New Living in New Creation

Beautiful new creation in West Africa.


Scripture:

  Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(Eph. 5:15–20 NRSV)

Observation:

This entire chapter begins with an encouragement from Paul for the Ephesians to become imitators of Christ. In this context he discusses the influences of the culture upon life in the new Christian community. The life of the Christ-follower (imitator) is to be different from that which is found in the world. 

Application:

If God’s people are new creation, then there is new living. Careful attentiveness must be given to the ways in which the culture is allowed to influence because, it is people who have made the days evil (not God), and therefore wisdom is needed to live in a discerning way. If not, foolishness will rule the day. 

The people who worshipped Dionysius would drink until they were drunk as a part of their ritual. Wine was a part of this worship and in continual use. When they were filled with the wine and acted in such odd ways, they believed this was a sign of being filled with the spirit of Dionysius. Therefore drunkenness was associated with god-worship. Drunkenness plagued the culture in Ephesus. This is why Paul contrasts the use of wine with the infilling of the Spirit. It is a challenge to those who believed they needed wine to “lift their spirits,” rather than depending on the filling of theSpirit. 

Chrysostom put it this way: 

Be ready for the Spirit’s filling. This happens only when we have cleansed our souls of falsehood, anger, bitterness, sexual impurity, uncleanness and covetousness. It happens only when we have become compassionate, meek and forgiving to one another, only when facetiousness is absent, only when we have made ourselves worthy. Only then does the Spirit come to settle within our hearts, only when nothing is there to prevent it. Then he will not only enter but also fill us. (HOMILY ON EPHESIANS 19.5.19–21)

Therefore when we are tired and weary, anxious and afraid, we should not seek to have our spirits lifted by the drinking of alcohol. In the end it is the strong drink which can make us feel even more sorrowful. Instead, it is through prayer and the singing of Psalms that we are to seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit. In this way we can avoid those things which may keep us from living as new creation. 

Chrysostom’s message on this passage is powerful and so, we continue: 

Do you wish to be happy? Do you want to know how to spend the day truly blessed? I offer you a drink that is spiritual. This is not a drink for drunkenness that would cut off even meaningful speech. This does not cause us to babble. It does not disturb our vision. Here it is: Learn to sing psalms! Then you will see pleasure indeed. Those who have learned to sing with the psalms are easily filled with the Holy Spirit. But if you sing only the devil’s songs you will soon find yourself filled with an unclean spirit. HOMILY ON EPHESIANS 19.5.19–21.

New creation means new living, day in and day out focused on giving thanks to God, our lives an offering in worship before our Lord. 

Prayer:

In the power of the Spirit, may we live daily as imitators of Christ. Amen. 

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