That really ought to settle the matter.
The activities, Paul prescribed (here in v.19-20-21), are obviously related to worship and to edifying one other as he emphasized the church should do (and must do) "of itself in love", Paul had said (back up in 4:16). Notice in v.19-20-21, that Paul first gave the activity, i.e. "speaking to yourselves" (v.19)..."giving of thanks" (v.20)...and "submitting yourselves" (v.21). Then, in each case, Paul told HOW to do it or gave some directions with respect to these activities. Paul did NOT say: do what you like best or the way you might like to do it. NEITHER did Paul say: whatever you decide, NOR (did he say) whatever you select. Paul specified the activity AND Paul specified HOW those activities are to be carried out. Are Paul's directions clear? I believe they are; however, it seems many do not treat singing (v.19) with the same sincerity and frankness with which they treat prayer in v.20, for example. What did Paul say? "Speaking to yourselves" in music? No sir. If Paul had said music, that would have included any thing musical.. .tin cans, cowbells, guitars, pianos, opera, quartets, quires or anything musical. He specified singing, singing is music; but not all music is singing. Music is a general term. However, that is not what Paul said. He said "singing," and as I said, singing is a specific kind or type of music...i.e. music made by means of the human voice. Notice, now, Paul did not only say singing in this verse, Paul gave the kind of singing the church is to do: "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs." Personally.. I like hillbilly music and more especially love-songs like: Red River Valley and that kind of music. Those old ballods stir me and motivate me and entertain me. My wife has an organ in our home, that ! bought for her and she likes to play that for musical entertainment. I try to be gone when she plays. She is not an accomplished musician; nevertheless, she has a little artistic talent (in that way) and she enjoys doing it. And there's nothing wrong with good clean entertainment. We all need a little recreation (re-creation) from time to time. There's nothing wrong with artistic talents. I recommend it! However, Paul was NOT talking about entertainment; neither was he talking about artistic talent; nor was he talking about music in general (here). Paul said: psalms, hymns and spiritual songs; that's all. For this activity, Paul specified "singing" (a form of communicating with the human voice, "speaking" v.19) and Paul specified the kind of songs to be sung: psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. That does NOT, of course, include hillbilly music. That does not include love- songs. Thus, love-songs and hillbilly music and organs are excluded from our worship; unless they are authorized someplace else and [I'll save you a little time] they are NOT authorized any place else in the N.T. I believe singing and playing can be entertaining and I believe even singing can be artistic, i.e. display ability and demonstrate talent. However, that is NOT what Paul said to do (in v.19). First of all, Paul said to speak to yourselves, i.e. this is a communicating activity. Now, personally, I doubt if there can be a good clear distinction drawn between psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. These are probably over-lapping terms. I'll leave the dictionary work to you. However, you understand, I trust, these terms do not include instrumental music, or hillbilly music, or jazz or pop-music, for example, and therefore, these are excluded from worship. Then, in the last of v.19, Paul said:' "singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord." Paul, where is the melody made? On a guitar? No sir! In a piano? No sir! O.K., where is the melody made, Paul? "In your heart," (end of v.19), do you see it? Some translations say: "with your heart."
Now, think just a minute. Do you REMEMBER the inner-man principle? We've discussed this before in earlier courses. Re-read Eph. 3:16, Jere. 31:33, Matt. 5:28 and these are just for starters. In I Cor. 14:15, Paul's instruction about prayer (and singing) was to pray and sing "with the spirit, and...with the understanding." That's another way of saying speak to your- selves (and to the Lord) as Paul said it should be done here (5:19). Yes, but: Bro. Horsley, it doesn't say NOT TO; it doesn't say: thou shalt not use instrumental music. You know! You are right! It doesn't say: thou shalt not! So, does that make instrumental music right? No sir! Why? Well, that kind of thinking is a negative approach to following Paul instruction. When the N.T. (the constitution and by-laws of Christ's kingdom) tells you what to do; that eliminates everything else. For example, when YOU order a pair of shoes from Sears; you do not put on the order form: do not send size 8, do not send size 9 (10, 11, 12, etc). Do you? That is a negative approach. You use a positive approach: you state (one time) the size and color you want: send size 7, black. Now, what if Sears should send you white? (or green?, or brown?)? What if Sears sends you size 8, or 9, or 10, etc.? Your orders, or instruction to Sears was: size 7, black. That eliminated everything else, that eliminated size 8, 9, etc. That eliminated every color except black. Right? When Paul said sing, that eliminates instrumental music. When Paul said "speaking to yourselves ...making melody in your heart to the Lord", that eliminates talent shows, entertainment, sensual or artistic music. It's just that simple. Using musical instruments gives the song service an artistic and sensual nature. Some one says: Yes BUT! O.K. But what? What if Sears should reply; we like white? And thus, we are sending you white shoes. Now, I can imagine; you would go into a little lecture on how Sears should follow your instructions and your directions ...AND not send what THEY LIKE. Have I got it right? Now, what do you think our Lord and King would say; if he gave specific instructions in his word, the N.T. (the constitution of His kingdom) and we ignore his instructions and do what WE LIKE? Have you got it? You see, it's simply a matter of obedience. It's a matter of that servant attitude the N.T. says we MUST have. Let me say this: worship is NOT entertainment! We (as we worship) are NOT the audience! We are the participants! God is the audience to whom we worship. Before you decide to go beyond what's written; I suggest you read II John v.9. Then notice (v.19) "Giving of thanks" must be done in the name (or by the authority of) our Lord Jesus Christ. Shouldn't our singing be done the same way? Incidentally, who is "yourselves" (in v.19)? Every Christian! You got it! That's right! It is not just a pianist; it's not just a soloist; it's the whole congregation. In discussing this with the Colossians, Paul said: "teaching and admonishing one another in" this same kind of singing (we'll get to that). That's the instruction. That's the way we are to participate. All scripture is given by inspiration (II Tim. 3:16). Why shouldn't we be content to simply do what the N.T. reveals? God made us! Remember? He knew our needs; better that we know ourselves. Why shouldn't we follow his instruction? There is SO MUCH to give thanks for (v.20)! AND, we need to submit...in the fear of God (v.21). Have a good day!