|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2000|
|Dr. Barber continues the study of "being filled with the Spirit" by describing three things that will be evident in one who is filled, controlled by, indwelt with, the Spirit of God.|
Ephesians 5:18 says, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.” The question came to my mind, “What else would we want to be filled with?” A man can be filled with many things. He can be filled with rage. He can be filled with jealousy. He can be filled with envy. He can be filled with a lot of things, but Paul says, “Be filled with the Spirit of God. Be under His control. Be satisfied with Him and only Him. Be dominated by the presence of the Holy God that lives in your hearts.” He is saying, “This is the way to walk as wise men in a world filled with darkness. Be filled with the Spirit of God. Don’t be influenced by anything on the outside. Be influenced by the person who lives on the inside. Constantly, moment by moment, be controlled by the Spirit of God in your inner man. It is a moment by moment choosing to say, ‘Jesus, just be Jesus in me. Lord, I don’t want anything else. I just want you.’ It is a constant yieldedness to Christ, whatever He desires for us.”
So often our choices are between what the world offers and what God offers. But being filled with the Spirit of God is always turning to whatever it is that He offers and whatever it is He wants to do in your life. It is loving His Word and loving His will above all else. I want you to know the effects of being filled with the Spirit of God as seen through the rest of the book. From 5:19 on, you see the effects of being filled, of being controlled by the Spirit of God. But I believe the Apostle Paul gives us the three major effects, the three major symptoms of a person being filled with the Spirit of God in verses 19-21. That is what I want us to look at.
There will be three symptoms that will come upon an individual who is constantly being filled, controlled by, the already indwelling Spirit of God. The first one is found in verse 19— singing is a result of being filled with the Spirit of God: “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord.” That’s a Spirit-filled life. What does that mean? That means a life where every room of the heart, where the Spirit lives, has been opened up. Jesus in His light and love and life has permeated those rooms. Out of that heart, that has been cleansed by His blood and filled with His presence, comes a song to the lips and to the mind. It is always there. Singing is just something that erupts in a person’s life who is filled with the Spirit of God. Something about the Holy Spirit produces that music in a person’s heart. That doesn’t mean you can carry a tune, it simply means that you can make a joyful noise. There is a song in your heart.
A person says, “Well, I have a great ability to sing. That must mean that I am filled with the Spirit.” No. People who can’t carry a tune can make a joyful sound. It doesn’t mean that you can sing as well as other people. It means that you’ve got a song in your heart. It means that somehow music now fills up your life and there is something that makes sense in your life. There is just that song that erupts out of your heart. Psalm 40 says, “I waited patiently upon the Lord. He heard my cry of distress. He lifted me out of the miry clay, put my feet upon a rock and put a brand new song in my heart.” That is always the way it is. It is a new song, a fresh song. It is something that God puts within your soul.
Now Paul explains among whom, how, from where and to whom Spirit-filled believers are to sing. Let’s work our way through verse 19 and see what he has to say.
First of all, he says among whom: “speaking to one another.” Do you realize that the literal means “speaking to yourselves,” referring to believers as a community? I want to share something with you. All through Scripture you are going to find that music, music that exalts God, music that exalts Christ, music that praises Him is never, ever meant for the unbeliever. It is always meant for the believer. So often we use music as an evangelistic tool. That doesn’t mean it can’t be used that way, but that is not its original purpose. It was intended to be amongst yourselves. It was for believers when we come together.
Folks, what goes on when we come together is unique to any other gathering on the face of this earth. Do you realize that? There is not one single thing you can go to outside of a church gathering when brothers and sisters are together singing praises to God, celebrating the Lord Jesus Christ, that is anything close to that. You see, this is what it’s for. That is why we sing. I hear people say sometimes, “Well, we ought to have less singing and more preaching.” Are you kidding me? There is a balance in this thing. Folks, I want to sing, don’t you? I want to get with brothers and sisters singing the praises unto God. It was intended for believers and it was intended for praise and exaltation of our Lord. So among whom are we to sing? It is among ourselves.
Secondly, how are we to sing? Well, the term “speaking to one another” needs to be understood. The word “speaking” comes from the verb laleo which simply means to make a sound, to break the silence. It came from the word “chatter” or “babble,” possibly like when a child is learning to talk. It was also used for the chirping of birds in secular Greek. It was also used for a grunting of animals when they made those animal sounds. In its most basic sense it simply means to make a sound. So here in our text, the text is speaking of singing. Is that not a sound? That is all he is saying. The speaking is the singing. It is making sounds. It is sounds that come from a spirit-filled heart. So, the sounds that please the Lord are the sounds that come from a spirit-filled heart.
Now he refers to several ways in which we can sing together and he mentions three of them in this verse. First of all he mentions psalms. Obviously, of course, there is the book of Psalms and it is a hymnbook. The book of Psalms is wisdom literature, and they were songs that were sung back to the Lord. We have hymns that exalt God. The word “psalm” has the idea of playing music with strings. In other words, it is with an instrumental accompaniment. The word “psalm” means to sing songs to the accompaniment of music, stringed or whatever else, instrumental music. That is the way they would sing the psalm. That was a part of their worship in the early days of the church at Ephesus that has evolved right into today. It usually reflected the nature and the work of God especially in the life of believers. They were sung again with musical accompaniment.
The word “hymns” however, was a little different word. The hymns, from all the study that I could do, refer primarily to the songs of praise which, in the early church, did not just exalt God, but exalted His Christ, the Son of God, the One who is the embodiment of the Godhead fully. They exalted Christ, whereas the psalms evolved from way back and exalted the Godhead. The hymns would lift up and exalt the Lord Jesus. There are many people who think that a lot of pieces of the New Testament, a lot of things that are said, are taken right out of some of the early Christian songs or hymns that were sung in the church. Colossians 1:12-16 is one example that I came across as I was studying. No, it doesn’t mean that God didn’t inspire it. It doesn’t mean that God didn’t have a thought there, but some of the thinking sometimes was married with some of the early hymns that exalted the Lord Jesus Christ.
So you have psalms, like a psaltry, which exalted God always to a musical accompaniment. You have hymns primarily on exalting the Lord Jesus Christ. Of course, this was very appropriate in the early church. But then you have spiritual songs which were probably any music that expressed spiritual truth and were inspired in the heart of the spirit-filled person. It appears to be that which was sung to Him, not just about Him and had everything to do with what His Word has to say. When your heart is filled with the Spirit of God, there will be singing. Among whom? Among believers. How? Making joyful sounds from a Spirit-filled heart to the Lord, psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.
Where does this song come from? Look in verse 19: “speaking to one another inpsalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord.” The word for “melody” is again the word “psalm.” In other words, making melody, like you take an instrument and make music with it. It is making music out of something. Psalming with the heart, singing perhaps to the accompaniment of an instrument, but what Paul is saying here is it is from the heart.
Now listen, all music that qualifies as a symptom of one filled with the Spirit of God has to come from a Spirit-filled heart. If it doesn’t come from a heart that is under the control of the Spirit of God, forget the talent, forget all the other things because it didn’t come from a heart that was filled with the Spirit of God. What is the symptom of a Spirit-filled heart? It is that music that comes forth from that. In 3:17, remember, he said, “Let all the rooms of your heart...” When those rooms are all allowing Jesus to control them, then the music that comes out of it is Spirit-filled music. It is from the Spirit.
To whom are we to sing? Verse 19 goes on to say, “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart [or out of your heart] to the Lord.” All of Spirit-filled singing is directed to the Lord. Whether it is about Him or to Him, it is all somehow directed to the Lord. If you don’t have a Spirit-filled heart, then forget singing because your focus is not on Him to start with. So one of the first symptoms you have is singing in the heart.
So what is the first symptom of the Spirit-filled life? It is not speaking in tongues. It is not doing miracles. The first symptom he says is singing and making melody in your heart, singing to the Lord. Isn’t that incredible? That is always a symptom of a person filled with the Spirit of God.
Secondly, you find thanksgiving. Verse 20 says, “always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father.” There seems to be three attitudes towards thanksgiving in our world today, especially in Christianity. First of all, thanksgiving is not even necessary because we deserved it anyway. You can see this in Scripture. Remember the rich farmer who took all of his crops and stored the produce of it in his barns, never understanding the fact that he didn’t grow those crops, God grew those crops. You know, if anybody understands what God can do and what man can’t do, it is the farmer. All the farmer can do is plow the soil, put the seed in it. The rest is up to God. He gave no thanksgiving to God. For some reason he thought that everything that God produced was his, so he put it into his barns and stored them up. God came to him and said, “You fool. Tonight your soul shall be required of you.”
A lot of people don’t thank God for anything. They think they deserve it. They think they have earned it. “Why, I pulled myself up by my boot straps, young man. I have made a living for myself and bless God, I am going to be a survivor until Jesus comes back. I deserve what I get. I put the effort into it.” Oh no, friend, a sovereign God gave you everything you have.
Secondly, is the attitude of the hypocrite. Now this is a person in scripture who will give thanks but his thanksgiving is like in that singer, it always calls attention to himself. He is not really giving thanks to God, but he loves to talk about it all the time. “Oh, thank God. I really thank God.” Over in Luke 18:11-12 it talks about the Pharisee who stood in the Temple and said, “God, I thank Thee.” Oh, he is a thankful fellow, isn’t he? “I thank Thee that I am not like other people.” Oh, brother. “Swindlers, unjust, adulterers or even like this tax gatherer. I fast twice a week. I pay tithes of all that I get.” Well, big deal! You see, his thanksgiving was not true thanksgiving. His thanksgiving was to call attention to what he had done.
So you see two reasons already why we need to understand the word “thanksgiving.” The word “thanksgiving” is not from a person who doesn’t think that God deserves any of it. The word “thanksgiving” is not something to call attention to yourself. In Luke 17 when the ten lepers were healed, how many came back and thanked the Lord Jesus? Only one.
That leper in Luke came back. That leper knew that had God not touched him, he wouldn’t have had a chance, folks. You see, gratefulness comes out of a heart that is desperate. One that has reached out to God and God has, in His love, responded to him. That is where thanksgiving comes from. As a matter of fact, it is the word eucharisteo. It comes from the word “grace.” It means a person who is depending on God’s grace moment by moment. That is a thankful person. When you live that proud hard life and you are doing it and you don’t need to turn to God, you don’t need to depend on God for anything. Hey, folks, when God strikes you down one day with cancer or God takes you down with a traumatic situation in your life that brings you to the very end of yourself and you cry out to God and He is lovingly there to meet you, I guarantee you will have a different idea of thanksgiving the rest of your life. Only the people who depend on Him appreciate Him and are thankful.
Thanksgiving is a product of a spirit-filled heart. When you are filled with the Spirit of God, you are grateful for that which God is doing in your life. Notice when we are to be thankful. He says there in verse 20, “always giving thanks.” It is a lifestyle. It is constantly having a thankful heart, just a grateful heart.
Notice for what we are to be thankful. He says, “for all things.” Do you realize that God is in all things in your life? But have you ever noticed in scripture how good and bad travel on the same road? A girl gets pregnant out of wedlock and the father of that daughter says, “That is the worst thing that has ever happened to me.” About nine months later that little baby is born and you see that granddaddy carrying that little baby around. You think, “Oh that was bad, but oh, look at the good that came along with it.” Somehow the good and the bad travel on the same track. You see, you can thank God in all things. Thank goodness we have a God that is in all things.
Well, notice how we are to give thanks: “in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” If it wasn’t for Jesus, we would have no reason to give thanks because we would be desperate, hopeless, helpless people. But because of what Jesus did, He is the basis of all of our thanksgiving back to God. Starting with salvation and going all the way through sanctification, Jesus is His name, and we give thanks. Everything gives credit to Him and through Him because He is the means of all God’s blessings in our life.
Notice to whom we are to give thanks: “to God, even the Father.” James 1:17 says, “The Father, he is the giver of every good gift.” Paul counters by saying, “Therefore, He should be the receiver of all heartfelt thanksgiving.” He is the one we give thanks to. When I am filled with the Spirit of God, what kind of person am I? I tell you one thing, I have a song in my heart. I may not be able to sing it very well, but I have a song in my heart. I love that music that exalts and praises my God. There is just something that wells up inside me. Isn’t it wonderful when we come together and you and I have sought to live the Spirit-filled life during the week and we get to come to church and get to sing together? Man, that fires me up. It is one thing to be by myself, it is another thing for all of us to sing together. That is a wonderful thing!
But I want to tell you something, you can’t manipulate praise. You can only direct praise and if there is no worship, there is no praise. It is hard to get the people to sing who have no song in their heart.
So there is singing, thanksgiving and finally one more thing, submission. The word “be subject” is the word hupotasso. It is the word that means to place yourself up under. It is always used of two equals. It is never used of an unequal to a superior. There are several angles that you can take this word. One of the ideas is that you are willing to trust those in authority in the church. That is one of the ways you can take it. But I don’t think that is all that Paul is talking about here. Why is it that elders can lead a church? Because people are filled with the Spirit. How can people who are filled with the Spirit ever submit to elders who are leading the church? Because there is a mutual respect for one another and the position God has already ordained. It is just something built into the life of a Spirit-filled believer. Are they trusting the people? No, they are trusting the Christ who lives in the people. There is a huge difference. If you haven’t seen that difference yet, it will still cause you problems. That is one angle I could take. But I don’t think that is all he is talking about here.
The idea that I get out of it is even better than that. He is going to take that same idea to husbands and wives. That is why I say that is one of the main angles of this teaching. Look with me in verse 22: “Wives, be subject to your own husbands.” So there is a sense here of equals submitting to one another. Whether it be in the church or in the family, he is going to go that route.
But you know, there is another side to this. I give up my rights for the sake of somebody else. I think that is automatically built into the meaning of the word. I am willing to put myself in a position of lesser than it needs to be because of the need that you have in your life. The term “for one another” is the word allos. This is talking about believers, one another of the same kind, believers to believers.
Paul closes the verse with “in the fear of Christ.” The word for fear is phobos, which means reverence instead of terror. To always be willing to give up my rights for the sake of others with a complete reverence towards Christ is an attitude of a Spirit-filled believer.
You say, “I don’t have a song in my heart. As matter of fact, I am pretty bitter tonight. As a matter of fact, I am not submitting to anybody because I am going to run the show.” What you have just said is, “I am not willing to submit to a Holy God and trust Him. I am not filled with the Spirit of God.” Oh, how this works itself out. I can’t wait until we get into the passages that are coming up. Remember, being filled with the Spirit is going to carry its weight now all through the rest of the book. You will see different examples of a person under the control of the Holy Spirit of God. Are you filled with the Spirit of God? Are you chained to His chariot? Are you allowing the Spirit to give you power in the inner man that you never had before? Are you wearing the garment of righteousness? Everywhere you go, people are touched by an awareness that there is someone living in you that is divine and they want what you have. That is the result, you see, of being filled with the Spirit of God. You are constantly in the stream, letting the river flow through you.