Part 4 – What are we to do?
CHAPTER 5 – Living The Christian Life continued…
Our Conduct Or Behavior As Believers
The Christian life is
A WALK, A RACE, A WARFARE, FRUITFUL,
A LIFE OF PEACE, A REST, A LIFE OF PRAYER.
The Walk is One of Obedience (continued)
BE FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT
A principle that is parallel to walk in the Spirit of Galatians 5:16, is the command given in Ephesians 5:18, to be filled with the Spirit.
Let us consider Ephesians 5:18-21,
And be not drunk with wine, in which is excess, but be filled with the Spirit,
Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord,
Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
A vivid contrast is drawn between a person’s being drunk with wine (a fleshly behavior in which the person is controlled by the effects of the wine), and the more fulfilling privilege afforded to the believer of being filled with the Spirit. Literally, the Greek states,…be filled in Spirit. The grammatical construction is similar to that used in Matthew 3:11, when the preposition, in, is used in John’s baptizing in water and Jesus’ baptizing in the Holy Spirit and fire. In the present usage in Ephesians 5:18, the meaning seems to be to allow the Holy Spirit to fill the believer’s spirit, implying total identification and union of the believer’s spirit with the Holy Spirit.
In contrast, being filled with the Spirit could leave the impression that the believer is a container, and as a glass would be filled with water, so the believer is a container for the Spirit. Being filled “in” Spirit is more personal and intimate.
The filling “in” the Spirit is a continuous present action (in accordance with the Greek verb tense), and is dependant on the individual believer’s willingly inviting the Spirit to control and administer the events, actions, and circumstances constantly throughout each moment of each day. This is accomplished as the believer prays, first confessing all known acts of sin (I Jn. 1:7), accepting God’s forgiveness with thanksgiving, and then inviting the Spirit to be in control of his or her life. This is repeated as often as the person is aware that he has assumed the controlling position by having acted in self-will instead of continually submitting to the Spirit.
As the believer allows the Holy Spirit to fill his spirit, there will be at least four ways to give evidence to the filling. The filling is described by these four descriptions:
- Speaking to yourselves…
- Singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord,
- Giving thanks always for all things unto God…
- Submitting yourselves one to another…
The phrase, speaking to yourselves, has the thought of speaking one to another as in the similar verse in Colossians 3:16, and can be translated that way in this passage. It means that the Spirit-filled person will converse concerning spiritual matters to others who are also Spirit-filled, having spiritual fellowship.
The words, in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, are connected by position to the previous phrase in our English translations, but they seem to be modifying the phrase that follows, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.
The third evidence which is mentioned of a person’s being Spirit-filled is in verse 20, Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The fourth evidence is given in verse 21, Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. This could be restated as a willing subjection of one’s self to help another to be benefited. This fourth evidence is then described in the context of the family and home in Ephesians 5:226:9.
Rather than seeing the Spirit-filled life as an experience of great ecstasy and excitement as first evidenced on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 (although it is certainly one of joy) that which Paul describes here in Ephesians 5 and 6 teaches the practical sense of the Spirit’s filling. When the Spirit is truly filling a person’s life, the person will be used of the Spirit with a proper alignment of the soul and the body under his spirit. The believer’s spirit is controlled by the Holy Spirit, Who through the believer’s spirit will control the believer’s soul and body.
The soul’s needs are best met when we allow the Holy Spirit (the Lord) to fill our total being – spirit, soul, and body. The soul’s needs would include all parts – mental, emotional, and volitional. In conquering anger, for example, we have found it to be most helpful, after confessing the anger and asking God to take it away, to ask the Lord to fill our soul.
The Spirit does not seek one’s attention to be focused on Himself, but on the Father and the Son. Likewise, the Spirit-filled believer will not seek attention for himself, but will seek to glorify God and Jesus Christ.
THE CHRISTIAN LIFE IS A RACE TO BE RUN
There are several places in Scripture where the Christian is admonished to “run the race”. The Greek word for race has the meaning of striving, struggling, facing contention. It is the word from which we get the word, “agony” in English. This picture of the Christian life’s being like a race certainly refutes the notion of passivity. Note the Scriptures that speak of the race to be run:
I Corinthians 9:24-27, Know ye not that they who run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.
And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown, but we, an incorruptible.
I, therefore, so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air;
But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection, lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
II Timothy 4:7, I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.
Hebrews 12:1,2, Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Running a race requires a program of training and discipline. The Apostle Paul stated that the discipline he followed included control of the outer man (body), so as to be able to accomplish what Christ wanted Him to do. Believers are able to keep their bodies in subjection as they submit to the Holy Spirit. Since the fruit of the Spirit includes self-control (Gal. 5:23), the believer who submits to the Spirit is able to exercise the self-control needed in running the race. Failure to keep the body subject to the Spirit can result in being disqualified from running the race, that is, from being able to complete one’s service for Christ.
Successful fulfillment of one’s service for Christ is possible as Paul gave witness concerning his own course of ministry.
The key to maintaining a steadfast course is in looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, and by realizing that as He endured the cross and entered into glory, so we must be steadfastly obedient to the Holy Spirit through every experience God designs for us in life because triumph is waiting for us ultimately. The believer learns what he can endure by being faithful in maintaining the course he is to run under God’s enablement.
THE CHRISTIAN LIFE IS A WARFARE
There are three areas in which the believer faces conflict: THE WORLD, THE FLESH, and THE DEVIL. God has made adequate provision for the believer to be victorious in all three areas.
The first area to be considered under the Christian warfare is the world. The world as used in Scripture refers to the system and philosophy by which the world operates its governing, its economy, and its social structures.
THE WORLD IS NOT A FRIEND OF GOD’S PEOPLE
In John 15:19, Jesus gave His perspective on the world in order for His disciples to gain understanding that they should not expect the people of the world system to receive them or approve of their service for Christ. The Scripture states,
If ye were of the world, the world would love its own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
To continue the same instruction in John 16:33, Jesus says,
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
After the warning to the disciples to expect tribulation in the world, Jesus encourages them because He has overcome the world.
In His prayer for believers in John 17:14,15, Jesus says,
I have given them Thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil (or, the evil one. Margin).
The intent of Jesus’ prayer seems to indicate the principle that believers are to be in the world, but they are not to be under the world’s control nor under Satan’s control.
A similar idea is presented by John, the Beloved Apostle, in I John 3:13, when he says, Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.
As the believer walks in the Spirit, he should expect to have opposition from all that is in keeping with the world system.
Next Week: Part Five continued: Believers Are To Be Separate From The World As To Their Walk
Copyright © 1996 A. Ward Brandenstein
Used with permission.
A. Ward Brandenstein
Pastor Ward earned an M.A. in Guidance and Counselling from Eastern Michigan University after taking special courses in psychology at Wayne State University, and earned a Bachelor of Theology (Th.B.) from Baptist Bible College and Seminary with Greek and Hebrew studies, and earned a diploma from Philadelphia Bible Institute (now Cairn U.), including New Testament Greek studies. His knowledge of the Bible and close walk with God are appreciated by all who know him and have sat under his teaching. Pastor Brandenstein and his wife Rose Ann reside in California, teaching college level singles and married couples, young professionals, and retired pastors and missionaries.