College & Career Class Lesson Summary, April 7, 2019
We continued on discussing Ephesians 5:18. Last time, we discussed the issue of wine and that to be honest with the scriptures, we have to recognize not only where alcohol abuse took place, but likewise where its proper usage occurred – even when prescribed by God Himself. The purpose of our study wasn’t to condone alcohol, but simply to recognize the scripture’s record. We continued on with Ephesians 5:18 to establish the distinction Paul is drawing on when comparing being drunk with wine against being filled with the Spirit.
We noted a few verses in the scriptures where we find certain characteristics that are associated with drunkenness. In Deuteronomy 21:20, for example, when speaking of a rebellious son, it says:
Deuteronomy 21:20 And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard.
This son is described with a host of various things – stubborn, rebellious, disobedient, a glutton and a drunkard. This isn’t to suggest that, say, stubbornness is synonymous with drunkenness, but it is to simply take note of things that are present in the life of a drunkard. In the book of Proverbs (23:21) we find that poverty fills the life of a drunkard because the drunkard will waste his living on the pursuit of his alcoholic endeavors. In Isaiah 24:20 (echoed in Psalm 107:27 and Job 12:25), we find the earth being spoken of like a drunkard – reeling to and fro in response to God’s judgment. This gives the image of major instability.
All of these things have their place in a drunkard’s life: rebelliousness, stubbornness, disobedience, gluttony, poverty, and instability.
Paul says to not be drunk with wine, wherein is excess. We noted last time that the word ‘excess’ essentially means, ‘debauchery.’ The summation of drunkenness is nothing more than debauchery. Yet, instead of giving ourselves over to this kind of lifestyle, Paul says that our filling is to be of the Spirit. What is the Spirit? What does it mean to be filled with the Spirit?
The Hebrew word for Spirit is ruakh which essentially means breath or wind. In Genesis 1:2, it says that the Spirit of God hovered over the face of the deep. In Acts 1, in the upper room, the Holy Spirit came in with a sound of a mighty rushing wind. In the Old Testament, God dwelt in a cloud of glory on the Ark of the Covenant. When someone stands behind you and breaths, you feel it. When the wind blows, you feel it. A tree stands still naturally, save for when the wind blows. Wind and breath are external evidences of movement – of life – of being. In other words, the Spirit of God is the very presence of God. When God breathed in to Adam the breath of life, it says that Adam became a living soul. God breathed His very presence into Adam which can do nothing less but produce life. When Paul writes that all scripture is given by inspiration of God, he is describing the scriptures as being “God-breathed”, or, we could think of it as the scriptures bear the stamp of the presence of God. We could go on at much greater detail about the Spirit, but this is essentially the idea. The Spirit of God = the Presence of God. This is why in John 16, when Jesus says that He is going away, that the Comforter is going to come – despite the physical presence of Jesus (bodily) being removed, yet the Presence of God would yet be with them. And, His presence will accomplish two contrasting results. For the believer, the presence of God is a COMFORT, yet, as John records, the presence of God will be a CONVICTION to the unbeliever of their unbelief.
As mentioned above, in the Old Testament, the presence of God dwelt upon the Ark of the Covenant, in the tabernacle/temple. Yet, Paul writes to the Corinthians that through Christ, BELIEVERS have become the temple of God – we are the place of His dwelling. (1Corinthians 6) We are the embodiment of His presence. However, we are certainly under no involuntary obligation to recognize His presence. Being filled with the Spirit is the ALLOWANCE of His presence to be real in your life. Every believer has the Spirit of God – has the presence of God, yet, we can determine to give Him the cold shoulder. We can choose to ignore the great comfort that we have. But, Paul says when we allow His presence to be real, it leads to us expressing a different mindset. Our world – our lives are then not jumbled with stubbornness, rebellion, instability, but rather our lives, living in His presence, expresses through Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs which are all interwoven with Thanksgiving.
Ephesians 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 5:19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 5:20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
The choice is pretty clear – be under the influence of alcohol and all of the debauchery that comes with it, or, be wrapped up in the presence of God, singing and praising Him with Thanksgiving. In order to walk in light, as children of light and in order to walk circumspectly, we need our lives filled with His presence.
Being filled with His presence has an impact on our relationships – especially that of a husband and wife. Paul will finish the chapter on this theme.
Our story continues…