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)
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
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)
© Copyright 2011
GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
All Rights Reserved