Monday, April 2, 2012

Sermon Notes: Ephesians 5:15-21

Watch out how you walk/live. The word Paul uses here means to be exact. To walk strictly by the rule.   Let us note that Paul expects us to take our walk seriously. One of the great disasters of our age is how flippantly important things are treated. We spend hours on football and minutes on God’s Word. We spend hours on how we dress, but minutes on the shape of our hearts.  Ladies how much attention to give to clothing this morning compared to how much time you spent preparing for worship? The important things are rarely talked about and the unimportant things dominate our time. Paul is telling us that we must think about how we live. We must be careful how we walk. We are like men in a new country where dangers await us around every corner.  But instead we joke along the road. We are to be serious about our Christian life.  This does not mean we are to be sour about our Christian life.  It does not mean we are to live introspective lives.  A serious joy is what we are aiming at.
Some of you are like that character in the horror movies who makes a wrong turn and refuses to turn back. You are looking at the screen screaming at the person to turn back, but they don’t. They keep going and the end is bloody. Some of you need to stop and evaluate.
We must stop at points in our lives and evaluate whether or not we are on the right path or not.  Our life is filled with things, movies, phone calls, emails, internet, etc. When is the last time you sat and thought about your life for several hours?  When is the last time you paused long enough to evaluate your walk with Christ?  Are your priorities right? How do you know? What is most important to you? Does your life reflect your priorities? How much prayer is spent on your walk with Christ?
            Imagine a man trying to get to Denver, CO, but never looking at map or never stopping to evaluate where he is at.  Some of you are like this.  You are trying to get there, but you haven’t looked a map in years.  That is probably because you are scared about how far off course you are.
            Take an hour or two each week and then try to take at least one day a year to evaluate your walk with Christ.  Spend time in prayer and extra time in the Word. Men do this with your wife if you can.
            Pray specifically that the Lord would show you where you have gotten off the road.
            Paul gives us three specific ways we can be careful how we walk. In each of these there is a contrast between the way of the world and the way a Christian is supposed to live.

A Man Who Walks Carefully will Redeem Every Moment
            Do not be unwise, but be wise by redeeming the time. It would seem that redeeming the time here means making the most use of what time you have. Not wasting opportunities on foolishness.  An unwise man is someone who wastes the chances he is given. How do you redeem the time?  Redeeming the time means to make the most of every opportunity to do good.  How many of us will end our days having done nothing of significance?  You will be dead sooner rather than later. What will be left of you? What impact will you have had on those around you?
Psalm 90:12-Lord teach us to number our days that we might have a heart of wisdom.
J. Edwards: Resolved: Never to lose one moment of time, but to improve it in the most profitable way I possibly can.
Satan does not care if we lead lives of debauchery. He doesn’t care if you spend your nights at strip clubs or spend your days watching soap operas.  He only cares that you doing nothing of significance.  Oh, the wasted time by Christians. Oh the lost hours!  Why do we squander so much of our lives?
Do you have a list of important things to do? Do you even know what is important?
Do you know what your sins are and are you fighting them with specific weapons?
Do you look for opportunities to do good?
Women, do you know what you want to get done when you wake up? Does the day drive you or you drive it?
The internet is a terrible waste of time for most of us.
Danger: God wants me to do something spectacular. We must be biblical here. Israel feasted three times a year for a week at a time. Was this a waste?   The woman poured hundreds of dollars of perfume on Jesus’ feet.  Was this a waste?  In a few verses Paul is going to tell us to work hard at our jobs.  Is this a waste? God tells us to rest one day out of seven. Is this a waste? Redeeming the time is to be defined biblically. Sometimes that means we eat and drink with one another. Sometimes that means I get up at 1 am to help my sick child. Sometimes that means I stop to help a co-worker change their tire or load their trunk. Sometimes redeeming the time is getting to bed early.
Legalist-always pushing for more.
Lazy man-Happy to leave things as they are.

A Man Who Walks Carefully with Live Life in Light of Eternity and Redemption
            Do not be foolish, but understand what God’s will is. Here God’s will is not subjective. Paul is not telling us to discern whether God wants us to buy a chainsaw or lawnmower with our tax return. God’s will is revealed in the Scriptures. (I Thess 4:1-3, 5:19, I Peter 4:2) The foolish man does not understand what God’s will is.  God’s will is our sanctification and our redemption. How should you live based on these realities? Wisdom is the path that lines up best with God’s redemptive purposes. (O’Brien)  It is not just common sense.  A fool lacks discernment in practical living.
            A fool is someone who does not understand the great realities of the world. Sin, redemption, God, Jesus Christ, Hell, and death do not enter their minds.  Their focus is temporal, the here and now without any reference to the future.  This causes their decision making to be faulty.  Let’s imagine we are part of a Kingdom, for this is how Jesus describes us.
            A servant who believes he is king.
            A servant who knows there is a king, but doesn’t care what he wants and doesn’t think he will ever return.
            A servant who knows and loves the king and greatly desires to please him.

            As a servant of Jesus Christ and heir of the Kingdom how should you live? Again, just like with redeeming the time, our tendency

A Man Who Walks Carefully Will Be Filled With/By Means of the Spirit
            Do not be drunk with wine, but be filled with the Spirit. Here is our third contrast. But Paul expands on this for several verses. Let’s begin with this question: How is one filled with the Spirit? Are we filled by some magic strike from Heaven?  Are we filled by meditation or silence?  Are we filled when we give ourselves over to wild, uncontrolled laughter? Well, let me ask you this, where do we find the Holy Spirit?  What is his job?  Many of you know verses about the Holy Spirit, what does God tells us the Spirit will do for us and in us? In other words, what tree is the Spirit tied to? Where do you find Him?
1.       The Spirit is tied directly to the Word. That does not mean the Spirit does not speak outside the word, but the only place you can be sure He is speaking is the Scriptures.
2.       The Spirit is here to glorify Christ and cause us to obey Christ.
3.       The Spirit is found in the Body of Christ.
In this chapter being filled with the Spirit comes from obeying the commands of Christ given in 4:1 and following. As we obey God’s Word the Spirit gains more and more control over us.

The similarity between drunkenness and being filled with the Spirit is that they both control you. But that is where the similarities end.  Drunkenness causes us to lose control while one of the fruit of the Spirit is self-control.  Drunkenness causes our speech to become incoherent while the Spirit gives us control over our tongue.  Drunkenness makes us into beasts while the Holy Spirit makes us more human.

                        Being filled with the Spirit results in… Paul gives us five different words describing the results of being filled with the Spirit.  Three of these are all about singing.  Think about that for a moment. Paul is telling us what happens when we are filled with the Spirit. We sing and make music and speak to one another in spiritual songs.  Christianity is never opposed to song and mirth. She is opposed to godless song and mirth. She opposed to song and mirth divorced from the redeeming work of Christ.

            First, we will speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.  Paul is probably referring to worship here, but it has application to all of life.  Songs have a great impact on our memory. When I was in high school, I played football.  At every home game when ran onto the field listening to “Eye of the Tiger.”  Whenever I hear that song I am transported back to cool, fall evenings before the home crowd. Songs are powerful tools. Our culture is shaped by songs. They matter.

            Paul is telling us to make sure our songs, those that shape the way we think and bring back memories are righteous ones.  But note the horizontal aspect of our songs. Our songs are to be directed toward each other. In Colossians Paul tells us to teach and admonish one another with these songs.  When we are filled with the Spirit we use God’s Word, particularly his songs to teach each other.

Second, Paul tells us to sing and make music in/with your hearts to the Lord. He has not changed subjects here however. Both singing and making music are the verb form of psalms and songs from the previous line.  Here though he emphasizes two separate things. He tells us these songs and music are to be in or with the heart. He is not talking about silent “music.” The concept is absurd.  He is telling us to sing with our whole heart, with our whole being. We are not to pay Christ lip service. Chrysostom: The heart should not roam while the mouth sings.  Like all things in the Christian life our whole body and mind are to be engaged as we sing.  So first, Paul tells us to sing with our whole being. But then adds that we are to sing the Lord.  The Lord means Christ, not God the Father.  So we are to sing songs to Christ.  Pliny an early Christian wrote that the saints got up early to sing songs antiphonally, like the way we do the Creed, to Christ. 
Paul is not talking about two separate things in these phrases.
We are to sing to one another with our whole hearts as we sing to Christ.  Worship is primarily in view, but I do not think Pau would have limited it to that.
Illustration: Fiddler on the Roof-Sabbath Song
Illustration: Paul and Silas singing in prison. Acts 16:25

          Singing is teaching. Parents remember this.  Husbands, wash your wife in the word by teaching godly songs.  Mothers, sing “A Mighty Fortress” to your sons and daughters when you put them to bed. Men, sing on your way to work. Ladies, sing in the garden or at the sink or cleaning the toilet.   It is my hope that one day we will be known as the church that sings.  Brothers, please add to your regular pray requests this one: Lord, please bring us or raise up in our midst a music pastor, a man who will preach to us in song.  The Christian world needs this. We need this.
 Remember the vital role singing has in our worship service. Singing is not decoration. It is not preparation for the sermon. It is the lifeblood of our worship. So sing loud with your whole being to Christ your Savior.  Do not hold back. Sing to your Savior.
Make singing a central part of your life at home. Sing in the shower.  Sing around the table. Sing at bed time. Sing as you drive to work. Song should rule and dominate our Christian lives.
Scripture songs should have a central place in our lives. The Psalms are the center of Christian worship. But there is a lot more. When is someone going to put Exodus 15 or Deuteronomy 33 to music?  What about Hannah’s song in I Samuel 2?  Or Isaiah 12 or 26?  We need to learn the songs in Revelation and Mary’s Magnificat.  And the list goes on and on.  Let’s us press on towards musical maturity.  I love the hymns. But God’s Word must have a priority in our lives and this includes in our songs.

Third, Paul tells us to give thanks.  One result of being filled with the Spirit will be a life of thanksgiving. This is the second time Paul has mentioned the giving of thanks. Remember he spoke of it earlier in verse 4.  Peter O Brien said that thanksgiving is a synonym for the Christian life.  To be a Christian is to be a man who gives thanks for his Savior.  To be a Christian is to be delighted in God’s goodness.  To be a Christian is to realize that you always have it better than you deserve.  Hell is what you deserve. And we must confess we all have it better than that.  A Spirit filled people are a thankful people.
            When: Always
            For What: All things                
            By Whose Name: The Lord Jesus Christ
            To Whom: Our God and Father

                                    C. J. Maheny Ingratitude is the mark of proud man.

Submitting to one another in the fear of Christ.
            We will look at this phrase more closely in two weeks when we examine submission. 

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Let the saints be joyful in glory, let them sing aloud on their beds, let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two edged sword in their hand, to execute vengeance on the nations, and punishments on the peoples; to bind the kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron. Psalm 149:5-8