Ephesians 5:18-21 “And be not drunk with wine, wherein 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.”
In the last post, we looked at the intimate relationship of music with the Spirit in our lives. As we are filled, or led, by the Spirit, it will cause other things to naturally flow from our lives.
Giving thanks always
Gratitude for the spiritual Christian is as natural as breathing. This is a major theme of the Bible. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, we are instructed to, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” Thanksgiving is the will of God for us. Not only gratitude, but gratitude for EVERYTHING. I heard someone once say, “That means in everything, there is something to be thankful for.” That is not what the verse says. Is says “In every thing give thanks!” Do you see the difference? In the first statement, we are searching through an undesirable situation for something positive to give thanks for. But God wants us to be thankful for the unpleasant situation, itself! (James 1:2-4, Romans 8:28-29). We begin to be unthankful when we think God owes us something. We start losing sight of who we are and who God is. We tend to feel that God is there for us to fulfill our desires. That is backwards. We are His servants and exist for His pleasure. If God never gave us another blessing, He has already done more than enough by saving us! When the Holy Spirit of God is in charge, we give thanks ALWAYS.
The first step for backsliding away from God in Romans 1 is not committing a great sin, but a wrong view of God, and a lack of gratitude to God. “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful…” (Romans 1:21). When our view of God begins to diminish, so does our gratitude. As we cease to give thanks, it begins the slippery slope away from God. Romans 1 outlines such a fall. In the list of characteristics of the “perilous times” in 2 Timothy 3, unthankful is included among the other vial sins. It is a heart issue that leads a person far away from God.
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (James 1:17). God is the source of all things good. Christians ought to be grateful people in all areas of life, but our gratitude ultimately belongs to God. Our gratitude will lead to lives of worship, lives of praise, lives of sacrifice, and lives of service. Jesus taught us in Luke 7:36-50, that he who has been forgiven of much, loves much. When we understand our salvation and the great debt that was forgiven us, love and gratitude should naturally flow. God has saved us, forgiven us, provided for us, and is intimately interested in us; how could we not be grateful and show it?
Submitting one to another
Motivated by a healthy fear of God, we are led to live lives in a mutual submission to one another. According to Philippians 1:27, we are to strive TOGETHER for the faith. In Psalm 133:1, we’re shown the importance of dwelling in unity with the brethren. Ephesians 5:21 also precedes the husband and wife relationship. This carries the idea of working as a team. The two are one flesh and subsequently have a common purpose that can only be accomplished through mutual submission.
Pride will always hinder submission and unity. “Only by pride cometh contention…” (Proverbs 13:10). Pride will break the unity with other believers, in the home, and with God. Philippians 2:3, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” Jesus’ desire for us is that we would be one with Him and one with each other in John 17:21. This could only happen with proper submission. When everyone is seeking their own, or after vainglory, there is no unity, and we cannot be filled with the Spirit as there is no submission one to another. “My brethren, be not many masters…” (James 3:1). We must learn to work together properly. Sometimes we lead, other times we submit, but all unto the Lord.
There are a few questions to pose as we look at our own spiritual condition. Can we be filled with the Spirit if our hearts are full of ingratitude, or even if we are just lacking thanksgiving in all things? Could we be filled with the Spirit if we are not thankful to God? Could we be filled with the Spirit if we are not submitting to each other in the fear of God for our common purpose? And to review the last post, could we be filled with the Spirit if we are filled with music other than psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs?
Following these points do not cause us to be filled, however, lacking in these areas could serve as a litmus test to analyze our own spiritual condition as we ask the question, “Am I filled with the Spirit?”