Home Bible Study

"Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen.
Revelation 22:20

This is a Home Bible study. It exists to promote the Word of God as it's written, which means nothing added or taken away, and minus opinions.

The Bible is the only source of Divine Truth in the world today. Although it is both helpful and informative in many ways, the Bible often doesn't tell us everything we want to know but the Bible does tell us everything we need to know.

My role is to guide you through the Scriptures; to explain what this book says and in some cases what it does not say because this is just as important.

Ultimately, you have a decision to make concerning your salvation - no one can make it for you. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator God, has given everyone the ability to make choices - this is is called "Free Will." I pray you consider your choice wisely.

II Timothy 2:15

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

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Friday, July 13, 2018

Ephesians 5:18-19 (Lesson 25)

Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)

Established November 2008                                                 Published Weekly on Friday AM

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  (1Timothy 2:3-4)

Ephesians (5:18-19)                                                               (Lesson 25)

Welcome to our verse-by-verse study of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, “rightly divided.  I pray as your knowledge of God’s Word grows day-by-day y’all will be “transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable, and perfect,” (Romans 12:2).

We ended last week’s Bible lesson with this passage: “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.  Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of Lord is” (Ephesians 5:15-17- KJV).

All true Believers are to walk “circumspectly, not as fools (unwise).”  Today the term “fool” is used to describe someone as being:  idiotic, silly, stupid, weak-minded, or an individual who lacks good judgment or common sense.  But here Paul refers to a person who is careless re: God’s revealed truths or the lack of spiritual discernment.

We open this week’s lesson with this imperative statement from Paul, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,” (5:18).

In a few words, Paul’s basically saying, “Mind your alcohol intake.  Instead of pursuing debauchery, Be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Please open your Bible at Ephesians 5:18-20.

This morning we’ve arrived at one more Bible text that is often misunderstood and proof-texted (taken out of context and misinterpreted) by various people and religious organizations.  Instead of following that arrangement, we’ll study this section of scripture to see what God said regarding drunkenness and the back end of Paul’s command, be filled with the Spirit” because people misinterpret this teaching as well.       

Context is King

This phrase means that in whatever passage you’re studying, the literary and historical context is primary in determining the meaning of the text.  The sections appearing immediately prior and following the passage bear greater weight than phrases or words taken from other sections of scripture.  Always compare scripture with scripture. 

This particular Bible section lies in the midst of the sixth practical ramification Paul has given in this letter.  In view of all that God has done for us, beginning with our salvation in Jesus Christ, Paul has taught the Ephesians the Holy Spirit dwells within them (Ephesians 2: 21-22, 4:6) so they are to “turn the power of the Holy Spirit on” in their lives and think as Christ does because all true Believer have received “the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16; Philippians 2:5-8).  So, Paul’s saying they must develop it, as a gardener cultivates their garden after planting it (Romans 12:1-2).

Paul’s not saying we all became more intelligent at our conversion.  He is saying as a new creation we can truly honor God by the way we cultivate and use our minds.  The first step toward renewing your mind is filling your mind steadily with God’s Word (1 Peter 2:2).  Believe me when I say this is an ongoing process.  Even though I’ve taught this book for more than 22 years I’m still a student of the Word.  I learn something new almost every day and I don’t foresee this ending anytime soon, so hopefully this helps you understand Paul’s communication.      

Step two is guarding your mind.  If filling your mind refers to what you take in, then guarding it refers to what you block out.  Because sin originates in the mind Believers are to carefully consider what they let into their minds.  This teaching is challenged continually because we live in an age of audio and visual saturation, ever-present social media, and instead of resisting temptation people would rather pursue it.   So, Paul’s saying resisting temptation isn’t just a matter of the heart; it is also a matter of the mind.  Why?  The information we permit in, the thoughts we entertain, the ideas we cultivate can either be good or evil (5:16).

With renewed minds we’re able to view things the way God does.  There are no “grey” areas; it’s either darkness or Light (Ephesians 5:8-10).  We were dead in our trespasses and sin, enslaved by Satan, formerly far off, without hope in this world; but now we are alive in Jesus Christ and called to serve one another (5:12).  This is the radical change Paul’s stressed throughout this communique; it is the opposite of our old man which began at our salvation.  This new creation that we are (2 Corinthians 5:17) has abilities we did possess before.  One of these is the ability to discern and understand “the things of God,” that is” His good and acceptable and perfect will.    

We learned last week, we have been given God’s wisdom and we need to live accordingly.  We need to make the most of the time God has fixed for us.  We must have our priorities set correctly and keep them, if we are to do what is best with our lives and not just what is good for the moment.  That is how you live in keeping with God’s will.

In the section we’re about to study, Paul continues his central theme of walking in a manner worthy of your calling in Jesus Christ by living as wise children of God.  So, putting spiritual wisdom into play, Paul states emphatically:  

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ (Ephesians 5:18-21).

Because confusion reigns within the church regarding what Paul means to say here, let’s begin with what this book does not say. 

What Being Filled with the Spirit is Not

1)  Right off the bat, it’s not a particular event:  Paul’s command here is to “be filled” and this is in the present tense, thus it speaks of something that is continuing, ongoing, and not something that happened only once.  He could have easily said, “Keep on being filled” or “continue being filled. 

2)  It’s not the “baptism of the Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13).  The charismatic church movement has caused most of the confusion on what it means to be “filled by the spirit” by equating it with the “baptism of the spirit” and the resulting bestowment of the various spiritual gifts upon certain men and women.  What does this book say?  First, every true Believer in Jesus Christ is baptized by the Holy Spirit (no water involved) into Christ’s body; a.k.a. God’s one Church.  The section of scripture that deals with specific spirit-given gifts is found in 1 Corinthians 12:     

For even as the body is one and [yet] has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.  For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:12-13).

Every person who is saved was placed into the Body of Christ by the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.  All true Believers were made to drink of the one Spirit.  There are zero exceptions to this, and it occurs only once at salvation.

The filling of the Spirit and the baptism of the Spirit are not the same thing.  The baptism of the Spirit inducts the saved person into Christ’s Body the very moment they believe the gospel.  It marks that point in time in which the Spirit indwells the Believer.  Romans 8:9 states clearly the importance of this indwelling, “However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.   But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he (or she) does not belong to Him. If you do not have the Holy Spirit dwelling in you, you are not saved; it’s as simple as that. 

3) This is not a “second blessing” from God to the Believer that moves them into an emotional state as some people claim and is evidenced by “speaking in tongues, having visions, healing the sick, etc.  In Acts 2 we find the promise of Jesus stated in Acts 1:5.  Jesus said:  for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”  A few days later on the day of Pentecost, to be specific, Acts 2:4 says, “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.”

The expression “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit” here means they were under the Holy Spirit’s “control” and not as in a glass filled with liquid and overflowing.   The thing most people miss here is scripture says, “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.  And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it (did what) sat upon each of them” (Acts 2:2-3 - KJV).  There’s a huge difference between being indwelt by the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit coming upon someone, which is the case here.  Nowhere in the Acts account does it say the Holy Spirit indwelt the Believer. 

Another thing worth mentioning is a person who has been filled with the Spirit may permit Him to control them and then again they may not.  Here are some examples from scripture:    

Bezalel was “filled with the Spirit” and its only evidence was his artistic abilities (Exodus 31:2). 

Joshua was “filled with the Spirit” and it was evidenced by his leadership of Israel and his military abilities (Deuteronomy 34:9). 

In the New Testament, Peter was “filled with the Spirit” and gave a powerful sermon to the religious leaders (Acts 4:8). 

The early Christians also spoke boldly when they were filled with the Spirit (Acts 4:31).  

When Paul was “filled with the Spirit” he received his sight back (Acts 9:17). 

Paul is “filled with the Spirit” again in Acts 13:9 and he rebuked Elymas the magician.  

In Acts 13 we find Paul, Barnabas and the other disciples “continually filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.”

What do we learn from these examples?  In the Age of Grace, the “filling of the Spirit” occurs at salvation and then subsequently multiple times afterwards, so it is neither the baptism of the spirit, nor a “second blessing.”

4)  It’s not the “sealing” of the Spirit.  We have already seen in Ephesians 1:13-14 the true Believer is sealed with the Spirit at salvation.  This happens only once.  It is the earnest pledge of your spiritual inheritance in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:11; Colossians 3:24; Hebrews 9:15; 1 Peter 1:4). 

5)  This is not some process by which an individual obtains more of the Holy Spirit.  When you get the Holy Spirit, you get all of Him.  The Third Person of the Holy Trinity is capable of expressing thought, will, and emotion; He’s not some mystical force.  You cannot get just part of a person.  If you invite me over to your home for dinner, you get all of me not just a part of me.  Also note this is a command which means being filled with the Spirit is not an option for Believers.  It is something that is necessary for all to do if they are to live the Believer’s life in Christ Jesus. 

What Be Filled With the Spirit Means

1)  In one sense it is like the wind filling a ship’s sails.  Obviously, without wind, a sailing craft is incapable of progressing forward.  A sailing ship moves forward as the wind fills its sails.  This book says the authors of scripture did so as they were “moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21).  Thus, when the true Believer is filled with the Holy Spirit, they are moved along, progressing into greater holiness, greater knowledge of the Lord, in preparation for service (Romans 12:1-2).

 2)  Another connotation of being filled is permeation, like salt placed on a Virginian ham to infiltrate it, preserve it, and flavor it.  Our lives are to be so infiltrated by the Holy Spirit that He permeates all that we do, speak, and think.  Our lives (daily walk) should be marked by the evidence of His holy presence within us.

 3)  Most often being filled means “being under His control,” as in a person who is filled with an emotion that controls them.  A person filled with anger (Luke 6:11) is controlled by that anger, a person filled with sorrow (John 11:35, 16:6) or fear (Luke 5:26) is controlled by those emotions.

Paul’s command be filled with the Spirit here means to be under His control.  This is brought out clearly by the contrast Paul makes: Do not be drunk with wine, but be filled with the spirit.

A person who has imbibed too much alcohol is someone who has relinquished all control due to its influence.  It’s a well known fact drunk individuals lose control of their mental and physical abilities.  I don’t know that the Tampa Bay area has more “Wrong Way” drivers than any other, but stories about someone driving the wrong way on a street or highway are in the news too often and lives are lost.  Investigators report the driver at fault “being under the influence of alcohol or drugs” in most incidents, proving the greater the influence of alcohol or drugs the less control they have.   This is evidenced by diminished mental ability, slurred speech, and a lack of coordination.  It’s not uncommon for a person to wake up the morning after getting “wasted” with a hangover and no recollection of what they had said or did the night before.   Such is the control of alcohol and drugs.    

Paul informs true Believers in 1 Corinthians 6 their bodies are “the temple of the Holy Spirit,” which means the Spirit dwells within them.  He’s not a part-time tenant; He’s with them 24/7/365.  Therefore, be filled with the Spirit” has nothing to do with having more of the Spirit but it does involve the Spirit possessing control of your lives.
Again, “Be filled with the Spirit is a command from God it’s not a proposal.  Another way of putting this is, “turn the power of the Holy Spirit on in your lives.”  Why?  The Believer is to yield to the Spirit’s control so they might bring honor and glory to God.  Using our Apostle Paul as an example, he was not ashamed of the gospel (Romans 1:15-16); he spoke boldly in defense of it (Acts 26:1-32).  But in doing this he was never sarcastic or demeaning to his audience of one or many.  Unwholesome speech represents the fruits of the flesh (4:20-32).  Those under the influence of the Holy Spirit live according to Paul’s command:  Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.” (Colossians 4:6). 

5)  If you were present for our Galatian study, then you know the evidence of being filled with the Spirit is having the fruit of the Spirit.  If you walk by the Spirit (are under His control) you will not carry out the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:16).  There’s no fence-sitting here, you will either be under the control of one or the other.   If it is the flesh you entertain sinful practices as described in Galatians 5:19-21.  If you are filled with the Spirit you will bear His fruit which are:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

Manifestation of the Filling of the Spirit

Ephesians 5

19-21: speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with (what) your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. 

In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul stated, “Follow me as I follow Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).  Have you ever considered the implications of this statement?  Paul could have easily said instead “Don’t permit your circumstances to get the better of you.”

Paul was imprisoned in Rome when he wrote this letter.  Each time he heard footsteps echoing in the corridor could be those of the guards coming to take him away to be executed.  There was no bed for sleeping; only the cold and damp stone floor of his cell.  He was separated from friends, unjustly accused, and brutally treated.  If ever a person had a right to shout out, “Why me?” it was Paul.  But instead of being bad tempered and whining about his lot in life, his lips rang with words of praise and thanksgiving!

The Apostle Paul gives us the true meaning of the Believer’s thanksgiving, even in the midst of great adversity.  Paul wrote the words, “singing and making melody with (what) your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;” while in chains for you and me (3:1-3).

Paul took those lemons life gave him and made lemonade!  In one instance Paul and Silas were “beaten with rods” and “thrown in prison” and placed in chains unjustly (Acts 16:22-24).  About midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and (what else) singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. (16:25).  Long story shortened, God caused an earthquake, the prison doors flew open, their chains fell off, and people were terrified, including the jailer on guard because his very life was on the line should a prisoner escape on his watch.  Paul calmed their fears and the jailer asked, “What must I do to be saved?”  People’s lives and minds were changed that evening because Paul and Silas’ permitted the Holy Spirit to control them and not their circumstances.    

Those Believers who allow the Spirit to become part of the fabric of their lives always desire to give thanks and worship the Lord not just with words, but by their walk.    

After telling the Ephesians to “be filled with the Spirit,” Paul said:  speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ (5:19-21).

There’s a companion passage in Colossians 3:16-18:  Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.  Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

After looking at these two Bible passages, it’s clear the two concepts, “letting the word of Christ richly dwell within you,” and “be filled with the Spirit” are identical they are just worded differently.  If you look again, you’ll find the result of “being filled with the Spirit” is the same as the result of “letting the word of Christ richly dwell” in one’s life.  This is because the Word-filled Believer is a Spirit-filled Believer. 

But, instead of taking me at my word, let’s see what this book says. 

Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you — the word of Christ can be either the word delivered by Christ or the word about Christ.  There’s no reason to think we can’t take it both ways; Believers should let the word delivered by Christ and the word about Christ richly dwell in them.

The word "dwell" is the Koine Greek word Enoikeo (en-oy-keh—o), Verb, Strong’s Greek #1774, and it means: to dwell in; to take up residence, to be at home.  Our Apostle Paul is urging these Believers to let the Word take up residence and be at home in their lives.

The idea is to let the Word of God dwell within us and then manifest His presence in our lives.  Believers should live in God’s Word as though it were their home.  I would think most people are familiar with their home both inside and out.  They know where those “odd jobs” are waiting, how much storage they have, and what’s stored there.  Marrying this thought with the word “dwell” we learn we’re to thoroughly acquaint ourselves with God’s Word.  The written Word should become so familiar to us we know it like we know our homes.  Paul’s not talking about just reading the Bible regularly, as wonderful as that is, its memorizing meaningful sections of scripture and studying it habitually. 

Paul said the Word of God is to "richly" dwell in us.  The word "richly" is the Koine Greek word Plousios (ploo-see’-oce), Adverb, Strong’s Greek #4146, meaning:  abundantly.  Paul’s saying these Believers in Christ should abundantly apply it wisely, on a constant basis and in all circumstances.  God’s revealed truths should permeate every aspect of their lives governing every thought, word, and deed.  

Teaching and admonishing one another – these actions are the outgrowth of “letting the word of Christ richly dwell within you.  Here, teaching is the impartation of biblical truth and admonishing is the negative side of teaching.  It means:  to warn people of the consequences of their behavior.  So, “speaking to one another” in Ephesians and “teaching and admonishing one another” in Colossians are one and the same. 

In both of these statements, Paul explains how this teaching and admonishing (speaking) is to be done “with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” 

The Spirit-controlled Believers were to "speak to one another"/"teaching and admonishing one another" using the Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.  The Psalms were certain selections from the book of Psalms.  Hymns are expressions of praise to God.  So these Spirit filled Believers were to "speak to one another"/"teaching and admonishing one another" with psalms and with hymns.  

Spiritual songs — the Koine Greek word for "songs" is Ode.  In the English language the word ode is used to denote a lyric poem usually characterized by a feeling of exaltation.  Paul is saying the result of the Spirit-filled life is that we will be teaching one another, and sharing the Word of God with one another.  The Word that is richly dwelling within us will be expressed joyfully.   

We see evidence of this in the Scripture.  When Believers were filled (controlled) with the Spirit they taught others the Word.  In Acts 2:4, we read that all that were gathered in the upper room on the Day of Pentecost were under the Spirit’s control or “filled with the Spirit.”  This was evidenced by Peter immediately going outside and preaching God’s Word to the crowd, resulting in over 3,000 conversions.  

In Acts 4:8, without any indication that Peter has lost his previous filling with the Spirit, we read that he was filled again just before he spoke to another crowd.  Later, when Peter and John gathered with the church to report about their arrest they prayed:  And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness (Acts 4:31).  Being filled with the Spirit, they spoke the Word of truth.   

Paul was filled with the Spirit just after his conversion and Ananias spoke with him (Acts 9:17).  Later, in verse 20, we read:  and immediately he (Saul) began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, "He is the Son of God.”

As these examples show, when the Believer is filled with the Spirit they proclaim the Word to one another.  I see evidence of this today.  When two or more Believers get together for a social function or just a friendly telephone chat, they will at some point begin discussing the Bible, Jesus Christ, or God to one another.  Why?  Because God is the Main Thing in their lives – they couldn’t be who they are in Christ Jesus without Him for He is both Light and life to every true Believer:

This is the message we have heard from him and announce to you, that God is Light and in Him is no darkness at all.  If we say we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light, as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:5-7).   

Why does Paul say this teaching is with, "psalms, hymns and spiritual songs?"  These early Believers were to use what they had.  Since they did not possess the written Word or paper for that matter, they spoke what had been hidden in their heart (Psalm 119:11). 

In the O.T. God’s Word was passed from one generation to the next orally.  This oral dominance continued through the Greco-Roman period.  In fact it continued all the way up to the time of Gutenberg’s contribution of moveable mechanical printing in 1450 AD.    

The most familiar account of oral teaching is the Lord’s Sermon on the Mount of Olives.
Thousands of people heard His spoken word, but His teachings weren’t written down.  Those people memorized what was said and passed it on orally.  Truth is the words of Jesus weren’t captured on paper until 20 years later. 

I don’t think the majority of these folks had a photographic memory, so how did they remember the sermon?  The same way you remember a song, word for word, even though you haven’t heard it in ages.  A song comes on the radio or whatever and you are able to sing right along with it.  Words put in poem or song form are easier to remember, thus the reason for speaking in Psalms and hymns, and spiritual songs.  I’ve found that few people memorize scripture, but just about everyone remembers hymns and songs and sing along, even if they are out of tune…     

The ancient world was hearing dominant unlike our culture which is text dominant.   We can pick up a book and go off somewhere to read it alone, but back in the day God’s Truths were passed on from generation to generation orally.  In the early church, hearing was a corporate exercise.  People would gather to hear someone speak God’s Word.  This tradition continues to this very day, somewhat.  People attend church service to “sing songs” and to “hear” the spoken Word; but few people think of bringing their Bible to church and actually using it to follow along with the teacher’s message - checking their work, so to speak.  The other thing is when they leave church the majority only remembers 10% of what was said in the sermon…

(To be continued)

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GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
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Friday, July 6, 2018

Ephesians 5:15-17 (Lesson 24)

Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)

Established November 2008                                                 Published Weekly on Friday AM

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  (1Timothy 2:3-4)

Ephesians (5:15-17)                                                               (Lesson 24)

Welcome back to HBS.

It’s been wisely said, the first 3 chapters of Ephesians is how God the Father sees us, His beloved children in Christ Jesus, and the second half (4-6) is how the world should see His beloved children, in Christ Jesus.  Said differently, we are not the people we formerly were, so how we think should no longer resemble darkness but Light.

Please open your Bible at Ephesians 5:15.

Walk Wisely as Children of Light

In Ephesians 4:1-16, Paul calls Believers to walk in a manner worthy of their calling.  In 4:17-32, he calls them to walk in a way that differs dramatically from their previous walk as unbelieving Gentiles.  In 5:1-6, Paul urges them to walk in love; and in 5:7-14, they are commanded to walk as children of light.  Then, in 5:15-6:9, all true Believers are strongly encouraged to walk wisely because the days are dark.

This final command to walk as those who are wise that begins at 5:15 and ends at 6:19 is the longest of Paul's walk worthy instructions.  The dominant command of this section appears twice; first in verse 5:15 and then Paul repeats himself in verse 17, basically saying “Believers are not to be a foolish.

Ephesians 5

15: Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise,

This is the seventh “Therefore” in this letter and as usual Paul is directing our attention to the preceding context where we recently learned Believers are Light in the Lord so we’re to walk as children of Light (5:8).  

We’ve reached the sixth section in this letter where Paul deals with the Believer’s reasonable and practical response to God’s free gift of grace and all the “spin off” blessings associated with that tremendous gift.  God has provided wonderful and glorious blessings to the individual who places their trust in Christ Jesus.  Paul proclaimed several of these spiritual blessings in the opening verses of this letter.  He also emphasizes these blessings each Believer in Christ receives are to the praise and glory of God’s grace:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.  In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise and glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.  In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us.  In all wisdom and insight He made known to the us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth.  In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.  In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:3-14).

So Paul’s letting these folks know their salvation (conversion) isn’t the end of their story it marks the beginning of a life-long journey towards the goal of Christlikeness.  This journey of becoming begins the moment God transferred us from death to life i.e. made us alive with Christ (2:5):  In light of this truth, and many others, Paul said, “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise” and he gave them the reason for this:  for the days are dark.”

Therefore be careful how you walk - the word careful is from the Koine Greek word Blepo (blep’-o), Verb, Strong’s Greek #991, meaning:  to see, discern, to see with the mind’s eye.  So, here, Paul’s speaking of one’s spiritual perception. 

I prefer the KJV’s rendering of this verse and I’ve placed it here for y’all to read:  See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise.”

As you can plainly see the NASB translation omits the words circumspectly and fools in this verse.  Circumspectly is derived from the Koine Greek word Akribos (ak-ree-boce’), Adverb, Strong’s Greek #199; meaning:  exactly, accurately, diligently; to consider with exactness.  It’s an accounting term.  One of the first things they teach you in Accounting is “Be attentive to the details, because they matter.”  If you’re responsible for keeping someone’s financial records or if you’re balancing your checkbook, it is important your work be exact or precise.  Every penny is to be accounted for.  So, Paul is introducing the concept of accuracy and exactness as Believers discern God’s will for their lives or their walk in this darkened world.   

The word fool is the Koine Greek word Asophos (as’-of-os), Adjective, Strong’s Greek #781, and it means:  unwise, foolish.  In his first letter to the Church in Corinth, Greece, our Apostle Paul used the word “foolish” in describing the Greeks wisdom or their way of thinking:  For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18). 

The Sophists (ancient Greek professional philosophers) were orators, public speakers, mouths for hire in an oral culture because they were gifted speakers.  They were skilled in what became known as “rhetoric.”  They were respected, feared and hated because they used their gift in a manner that aroused the anger of many.  They challenged, questioned and did not care to arrive at the very best answers.  They cared about winning public speaking contests, debates, and lawsuits and in charging fees to teach others how to perform as they did.  To be able to speak well meant a great deal at that time.  Because no paper was available, there were no written contracts or deeds.  Disputes that would be settled today with a set of documents as evidence backing them up had to be settled through a contest of words: one person's words against another's.  Whoever presented the best oral case in a public arena would often prevail.  They were such good orators they could convince a crowd up was really down, that day was night, that the wrong answer could be the right answer, that good was bad and bad is good, even that injustice is justice served and justice would be made to appear as injustice!   Sounds like I’m reporting on the world today, doesn’t it. 

To support one's position in any matter, nothing better could be offered than a quotation from one of the Greek works, which told of the gods and their actions.  If an action of the gods could be found that was similar to that being taken by a party to a debate then that was evidence of the correctness of that action.  Therefore, those who were the fastest and most accurate at being able to locate quotations and take them and apply them to a given situation would often win the debate, the contest, the lawsuit or discussion.  After all, who wants to oppose the words of the gods?  The Sophists were very well versed in the epic tales and poems.  They were able to find the most appropriate quotation to support any position.  They regularly entered contests and those who won were given prizes, but no prize was greater than being the victor and able to charge the highest rates of tuition to instruct the sons of the wealthy in how to argue their point in public.  This skill was needed to defend oneself against lawsuits even against the most frivolous of lawsuits brought by one who thought himself to be the better speaker.  

The Sophists held no values other than winning and succeeding.  They were not true believers in the myths of the Greeks but would use references and quotations from the tales for their own purposes.  They were secular atheists, relativists and cynical about religious beliefs and all traditions.  They believed and taught "might makes right."  They were pragmatists trusting in whatever works to bring about the desired end at whatever the cost.   They made a business of their own form of education as developing skills in rhetoric and profited from it.
Their concerns were not with truth but with practical knowledge.  They practiced rhetoric in order to persuade and not to discover truth.  Their theater was the ethical and political problems of immediate concern for humans.  They put the individual human being at the center of all thought and value.  They did not hold for any absolutes; not universal truths or universal values.  They sought and took payment for their lessons at speaking (and writing).  Their motivation was notoriety and the money, of course.

So, this explains Paul’s opposition and more importantly the mindset of the Greeks (Gentiles) as he arrived among them proclaiming “Christ Crucified” and preaching salvation by faith (alone) in the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). 

For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18-25).

Paul doesn’t use the word “walk” anymore after this in this letter, but the meaning hasn’t changed.  It still means to picture your way of life, in a daily step-by-step process, in accordance with the Word of God, and powered by the Holy Spirit.  In Paul's day, walking wasn’t a form of exercise.  People took to the byways, dirt roads, and overland trails to reach a specific destination.  To walk carefully or circumspectly pictures the saved person’s habitual, step-by-step, yet steady progress toward the spiritual goal of becoming like Christ Jesus.    

Paul was telling the Ephesian Church they needed to choose their way forward with exactness because Satan has placed pitfalls in their path (destructive obstacles or hindrances) and these can cause grave harm to them and others.  Picture a soldier who finds himself in the midst of a “minefield.”  He doesn’t foolishly run through it, instead he carefully plans each step forward with accuracy and exactness because just one false step can bring great harm.
…not as unwise (foolish) men but as wise (5:15b) - the Greek words used here are Asophos and Sophos.  The Greeks were known for Sophos (wisdom) which means they “knew” some things.  However, the Greek idea of wisdom is understanding the "why" of things.  But wisdom, as Paul uses it here, is not the methodology of trying to understand the “why” of things, but responding correctly, exactly, to the circumstances in life.  Wisdom is acceptance of, and adjustment to, God’s revealed truth. 

 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes” (Proverbs 12:15).  This Bible verse describes the person who considers themselves “wise” but was actually walking in a state of foolishness, unseeing and unbelieving:

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are (foolishly) perishing, in whose case the god of this world (Satan) has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not (what) see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). 

There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death (Proverbs 14:12).

So, Paul may be writing to the Ephesian Believers, but his message is pertinent to all of us.   We were once dead (to God) in our trespasses and sin, and walking in a state of foolishness.  You see, the outgrowth of foolishness is sin because it misses the mark (goals) established by the Living God.  This describes all those who are “outside of Christ.”  That is, those who do not trust Jesus Christ (alone) as their personal Savior (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). 

WISDOM:  as Paul intends to use it here doesn’t mean “knowing many things.”  It means the ability to apply biblical knowledge and understanding in the daily affairs of life with carefulness (the ability to avoid Satan’s schemes).  In other words, the wise person takes knowledge, (God’s revelation), and applies it in their daily walk, striving to do God’s will out of deliberate obedience. 

In the work of regeneration which occurs at salvation God gives your mind a new ability to think and comprehend.  We saw this earlier in 4:20-23 where Paul said, “you did not learn Christ in this way… be renewed in the spirit of your mind… created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”  In 1 Corinthians 2:14-16 Paul said the natural man believes spiritual things are foolish because they are unable to understand them, but the saved person has been given the “mind of Christ” (Isaiah 40:13).  This means true Believers view life from our Savior’s point of view, having His values and desires in mind.  It means they no longer think as the world thinks.  Instead, they share God’s perspective of compassion, humility, and love for one another.   In short, we want to do the will of God always.      

If you’re going to drive you vehicle somewhere, you have to keep your mind engaged in order to ascertain the potential dangers just ahead.  To live wisely implies the same truth.  Wisdom is properly evaluating the potential pitfalls related to circumstances that arise in life and making the right decision at the right time.  It is the ability to respond correctly, with moral insight, to the circumstances of life and it begins with knowing God:

The fear (awe or reverence) of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding (Proverbs 9:10).

Paul wrote in Romans 1:21-22 saying, “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their (what) foolish heart was darkened.  Professing to be wise, they became fools.”

So, the Ephesian Believers were given “the mind of Christ” at their conversion, which means with the mind of Christ comes spiritual wisdom for in Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3). 

In 1 Corinthians 1:30 Paul wrote we find that by God’s doing the Believer is “in Christ Jesus,” who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and present sanctification, and redemption…”  Because Believers are joined with Christ Jesus at their salvation they are also partakers of Christ’s righteousness, present sanctification, and wisdom.  Thus, when a Believer sins it is partly due to the fact they choose to live unwisely.  Sin is a choice, not a way of life for a true Believer. 

Paul’s command in 5:15 is like the others he has given in this book – live according to the change God has made in you.  Live as one who is wise, not unwise.  When he warns these Believers to “be careful,” he’s conveying the need to be alert as they live their lives with exactness because Satan’s snares are waiting just ahead to trip up the unwise.

Time Waits for No One

Ephesians 5

16:  making the most of your time, (Why?) because the days are evil.

The first and foremost area that will demonstrate our wisdom is the use of the time that God has given to us.  Paul says here in our text:  Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise making the most of your time, because the days are evil.  This idea of making the most of your time or “redeeming the time,” as the KJV Bible says, is not simply a request from God, via our Apostle Paul, for these Believers to be good time managers.  It certainly includes it, but it is so much more.

There are two Koine Greek words for time.  One is “Chronos” from which we get the English word “chronometer” – as in a clock.  When I served aboard ship in the USN, we always referred to “wall clocks” as chronometers.  Twice in a 24 hour cycle all the chronometers aboard ship were re-set to the main clock on the ship’s bridge to ensure the accuracy of reporting on the days’ events.

But here it refers to time as measured in hours, minutes and seconds.  Now, here’s the thing, if Paul was simply talking about time management he would have used the word “Chronos.”  However Paul used “Kairos,” which denotes a measured, allocated or fixed season.  It refers to the specific periods of time that are given to you to accomplish particular tasks.  Most people are familiar with final exams.  You are given the test and an exact amount of time in which to complete it.  Store coupons are another example.  Most store coupons used for shopping have an expiration date, i.e. the offer is valid until a certain, specified date, and then the coupon becomes valueless. 

The Apostle Peter used the same term in 1 Peter 1:17 saying:  And if you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each man’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay (upon earth).  Here Peter repeats the O.T. command for God’s people to be holy because God is holy before adding this remark. 

In other words, God has only given you, me, and every true Believer a certain length of time to dwell on the earth and accomplish whatever it is you are going to accomplish with your life in accordance with His will.  This is also the point of Psalm 90:12, in which Moses calls on God to “Teach us to number our days, That we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom.  Paul is expressing this same idea to the Ephesians.

Ecclesiastes 3 speaks to this issue well – There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven – and then King Solomon lists them: birth, death; planting, harvesting; mourning, dancing; war, peace; etc.  God has given you certain seasons in your life in which you can accomplish certain things.  After that season is past, the opportunities are gone.  We do not know how long the season will last, but God fixes its length.  Scripture speaks of that time being shortened, but never lengthened.  From this we learn there are no “do over’s.”  A person may die or lose opportunity before the end of God’s time, but there is no reason to expect life or opportunity to continue after the end of God’s predetermined time:  It is appointed unto men once to die, and then the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).  Wisdom makes the most of the opportunities life presents. 

The Greeks had a basic understanding of this.  Lysippus (Greek sculptor) crafted it into a statue called “Opportunity.”  It was the figure of a man with wings on its feet, a long lock of hair on his forehead, but the rest of his head was bald.  The inscription explained:  “Why has thou wings on thy feet?  That I may fly away swiftly.  Why has thou a great forelock?  That men may seize me when I come.  Why are thou bald in back?  That when I am gone by, none can lay hold of me.  

The Greatest Rock Band of all time, The Rolling Stones, performed the song, “Time Waits for No One.”  The words are meaningful and applicable. 

The Rolling Stones Lyrics
"Time Waits For No One"

Yes, star crossed in pleasure the stream flows on by
Yes, as we're sated in leisure, we watch it fly
And time waits for no one, and it won't wait for me
And time waits for no one, and it won't wait for me
Time can tear down a building or destroy a woman's face
Hours are like diamonds, don't let them waste
Time waits for no one, no favours has he
Time waits for no one, and he won't wait for me

Men, they build towers to their passing yes, to their fame everlasting
Here he comes chopping and reaping, hear him laugh at their cheating
And time waits for no man, and it won't wait for me
Yes, time waits for no one, and it won't wait for me
Drink in your summer, gather your corn
The dreams of the night time will vanish by dawn
And time waits for no one, and it won't wait for me
And time waits for no one, and it won't wait for me
No no no, not for me...

The sailors have a much shorter truism for this, “Time and tide wait for no man.”

The idea of making the most of your time is not an invitation to busyness, that Satan’s plan for you, but rather to ordering your life according to God’s priorities.  We need to follow the example of Jesus who never rushed from one scene to the next.  The Lord kept moving steadily forward, with the Father’s plan in mind.  Jesus had compassion on people, but He also knew the weaknesses of the human condition and the body’s need for rest and the mind’s need for some solitude.  He would spend time communicating with the Father as well as ministering to the needs of the Israelites, but He always maintained balance by keeping His focus on the Father’s will.

Our text says the days are evil, and if you are not careful, society can suck you into its evil ways.  Life in this day and age can be fast paced, and that can quickly burn you out. You can be out and about every day and every evening and hardly scratch the surface of all the things that need to be done.  You can also fall into the leisure trap and easily squander your life away pursuing entertainment and things of little importance.

Perhaps the greatest time waster in our society is television.  Second to that would be video games.   Consider how these two pastimes can easily consume hours of your day with little return on the time investment, and considering the rubbish that most programs contain now, it may be a negative return.  The days are evil; don’t let your life be frittered away.  The opportunities you have now for righteousness (or the good works which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them (Ephesians 2:10) may not be available in the future.

God has appointed for us seasons of opportunity in our short lives.  The question is will we make the most of that time.  How will we know what is the right way to use our time.  Paul answered this question in verse 17.

Ephesians 5

17: So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

This isn’t new news; the foolish Ephesians heard it before from Paul.  Be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us (Ephesians 5:1-2).

The foolish are self-centered which mean their lives revolve around them.  They selfishly use their time to do whatever pleases them for the moment or whatever will help them achieve whatever they classify as success.  Society defines this as:  fame, fortune, happiness, power, prestige, pleasure, wealth, etc.   King Solomon refers to all these things as vanity and chasing after the wind (Ecclesiastes 1:14).  The foolish give little if any consideration to God’s eternal perspective and purposes.  The result:  wasted lives and wasted time.  How tragic many Christians end up doing the same thing, hence Paul’s warning – So then do not be foolish!

How can you keep everything in balance and know what to do?  There’s only one way – wisdom!  And wisdom is based on knowing the will of God and saying, “Okay, Amen.”  It is following the priorities He has set for your life and His priorities are often opposite of those of the world.  

Look no further than scripture for God’s will:    

Love the Lord God with all your heart, soul & mind and your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22). 

Husbands, love your wife as Christ loved the Church (Ephesians 5).  

Wives, see to it that you respect your husband (Ephesians 5).  

Raise your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord without provoking them to anger or causing them to lose heart (Ephesians 6; Colossians 4).   

…present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:1-2).

Be holy and humble (1 Peter 1:16, 5:6)

use your spiritual gifts in love (I Corinthians 12, 13).  

Paul calls on all Believers to be careful how they walk.  They are to be wise, not unwise for the days are evil.  Thus, they need to be making the most of the time God gives them.  Therefore, Believers are to take advantage of the opportunities God has prepared beforehand for them, while there is time to do so.  Paul said don’t be foolish, but know and understand what the will of the Lord is.  The only way to discern God’s will for you is to pick up this book and study it. 

(To be continued)

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