447. A New Way Of Living. Insights from Ephesians 5. [Core Teaching Stage 3. Topic 3].

Paul has stressed the newness of Christians in a number of ways in this epistle.  In Ephesians 4:32, he wrote of the need to be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ, God forgave you. 

He goes on to show how they should imitate God in His love, by living a life of love.  

(Ephesians 5:1-2)  “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” God Himself is our pattern whom we are to imitate, and He helps us as we seek to do so.

1. TURNING FROM THE OLD LIFE

The believers in Ephesus were to follow the example of Christ in His loving ministry on earth, to live in love. “Love” is the Greek word agape which means a love for others that isn’t based on the attractiveness of the other person to us. It’s a love for the unlovely, a self-giving love, the sort of love that Jesus showed when He died on the cross for sinners. 

God is love and He enables His people to receive His love and to share it with others.

If they were going to love in that way, then they needed to give up all the things of their pre-Christian life that they had once lived in that were wrong and they were now to live for God. Paul lists those characteristics of the old life. 

Characteristics of the Old LifeCharacteristics of the New Life
5:3 sexual Immorality, impurity, greed5:3. Not proper for God’s holy people
5:4. Obscenity, foolish talk, coarse joking, 5:4. These are out of place. Rather, let there be thanksgiving (eucharistia). 
5:5. Immoral, impure and greedy people (idolaters) will not inherit the kingdom.5:5,7.  Not to be partners with them 
5:6  God’s wrath to come on the disobedient. 
5:8  Once darkness. 5:9. Now light in the Lord.Children of light. (Fruit of light).
5:11 fruitless works of darkness. 5:11. nothing to do with them, except to expose them.
5:12. Disobedient. Shameful doings.  
5:15. Unwise.5:15. Wise. Making the most of time. Understanding the will of God.
5:16 the days are evil5:16 making the best use of the time,
5:17 foolish5:17 but understand what the will of the Lord is.
5:18 do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery,5:18.Keep on being filled with the Spirit.
5:195:19 Speaking to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Singing and making melody in our hearts to God.
5:205:20 Always giving thanks to God for everything.
5:215:21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Sexual immorality means anything sexual that takes place outside the marriage bond between a man and his wife.

Any kind of impurity means anything in attitude, word or deed that is repugnant to God, or outside what He wants for His children. Paul wrote in Romans 14:23…”everything that does not come from faith is sin.” (See James 4:17, for sins of omission, “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”)

Greed or covetousness refers to the tendency in the person who has not come to know Christ, to focus upon his or her own needs. Covetousness is linked with idolatry, as it is in  Col 3:5, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” That is, in the sense that the greedy or covetous person must have that thing or that person to be fulfilled. It pushes God off the throne of our lives, but He alone can bring fulfilment. In many ways covetousness or greed is at the root of most sin, as you can see when you look at the Ten Commandments. (See idolatry also in Gal 5:20 in the list of the works of the flesh, “idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions.”)

  • A NEW LIFE IN THE SPIRIT 

Being “in Christ” in the new covenant, the Holy Spirit indwells us. Thus:-

Humans Can Know His will.

The Spirit can lead us to have more and more of the mind of Christ, so that we can be guided and directed towards doing what God wants done. God spoke through Jeremiah’s prophecy, “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34  And no longer shall each one teach his neighbour and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” Jeremiah 31:33-34.

God’s people would have an internal knowledge of God’s will, by His work within them.

Ezekiel prophesied much the same, “And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, 20  that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.” Ezekiel 11:19-20. Their spirit would be quickened by the Holy Spirit to become more sensitive to God’s laws and they could both know and do His will. 

Paul wrote, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2. As they presented themselves fully to God, their minds would be transformed and they could come to understand the will of God.

AND “For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.” 1 Cor 2:11-12. AND “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” 1Cor 2:16. The Holy Spirit enables believers to know God’s will in order that they may then do it.

AND  “And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” Col 1:9. Paul’s prayer was based on his assurance that God’s will could be known and he prayed that his readers would come to know the will of God.

Humans Can Do His will. By His Spirit, we have the inner motivation and strength to do His will. 

Ezekiel prophesied God’s intention, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 7  And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” Ezekiel 36:26-27. God would give his people more sensitive hearts towards Him, and his Holy Spirit would motivate them to walk in God’s way.

Paul wrote “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13  for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Phil 2:12-13. As believers seek to work out in their lives what God is working within them, He gives them both the willingness and the ability to do the things that please Him [His will]. 

3. THE SPIRIT WHO CAN FILL US WITH THE LIFE OF GOD.

The new life in believers demands being in control, so as not to do the wrong things, and to do what is right. For the believer, it is allowing the Spirit of God to fill us with Himself. The contrast is made between the experience of being drunk, “Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery” and the experience of being filled with the Spirit of God. The outward expression of that is “{19} Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, {20} always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 

The fruit, or outward expression  of the indwelling Spirit is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Gal 5:22. If being filled with the Holy Spirit is meant to be the normal Christian experience, why do we fail to live like that? What steps can we take to make that “more normal” in our experience?

How can we be continually filled with the Holy Spirit? Some things to consider. 

1.   It’s not an option. It’s a command. For every Christian. No exceptions.

2.   Neither is it a once for all experience. The literal translation is “keep on being filled with the Holy Spirit.” It is meant to be a moment-by-moment experience.

3.   It’s not something we can do to ourselves. The verb is in the passive voice, “Be filled”. Only God can fill us. We give ourselves completely to Him to be filled by Him!

  • We ask God to do it in us, as we cooperate with Him.  Jesus said in Luke 11:9-13, “And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11  What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12  or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

God desires that His people receive from Him all that He offers them in Christ. He has given them His Spirit as they trusted in Christ for salvation. But He wants them to keep on experiencing the fullness of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Our prayers to Him to fill us with His Spirit will receive a favourable response from Him.

  • We are to present all we are to God, body, mind and spirit. Paul wrote, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2. We do the presenting of all we are to God and He accepts our commitment and transforms us by renewing our minds. In this way, we are being transformed as He gives us the desire to do His will and in the process of trying to do it, we find that it is indeed good and acceptable and perfect.

Blog No.447 posted on Saturday 26 November 2022.

About Jim Holbeck

Once an Industrial Chemist working for the Queensland Government but later an Anglican minister in Brisbane, Armidale and Sydney. Last position for eighteen years before retirement in 2006 was as the Leader of the Healing Ministry at St Andrew's Cathedral Sydney.
This entry was posted in BIBLE PASSAGE OUTLINES, Bible verses. Comments, Creation, Evangelism, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, Glorification, Healing, HEALING MINISTRY Core Teaching, Holy Spirit, Justification, Mental Health, New Covenant, OUTLINE OF EPHESIANS, Prayer, Salvation, Sanctification and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s