Bethel CRC Lacombe

January 28, 2024 Be Filled with the Spirit | Ephesians 5:1-21

January 30, 2024 Bethel CRC Season 1 Episode 4
Bethel CRC Lacombe
January 28, 2024 Be Filled with the Spirit | Ephesians 5:1-21
Show Notes Transcript

Today we will reflect on Ephesians 5:1-21, Be Filled with the Spirit. In this chapter Paul focuses on being imitators of God by living as His children and living with love towards each other. We are challenged to a way of  thanks-living. He contrasts the ways of darkness with being light in the Lord, thus echoing back to Jesus’ call to be the light of the world. Paul then calls us to live as wise followers of Jesus rather than unwise. We  have a choice. Who are you going to be ?

Be Filled with the Spirit

Ephesians 5:1-21


How we journey through life shapes us and our relationship with God and others. Tim Keller writes about how the world can feel or be dark, “In the Bible the word ‘darkness’ refers to both evil and ignorance. It means first that the world is filled with evil and untold suffering. Look at what was happening at the time of the birth of Jesus—violence, injustice, abuse of power, homelessness, refugees fleeing oppression, families ripped apart, and bottomless grief.” Sounds a lot like what’s happening in our world still today. When you’re walking through darkness, any glimpse of light can bring hope again, any expression of love gives strength. This is why the church can be such a blessing, why it appealed to so many people 2,000 years ago and it’s why the church has been placed here; to bring light and offer the hope that only Jesus can give, or as we’re talking about in our Profession of Faith class, we’re here for the life of the world.

Paul often uses contrasts to describe our journey of faith and how we respond to Jesus. He does the same thing in these verses. But before he gets into the contrasts, he sets down a foundation of how we are to live, “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Because of Jesus’ love and sacrifice for us, Paul calls us to allow gratitude and thankfulness shape our hearts, minds and lives in response to that love. When you take a closer look on what Paul’s warning us about here, we can see that he recognizes those ways of living that keep finding their ways into our lives: sexual immorality, impurity, greed, or mockery that, no matter the times or generation we’re part of, keep getting embraced. Paul uses the word porneia here, where we get our word for pornography and is about lust and filling your heart and minds with sexual images and thoughts that use and demean others for your own pleasure. 

What these things all have in common is a spirit of selfishness, arrogance, anger, and spite that takes rather than gives. I’ve had people challenge me on sex outside of marriage and say it’s about love and this is why God isn’t unhappy about their relationships. Yet when I push them on it, they will normally come to admit that their physical relationship is about experiencing pleasure for themselves more than about the other person; their ultimate commitment is to themselves rather than the person they’re with. Impurity is about letting things into your head, heart, or life that brings stains to your soul, stains you know don’t please God, but you embrace them anyway even though they build barriers between you and others, even if the barriers are unseen and only inside your heart. I’m no longer shocked at mockery or coarseness, it so normal today and too often it’s passed off as “just joking,” and there’s little concern for the hurt or harm it brings. Paul challenges us to embrace the spirit of Jesus instead which consists of love and self-sacrifice, placing the other first instead of tearing them down. How we live is important. 

Paul’s talking about the differences between living in darkness and living in and as light in the Lord. We’re reminded that Jesus gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering, one that pleased God, a sacrifice to God for us that paid for all our sins because he loves you so deeply. We’re unable to cover the cost of our sin, so God comes down to do for us what we can’t do for ourselves. Jesus takes the price of our sin on himself, buying us back from death and Satan for himself. The invitation is always to come into the light, but it does reject those who embrace the way of darkness. The call is to expose the deeds of darkness while having nothing to do with them. 

We’re called to live as children of light,which is all about goodness, righteousness and truth. We live in a cynical culture and many people may mock these ideals, but they build strong blessed communities that allow people to flourish and experience acceptance and permission to take chances to explore their talents and who they are. Now Jesus is the light of the world, but because we are followers of Jesus, we also are light to the world. This is why Jesus reminds us how foolish it is to hide a lamp under bushel baskets because that defeats the whole purpose of what lamps are for, to provide light when it’s dark. In the same way we provide light in the form of hope and grace, as comfort and acceptance to those who are going through dark times. We’re light, called to love and walk in the way of love, instead of the way of me, myself and I which is all about taking and grabbing what I want. When you walk this way, you will quickly discover that it’s an empty way that leads to betrayal, loneliness, and hurt. The reality is that the things and people you use will turn around and use you, only to discard you when they’ve taken what they’ve wanted.

The reality is that it’s impossible for us to walk the way of love, to walk the way of Jesus out of thankfulness and gratitude to God without help, and that help comes from God. Paul encourages us to “be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” What does it mean to be filled with the Spirit? Do we really know what that means?

To be filled with the Holy Spirit, means that we’re mastered and controlled by a very different power, one that works inside of us to stir things up so that we’re more aware of God’s presence around us. This presence and power of the Holy Spirit helps us to focus our energy on worshipping God and serving God throughout the day, every day. The Spirit guides us through our day; praising God through how we do our life at work, at school, at home, and in community. It may involve songs and music, but often it’s about how we do goodness wherever we are, doing our best work all the time, especially when no one else is looking; standing up for what is right, even if it might cost you; and at times, this could cost you a lot. 

Following Jesus and being filled with his Spirit is not about doing church, but about who we are as the church in the world. Who we are as followers of Jesus, our character being shaped by the Holy Spirit, reveals to the world who God is. Paul emphasizes this in his letter to the Galatians where he talks about what it looks like to be filled with the Spirit, contrasting the world’s way with walking with the Spirit. Galatians 5:16–26, “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” The Holy Spirit changes us, makes us new people, changing us from who we used to be into people that reflect the values and ways of the kingdom of heaven.  

 We’re called to live out the Lord’s Prayer, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” wherever we are, and we’re in the world all week, every week. We’re called to walk in the way of love, love of God, love of our neighbour, love of the things Jesus loves. Love for Jesus, walking in his way of love looks like giving water to the thirsty, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and those in prison, and caring about the people in our communities. Poverty hurts not only those who are poor, but the entire society, walking the way of love in the Spirit. If we cannot care for those who are struggling the most around us, do we really walk in the way of love and are we filled with the Spirit? When we care about others Jesus says, we’re really doing it for him, walking in his way of love, showing that we are filled with his Spirit. This is how we are light, bringing hope. Even if you feel you’re too old or physically unable to be this kind of a presence, being filled with the Spirit will grow your prayer life as you pray for those who are engaged in the physical work, you can support the activities of being light in our community with your finances, you can encourage those who are engaged in blessing the community through Bethel Church by blessing them through cards, phone calls, emails and in person on Sundays. 

We all come together as a church filled with the Spirit to walk in the way of love. It’s not a journey we walk on our own, we walk it together and with God as he fills us with his Spirit to guide and bless us that we may be a blessing here.