The book of Ephesians is a letter that the Holy Spirit inspired the apostle Paul to write to ancient Christians in a city called Ephesus, reminding them of what God has done through Jesus Christ and the new life that is theirs thanks to Christ. In the back half of the book, Paul encourages them to live in light of what is true. He explains different ways in which they are not living like that and ways that they should live like that.
Ephesians 2:1-10 sets the tone and lays out in really vivid terms what God has done for us as Christians through Jesus Christ.
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world . . . carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (vv. 1-3)
Here is a portrait of the “before.” Before Jesus Christ saved you, this was your condition. The human condition is utterly hopeless without God’s divine intervention. It’s spiritual death, and we’re just zombies plodding along in obedience to whatever our flesh desires, whatever our minds make up and whatever Satan, who is in charge of this world’s system, has designed for us to do. But then the good news in verse 4:
But God, being rich in mercy . . . made us alive together in Christ . . . . For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God . . . . For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand.
God did all this for us through Jesus Christ. He cleaned us up and newly created us; we’re born again and brand new. We didn’t do it, it was a gift – and he did it for good works that he prepared before us. We have a life now to live in this world. It’s a new life in Christ, and it is going to look way different from the spiritual zombies that we used to be and that we’re surrounded by in this world.
New Life in Christ
With all this in mind, how do you live this new life in Christ? What does it look like?
Look carefully then how you should walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the
best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish,
but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:15-17)
Life goes by fast and the days we live in work against us, so we must look carefully how we walk and not be foolish. We are not in a stationary situation. If you are just treading water in your life, you’re not staying in the same place spiritually – you’re drifting and being pulled away from Jesus Christ. So Paul says to keep your eye on him, watch carefully how you walk, don’t get pulled away; the days are evil, so stay close (vv. 15-17). Then he goes on with some application in verse 18:
And do not get drunk with wine . . . but be filled with the Holy Spirit
We were meant to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Often times, however, we try to fill ourselves with something else: if not wine, maybe food or stuff or entertainment. We fill ourselves with something that will hopefully satisfy us, but it never does, so we keep wanting it more and more. There was a time in your life when you didn’t have the Holy Spirit, so the best you could hope for was to numb yourself with these other things. But that is not the case anymore. You can be filled with the Holy Spirit, and that leads to living this new life in Christ.
In the following verses, we see four ways in which being filled with the Holy Spirit shows itself:
- building up and encouraging one another to praise God (v. 19a);
- praising God directly (v. 19b);
- giving thanks (v. 20);
- submitting to and serving one another (v. 21).
We may find ourselves tempted to comfort and satisfy ourselves with lesser things – things of this world. Be warned that if you go that route, you will subtly be pulled away from Christ. Instead, let us go to God and ask him to fill us with his Holy Spirit. And let’s move forward with expectations for what he’ll bring about in that: fruit of fellowship and worship, gratitude, and service.
- Read and discuss Ephesians 2:1-10 and 5:15-17 together.
- What was our condition before we were saved by grace through faith?
- What is our condition now as Christ-followers?
- How are we to live in light of being “born again”?
- How can we keep from being subtly pulled away from Christ?
- What does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit?
- How does being filled with the Holy Spirit show itself?
- Based on answers to the previous question, are you filled with the Holy Spirit?