And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,
(Ephesians 5:18 ESV)
Yesterday we read that we (God’s children) should walk carefully through life, not wasting time on things that are sin, but instead making the most of our short time on earth. That theme continues today as we can see by the use of the word and.
In keeping with the idea that life should not be wasted, Paul gives a specific instruction: do not get drunk with wine. This warning would have resonated with the Ephesians because drunkenness of was often a part of worship of their gods.
Today people use alcohol as a means of escape the pressures of life. They erroneously think alcohol will uplift them. But alcohol is actually a depressant. It suppresses our self-control and judgment. Living like this is sin and is a waste of life. God wants us to be in control of our lives. That is why He commanded us yesterday to walk carefully through life.
As opposed to being filled with useless indulgences (debauchery), God commands His children to be filled with the Spirit. In the original Greek the verb “be filled” is an imperative (i.e. a command). But is also in the passive tense, indicating that we cannot manufacture communion with God as the ancient Ephesians were trying to do or as some modern-day denominations do.
Certainly when someone is saved God indwells that person then and there [Romans 8:9; 2 Corinthians 12:2; Galatians 3:2, et. al]. That is a one-time experience that is a result of our faith and God’s immediate forgiveness of our sin. But that is not what God is talking about here. God never commands us to be indwelt or sealed by the Holy Spirit. It is His job to do that.
However, after a person is saved (i.e. becomes a permanent member of God’s family) it is their responsibility to allow his/her life to be controlled by the Holy Spirit (as contrasted with being controlled by alcohol or other sin). The way we do that is by surrendering ourselves.
We cannot be filled with both our self and the Holy Spirit. We have to give up one to have the other [Galatians 5:16-17]. We do this by first recognizing that there is no sin that can fulfill us. Alcohol is not the answer. Neither are drugs, sex, money, fame, corporate success, or pornography. If these things fulfilled they would not be addictive. True fulfillment can only come from a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
Once we are convinced of that we can empty our lives of such useless living and fill it with the Spirit. This is done by getting to know God better through His word (the Bible) so we can understand how He designed us to live [Romans 12:2]. We then surrender every aspect of our life to Him and allow Him to guide us according to that design.
Sin seems to bring fulfillment. But it does not deliver on its promises. That is why we have to keep going back for more. On the other hand, when we allow the Spirit to control us, we will have all the things we seeking in this life – love, joy, and peace [Galatians 5:22].
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