The following notes are related to the morning message for 11 August 2019 and are based on Ephesians 5:15-33
In the first half of chapter 5 of Ephesians, the apostle Paul challenged Christians to live their lives in a manner that was ever more becoming godlike in their characters and in their behaviors. Keep this in mind as you read the rest of his letter. All that is said in the remaining verses of Ephesians 5 (verses 15-33), is prefaced on understanding and heeding verses 15-17, “Be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. Do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Imitate God (verse 1), walk in love (verse 2), walk as children of Light (= as children of God, who is Light), learn what is pleasing to the Lord (verse 10), be careful how you walk (verse 15), understand what the will of the Lord is (verse 17). If these things are remembered as we live our lives, imagine how meaningful and genuinely enjoyable all of life would be. This is a portrait of a life which is under the control of God the Father.
In verse 18, Paul cautions, “Don't get drunk with wine.” Have you ever had an experience or maybe even a series of occurrences which make you scream, “This is enough to drive me to drinking!”? Life indeed has its pressures and severe demands. Sometimes we feel as though we need stimulation, undergirding, a shot of confidence, added help and strength. However, Paul emphatically says, “Don't let it be wine” or any other artificial stimulant for that so easily leads to loss of control and to behavior that is far from imitation of God. The word here translated debauchery or dissipation is a Greek word that means without any limits, with reckless abandonment. It refers to escapism and the tendency to throw all restraints out the window and live without controls.
In total contrast to that, the old apostle says to the Christians in Ephesus (and to us), “Satisfy that need for something to stimulate and strengthen you by being filled with the Spirit, for that is God's provision for this need in human life. There is no need to feel ashamed because we sometimes feel as though we need to be “propped up.” We were not created by God to be self-sufficient, independent creatures. Let your need for help be filled by the Holy Spirit.
As you read the balance of chapter 5, you will see that it deals with relationships, particularly the delicate and precious relationships that exist in marriage where a man loves his wife in the manner in which Christ loved the church and gave himself for her. The secret to authentic Christianity
When we become Christians, when we believed in Jesus Christ and received him as our Lord, the Holy Spirit comes to live in us—to abide in us, to stay with us. He is to become our constant source of strength, like quietly drinking again and again of this inner supply of fortitude.
This is a truth that many Christians seem to miss. They think that Christianity means coming to church, getting a blessing from the worship, the singing, the praying, the Bible study, and then going away to try to live in the light and warmth of the blessing until it leaks away in the course of the week. Then they must come back and get filled up again. That is not Christianity. When Jesus said of the person who drinks of him, "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water'" (John 7:38), he means that the Holy Spirit will strengthen him from the inside out.
One of the most powerful and most blessed relationships in all the world is a marriage that is given over to the control of God. In verse 21, Paul says, be subject to pone another in the fear of Christ.” Fear does not mean shaking and trembling. It means reverence, respect, and with a sense of awe. What Paul presents in Ephesians 5:22-33 is what the marriage relationship is to look like when Christ is the head of the marriage as he is head of the church. What Paul reveals is a beautiful picture of marriage. These directions are commands to the husband and to the wife to give themselves to each other. Marriage is not about the superiority of the man over the woman or the subservience of the woman to the man. It is about the fulfillment of the partner and the satisfaction of the partner. If we lose this vision of marriage, we lose the vision of marriage that God has put in place. Putting each other first and yielding to one another is the only way a marriage can be full of joy and be pleasing to the Lord. “Each individual among you is to love his own wife even as himself.” There is no picture of dominance here, but only growing love that flows from the perfect heart of God.