Sermon Titled “Walking In Wisdom” (Ephesians 5:15-21) – Sunday 5th May, 2014
- Ephesians 5:15-21 –15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
In the passage of scripture above, Paul sets the theme by instructing Christians how to live. Our days are numbered, says the psalmist in Psalm 39:4, and as such we ought to make the most of what little time we have on this earth. For the Christian, that means choosing God’s plans and His ways; to walk “not as unwise, but as wise” (the Greek translation of this means to walk with “precision and accuracy”).
To make better sense of this idea, Paul also said that we should not “get drunk with wine,” but that we “should be filled with the Spirit.” Christian author and pastor, Tim Keller, explains the difference:
- Alcohol – is a depressant. It depresses parts of the brain so that the more inebriated a person gets, the less able he or she is to discern reality and what’s going on around them. This loss of awareness often results in a further loss of inhibitions and a tendency to feel overly confident and temporarily happy.
- Spiritual “Drunkenness” (or being filled with the Spirit) – has the opposite effect. Spiritual fullness causes us to be ever more discerning and aware. It shows us more of reality, not less, and this increased awareness leads to greater wisdom in terms of understanding the paths that God chooses for us. Paths that lead to confidence, not because our senses have been temporarily numbed, but because the Holy Spirit equips and enables us to do His work.
Pastor Reimer used his military background to provide a further excellent example of how the Spirit equips us to have greater insight and therefore a greater understanding of God’s calling on our lives. In his schooling on flight combat strategies, Pastor Reimer learned about the OODA-loop, which refers to the decision-making cycle of Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act.
US fighter pilots were taught how to use the OODA-loop cycle to make strategic decisions which would help them to defeat their enemies and survive. In the spiritual realm, Christians face an unseen enemy (Satan), who roams the world looking for souls to devour (1 Peter 5:8). We can use the OODA-loop approach in the following way to defend both ourselves and others who are vulnerable or already under attack by the enemy:
- Observe the biblical mandate – know what you are called to do.That means spending time in the bible, studying and memorizing God’s word so that you are fully prepared.
- Orient yourself within the culture that you live; who exactly do you live amongst and how has God called you to interact with them? Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you in your dealings with those around you.
- Decision – you can know for sure if you have correctly discerned the Holy Spirit’s guidance if your decisions are based on a genuine concern for others.
- Act on God’s truths, as well as feedback from fellow Christians, and also your immediate environment and the specific circumstances that you’re dealing with at the time.
For those of you who are still young in your faith and not really sure what all of this means, try to imagine what your life might be like if you learned how to be led by the Spirit. The bible says “be filled with the Spirit.” From a grammatical viewpoint, “to be” is present tense, and therefore implies that we are to be continuously filled. When you were baptized as a new believer and the Holy Spirit came to dwell with you, He came to be with you always. That means, if you allow Him to, He will fill you daily with His supernatural presence and guide you in all things.
Francis Chan said that if we really understood who we are and what we are capable of as Spirit-filled Christians, our lives might look a whole lot different. But as it is, many Christians attempt to navigate their way through life without the help of the Spirit, not realizing how much more they could achieve if they would let Him take the reins and lead the way.
Last week at my community group meeting, we discussed our struggles to completely surrender to God. Sometimes it seems easier to trust God when it comes to praying for others, but when we have troubles ourselves and need guidance, or healing, or financial provision for example, we are often reluctant to believe that God will actually hear and answer our prayers.
It’s as if we have only a “head knowledge” of the power of God’s Spirit. We haven’t really internalized how His presence can cause us to do remarkable things that bring blessings in our own and other people’s lives and ultimately bring glory to God. I love how Augustine implied in his book The City of God, that once we determine that God deserves to be glorified, it becomes easy to stop resisting Him and start following Him.
I think however, that Mark Driscoll sums up perfectly what life should look when lives are fully surrendered to the Spirit:
“For God’s glory to be revealed in the church, as Paul prayed, we must be satisfied in him……..This means:
- enjoying Him as our greatest treasure
- knowing beyond knowing that He loves us
- being captivated by and grasping His love
- living in a maturing relationship with Him
- repenting of our sin
- growing to glorify Him more and more by grace with joy
- sharing His fame with others
- humbly serving those in need as He has served us
- singing of His love
- praying for His church
The life lived to reveal the glory of our Father God results in our joy and others’ good as we become more like Jesus by the Spirit’s power.“
If you take nothing away from this post but the words above expressed by Mark Driscoll, then my plea to you today is to mull over them and let them sink deep into your heart so that they become more than just “head knowledge.”
Remember too that Jesus said to his disciples in John 16:7 that it “is better for you that I go away. If I do not go, the Helper (Holy Spirit) will not come to you. If I go, I will send Him to you.” Our natural inclination is to want Jesus in person, but Jesus said that it is to our advantage to have the Holy Spirit with us.
Start walking today, by the power of the Spirit who gives you great wisdom and insight, and see how God is able to use you in ways that you would never have imagined. He is ready and waiting for you – are you ready to “get plugged in” and be led by him?