Sunday, December 10, 2023

100613_Walking Under the Influence Pt. 1

100613_Walking Under the Influence Pt. 1

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TITLE: Household of God: Walking Under the Influence – Eph. 5:15-21 AIM: How to conduct our lives, under the influence of the Spirit. INTRO: Not sure if this is still done, & I’ve not personally experienced it, but one way the police used to test a driver’s sobriety was to make that person walk a straight line, perhaps along the side of the road. If couldn’t walk straight, it would be an indication of intoxication, meaning that the person had been driving under the influence. The thought is that you cannot consistently walk straight if you’re drunk, under the influence of alcohol or drugs, etc. It’s quite the contrary for the Christian; a believer cannot consistently walk straight unless he/she is under the influence, not of drink, but of the Holy Spirit. You/I, as followers of Jesus Christ, are given the provision of the Holy Spirit & are called to live our lives by the Holy Spirit, directed & empowered by Him. Theme: HofG – understanding that we believers in Christ are members of God’s household & seeking to understand what it means to be members of the HofG. I would submit to you today for our consideration, that members of God’s household walk/conduct their lives under the influence of the Holy Spirit. We must make it our continual aim to walk by the Spirit. That’s Paul’s concern in our text, Ephesians 5:15-21 [READ]. As have seen, Paul uses that word “walk” numerous times in this epistle. I remind you that the term means to “conduct one’s life,” to live out one’s life. Paul has admonished us not to walk as the Gentiles/unbelievers do, way used to live, but in a new way, in Christ. Ray Stedman, from whom we’ll hear numerous times in this message, correctly pointed out that walking is simply taking 2 steps at a time, repeatedly. And, he said, those 2 steps are “put off” & “put on.” We are to continually put off the old self & put on the new self, intended to be like Christ. Put off, put on, put off, put on, put off, put on – again & again & again. That’s the Christian life – laying aside the old, learning to think new, & taking up, putting on the new – Christ- likeness. Paul exhorted us to “walk in love” & “walk as children of light.” Then, in vs15-21, Paul again address the manner/conduct of our lives as followers of Christ, members of God’s household. We’re to walk/conduct our lives I) Carefully. “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise, but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” We’re to watch, turn our attention, direct our mind to, contemplate, weigh carefully how we conduct our lives, how we proceed in life. Stedman points out that Paul didn’t say “watch where you’re going,” altho that’s certainly part of what he was saying; but he wrote, “Be careful ‘how’ you walk. We know where we’re supposed to go – follow Christ, imitate our Father, walk in love, live as children of light, & we need to bear all that in mind. But what we need to pay particularly close attention to is “how” we are walking/living. Are we consistently applying the principle of putting off the old & putting on the new? Are we learning to think new? What does the Bible say? Are we applying the principles of Scripture to our everyday lives? We’re to look carefully how we walk, “not as unwise, but as wise.” According to Strong’s, to be wise is to be “skilled in forming the best plans & using the best means for their execution.” So, we’re to walk/conduct our lives not only carefully, but, in Stedman’s word, II) Understandingly – w/understanding. Stedman points out that we should understand 2 things: A) “The character of life,” or the reality of things, & B) “The will of the Lord” – what is it God wants in any situation? A) The character of life – vs16 – “Making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” That’s the character of life in this world – evil. That wd means “full of labors, annoyances, hardships, which press & harass, perilous, evil” (Strong’s). That should be no surprise – read the newspaper, listen to the news on TV. Consider the situations in which we find ourselves every day – daily needs, bills, broken lives, broken things, etc. We understand from Scripture (John 10:10) that we have an enemy of our souls who always seeks to “steal, kill & destroy” the work of God & our very lives. The curse of sin is seen all around us in the ills & diseases of life. War, terror, disaster – all over the place. Our government can’t fix these things, tho they may try to manage the damage. But even our gov & govs of world are led by sinful men & women perhaps honestly trying their best, but often w/their own agendas & not having all the tools. Evil days indeed! But something Stedman said is very imp here. It’s very common & understandable that we, recognizing the evil of our days, will tend to be on our guard, watch, ready to retreat. We might well hunker down & sequester ourselves away, so that we might not be harmed or pulled away from God by the evil of the days. Some of that is wise to do, but there’s something more we should do. Here’s what Stedman said: “Evil days promote opportunities – not just obstacles, but opportunities - opportunity to do what is right in any given situation, opportunity to be who/what we ought to be, no matter what anyone else does. Evil days come to give you/I opportunity to grow. James even wrote that they are designed that way, so that we should “consider it pure joy when we encounter various trials” (1:2). Further, evil days make people want to learn about God.” God is giving us opportunity to share the gospel, point others to Christ. So we should take every opportunity evil days give us, & as Paul wrote, make the most of every opportunity, “make the best use of the time…” That is literally, “to redeem the time,” “to buy it up for one’s use, to make wise & sacred use of every opportunity for doing good, so that zeal & well doing are as it were the purchase money by which we make the time our own” (Strong’s). Use the time we have to do/be what is right. So, we are to not be foolish, going our own ways, squandering those opportunities, but we should B) “understand what the will of the Lord is.” What does God want of us – not so much what is His will/guidance for my life – not just what I ought to do w/my life, or what decision I should make in a given situation, but who/what does God want me to be? In every situation, what is it that pleases God? As Pastor Tom pointed out last week, faith is what pleases God - & w/out faith it is impossible to please Him (Heb.11:6). God wants us to take Him at His word. He wants us to understand His viewpoint on life, which He reveals to us in Scripture. He wants us to believe Him that what He has said to us will work for us, is good for us. We can learn from Scripture many specifics of God’s will, what He wants us to be, but there are only 2 places where we read, “This is the will of God for you.” I Thess.4:3 – “your sanctification”- your holiness, turning from sin to God – God ordained growth in Christ-likeness. I Thess.5:16-18 – “Rejoice always, pray w/out ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances…” To live our lives every day w/a God-focus, not divided between church/Sunday & the rest of life Mon-Sat. Stedman admonishes us, “Don’t blindly accept the moral code or follow the guiding principles of the world – what does God say? Believe Him, follow Him. If you’re not pleasing God, what are you doing? Certainly we need help to in any way get it right. That’s why we are to also walk III) Overflowingly – again, Stedman’s wd. “Don’t be drunk w/wine,” Paul wrote, “that’s debauchery…” – unnecessary excess, wasteful; “an abandoned, dissolute life” (Strong’s). Many people turn to drink, drugs, sex, some other substitute to cope w/life, to escape, to somehow stimulate themselves in overwhelming or under towing situations, hoping perhaps that the intoxication will enable them to do what they can’t do themselves. But I’ve never known anyone under the influence of any such substance or substitute to be at their best. Usually it ends in disaster, or at least failure. We need help w/the demands of life & especially w/being able to walk/conduct our lives carefully, wisely, & make the most of the time, pleasing God & becoming who He wants us to be. But Paul was saying here that we should satisfy that need for a 5 stimulant, enabling influence by being filled w/the Holy Spirit. God has made provision for us. He has not left us to ourselves, & we are not meant to be independent of Him. Every believer, when he/she comes to faith in Christ, receives the Holy Spirit, who comes to dwell w/in – a marvelous gift of God, giving Himself to us. But tho we have the Holy Spirit, there is still a need to be continually filled w/the Spirit. That wd filled is the Grk, “pleroo,” meaning “to be made full – filled to the top so that nothing is wanting to full measure.” It is to abound w/. We’re to be filled to overflowing w/the Holy Spirit. Stedman said that “The filling w/the Holy Spirit is the momentary taking from Him of the resources you need for the situation in which you are. It is a quiet drinking again & again & again” from the fountain that’s w/in you. Jesus promised in John 4 (14) that “whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty forever. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” And in John 7 (38) He said, “Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Then John commented, “This He said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive…” If you are in Christ, then the well is in you – the well/reservoir of the Holy Spirit. It’s not about coming to church to get a blessing or going to this meeting or that. Rivers of living water flow w/in you. To be filled w/the Spirit is to drink from that living water in every circumstance, it is to recognize & trust the Spirit w/in you. It is to be directed & empowered by the Holy Spirit, to be under His influence. That’s what we need every moment of every day. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you. It is a matter of embracing Him by faith (just as we embrace the saving work of Christ), believing He is here & believing He will lead, empower. Walk in step w/Him. Learn to hear His voice. The demands & pressures of life come all the time. Don’t try to meet those w/artificial means, but w/the filling of the Holy Spirit, the well 6 that goes w/you. Drink from Him, be drunk w/Him, be under His influence. Now, it’s interesting that Paul then begins to describe some of what it will look like if we’re under the influence of the Holy Spirit. “Addressing one another in psalms & hymns & spiritual songs…” Speaking to one another from Scripture, encouraging one another w/the truths to which the Spirit leads us. The Holy Spirit will always use the Word of God in our lives, so we should prayerfully read & study & let the Word dwell w/in us. Note that whenever the Holy Spirit is involved it’s not just for our good, but for the good of the body, the household of God. He wants to use us in these evil days to encourage & exhort one another, helping each other to do what is right, what pleases God. “Singing & making melody to the Lord w/all your heart…” This is obviously an attitude of worship. We should be God-focused, seeing Him everywhere & in everything, & we should acknowledge Him, worship Him. Christians should go about w/a song in their hearts, & w/all our hearts we should give God praise. It’s an inward bubbling, knowing that we have God & He is in control. The Holy Spirit will always lead us to worship/sing. You don’t have to sing well or even aloud, but from your heart to God. “Giving thanks always & for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ…” Again, we can thank God always, because if we are in Christ we have a solid confidence of His presence & promises & a sure hope beyond these evil days. We can thank God for everything, because He’s at work in all things for His glory & our good. How can we fail if we’re w/Him & being led by His Spirit? “Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” We’ll certainly touch on this more fully next week, but if we’re under the influence of the Holy Spirit, then we’re led to be humble, to put others 1st, to gladly place ourselves under whatever authority He has set up. It’s a life of yielding 1st to God & then to others, trusting God w/our lives. And why shouldn’t we? We’re the Household of God!