EPHESIANS-SERIES NR 9
Theme: Walk with God
Scripture: Ephesians 5: 1 – 21
We are still finding ourselves in the part of Ephesians where the Apostle Paul explains in a very practical way the reason why a Christian can simply not live like other people. A Christian does not live/ speak/ think/ reason/ act like an unsaved person, because he cannot live like that, he is inwardly renewed by the Spirit of God. We studied that at length last Sunday.
What we should see in Ephesians 5: 1-21, is that the Christian life is a WALK (step-by-step WALK). Unfortunately it is an important notion that is not evident in the text of the NIV, but in verses 2, 8 and 15 it says (in the original Greek): walk in love, walk as children of light, walk with wisdom.
The Christian life is not a fast jog, but a moment by moment step-by-step WALK. When one is jogging, your speed changes continuously and occasionally you would even stop to catch your breath. But when you are walking, there is a constancy and a continuity. It may not be as dramatic as running, but more constant with longer endurance.
The Christian life is not supposed to move “up and down” – then a peak, then a crisis, then abundance, then nothing at all. In the worship service a high point, but during the week, downhill…
No, the Christian life is supposed to be a constant walk. Step-by-step. It does not matter if you are alone or among people. Does not matter if you are among unsaved people. Does not matter what time of day or night it is. There is to be constancy, a step-by-step walk with God.
If we should take the three “walk”-verses as point of departure (v2 -walk in love; v8 – walk as children of light, and v15 – walk in wisdom), Ephesians 5: 1-21 opens up into 3 wonderful paragraphs all by itself. All I want to do now is to look at each one with you. Let us take the main theme = “Being a Christian, is to walk with God”. Then we see: WALK IN LOVE (vv1-7); WALK IN THE LIGHT (vv8-14); WALK WITH WISDOM (vv15-21).
1.WALK IN LOVE (vv1-7)
See in your imagination a group of children – of the same family – walking on a path (through the veld) along with their dad. They reach a branch-off path, but are doubtful about which path to take.
Then they hear someone (Paul) saying: “Follow the Father, just follow the Father. Because you are His children and He loves you. Do not do anything else but follow Him. Then you do not have to be concerned about paths that branch off.“ (v1).
Do you see them walking, following the Father?
And while the children are walking along and are quarrelling with each other – because all children are inclined to do that, even though they are walking with their father – they hear Paul say: “And while you are walking with the Father, your attitude towards one another should be the same as Jesus’s attitude towards you – the attitude of sacrificial love that seeks to benefit the other person even though it costs you something. As you follow step-by-step behind the Father, seek the advantage for your brother/sister.” (v2).
While the children are walking, following behind their Father and putting each other’s interests first, they see – on their left – other people walking on a different path, and they say: “Hey, look at those people. They are walking on the road of immorality (Greek: Porneia: Unlawful sexual activities, meaning extramarital relationships), impurity (all forms), greed. That is the worldly path”.
Then hear the Father, turning to His children, saying: “Do not even think of turning off to follow that path. It is not appropriate for people who are Mine (holy) to even consider following any path rather than following the Father. It is a shame to even speak of the things they do in secret. Before marriage and inside the marriage you must stay pure and keep away from immorality/impurity/greed in any form”.
“Yes, but dad” say the children, “look at the people on that other path – over there on the right. Just listen to their obscene talk and coarse jokes! Actually foolish (Ps 14:1) speech – they talk as if they are not in the presence of the Lord – as if He does not exist. “
Once more the Father turns towards His children, saying: “Language like that does not fit children who walk on this road you are following behind me. Of course there is place for humour, but not vile humour that is in the employ of sin. You cannot use unholy language while you serve a holy God. It is far better to be filled with thanksgiving and joy. You must remember that the path on the left and the one over there on the right, do not lead to the same destination as the road we are on. If you follow those paths you will never enter the kingdom, never, ever. If you want to follow the path of immorality, or unlawful sexual activities or impurity, you will totally forfeit inheritance in the kingdom”.
And in that way the children follow the Father on and on, step by step, moment by moment.
Suddenly they hear people calling. They look and see a group who are also following a path. They say: “Come over to us! Come with us! We are on our way to a great destination. Nothing will happen to you. Nothing bad will come over you.”
But the Father of the children say: “Hear their enticingly clever words, but remember: they are walking on that road because they are not following Me. They are disobedient. Do not have anything to do with those people, because I will surely judge them. Precisely those sins they have so high on their list, is going to be judged, and them along with it. Do not listen to them!” (v7).
That is (in the form of a story) the practical meaning of WALK IN LOVE with the Father.
2.WALK IN THE LIGHT (vv8-14)
We all know how many tragedies have taken place with mountain climbers involved. A mountain is not to be taken lightly. Golden rule: When it starts to get dark: STOP! You may think the path is familiar and safe, but the next morning you discover just how badly mistaken you were.
Unsaved people particularly are walking the road they are on because they are living in the dark (v8). Spiritually stone blind. Literally cannot see the right road. It is too dark within themselves.
That is the way every child of God was before, but now he/she is a child of the light. Take note: He/she IS light. Therefore, a child of the light cannot live in darkness/ cannot walk on the road that the light shows as deadly dangerous.
Rather than that, the light that is in the child of the Lord enables him/her to focus on what is “good, right and true” (v9).
Those are 3 words that at all times can be used as a norm: good, right, true. You can literally measure everything by that.
Is the TV programme good, right, true/ the joke I am telling/ the thoughts filling my head/ the ambition I have/ company I am in/ relationship I am in… In almost 100% of all cases that is the way one can determine the will of the Lord in a particular situation. The path of the Lord is mostly very clearly visible, because His light is shining on it. When something is of Him, it will be good/right (aligned with His holiness) /true (aligned with the Truth of the Word). You will immediately know whether it is acceptable to Him.
However, when you walk in the light, you cannot turn your eyes away from those who are living in the dark. What person will peacefully lie under an umbrella on the beach, and watch the fin of a shark circling around bathers in the water? Never! You will immediately actively try to do something.
When you have come into the light, you suddenly realize the danger that the unsaved find themselves in. But the way you try to help is not with the “holier than thou” attitude. You must reveal the darkness – not by harping on the things people are doing, but by letting your light shine!
How does one drive away darkness? Scolding will not help. You only need to turn on the light. Strike a match.
The best way in which a Christian can make a difference in the world, is by living a radically different life. Then the light will fall on the darkness and rebuke it. Yes, we also have to talk, but our words have to be accentuated by a LIFE which testifies of light. It does not help that I speak but my life cancels it out!
Paul is well aware that the words “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light” is known to the Ephesians, as it was probably a baptism-chorus sung at that time.
Therefore he is saying: “ You know what it is to walk in the light. Because your old nature has died with Christ and a new man is risen. You are now people of the Light!
3. WALK WITH WISDOM (vv15-21)
Imagine a cat walking on a wall. But everywhere on the wall, glass shards have been cemented. How will the cat walk? Carefully! Tentatively putting down each paw.
That is what is meant with “very careful” in verse 15. A Christian who is walking with wisdom, walks carefully. Careful where he puts his foot. Particularly concerning 4 areas: Making the most of time (v16)/ understand the will of God (v17)/ keep control over yourself (v18)/ be filled with the Spirit (vv18-21). Those are the 4 areas where a Christian walk very carefully/step-by-step.
1 MAKING FULL USE OF YOUR TIME: Make the most of every opportunity. Unplanned time/idleness almost always leads to more sins. Unplanned time is like a root of evil. Time is precious and a person who walks with wisdom, makes use of opportunities and plans ahead – look where the next step will be. You cannot go through the day with an attitude of “let’s wait and see what happens later”. If we make full use of our time we will be surprised at how much we can get done – move mountains. Time is a precious gift from God, and a Spirit-filled person realizes that and does not waste it. Just think how many hours we waste in front of the TV or Online while our Bible-knowledge is pathetic.
2 UNDERSTAND THE WILL OF GOD: A typical attribute of a person who has truly been saved: “What does HE want?” Paul’s first words (Acts 22:10). Unsaved person: “What do I/people want?” The person who walks with wisdom always asks prayerfully: “Thy will be done”. What am I doing that He wants me to exchange for something else? Friends? Studies? Acceptable habits? Helping others? Spend time. Whoever is serious about knowing His will, SHALL hear from Him (Jer 29:13).
3 KEEP CONTROL OVER YOURSELF: Whoever walks with wisdom is careful that NOTHING takes control over you. Paul uses ALCOHOL as an example. But it can be anything. Some people will leave their Bible at home, but not their cigarettes. It has control over them. To others it is a certain kind of music. Anything that places you in a situation where you do not have full control over yourself. Anything that dulls your mind. The way alcohol gets control over you and controls your words/thoughts/behaviour. A person who walks with wisdom, will avoid that.
4 BE SPIRIT-FILLED: Being Spirit-filled is easy to understand: It is not about a believer receiving more of the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit is a Person, one cannot receive Him in instalments.
Spirit-filled means: The Holy Spirit must have the influence over us the way alcohol does when we drink and drink and drink. When you drink and drink and drink spiritual things, the Holy Spirit will have full influence over you. You will be under His control, day and night. Certain signs of His influence will become visible: singing of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, giving thanks, and the ability to love other believers and subject yourself to them. Discontent = not Spirit-filled.
Although the Holy Spirit is dwelling in every believer’s life, it is not to say that He is in control of every believer’s life! It can be that the Spirit is dwelling in you, but other things/sinful nature have an influence over you.
Verse 18: An order/instruction. No Christian should ignore this. If you are a Christian, you MUST be Spirit filled/ under His control/ His influence. It is an instruction meant for every Christian/ passive (be filled) and present tense (continuously/ceaselessly).
There is only one way to be continuously Spirit-filled: Drink and drink and drink and drink everything that is from the Holy Spirit. Keep yourself as much as possible busy with the things of the Spirit. Surrender yourself, confess the slightest form of sin as soon as you become aware of it (do not reason, CONFESS), spend time in prayer, imbibe the Scriptures into your spiritual bloodstream. Focus your thoughts on the things of the Spirit. It must become a lifestyle. Personally: Only four things that is able to recharge batteries: Time spent in prayer, thorough confession of sin, reading of the Bible and public proclamation of the Gospel.
Remember: Secret of a Spirit-filled life = drink, drink, drink, drink, drink from the correct source – as much as you possibly can, every day!
Translated by Marthie Wilson