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Ephesians 5:15-21

Walking In the Spirit

  • Jean Marais
  • Sunday Night Messages
  • May 29, 2022

In Ephesians 5:15-21, Paul takes that spiritual truth and applies it to the specific areas of our lives where we live day in and day out. When we walk in the Spirit, it changes how we live.

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

Walking In the Spirit
Ephesians 5:15- 21                     
May 29, 2022

These chapters in the book of Ephesians give us some of the most practical principles on how to live the victorious life God intended for us. Many Christians live a defeated, mediocre spiritual life because they do not understand these principles. It has everything to do with what fills your heart.

There are a lot of things in this world that you can take into your heart that will poison your soul. Worldly inputs are everywhere around us. Therefore, the way you live your life has everything to do with what you put into your soul.

That’s why the book of Ephesians is so powerful; as Paul prayed for us in Chapter 3: be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.

In the last couple of chapters Paul has been contrasting the life of those who walk according to the principles of the world with those who don’t. They are darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God; they give themselves over to worldly things.

Those who are strengthened with power in the inner man, experience the love of Christ and are filled up to all the fullness of God, want godly things in their lives. They desire the joy of the Spirit, peace that passes understanding, meaning and purpose, and to bring forth what is good in their lives.

Paul then takes that spiritual truth and applies it to the specific areas of our lives where we live day in and day out. When we walk in the Spirit, it changes how we live.

I.  Walk in Wisdom of the Spirit

  • We are warned in verse 15 to be careful how we walk, not as unwise men, but as wise. There are many people who has a lot of knowledge, but no wisdom. The difference between knowledge and wisdom, is that a person can know a lot of information, but wisdom is to know how to act and apply it to live a Godly life.
  • True wisdom comes from God. The world thinks it is wise, but God gives true wisdom.

James 1:5, But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

  • Many times, we do not have the wisdom to know what to do. The wonderful thing is that the Holy Spirit now dwells within us. In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit came upon people for a function. Now we have the wonderful privilege that the Holy Spirit is not just given to perform our function effectively, but lives inside us to do the transformation as we surrender to Him. He is our counselor, strength, guide, and source of wisdom.

A.  Make the most of your time

  • Verse 16 – God is calling us to live effectively. Wise people live effectively and can discern what is important. One can easily be sidetracked by the unimportant things of life. The things of the world vying for your attention.

Illus. -I love the animation movie “Up”. In the movie there is a dog named Dog who has a collar that can make him talk. A very funny scene in the movie is when he is talking to humans and in the middle of a sentence he would abruptly look to the side and yell: “Squirrel!!”

  • I think the reason this is a funny, is because it is a metaphor of how even us humans are many times sidetracked like that. We will even jokingly say that in our family if someone randomly goes off topic.
  • This is a great picture of how the enemy and the world want to sidetrack us and steal our time so that we are ineffective in that which is important. There are many metaphorical and spiritual ‘billboards’ vying for our attention.
  • Verse 15 – …because the days are evil. If we are walking in the Spirit and with the guidance of the Spirit, we will live in wisdom with a focused life, able to discern that the days are evil.
  • People are being lulled into complacency and conforming to things that are happening in the world, not able to discern that the days are evil.
  • That is why we read in verse 14,” Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Jesus warned us about being awake in the end times.

Matthew 24:4,12,42, And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. Therefore, be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.”

  • Keeping this fact the center of our focus should help us live effective and make the most of our time in these evil days.
  • This will help us to have wisdom to clarify our priorities.

B.  Walk in God’s will

  • The question begs: how do we do this?
  • Verse 17 – ‘So then do not be foolish but understand what the will of the Lord is.’ The Bible speaks a lot about what it means to be foolish.
  • The fool said in his heart, “there is no God”. (Psalm 14:1). The fool despises wisdom and instruction. Fools are rebellious and have lack of understanding, has no problem with sin. In short, a fool lives under his own rule and his own will.
  • We are called to walk in the will of God. Doing the will of God is aligning with God’s principles, his way of living, and his purposes.

1 Peter 4:2, … so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.

  • To live in the will of God is to not be governed by our flesh and foolishness anymore, but to be governed by the indwelling Spirit, surrendering ourselves to God’s will and what his plan and purpose is for you.
  • Even Jesus said that He came to do the will of the Father surrendered to his Father’s will.
  • How do we know the Father’s will? We learn to know His will by spending time in His word, like we are doing now, and surrendering to Him in a personal relationship. As our minds are transformed, we naturally start to live aligned with God’s will led by His Spirit.
  • This is good for you, because God’s plan for you is good.

Illus. – A child might look at what His father does around the house to know what to do and how to do it effectively. Do not use the hair dryer in the bath. Make sure there are no cutlery in the garbage disposal. Don’t switch it on with your fingers in the drain. The right way isn’t boring, it is good.

II.  Be Filled with the Holy Spirit

  • This is the key to living the victorious life. It’s the Holy Spirit that strengthens the inner man, that causes you to experience the love of Christ.
  • It’s the fruit of the Spirit that we long for; these are the good things we want to bring forth out of the good treasures of our heart.

A.  Don’t be filled with wrong spirits

  • You can make a direct contrast to being drunk with wine, or alcohol in general, and being filled with the Spirit; which is the point Paul is making.
  • To be drunk, a person has to drink a lot, not a little. In other words, being filled with alcohol affects every area of a person’s life.
  • This is dissipation, Paul wrote. The word dissipate means to disperse or scatter. The prodigal son dissipated his entire fortune; what a waste.
  • Another word for alcohol is ‘spirits.’ When a person is filled with alcohol, or ‘under the influence,’ their life is dissipating; they are losing strength, losing control of self, losing their judgment, losing finances, losing relationships, losing dignity and honor.
  • In the modern time that we are living, we see the same pattern with drug use or other substance abuse as well which has a devastating effect.
  • It’s the opposite of being filled with the Spirit.
  • By the way, as a point of clarification, Paul wrote not to get drunk with wine. It’s not a restriction from drinking at all, it’s a warning not to be ‘under the influence’ of that rather than under the influence of the Holy Spirit.
  • It takes away self-control, which causes the dissipation of many things.
  • You should not be mastered by anything. You should not be subject to things; it should be subject to you.

1 Corinthians 6:12-13, All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both of them. Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body. 

  • You are called to rule and have control over the things in life that try to control you.
  • This brings up another question: what do you run to to fill you and help alleviate your problems? Many times, people use alcohol or other substances, immoral endeavors, adrenaline sports, or even ‘healthy’ things like physical exercise, diets, or a multitude of other things as a Band-Aid to help them cope with stressors or life’s problems.
  • Some of these things are not wrong, but if it becomes an obsession, it can be detrimental.
  • We should run to God and know that the Holy Spirit is with us, inside us, and closer than a brother. The Holy Spirit is willing and able to give us wisdom and strength.

Ephesians 3:16, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.

B.  Be continually filled by the Spirit

  • The word in the Greek is clear – keep being continually filled by the Spirit, Paul wrote.
  • It’s an imperative, a directive, this is something we must do if we follow God’s heart for us.

Acts 13:52, And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

  • How is a person filled by the Spirit? Simply ask because it is what you desire.

Luke 11:13, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”

  • It is important to know that the Holy Spirit doesn’t fill you to achieve your will, but to achieve God’s will.
  • When you’re filled with the Spirit, filled with the fullness of God, then your heart toward other people will be changed and your heart toward the Lord will also be changed. That’s what Paul writes next.
  • Verse 19- Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. It’s important to see what the Bible is not saying here. The Bible does not say speak to one another about troubles, problems, uncertainty, the horrible news, hopelessness, fear, etc.
  • People walking in the Spirit speak differently. They speak in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.
  • The principle is that people who walk in the spirit are people of praise. They are not self-focused, but God focused.
  • Paul doesn’t stop there though. He once again brings this back to community, knowing that sometimes the individual might feel weak and need to be reminded of the truth. Therefore, he encourages them to speak to one another specifically in Psalm, hymns, and spiritual songs.
  • Music and song has such an amazing effect on our lives, because it interweaves the truth with the emotions stirred up by the music.
  • This is why corporate praise and worship is so important. We are encouraging one another with the truth of the Word and God’s promises.
  • Verse 19 – Make melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things.
  • When we continually have a habit of praising God in spirit and truth, it leads to a heart that is filled with melody unto God. It becomes a lifestyle and a heart song that you can ‘sing’ without even using words. It becomes the basis of hope on which your life is built.

Illus. I just love praise and worship and worshiping God because this truth has dawned on me from a very early age. As I listened to different songs, I began to perceive that the music that you tend to listen to a lot, becomes the song in your heart. To such an extent that you might wake up in the morning with your heart, or subconscious, already singing that song. That made me think: if this is the song I’m waking up to, how long has it been running in my mind during the night and what effect is that having on my life? How is this influencing what I’m focusing on and what I’m growing towards? As I started to study this, I saw that it has been documented that it has a massive effect on a person’s mindset. This is also a biblical principle.

  • It does however stay a choice. God does not force us to do this. We have a choice if we want to make melody in our hearts to the Lord or make melody in our hearts to the world.
  • When we choose to make melody in our hearts the Lord, it will stir up the spirit of thankfulness for who He is, what He has done, and what He has promised. It brings us to a place of surrender to God and the surrender to His Spirit.
  • If we surrender to the Spirit of life, thankfulness will flood our hearts as we worship God and sing with melody from our hearts.
  • Verse 20… for all things. All things mean all things. Bad times, good times, happy times, sad times, times of plenty and times of lack.
  • If we have thankful hearts unto God, it shows that we have hope and trust Him that whatever we are going through, He is in control and our source. It shows that we have an eternal hope and trust beyond what we cannot see.
  • Even in this God does not leave us alone to struggle through this process with pure willpower. We have this wonderful promise in Romans 8 when we walk in the Spirit.

Romans 8:26, In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

  • When we walk in the Spirit, surrendered and directed by the Spirit, he intercedes for us even when we don’t know what to pray and sing. And we have this firm assurance that he intercedes according to God’s will, which is good.
  • Still, we need to choose to surrender to the Spirit of God.

Illus. if you study a philharmonic orchestra and how it works, you will see that the whole orchestra needs to keep their eyes on one person: the conductor. He is the one giving direction, making sure everyone stays in time, and plays at the right time. If an orchestra member starts to disregard the conductor and just does whatever he wants in his own timing, he will go out of sync, and it will have a disastrous effect on the whole group and performance.

  • This is a great illustration of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. He is the great conductor of our lives, individually and as the body of Christ. He sees the bigger picture and knows how it ends. He knows where I fit into the bigger picture and how I would be most effective in this world, both in my personal life and in the greater scheme of things. When I trust Him and surrender to him to lead me, I can rest in peace knowing that he is in control.
  • Every day you have a choice to walk in the spirit and be led by the Spirit of God. Every day you can pray to be led by the Spirit. Choosing to be led will result in a thankful life and living effectively with wisdom and with purpose.

15 So then, [a]be careful how you walk, not as unwise people but as wise, 16 [b]making the most of your 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, [c]in which there is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to [d]one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your hearts to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to our God and Father; 21 [e]and subject yourselves to one another in the [f]fear of Christ.


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