Part 3 - An Introduction into the ethics of the apostle (Ephesians 4:1 – 6:20)
Redeem the time, because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:15-20)
5:15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 5:15-20).
The daughter of a chief in central Africa served exemplary for a year in a pastor´s family, and then gave notice of her work resignation. When she was asked why she wanted to leave, she replied: “My father asked me to observe for a year how the master of the house treated his wife, his children and all those entering and leaving his house. Afterwards I am to work for a year for the Muslim sheikh of the region. Following that I am to report to my father what I experienced, saw and heard in the two years. Accordingly, he will then open the doors of his tribe for the better religion. That triggered a shock for the pastor and his wife! They began to excitedly reflect upon how they had acted in their house over the past year, repenting over every irritating word spoken or for every unfriendly action.
Whoever wants to live wisely should learn to place his daily activities under the laws of God, so that he can live in harmony with his Creator, Redeemer and Judge. It is not the amount of wages that decides the value of a life, also not the grades on the last school report card, but rather, it is what the Lord and Savior thinks of him. The blessing and grace of Jesus fill out a life much more than do the value standards of man. Examine your life and family planning and ask your Father in heaven to anoint you with His wisdom – especially if you still have the choice of occupation and life partner in front of you. The wisdom of God far exceeds the intelligence of all the geniuses of world history.
Paul, while in imprisonment and perhaps in Rome, had to recognize that the time of his free-world missionary endeavours was over. He had redeemed the days and months that previously had stood at his disposal; he had offered for Jesus the very last of what body, soul and spirit can give. In this sense he had admonished the responsible leaders in Ephesus, as well as all Christians, wherever they live: Do all that you can do in the name and power of Jesus! If, in your choice of service, you see several possibilities, let it be revealed to you through prayer what pleases your Lord the most – even if it doesn´t fit into your wish list. In the event that the time of open and public service appears to have passed, then accept what Albrecht Bengel suggests: Get deeper into God´s word! Learn by the comparing of Scriptures what the Bible teaches. Prepare and equip yourself for future ministries, and exercise yourself in worldwide intercession (Rev. 1:6; 5:10 etc.). Make yourself a prayer list according to continents, countries and cities. Thank your heavenly Father for His many blessings that you have been able, till now, to experience (Psalm 103:1-5). Believe that, for the sake of Jesus´wounds, He has heard all that you asked for under the leading of His Spirit.
Whoever prayerfully reads the Bible receives new understanding. He no longer thinks primarily on the material problems and the innate possibilities of this world, but rather, is taken into the thought paths of the divine will. Perhaps physical or emotional troubles are compelling him to intercede for healing and grace, when suddenly and unexpectedly, he discovers there are hundreds of thousands of blind, deaf, lame and otherwise plagued souls that he, until today, never realized were there in his horizon. Jesus first served the sick and the needy that either came or were brought to Him. His psychology ran counter to that of the fanatical terrorists of His day, who a short time later attempted throwing off the yoke of the Roman occupational force, only to plunge their people into a bloodbath, accompanied by wretchedness and slavery. Therefore Paul wrote: Do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And then do what He wills!
At that time there were not just a few superficial pessimists, who imagined it impossible for them to do or change much. Therefore let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die, so they thought (Isaiah 22:13; 1 Cor. 15:32). At the temple festivals they got drunk and carried on sexual orgies with the temple prostitutes (1 Cor. 6:9-11, 16-19; Rev. 2:14-15; 20:21). However, the particular temptation for some church members lay in the invitations they received to the temple festivals from their clans or business friends. Here they attempted to get these newly pious to fill up with alcohol and then tear them down to the level of their concupiscent desires.
Paul countered these open temptations of church members with an imperative: Be filled with the Spirit! (Eph. 5:18b) With repentance and having being baptized into Christ, along with prayers of faith, those who trusted in Jesus found that He filled them with joy, peace and holy love. They were no better than the other Ephesians, but they believed on the cleansing of their sin through the blood of Christ. They placed their confidence in this privilege, while offering praise and thanksgiving. The Holy Spirit then gave confirmation to this trust with His anointing (Acts 2:38-40). The Holy Spirit has been in the world since Pentecost. The Lord promised to give the penitent a new heart and a new spirit. Since Jesus atoned for each of us when he atoned for the sin of the world with his vicarious death, each person can ask Him for the grace of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of the Lord is ever present, and the right to receive Him is anchored in the cross of Christ. What hinders you from humbling yourself and asking for Him to come and indwell you?
The imprisoned apostle intensified his command to be filled with the Spirit of truth and the power of God by encouraging the faithful to memorize hymns, spiritual songs and psalms from the Old Testament and then sing them at home and in the church. In the event someone should answer Paul that he could not sing, the apostle was quick to wipe away this argument – by encouraging him to ask Jesus for a musical heart. Singing and making melody in one´s heart to the Lord is an innate characteristic of the Holy Spirit. Thanksgiving and praise, jubilation and glorification of the Lamb of God and His salvation, along with the worship of the Father for the fact He has adopted us, is deeply rooted in the gifts of the Spirit of consolation, so that further explanation is hardly necessary.
However, the one living in a country shaken with civil war and ruthless terrorism, may well, in the hours of acute danger and bomb attacks, open his Bible in order to be strengthened by the Spirit of consolation. In the event a group of believers in Jesus should be sitting in an overfilled air raid shelter, their hymns of faith may be just what drives the fear from their hearts and faces.
Prayer: Father in heaven, we praise You, for the temptations in this present world and the fear of death in the hearts of many a threatened one is nothing in comparison to the indwelling of Your Spirit of comfort in our hearts and in our minds. We thank You and worship You through Jesus Christ our Lord, for You did not redeem us because of our own decency, but alone through the blood of Jesus Christ, by His grace and love. Please stir our relatives, friends and acquaintances, so that they might repent, believe on Jesus and receive Your Holy Spirit. Amen.
- How can we fill up the evil days we are living in with a correct view to eternity?
- Why do we have the privilege to ask God for the filling with His Holy Spirit?