Community Group Study Notes
Have someone in your group provide a 2-minute summary of Sunday’s teaching.
What is one thing that God taught you through this message?
Why do we need to be filled with the Spirit? What would it look like for the Spirit to have more of you?
What can you do to prepare to receive the filling of the Spirit?
What is one action step you can take in response to this message and our conversation?
Hi Chapel family, so glad to be with you today to share God's word. I want to ask you if you have a copy of the scripture to go ahead and turn to Ephesians chapter five. We're going to be in Ephesians chapter five in just a little while. Kids if you want to jump up next to mom or dad or whoever's got the Bible open and ask them to read that to you or follow along or point to the words so that you'll know exactly what we're talking about today. Today is actually Pentecost Sunday. And so, maybe as far as it pertains to the church calendar, Easter, you pretty much know that one, Christmas, we got that one too, but Pentecost Sunday may be something that you've heard of and maybe wondered, what does that mean? Or perhaps that's a new word to you altogether.
Pentecost Sunday marks the time on the church calendar that commemorates the arrival of the Holy Spirit. See, it was almost exactly 2000 years ago, just about 10 years shy of exactly 2000 years ago that originally those first disciples were waiting for the Holy Spirit. They were waiting in Jerusalem. Jesus had told them to wait for the Holy Spirit to come. And so, this Pentecost Sunday arrived 2000 years ago during the Jewish festival, the feast of weeks. And it was called the feast of weeks because it was seven weeks plus one day, so 50 days after Passover. And every year, the feast of weeks came at that time 50 days after Passover.
But on this one occasion in particular, it had been 50 days since the once and for all Passover lamb, Jesus, had been crucified. And for these original disciples, which were totaling about 120 at the time, this was now 10 days after Jesus had ascended, just about 10 days or so since Jesus had ascended back to the father. And so those 10 days were spent waiting and they were together and they were in prayer. And this was all because of what Jesus said. Look with me at Acts chapter one verse four. Jesus told them this upon his departure. He said, there it is. "Nevertheless, I tell you that..." No, that's John 16:7. Let me get Acts 1. We could do sword drills. We don't have it. That's quite all right.
Everyone at home, this was planned. All right. Acts chapter one verse four. Jesus is about to leave. And in leaving some last instructions to his disciples, this is what he said. Listen close. "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my father promised which you have heard me speak about." He says, "Don't leave, but wait. Don't leave Jerusalem but wait for the gift that my father has promised, which you have heard me speak about." And Jesus has spoken about that often. He said this in John 16:7. He said, "Nevertheless I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you."
Have you ever read this verse like I have and thought, how could anything be an advantage? How could anything be an advantage in place of Jesus? He said, "It's to your advantage that I go away." But Jesus, what could be better than you walking beside us? And I imagine the original disciples thought the same thing. I don't think that they got it right away. I mean, they were usually slow to understand if I could say it nicely. Remember, these were the guys that Jesus would say things to this effect, "I'm going to die and three days later I'm going to rise again." And then the disciples would talk amongst themselves. "What do you think he meant by that?" So I don't think that they got this right away that it's to your advantage. Jesus saying, "It's to your advantage that I go away because if I don't go then I'm not going to send this advocate, this helper, this comforter, the Holy Spirit."
But I know one thing for sure. Even if they didn't get there right away they knew, on the day of Pentecost, they knew that full well because everything changed in that moment. The Holy Spirit arrived filling all 120 that were there together praying and waiting. And there they were in that upper room, praying and waiting, and they were all filled with the spirit and nothing was the same from that moment forward. I mean, Peter. Cowardly Peter, who just 50 days prior was denying that he even knew Jesus or was associated with him. Denying him to this little girl that was working at the household of Caiaphas and he denies it to this preteen, he's embarrassed in front of her.
And now on the day of Pentecost, he's preaching to the masses about the risen Christ. And he sees a harvest of souls and rightfully so because the feast of weeks was also known as the feast of the harvest. And then on that day and every day since that time, those disciples, they knew what Jesus meant. They knew why he spoke of the spirit in this way. They saw the advantage that he had intended.
But do we see that? Do we see that or is there a slight tinge of skepticism when we read, "Nevertheless it's to your advantage that I go away." Have we softened the importance of Jesus' words because of maybe some of our own modern vernacular? Like we say this from time to time, "Well, she's not with us here physically, but she's with us in spirit." Right? And so, "Hey, they can't be with us at this event, but they're with us in spirit." You may have even said that a bunch over the last several weeks. We do that to maybe comfort ourselves. It's like, hey, they're sending warm thoughts our way, whatever that means I'm not sure. Or maybe growing up as a kid you were looking forward to your dad being at that little league game and your eyes would roll when your mom would say, "Well, he's not here but he's with us in spirit."
And so, that has actually become a filter by which you hear Jesus say, "I'm going to send you my spirit." You see, we can even sentimentalize the promise of Jesus. It's to your advantage that I go away. We can actually sentimentalize that promise. "Yeah, he's not here but he's sending us well wishes from heaven." And we sentimentalize that to our own peril. You see, we will never realize the advantage that Jesus designed for his church through his spirit if we don't understand what he was even talking about. If we don't understand its importance, we will never realize the advantage. But the good news is we're not the first ones to wrestle with this.
We're not the first or the only people to ask these kinds of questions. In fact, one group of people that we're going to look at today, the church at Ephesus. When Paul, the Apostle Paul was planting churches and when he came to the city of Ephesus the first time, you can actually read about it in Acts 19 if you wanted to later on, when he came to Ephesus the first time and found some disciples, they didn't even know that there was a Holy Spirit. So, he ended up deciding to stay. He's like, I got some more work to do. So he stays for about three years preaching and teaching and building up this body of believers and no doubt I'm sure that that involves some teaching from Paul on the spirit, why the spirit is so important.
And so now after he had left and gone and traveled and planted more churches and done ministry in more cities, now when we pick up the book of Ephesians, we're looking about seven or eight years after he left them. And he's writing back to confirm some things and also I think teach some new things. And so follow along with me in Ephesians chapter five, beginning in verse 15, this is what it says. "Be very careful then how you live, not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish but understand what the Lord's will is. Do not get drunk on wine which leads to debauchery, instead be filled with the spirit."
So if you're looking at that and hearing, be filled with the spirit, be filled with the Holy spirit, what does that mean? That's a term you can hear sometimes get tossed around a lot, being filled with the spirit or being spirit filled or spirit led, what does that even mean? What importance does it have in the life of a believer? What difference does it make? Does it relate to our situation right now here in this moment? That's where we're headed today.
So be filled. Let's just talk about that phrase first, be filled. Now Paul's writing to this ancient Greek city of Ephesus, right? So he's writing in their native tongue, he's writing in Greek. And so because of that, sometimes you'll hear us examine a word in its original language not because we're trying to flex some seminary muscles that we miss, that's not it at all, but rather because there's some things that are bound up in the original grammar that are helpful to our understanding.
And so be filled takes a unique form in the Greek language that we can easily miss in English. And so if you will stay with me because I want to show you a few things that we learn about what this verb 'be filled' looks like and why it's important. So here's the first bullet point. Be filled is plural. It's a plural verb. Now, believe me, I don't want to transport in our time machine to high school English class any more than you do. So I promise this will be brief and I promise it will be helpful. Be filled is plural. That means all of you, all you all, or here in Western New York use guys. This is for all of us. There is no exception. Paul doesn't have in mind that there are some Christians who should be filled and some that shouldn't. But being filled is a plural verb, it's for everyone, all of us. This is for you. If you're listening to this as a follower of Christ, this is for you.
Here's the second thing. Be filled is in the present tense. It's in the present tense, which means... maybe a better way or a more accurate way of rendering this but maybe less smooth for our reading would be this, keep on being filled by the spirit. Keep on being filled. This is in the present tense, it's something that must be repeatedly done.
There's a third thing. Be filled is in the passive voice. Be filled is passive voice. So, maybe you were with me for the first two, but we don't often talk like this in English so let me explain this a little bit further. To be filled means that this is something that you are receiving. That's what we mean by the passive voice. It's something that you are receiving, not something that you are creating or manufacturing. It's something that comes from outside of you. You are filled from outside of you. It's not something you possess within you, it's in the passive voice. So this is an action that is done to you, an action that is done to me. We are filled. We receive that filling.
And then a fourth thing. It's an imperative. It's an imperative, which means it's a command, a command that must be obeyed. Just like the beginning of the verse says don't get drunk, that's an imperative. Now here's the other part of that imperative. But instead, be filled. It's a command to be obeyed. This is actually not that uncommon in the scripture, this combination of the passive voice and an imperative, like how can I obey something that I have to receive? That's actually not that uncommon in the scripture.
In fact, you may be familiar with Romans 12:2. It says this, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world," but here it is, "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind." It's the exact same structure in the original language, same idea. So both of those verbs: be transformed and be filled, they're plural, they're present, they're passive and they're imperatives. So, all of you keep on receiving this and you should obey it. That's if I were to summarize and distill all that I just showed you, that's exactly what that means.
So, how can we then be filled? If this is something that is done to us, how do we obey it? That's what I want to help us understand, all of us. So maybe an illustration can help. So I got an illustration here that I brought with me. I've got this container of water and I've got this sponge. So, if we were to talk about what it means to be filled with the spirit, allow me to illustrate with this. I've got this sponge in my hand and I'm going to say that this sponge represents my life, period. My soul, my existence, everything. This water represents being in Christ.
And so at the point of my conversion, the Holy Spirit plunges me into Christ. In fact, 1st Corinthians 12:13, the first part of it says this. "For we were all baptized by one spirit so as to form one body." There it is. For we were all baptized by one spirit so as to form one body. So at conversion, the moment you surrendered to Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit took your life, translated you out of the kingdom of darkness and plunged you into Christ.
Now you know why my sleeves are rolled up like this. So I could be ready for this very moment. You were plunged into Christ. You were translated out of darkness and into the kingdom of light, into the kingdom of his son. You were baptized into Christ. Now, this spiritual baptism or this Holy Spirit baptism, the Holy Spirit takes you and places you into the body of Christ. This is what it means to be saved. You were brought into his family, so you're now in Christ. You're plunged. And so, when we talk about water baptism or believers baptism, what we celebrate as a church together, that water baptism is an outward demonstration of what has taken place on the inside.
Water baptism outwardly confirms later what had already taken place in the heart through the Holy Spirit. We were all baptized into Christ. Every single one of us had been plunged into Christ. But you'll notice that I'm holding onto this sponge pretty tight, that I've got actually a pretty good death grip on it because I'm actually holding it in. I'm holding the sponge together and I'm preventing it from doing what is actually the most natural thing in the world for it to do. You see, if I release my death grip on my hand on the sponge, what's going to happen? It's going to fill up all, and now it's soaked, right? Now it's drenched. You hear that? Can you hear that at home? Turn up your speaker if you can't. All right.
When I've got my death grip on this sponge, you know what, the outside of the sponge, it may be wet because it's underwater, the outside of the sponge may be wet but it will never be filled. The outside might get wet. And yeah, "Hey, I'm in Christ." But because of this death grip that I've got on this sponge, it'll never do what it should do, and that is fill, overflowing. So I think that, although this is just an illustration and we don't want to press it too far, I think it's helpful in some respects because notice the second part of 1st Corinthians 12:13.
Let me read the whole thing. "For we were all baptized by one spirit so as to form one body, whether Jews or Gentiles, slaves or free, and we were all given the one spirit to drink." So we were all plunged into Christ at conversion. We were all plunged into the body of Christ. We became sons and daughters of the King. We became the bride of Christ. So we were baptized and we have all been given one spirit to drink. And so, how do we make this sponge drink? We release our grip. We release our death grip on that sponge and allow it to be filled.
And so, again, this is just an illustration and it's not perfect, but I think it gives us some of an indication of what it means to be filled by the spirit, just like being transformed. You have to surrender to that, but you also have to cooperate with it. You have to not only lay down your will, but you have to work toward the same goal. I have to want the same thing for my life that God wants for it, and that is Christ likeness. And so it is here, to be filled means that I'm surrendering, I'm laying down my will. I'm releasing the death grip that I've got on my life. Yes I'm in Christ, but we know and you know this, that just because you are in Christ doesn't mean you are instantly like Christ. Doesn't mean that the thoughts, the words, the actions of Christ overflow out of your life. Just because you're in Christ doesn't mean immediately that you look just like Christ. Far from it.
In fact, sometimes we would recognize that there's a huge gap between who we say we are and what we actually do. And I think that that's helpful for us to understand here, that what we're talking about when we say being filled with the spirit we're not saying, are you saved or are you not? We're not saying, are you in Christ or are you not? Instead we're saying, where is the spirit's leadership in your life? How evident to you and those around you is the spirit's leadership, direction and control? See, once for all you were baptized into Christ, even without confirming that with water baptism visibly, you've been baptized spiritually into Christ. One baptism, one time, once for all.
But there are many fillings of the spirit because our natural, and by that I mean our fleshly tendency, is to squeeze out the evidence of the spirit and lean into what is familiar to us, and that is our sinful nature. That's our tendency from the flesh. Our tendency is to do our own thing. Our tendency is to live our own way. Our tendency is to say what we want when we want, however we want and to do likewise. Our tendency is to allow pride to rear its ugly head in every relationship and circumstance. That's our fleshly tendency.
And so, what we're talking about today in being filled is not a matter of are you saved or are you not? I'm taking it for granted that you are a follower of Christ, you are in him. But I do want you and I both to wrestle with this question and that is, is the spirit's leadership evident?. Am I filled with the spirit. Or maybe I could put it this way into words. The question for us is not, do I have the spirit, but rather does the spirit have me? The question is not do I have the spirit, but does the spirit have me.
See, at conversion, at the moment that you surrendered your life into God's hands, you received all that he had for you. You couldn't get more saved. Once you were purchased with Christ blood, it can't get more than that. So you could say it this way. At conversion, you got all of God, all of him. There's not any believer that says, "Well, I've got more of God than you." No, you've got his residing presence in your life. And I think that's a really important thing for us to start with. You have God's resident Holy Spirit in your life.
But the other side of that coin or the other part of this discussion is that while at conversion you get all that you have received in eternal life from God, you get all of him, no one has more of him or less of him. You get all of him, all of his residing presence. Over time, God gets more of you. You see, at conversion maybe you're holding onto some stuff, whether that's a habit or a thought pattern, or maybe some business practices or any number of things, right? Maybe that's an addiction to a substance, or maybe that's a relationship that you know is not God glorifying.
And so at the point of conversion you say, "Yes, I want you Jesus. I'm all in." And yet you're still trying to hold on to some things over here. You're still trying to hold on to a part of your life that you think is off limits to him. That's why I say over time God gets more of you. And that's the question we're interacting with today. It's not, do I have the spirit? Well, if you're in Christ, you have the resident Holy Spirit. God has moved into your life once and for all. But the question we're wrestling with today is, does the spirit have you? Or personalize it, does the spirit have me?
And sadly I think sometimes we know what this doesn't look like more than what it does. I know that's true in my own life when I have spoken a harsh word and I've not built up but I've cut down. I know that when I've not been unifying but actually divisive. I know these things in my life and I would wager to say that you know that as well. Particularly over these last several weeks, perhaps that's even something you've become really, really aware of.
Maybe it was that harsh word you spoke to your child who asked like the 39,000,000th question of the day and it wasn't even 10:00 AM. Maybe it was your parent who was initially dismissive of your concern for them and for their health. You try to speak gently but they were dismissive of it and so finally you reached your limit or what you thought your limit was, and you let them have it and you scolded them like you were the parent and they were actually the child. Or maybe it was your spouse who wasn't taking this seriously. Or maybe it was your spouse who was taking this way more seriously than you thought they needed to, or who was expecting you to make all the adjustments so that they could live their life just as if it was normal with a face mask on and finally you reached your end and you let them have it.
Maybe it was your employer who expected you to be like a machine and just output as if nothing had changed while you were juggling all of the previously mentioned conversations. And so you finally just decided to start cutting her down, not to her face maybe, but sideways laterally to team members. Or maybe it was your employee who just vanished into thin air and when you said work from home, they apparently heard paid vacation. Can we just agree about something? This is not an exhaustive list by the way, but can we just agree that being spirit filled, being filled with the spirit in these scenarios would have made a world of difference.
You see, if we were to keep on reading in Ephesians from this point that we did, and we're not going to do that today, but if you were to keep reading just in this passage, Ephesians chapter five, and we were to keep reading throughout what Paul had said, here's what we would find: instructions on how husbands and wives should relate to each other, instructions on how parents and children should relate to each other, principles for how employers and employees should relate to each other. Now, Paul uses their cultural example of slaves and masters but there's much for us to draw from that.
And by the way, this was all revolutionary teaching that in Christ, wives aren't property and husbands aren't self centered. And in Christ parents don't exasperate their children, but children actually obey their parents as if they were obeying the Lord. And employers and employees have a different kind of relationship because employees show honor and treat their employers with respect and dignity and masters, employers, do the exact same thing. "In the same way," is what Paul says, "Here's how you should treat them; with dignity as if they are fellow image bearers."
And so, all of this is right here. And would that not be a word to our time? Is this not a handbook for the season we find ourselves in? And yet all of this is necessary, but at the same time all of this is impossible without Ephesians 5:18. All of this is impossible without being filled, keep on being filled with the spirit. "Okay, Jonathan, I'm with you. I want that. How do I do it?" Paul doesn't say. Paul doesn't say, "Be filled with the spirit and here's how you do it." In fact, he kind of just rolls into an explanation of what its effects are and that's what we've talked about. But I don't think we're without help here. In fact, I don't think he's left us without a direction to go and in fact I think there's much that we can do.
But being filled with the spirit is not a transaction. There is preparation, but it's not a transaction. I'm not going to show it to you but in the book of Acts in Acts chapter eight actually there was a magician, Simon the sorcerer, who saw what the Holy Spirit was doing through the apostles and he offered the apostles money saying, "Hey, how can I get some of that?" He just wanted the transaction. That's not how this works. But there is preparation. And so, I want to ask this question, how can I prepare to receive the Holy Spirit's filling? How can I prepare to receive the filling of the Holy spirit?
Here's a few things from our text that I think are helpful. Here's the first. We need to walk carefully in wisdom. We need to walk carefully in wisdom. Ephesians 5:15, and then the first part of 17 says, "Be very careful then how you live, not as unwise but as wise." And then the first part of 17, "Therefore do not be foolish." Paul says, "Be careful how you live." Some translations say, "Walk carefully then." And walking was one of Paul's favorite metaphors for daily life.
And so, it might be appropriate to say it this way, "Watch your step, watch your step." And he says that this is all tied to wisdom, by the way. He's saying, how can you prepare to receive the filling of the spirit? I think one of the first things that Paul would want us to understand is that we would walk carefully in wisdom. We'd pay attention to where our steps are taking us. And twice we have this encouragement; don't walk as unwise but as wise. Don't be foolish.
Why is this so important? Well, in thinking about watching your step, it reminded me of something I did last summer. Last summer I went with some of the guys from my community group to the Adirondacks for a couple of days and in a lapse of judgment I said, "Yeah, this would be a great idea." No, I had a great time with them and made a lot of really great memories, but here's the thing. I'm a novice. I know you can't tell this by looking at me, but I have no experience climbing mountains. But thankfully all of the people I was with had a lot more experience in that regard. And so I was very careful to listen to whatever they said.
And so if one of them said, "Hey, as we're hiking up here, watch your step." I was paying attention. All right. Like I was listening very closely. Just as a general rule, even though I didn't know a lot about this, as a general rule, scaling bare rock at nearly 5,000 feet elevation, not a carefree activity. All right. So I'm listening very carefully. Hey, if one of them says to watch your step, I'm going to be paying attention. I don't know the terrain. I've never done this before. But now I lived to tell about it and I did climb two mountains on that trip and I'm very proud to say that, my first and my last.
But listen, walking carefully in wisdom means we are watching our steps and those steps are informed by where the spirit is leading. And Jesus himself promised exactly what the spirit would do when he came. Look at these passages from the gospel of John. First in John 16, Jesus said, "But when he, the spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth." And then the next one, chapter 14 verse 26 says, "But the advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have said to you." This is a part of the Spirit's ministry to point you to the truth and wisdom that is bound up in Jesus Christ.
So here's what you can be sure of. You can't prepare to receive the filling of the spirit if you're walking in antagonism to where the spirit is leading. You can't be a candidate to be filled when you've got your back turned to where he wants to take you. And the spirit always wants to take you to what Jesus has said, wisdom found in Christ. That's the first thing. Walk carefully in wisdom. There's a second thing I want to show you, again from our text, and that's this, redeem the Kairos. That's another Greek word, redeem the Kairos. It says this in verse 16. "Making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil." Or some translations say, "Redeeming the time because the days are evil." Making the most of every opportunity, redeeming the time.
Here's the importance for us. When we talk about redeeming the time, the original language suggests buying something back out of the marketplace for yourself. That you'd buy back the opportunity for yourself, that you'd purchase or redeem something that otherwise would be lost but you're going to purchase that and bring it in so that it can be redeemed because we are surrounded by evil days. The days will take time in a different direction, but we are called to redeem the time, redeem the Kairos. And Kairos means a season or a fixed time. It's not Chronos, like chronology, like time in step. It's a season, Kairos. That's why I say that we are to redeem the Kairos.
We find ourselves in a difficult season. It's been quite a season that we find ourselves in just here in these last number of weeks and there's been a lot to grieve in this season. There's been people who have lost loved ones in this season. There've been people who have lost jobs or been significantly strained financially in this season. There have been students who are looking forward to that prom or that last season of sports or that graduation and they're grieving that loss. And as people of God, as people who are indwelt and filled by the Holy Spirit, we grieve that too.
Even when we ourselves don't experience that same loss or the loss to the same degree, when one part of the body hurts, we hurt with them. But we don't just stay in grief, we move through it. I didn't say get over it, but we move through it. We don't grieve like the rest who have no hope, we move through it. We do grieve and we grieve with those who are in grief, but we're moving through it to something. We're moving somewhere. And so for all of us to grab and get ahold of that idea means that when one part of the body of which we have been plunged into, when one part of the body hurts, we hurt with them.
But as we hurt and as we move through this grief, we start to ask different questions. This is what the spirit-filled person does. Lord, how do you want to redeem the season? How do you want to redeem this Kairos? How can I buy back this opportunity and bring it under your spirit's leadership and control? Lord, what do you want to do in me in this season so that I will be more fruitful in the future? God, how do you want to redeem this time in my life, in our family, in my marriage, in my work, in my neighborhood? God, what do you want to do?
You may have meant it for evil, COVID-19, but God meant it for good. But that's not the only season we're in because some in our church and some in our community feel that they're in another season. And it's a bit longer. The season that I just talked about maybe has lasted about three months or so, maybe 10 or 12 weeks, but there's others who wake up every day and it feels like they're in the same season. A season of racial tension where things are not as they should be and where we don't see the progress. Like Pastor Leroy mentioned earlier today, we don't see the progress like we had hoped. And for those who wake up in that season, the recent deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd are added to the list of injustices in this Kairos.
So how do we all as followers of Christ, being filled with the spirit, how do we walk full of the spirit in times like these? There's a lot we could say. Of course to pray for and to work toward justice, mercy, and peace. But remember what I said just a moment ago, we have all been plunged into one body. Paul says, because he wrote that in 1st Corinthians 12, whether Jew or Gentile, slave or free, in the body of Christ, those distinctions are not erased, but they do mean this. Regardless of what your background was before Christ, now you are in him. And so what the world that looks on at the church should see is something that puzzles them, not confirms what they've already assumed.
It should bewilder people how those who are Jew and Gentile, slave and free, from different race, from different religious backgrounds, from different socioeconomic status, how these all could be in one and the same Christ. And because we're all in one and the same Christ, we've all been plunged into him. When one part of our body is hurting, we all hurt with them. We don't tell them to get over it. We don't qualify their pain. We don't try to give them some perspective. We sit, we listen to those who are hurting. We are slow to speak. We are quick to listen. We're slow to offer our commentary. We're quick to seek humble understanding.
We link arms with those who are very different from us because in the body of Christ, or let me be more specific, the bride of Christ, and Jesus has one bride. In that one bride, we show the world in this Kairos and every Kairos, in this season and every season, in the bride of Christ we show the world that this bride is unified even in the midst of that beautiful diversity that God himself designed. That in Christ alone we can be healed and we can be whole.
So we are slow to speak, quick to listen. We don't say, "Go in peace. I wish you well, be warm and well fed," and do nothing about the needs in front of people. That's not how spirit-filled people operate. Instead, regardless of the circumstances, we recognize that it's never wrong to love our neighbor. It's never a wrong time. It's always the right opportunity to love our neighbor. And that is exactly what spirit-filled people do. That is exactly what we, the people of God, do.
There's a third thing. Don't give yourself to rivals. Don't give yourself to rivals. In verse 18 Paul says, "Do not get drunk on wine which leads to debauchery, instead be filled with the spirit." Don't get drunk, but be filled because if you're filled with a rival influence, you won't be in a position to be filled with the spirit. If you've given yourself over to being filled with something else, whatever that something else is, you won't be in a position to receive the filling of the spirit.
Now, Paul uses wine, not because that's the exhaustive list. Okay? So there's no like, "Oh hey, there's the caveat. He said don't get drunk on wine. I've been waiting for that confirmation because I don't even like wine." That's not what he's talking about. He's using something that was culturally relevant to the Ephesians. In Ephesus there was worship of course of Artemis, you've heard of that, but also of Dionysus, or you might be familiar with his Roman name Bacchus.
In the Dionysian worship, which involved wine induced debauchery, this was something that was familiar to all of the Ephesians. So they knew exactly what he was speaking into. He's speaking into their culture, he's saying, "Don't just go the way of the world around you. But instead be filled with the spirit." He says, "Don't get drunk on wine. Don't give yourself over to this rival influence that's going to lead you astray, it's going to lead you to debauchery." Actually the word that Paul uses there is the same word as what Jesus used in Luke 15 to talk about the prodigal, that he wasted his life. He wasted his money on reckless and wild living. Same word that's in Ephesians 5.
So instead of wasting an opportunity, we know we're supposed to redeem and buy back these opportunities. So how do we do that? We don't give ourselves over to rivals. We don't pursue other things to fill and to satisfy, but rather we are filled. We keep on being filled with the spirit. We acquire the taste of the spirit so that that is the most normative thing for us as followers of Christ to drink deep of the spirit of God each and every single day. That we wouldn't want to start a day apart from drinking of the spirit.
And I want to remind you here of something that Jesus said in John chapter seven. Look with me in John 7:37 and the first part of 38. Jesus said, you know these words, right? "Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as scriptures has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them." Now leave that there for just one second because you've heard that before. Come to me and drink. But here's the second part. Put that next slide. By this he meant the spirit. Now, we're familiar with the first part, come to me and drink, but how many of us have actually forgotten that second part? I was reminded of that even in my study this week, by this he meant the spirit.
When you come to the Lord, the wellspring of life, Jesus Christ, and each and every day you rest in his presence, you take in his word because this is how he speaks, he will fill us to overflowing. And this is what he meant, the spirit. He'd fill us with the spirit. So let me ask you this as I'm asking myself, how desperately do you thirst for him to do that? How desperate are you for him to do this? Or can you find yourself in a position, can I find myself in a position where I'm just so comfortable moving about the day in my own power, in my own resources and I don't even give this a thought. And then I'm caught off guard when my reactions don't honor Christ, when the words that spill out of my mouth aren't edifying, when my decisions don't align with what the Lord's will is.
But instead, what if we were to start each day by going to the well and drinking deep and asking father, would you fill me with this gift of the spirit? I know that I belong to you, I'm yours, I'm your child, that is unchanging. But God, I need you to so fill me to overflowing with your spirit, that your leadership would be evident in everything I do today. That people wouldn't see me, they would see you. Fill me with your spirit, God.
This is what it means for us to walk full of the spirit, that the people around us and we ourselves would see the spirit's leadership on display. That the spirit's leadership and control would be evident in all things. And that that, listen, wouldn't be the exception, but that that would be the norm. So, how desperate are you for that? How desperately do you long for that? Because I could tell you this. The world around us desperately needs to see us be filled. Let's bow together for a word of prayer.
Right now if you're watching this, listening, wherever you're doing that from, I'd ask you to just be still for just a moment and listen close. If you know Christ, if you're in him, you've been plunged into Christ, you're his child. Maybe you'd recognize that you've had a death grip on that life. You've had a death grip over some things and you've said, "Jesus, everything but this," whatever this is. You've actually squeezed out an opportunity for the spirit's leadership to be evident because you won't relinquish control. Can I just encourage you today. As someone who is walking alongside you on this journey of faith in Christ, open your hand, release the death grip you've got, surrender to him.
But maybe you're watching this and you don't know God personally through Jesus. You've never embraced Jesus as your savior and said yes to him. Jesus made it pretty clear and I just read it. Whoever is thirsty, come to me and drink. You just come to him. No one else, nothing else, no substance, no relationship, no career pursuit or aspiration, come to him because everything else will still leave you thirsty. Only he can satisfy, only he can provide the spirit to fill you with his very presence. That's what he wants to do in your life. And you can make the most of this opportunity in front of you by saying yes to Jesus. Redeem the time, the days are evil. You can make this decision today. So we're going to tell you how to do that in just a little while.
Father, I thank you for your word. I pray that you'd inscribe this truth upon our hearts and that our natural or indeed this new nature reflex would be to start each day drinking in of your spirit, through your word, inspired by you, that your spirit would speak to us through these words and that we wouldn't even think to start or continue or live a single day apart from this, apart from coming to you and saying, fill me Lord with your presence, fill me with your spirit, direct my steps and may all that I say, think and do be glorifying to you and advance your mission in the world. Lord, I pray that that would be true of all of us. Draw us closer to yourself. We pray this in Christ's name, amen.