PFOA: Ephesians 5:15-21

“Don't be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, let the Holy Spirit fill and control you”.
Eph 5:18, NLT.

Here is another of the many before-after contrasts. Paul is contrasting the behaviour of a person who is full of wine with one who is full of the Holy Spirit. A drunken person behaves in such a way that we often describe him as having lost control of himself. But if you think about it, he hasn’t lost control at all. All of us, in our “normal” minds are constrained by the social norms and expectations of society, so we smile and be nice because we are not supposed to get angry. We hold our tongue when what we really feel like is to give that obnoxious person a tight slap in the face; or tell that inconsiderate person off. Sometimes our true nature is revealed in the anonymity of driving a car alone! So a drunk person hasn’t lost control, he is merely letting his true nature take control – perhaps happy and singing, or shouting and scolding, or getting into a fight.

Don’t be drunk with wine – don’t let the old self take back control, with all its sinful, deceitful desires (Eph 4:22). That was your former life and has passed.

Put on the new self, and let the Holy Spirit control your life. Because of the metaphor used here, comparing the Holy Spirit with wine, we are led to think of the Holy Spirit as some thing that flows and can be poured into a person, filling him. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Triune God. He has been sent; by God the Father and the Son, to teach, guide and comfort us. He will take control of our lives, if we let Him. The only way we can put off the old self and put on the new self is to hand over control of our lives to Him. We need to continually let the Holy Spirit fill and control us.

In the Greek, we find that verses 18-21 consist of just one sentence. Paul has in mind that under the control of the Holy Spirit, these three results are prominent:

a) We will address “one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart”. It may be difficult to classify what we sing into psalms, hymns, or spiritual songs, but it seems quite clear that this singing and making melody is an expression of joy from the heart. We sing to the Lord, but it is interesting that we also to address one another. We praise God when we sing to one another of God’s matchless character and mighty works.

b) We will give “thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”. The Holy Spirit, by His presence with us, enables us to be grateful to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. The word “Trinity” is not found in the Scriptures, but the truth of the three persons of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the One God is clearly taught in this passage, amongst others.

c) We will submit “to one another out of reverence for Christ”. Submission is not a welcome concept. Submission is drilled into the soldier. In the workplace, it is grudgingly exercised, because of the rice bowl. It is in the church that we find it hard to submit. We come to church as volunteers, offering our time and our money. After all, we are all equal before Christ and responsible only to him. But Paul says we are to submit, out of reverence to Christ, not just to the “leaders” of the church, but to one another.