“Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:17–21 ESV).
Paul next takes us into the wisdom of our Father, for he is true and right and good. As the designer of humanity, he knows how we are best satisfied. he knows where our deepest joys are found. he offers wisdom to all who will receive it.
However, we cannot merely reject folly and be done with it. No one sets out to be a fool. No, our folly must be replaced. We must, as Paul put it, “understand what the will of the Lord is.” We must walk in the wisdom of our Father by learning his will.
As his word comes into our lives, building up our minds and hearts and perspectives, his Spirit will also come. He will, from moment to moment, day by day, whisper the Father’s word into our hearts, reminding us of it, showing us the ways in which we are to apply it to our daily experience.
A major area of wisdom believers need is in the realm of substance abuse. We are not to be drunk with wine, nor intoxicated with any other substance. Paul calls it debauchery. We ought to instead be filled with God’s Spirit, entirely satisfied with God.
A believer can say, “I will not become intoxicated because God forbids me from it in his word.”
Wine was the substance of their day. Our culture has created and discovered many more. Whatever the substance, intoxication is never fitting for the believer. God’s word prohibits it.
A believer can go on to say, “I will not become intoxicated because my body and mind belong to God.”
We know we are to be instruments for the Spirit to do his work, to speak and love and guide broken humanity. We want to be useful to God, but our minds must be clear for this to happen.
A believer can go on to say, “I will not become intoxicated because I am not an escapist.”
God has told us he would walk with us through the fiery trials and the valley of the shadow of death. he has offered his comfort. We do not need to self-medicate, for he has provided us himself. Life can be painful, but God is with us in the pain.
A believer can go on to say, “I will not become intoxicated because I have the Holy Spirit.”
In us, he makes us an altogether different kind of community. Rather than blurt out immoral thoughts in a drunken stupor, we shout out psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. Rather than curse our state of being while intoxicated, we give thanks to God for everything. Rather than take advantage of others while inebriated, we submit to one another, forming a loving community, not a facade of one only created by the abuse of a substance. This is part of the wisdom of our Father.
During Fall 2017, I taught Calvary Monterey the book of Ephesians. During the series, I also wrote about Ephesians in sixty-plus short, devotionally styled posts. Each Thursday, through 2018, I will release a post. I hope you enjoy. For the entire series, please visit nateholdridge.com/united-for-unity-posts.