Skip to Main Content

Ephesians Lesson 11: 5.15-21

SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON PLAN - Eph. 5:15-21 

LAST WEEK:  In Eph. 5:1-14, Paul continued his practical instructions on how Christians should live out their faith. Rather than imitating the world, or being controlled by worldly things, Christians are to walk in love, as children of the light.  We discussed four main points of application. (1)  We can't imitate God in loving one another unless we understand what God's love is.  To imitate God, we must walk in love, agapé, self-sacrificing love just as Christ also loved us and gave up His life for us.  (2)  God's standards for moral behavior are absolute, not relative, and not debatable.  God gave us these standards for our good.  When we violate them, it gives us short-term pleasure (that's why we're tempted), but leaves us with long-term pain, anguish, and problems.  Although keeping God's standards can be difficult in the short-term, they are deeply satisfying in the long term.  (3) To walk as children of the light, we must become children of the light.  We accomplish this by learning "what is pleasing to the Lord" (v.10), and as we renew our minds through God' Word, we learn more and more of what pleases God.  It's important for us to know that we don't please God based on our feelings or even our consciences but through a growing understanding of His Word. (4) Christians expose the deeds of darkness by living godly lives that maintain a proper separation from the world.  If we are no different in our thinking, attitudes, and behavior than those who do not know Christ, we have no message to give them.   But if we are walking in the light- separating ourselves from the sinful lifestyles of the world-and  living to please the Lord with goodness, righteousness, and truth, our godly lives will expose the sinful lives of those around us. 

 

THIS WEEK:  In Eph. 5:15-21, Paul talks about wise living.  Paul's audience, the Ephesians, lived in a pagan society that rejected the fundamental revelation of God in creation and the special revelation of God in the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is indicative of what we see happening in American society today.  The Greek society of the Ephesian's time was focused on worldly and trivial things that caused them to indulge in every carnal impulse and desire you can imagine.  Are we seeing parallels of this in our culture today?  According to Paul, it epitomizes foolishness (the opposite of wisdom), to ignore the reality of God, reject His lordship over one's life, snub his gracious offer of forgiveness, and live as if this temporal world is all that there is or ever will be.  That's a very hopeless place to be.   

 

Read Eph. 5:15-16 - WATCH CAREFULLY HOW YOU WALK    

 

15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16  making the most of your time, because the days are evil.

 

v. 15: "Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise" - Paul returns to his familiar theme of walking. As used by Paul, "walk" pictures our way of life, worked-out in a day-to-say, step-by-step process.  In Paul's day, people didn't just walk for exercise; they did it to get to a destination.  So, in the spiritual context, our walk pictures steady progress toward a definite goal.  Paul's injunction, "be careful," implies that if you're careless about how you walk and how you spend your time each day, you won't get through life without incurring serious problems.  Paul explains that a careful walk is one "not as unwise men but as wise."  The Greek word for "wise" (sophos) literally means forming the best plans and the best means to accomplish them, which means using skill, and suggests that a wise man has the skill to live properly.  So, in the Christian context Paul is using, only a wise person can live in a godly, skillful manner that results in a finished product that brings glory to God.  In practical terms, to walk wisely means we must skillfully apply God's Word to our lives day-to-day, step-by-step.   The Bible tells us everything we need to know, e.g.:  how to develop godly character, how to avoid the temptation to sin, and how to determine our life priorities to make the best use of our time. 

 

TRUTH 1:  To walk "carefully" in this evil age, you must use your time wisely and skillfully apply God's Word to your life.  In v. 15, Paul explained that a careful walk is one not as an unwise person but as a wise person. The word Paul used for "wise" literally means forming the best plans and the using the best means to accomplish them, which translated to using skill, and tells us that only a wise man has the skill to live properly.  So, in the Christian context Paul is using, a wise person lives in a godly, skillful manner that results in a finished product that brings glory to God.  In practical terms, to walk wisely means we must skillfully apply God's Word to our lives day-to-day and step-by-step. 

 

v. 16: "making the most of your time, because the days are evil" - The Greek word used here for "making" (exagorazomenoi) literally means to redeem or rescue something from loss. The Greek word used for "time" (Gk. kairos) doesn't refer to chronological time but a special or opportune time.  So in terms of time, Paul is talking about seizing the moment and making the most of an opportunity.  The idea here is that God gives us special opportunities to seize for His purposes.  We must stay alert to His purposes and be ready to grab the opportunities He puts in front of us.  And if we are (1) careful and (2) wise, we are certain to see them.  For unbelievers, their lives are in bondage to futility and meaningless.  They go to school, get a job, raise a family, retire, and die, and through this process, they spend a lot of this time watching mindless TV shows.  What's the point?  But the Christian can "redeem" his or her time by seizing opportunities that have eternal significance, for example, serving in the ministries a church that enable you to apply your spiritual gifts, serving in Christian organizations that perform good works in your community, and being a good steward of your resources to build God's kingdom and spread the gospel around the globe.  That's a short list.  The "days are evil" because they lead us into time-wasting distractions that cause us to miss many opportunities that serve and glorify God.

 

TRUTH 2:  When Paul says to make the most of your "time," he isn't referring to just any time of the day but a special and opportune time.  The idea here is that God gives us special opportunities to seize for His purposes.  We must be constantly alert to recognize God's purposes and be ready to grab them as He puts them in front of us, and if we stay (1) careful and (2) wise, we are certain to see them.  For unbelievers, their lives are in bondage to futility and meaningless.  They go to school, get a job, raise a family, retire, and die, and through this process, they spend a lot of this time watching mindless TV shows.  What's the point?  But the Christian can "redeem" his or her time by seizing opportunities that have eternal significance, for example, serving in the ministries a church that enable you to apply your spiritual gifts, serving in Christian organizations that perform good works in your community, and being a good steward of your resources to build God's kingdom and spread the gospel around the globe.  The "days are evil" because they lead us into time-wasting distractions that cause us to miss many opportunities that serve and glorify God.  

 

Read Eph. 5:17 - DO NOT BE FOOLISH          

   

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

 

v. 17: - A fool is the opposite of a wise person, and Paul is saying that only a wise person can "understand what the will of the Lord is." The will of the Lord is like a navigation chart that tells us (1) where we're going and (2) how to get there. When I used to stand helm watches aboard a Navy submarine, before I assumed the watch, the man I was relieving would say, "we are presently steering course such and such at all ahead standard."  When I took over, it was my job to steer that course until ordered otherwise.  Just as it would be foolish to put to sea without any idea of where you're going or how to get there, the same is true in life.  God wants you to understand His will so you can keep your life on course.  And in the context of this verse, being on "course" isn't primarily concerned with how well educated you are or what career you choose but something much, much bigger-God's eternal purposes in your life.  Under-standing the will of God involves much time and effort.  For starters, the Bible is God's "revealed will," a book of hard facts, and as we just learned in v. 15, we must seriously study and skillfully apply God's word to our lives on a day-to-day basis.  But more is required:  (1) it involves striving daily to submit to Jesus' commandment to love God with all our heart, mind, and soul and love our neighbor as ourselves (Mk. 12:28-31) and that's the short list. (2) It involves being committed to fervent prayer, especially for guidance and discernment.  (3) It involves being committed to God's church because God is working out His eternal purposes through the church.  (4) It involves being committed to live in harmony with other believers in the church and at home.  And finally (5) after doing these things, true discernment comes as a gift from God.  

TRUTH 3:  To walk "carefully and wisely," you must understand the will of the Lord and apply it to your life.  God wants you to understand His will so you will be able can to keep your life "on course."  In the context of v. 17, being on "course" isn't focused on things like how well you are educated or what career path you choose but some-thing much, much bigger-God's eternal purposes in your life.   First of all, your efforts to understand the will of God will involve a lot of time and effort.  As starting place, you already have God's "atlas"-the Bible-to help you plot your course, which will give you all of the relevant facts pertaining to God's "revealed" will.  But more is required:  (1) it involves striving daily to submit to Jesus' commandment to love God with all our heart, mind, and soul and love our neighbor as ourselves (Mk. 12:28-31) and that's the short list. (2) It involves being committed to fervent prayer, especially for guidance and discernment.  (3) It involves being committed to God's church because God is working out His eternal purposes through the church.  (4) It involves being committed to live in harmony with other believers in the church, at home, and at work.  And finally (5) after doing all of these things, true discernment comes as a gift from God. 

Read Eph. 5:18-21 - BE FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT

18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; 21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

 

v. 18: "And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit" - It might seem odd that Paul interjected drunkenness at this point, but scholars point to two reasons: (1) Drunkenness and depravity were characteristic of the futile, flesh-driven lives from which the Ephesian believers had been saved; and (2) Being drunk on wine and filled with the Spirit share a similarity in that the one "filled" is under the influence or control of that which he or she is filled with.  The Greek word for "dissipation" (asótia) literally means cannot be saved but in normal usage referred to a person who has wasted opportunities through shameless living.  So the verse sets up a contrast that could be rephrased as "Don't be filled with sinful desires that squanders your life, but be filled with the Spirit."  In the next phrase, the Greek verb for "be filled" (pl─ôrousthe) is a present passive imperative which means to keep on being filled with the Holy Spirit.  Don't confuse "filling" with the "baptism" of the Spirit, which is received one-time at the moment of salvation.  The filling of the Spirit is an ongoing, repeated experience that empowers us for godly living and service.  It ties in with the instruction to "walk" carefully and wisely that we covered in vv. 15-16, so that walking in and being filled with the Spirit go hand in hand with one another.  Notice that we were never commanded to be baptized in the Spirit, but we are commanded to be filled, and we should take the positive command to be filled with the Spirit just as seriously as the negative command not to get drunk.  Yielding to the spirit isn't automatic but a conscious decision you must make every day of your life to allow yourself to be controlled by the Holy Spirit rather than by the sinful desires of the flesh.  You can't be complacent.  The term today would "proactive"-making a conscious effort to be filled with the Holy Spirit today, tomorrow, and hereafter is always at the top of your personal agenda.

 

TRUTH 4:  To walk "carefully and wisely," you must be filled with the Holy Spirit, which means you are controlled by the Spirit.  The filling of the Spirit isn't a one-time experience but a day-by-day, repeated effort that empowers us for godly living and service.  It directly ties in with Paul's instruction to "walk" carefully and wisely as explained in vv. 15-16, so that walking in and being filled with the Spirit go hand in hand with one another like white on rice.  Yielding to the spirit doesn't happen automatically but requires you to make a conscious and deliberate decision each day of your life to allow yourself to be controlled by the Holy Spirit rather than by the sinful and selfish desires of the flesh that constantly confront every one of us.  You can't be complacent.  The contemporary "buzz word" for this type of attitude is being "proactive"-that is, making a conscious effort to be filled with the Holy Spirit today and hereafter by giving it a permanent place at the top of your personal agenda.

 

v. 19: "speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord" - This verse contain the first three of five participles that list the result of being filled with the Spirit. Notice that we, the Spirit-filled community of believers, "speak to one another in psalms and hymns."  You might expect something more dramatic like prophesying, speaking in tongues, or performing miracles, but "singing and making melody" to the Lord and to each other is a church-building activity.  Music intended to bring glory to God also brings delight to both to the individual and to the body as a whole.

 

v. 20: "always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father" - "giving thanks" is the fourth participle that stems from being filled with the Spirit. Thankfulness is the opposite of grumbling and complaining.  But it can be difficult to give thanks in times when things aren't going well for us, yes?  Yet, if we are rooted spiritually, that is, to keep being filled with the Spirit at the top of our personal agendas, God will regenerate us even when we're down in a deep valley.  We need to remind ourselves that God is still in control and to trust in Him even when we don't understand His immediate purposes in our life.  To pray "in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" signifies that we have faith and trust in Him as our mediator with God the Father.

 

v. 21: "and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ" - This is the fifth participle that results from being filled with the Spirit. The Greek word for "be subject to" (hupotassó) literally means to place oneself in rank under someone.  The thought here is that there is an ideal structure in human relationships, and Paul is calling Christians to find their proper place in that structure.  To be subject to one another means that we subordinate our personal interest to that of the other person, and we   do this toward "one another" with mutuality.  Think about this:  A church where the members follow this rule will prosper and grow because it won't find its energies and efforts wasted in fruitless tugs-of-war and wrangling, and the same principle is true for relationships in general.         

 

TRUTH 5:  Being filled with the Spirit results in singing, thankfulness, and mutual submission in our relationships with others.  "Singing and making melody" to the Lord and to each other is a church-building activity that brings glory to God also joy to both to the individual and the body as a whole. While it's hard to be thankful during tough times, if we stay rooted spiritually, keeping ourselves filled with the Spirit, God will regenerate us even when we're down in a deep valley.  Being "subject to one another" with mutuality is God's ideal structure for human relationships.  A church where the members follow this rule will prosper and grow because it won't find its energies and efforts wasted in fruitless tugs-of-war and wrangling, and the same principle is true for relationships in general.             

 

PRAYER:  Lord God, our Father in heaven, we thank You for Your steadfast love and mercy towards us.  We thank you for this church where we are free to give you the worship and praise you deserve.  We thank you, Lord, for your Bible and believe that every word in it was inspired by You, and we believe in Your promise that You will bless us when we are obedient to Your Word.  As Paul taught us this morning, Lord, please help us to better use our time to wisely apply Your Word to every aspect of our day-to-day lives.  Help us also to use our time more wisely so that we will be able to see all and seize all the many opportunities You put right in front of us.  And father, empower us-everyone here today-with the infilling of your Holy Spirit it so that He will control and guide all of our plans and actions as we continue our work to build this good church.  I ask these all things in the name of our beloved Savior, Jesus Christ, AMEN