07 April 2008

Verse by verse through Ephesians (5:13-5:21)

Ephesians 5:13-21

13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. 14 Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” 15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.

Technology can be an amazing thing. If you want to know what kind of technology you will be using in a few years, just keep track of military technology. You may think “What does military technology have to do with me?” Many, many common technological advances that we use in our everyday lives had their start in the military. One I would like to consider right now is commonly called “Night Vision.” It is a technology that allows one to wear a special type of goggle which interprets different wavelengths and allows the wearer to see what is happening in the absence or near-absence of light. If you are a hunter, you may use a night-vision scope on your rifle. Now, this night vision does show you shapes and figures and some of these can render an almost life-like image. However, it is not the true image. Everything looks green. Just different shades of green. This technology is useful for someone who wants to move about in the dark without being seen.

Well, one thing you need to be careful of is not turning on a light. See, these night vision goggles intensify light. And if you turn on a light while you are wearing them, you can be blinded. Many people today are walking around with night vision eyes. They want to move around in the dark without being seen. And hoping no one will turn on a light. Paul has just finished telling us that we should have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather bring these works to the light and expose them. When Jesus tells us to pull the plank out of our eye, what are we to do with the speck in our brother’s eye? Are you supposed to leave it in there, and let your brother walk around not seeing where he’s going so that he falls into a ditch? No. when you pull the plank out of your own eye, you are to pull the speck from your brother’s eye so he can see clearly.

Likewise, we are not to partake in the wickedness of the wicked. Psalm 1:1Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits at the seat of scorners. But his delight is what? The Law of the LORD. The Law of YHWH. And on this Law he meditates day and night. From the time he wakes up in the morning until his head hits the pillow at night his mind is set on one and only one goal—fulfilling the Law of YHWH. He does not heed the counsel of those who mock God. He does not hang around places where he knows the wicked congregate. And he certainly does not partake of the delicacies of the scornful man (Proverbs 23:6). For it is shameful to even speak of those things done in secret (Ephesians 5:12). But…

But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. The better word than “exposed” is “reproved, generally with a suggestion of shame of the person convicted.” The Greek is elegcomena (elegchomena). We get the word “elegy” from it. “Elegy” is different from “eulogy.” While a eulogy is a speech praising the one who has passed, an “elegy” is “A mournful or plaintive poem…a poem or a song expressive of sorrow and lamentation” that is usually written and spoken by the one who is ashamed. All things are reproved in a way that brings about sorrow, shame, reproach and conviction by the Light, for whatever reproves in a way that brings about sorrow, shame, reproach and conviction is Light. If we are exposed, reproved in a way that brings godly sorrow (2nd Corinthians 10:7), this is done by the Light.

Those night vision goggles only give you the outline and shape of things. They don’t tell you—they can't tell you—whether what you are looking at is brown or red or green. You do not have the true picture. But when you turn on the light—after taking them off, of course—you can see things for what they really are. These people that sneak around in the dark, thinking no one sees what they are doing. Do you know all it takes for someone to see your wicked works is for them to spot your car pulling around the back of the porn shop? You're so smart, you went to the one way on the other side of town from your church and your friends. Of course, this was the same day someone had an appointment right down the road and saw you pull in.

And don’t think that just because you cross a state line that someone won’t find out. These days families are spread out all over the place. I have one sister in southern Pennsylvania. Another in Central New York State. You may have no idea how easy it is for God to put you in the path of someone who knows someone you know, and will make your wicked deeds manifest to that person. All things are exposed, reproved by the Light. And do not think to say to yourself “No one has seen me.” Are you kidding me? If you think that no one will see you, then you are about the most foolish person on the planet. Do you know God? Do you not know that if no one else sees you that HE WILL!! Hebrews 4:13And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. Psalm 139:7-10Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,” even the night shall be light about me; indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, but the night shines as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to You. To God, the darkness is no different than light. His eyes see everything! So go ahead, hide your sins and your wickedness from your neighbor, or your family, or the person sitting in the pew next to you. Get away with your hidden things for a while. Then stand before God and have Him show you every single thing you ever did.

Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” Is this a call to salvation? No, it is not. The context of this whole passage—in fact the context of the whole letter—is instruction to believers. “Awake, sleepers!” Here we find a close similarity to the words the captain used in rebuking Jonah. Jonah 1:6“What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not.” Where was Jonah sleeping? In the bottom of the boat. Who was he surrounded by? A bunch of pagans. Did he belong to God? Why, yes.

Then goes out the call for the backslider to arise from the dead. The Greek is anasta (anasta), “to stand up.” The root of anasta is anistemi (anistemi). This is related to—but not identical with—anastasiV (anastasis), which is the word translated “resurrection.” Anistemi means simply “to rise.” It is used in reference to people “standing up”, and to “raising up seed.” This is not a call to the dead. It is a call to the living to rise up out of their associations with wickedness and to be illuminated by Christ.

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise… A literal rendering would be, Be looking, then, accurately how you are walking… Again, imperative. “Be looking!” Peter warns us to be sober, be vigilant (1st Peter 5:8). Watch where you're going. Keep your eyes open. And walk circumspectly. Walk akriboV (akribos). Exactly. Accurately. “Cautiously; with watchfulness every way; with attention to guard against surprise or danger.” The prefix “circum” means “round”; the root “spect” means “to look.” In other words, “Be watching all round about you when and where you walk.” Don’t take anything for granted.

How many times have you taken the same route to work, day in and day out, then one day, when you're not looking, you fell a THUD, you hear a loud noise, and you feel your tire going flat. You didn’t see the nail or the piece of metal, or the new pothole. You weren’t careful. You weren’t watching. Paul warns us here not to take for granted that our path will be always clear. We are to guard against traps and snares from the enemy. Psalm 38:12Those also who seek my life lay snares for me; those who seek my hurt speak of destruction, and plan deception all the day long. Proverbs 13:14The law of the wise is a fountain of life, to turn one away from the snares of death. When we don’t watch our steps, we are likely to be caught by the snares and traps of the enemy.

Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Unwise—unmindful, ignorant. How does Paul refer to those who do not watch their steps? Fools. Fools. It is the fool who says, “Eh, it’s all good. I don’t have to worry about anything. I can take care of myself.” Paul is warning us to not be a fool. We are not to be unwise, but to be wise. We are to be wise concerning evil. We are commended to that in Romans 16:17-19Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses…and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and…deceive the hearts of the simple…Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil. And in 1st Corinthians 14:20Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature. Jesus sent His disciples out, telling them, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16). We are not to be ignorant of what is evil. For Satan can make evil look very good. Consider his work in creating Mormonism, and the Jehovah’s Witnesses. These are “good people” who follow the doctrines of demons. They want to know God, they think they know God. But they do not know Him.

And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit… Now we touch upon a sensitive subject, one that causes much disagreement. The age-old question, “Should Christians drink?” This is not a question that can be answered with a simple “Yes” or “No.” Let me say this at the outset: This is, absolutely, a question of conscience. An entire message could be centered around this verse alone, but that is for another time. We will, however, deal quickly and concisely with this issue. It is not so much a question of “Should Christians drink?” There are really two questions: (1) “Are Christians allowed to drink?” And (2) “Should I—personally, individually—drink?” The answers are: (1) Yes—but not to the point of drunkenness. And (2) That depends on who you are. Are you one who is predisposed to alcoholism? If so, then you should abstain from it. Are you a person in a position of authority in your church? If so, then you should abstain from it. 1st Corinthians 6:12All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. In other words, Paul is saying, “I have liberty, as a Christian, being no longer under the Law of Moses but covered by the grace of God and the blood of Christ Jesus my Lord and Savior, to eat or drink anything I like. But there are some things which I should not partake of, because they may cause a brother to stumble.”

Romans 14:21It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak. If your brother in Christ sees you doing something that leads them into temptation and sin, it is best if you avoid it yourself—especially when you are in their company. In the next verse, Paul says, Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Blessed is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. If you tell your brother, “You should not do such-and-such” and then you turn around and do the same thing, you are condemning yourself as a hypocrite!

So we are not to be drunk on wine, but to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Interesting that the word mequskesqe (methuskesthe) is in the passive voice. We do not make ourselves drunk. We are made drunk. Be filled with the Holy Spirit. Be filled—imperative mood. Literally, “Be being filled with the Holy Spirit!” The Greek is plerousqe (plerousthe). Imperative mood, passive voice. “Be being-filled!” This is not something we can do ourselves, it has to be done to us. Who can fill themselves with the Holy Spirit of God? Who can make oneself a temple of the Holy Spirit? It is God who sets us apart as His dwelling place. And He takes up residence in us. Imperative mood, passive voice, present tense. Rather than allow ourselves to be taken over by “spirits”—is it any wonder “spirits” is a synonym for liquor?—we are to allow God’s Holy Spirit to continually fill our hearts, minds, and souls. This is not a one-time act, but an action which is to be practiced continually, in the present tense.

…speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord… What is a psalm? Literally, it is “A striking or twanging of a musical instrument.” There are some who say that we should not use musical instruments in our worship service. They come up with the (lame) excuse that “We don’t find anything in the New Testament that says we can use instruments.” This is what’s known as “an argument from silence.” After all, it doesn’t say anywhere in the New Testament that we can't use instruments. Well, these people need to learn what the Bible says. Because here it says we are to speak with others in psalms.

This is one place the KJV doesn’t quite get the essence of the word. Not that it is necessarily wrong, but as Marvin Vincent says in his Word Studies, “The A.V. is literally correct, but is open to the misinterpretation each one communing with himself. The meaning is as in Colossians 3:13…is better.” The NKJV and NASB don’t quite get it either in rendering it, speaking to yourselves. This is one of those times the English really fails us, since our 2nd person doesn’t really have a distinction between singular and plural. The word eautoiV (eautois) is dative case, 2nd person plural. If Paul had meant for us to speak within ourselves, he would have inserted the word en (en), and eautou (eautou) would be singular.

Read the titles of the Psalms. They were all set to music, to be played on musical instruments. Paul is encouraging us here to speak to one another, sing to one another, play songs for one another on the harp and lyre and flute and timbrel and guitar and organ and drums if you wish. But this encouragement from Paul urges us to break out the instruments and play them for one another and encourage one another, and lift up one another. And giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ…

…submitting to one another… Put yourself beneath others. Think more highly of others than you do yourself. We are not to put our self in the seat of highest importance, and look to meet our own needs before we meet the needs of others. In Luke’s account of our Lord’s words in the Sermon on the Mount, we find a lengthy section dedicated to our relationship to the poor. That we who have should give to those who do not have. Now, contrary to what you will hear from those who pimp out their pulpits to the highest bidder, the words of Jesus are not directing us to give our money to wealthy, flamboyant ministers who have more than enough. Time does not permit me to properly exposit Luke 6:38. Understand, however, that the pimps have hijacked this verse to make it sound as if sending them your money will cause boundless riches to fall into your lap. In fact, compare Luke 6:38 to Matthew 7:6 and you will see what I think of taking the money God has entrusted to us and giving it to these wolves.

…in the fear of God. Depending on your translation, yours may read in the fear of Christ. Either is acceptable. We are to fear God (Matthew 10:28) and we should also fear Christ—after all, is He not God? And should we not fear? Should we not have a phoboV (phobos) of the one who created all things, and who will one day cause all things to burn with fervent heat (2nd Peter 3:10)?

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