17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
Folks often say, “I wish I knew what God’s will was” but here God lays out an easy way to know his will. If you are seeing the days as evil, and making the most out of your moments to parent, to proclaim, and transform kronos into kairos. You are doing God’s will. Your entire Monday-Friday life can be an daily expression of God’s will and purpose. And you will begin to “understand that” as you walk wisely by catering to something greater. But that doesn’t happen until to reject the lies of sooner or later.
Paul returns to this idea of Cater to the Greater.
So, how do we do that? Paul says, “Get Intoxicated on Truth, Get Drunk on Truth. Be Controlled By Truth.”
GET DRUNK ON TRUTH
Be Controlled by the Spirit’s Truth, not the World’s
18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,
When we are not applying our new identity in Christ to ourselves, we are controlled by the world. We are either drunk on the world. Or drunk on God. We are either controlled by the world’s system of thinking about time, money, and life… or God’s way of thinking about time, money, life, honor, etc.
What are we controlled by? When you are drunk with wine… you are controlled by wine, your appetites, your urges… which is a word for recklessness. A person who gets drunk doesn’t think about the long term impact of his decisions. He is a fool because he thinks his decisions in this moment will not impact the next moments, years, and patterns for his faith, family, and future.
But, why does Paul, launch into a drunk with wine passage in the middle of this talk on using our time well? Is paul ADD? Is this unrelated to the context? Of course not, Paul is using alcohol as an analogy for his main point. Paul is not saying, specifically, that the issue of drunkenness was a problem for all the believers in Ephesus. He uses this imagery to make a contrast. In Ephesians 4:17, he has been teaching about the “intoxication of the world.” As believers, we should leave those things, and walk differently. We are re-created in His own image and likeness, we therefore are called to put-off the actions / ways / passions of the old man, and walk in the “empowering ability and leadership” of the Spirit. The world’s way is completely opposite to the way of salvation. The word translated “excess” is the Greek word for salvation with the negative “a”preceding it. This means that whatever “wholeness” the gift of salvation would produce in your natural life is negated by following after the ways of the world.
Now, a bit on alcohol. Many use a verse like this and build an entire doctrine about not drinking on it. The Bible doesn’t say, “Do not drink wine,” but it does say, Do not be Drunk. He is contrasting the word drunk with the opposite idea “filled with the spirit” or “controlled by the spirit.” So to put it in English, he is comparing and contrasting two ideas to show us his main point. Think of it like this
Do not be controlled by wine…. be controlled by the Spirit.
What’s the emphasis? What are you controlled by? Are you controlled by urges, appetites, needs to medicate, escape? Or as a follower of Christ, do you Cater to Something Greater? ARe you controlled by something greater. The spirit of God. The emphasis here is on being controlled, or filled by the Spirit filled life.
I told this story a few years ago, but it’s one of my favorite and speaks to this issue. I have a family member who is a very strong fundamentalist Christian who strongly believes that the Bible teaches Christians should never drink alcohol. So his emphasis is “dont’ drink, don’t drink, don’t drink.” Which (even if the Bible said this) wouldn’t work. Paul tells us in ROmans that focusing on the “what not to do” always stirs you up to want to do it more. If I wander around saying, “I shouldn’t drink” all the time… What am I thinking about all the time? DRINKING! Paul is saying Cater to something greater by asking yourself, “How can I be more filled with the spirit in my life”… That will bring life… The other brings pride, critique, and self-righteousness… Which brings me back to the story. I had heard my relative speak publically numerous times using the phrase, “One drop of alcohol has never touched these lips.” So this was a real sense of identity. He was not catering to something greater. Instead of finding his identity in God’s grace, he was finding it in his life as a nondrinker. We went on a cruise together for my parents 25 wedding anniversary. One day we went snorkelling on a catamaran filled with drinkers and pitchers of beer being passed around. I watched him fume in judgement and self-righteousness muttering to me, “I don’t understand this lifestyle at all.” At that moment, one of the waiters tripped with a pitcher of beer in his hand and dumped it all over my uncle! He was motified. I kept a straight face, but thought it was hilarious… and I watched the whole think… as if in slow motion.. to see one “drop of alcohol” fly through the air… And I swear… One drop actually touched his bottom lip. 🙂
Cater to Something Greater Humbles Both the Religious and the Irreligious.
The Irreligious is controlled by his appetites and drunkenness and needs to find freedom from God’s Spirit and Grace. Ironically, the drinker will criticize the non drinker thinking he is better than the legalistic non drinker. The drinker will criticise the non drinker because he thinks he is better than the “not as spiritual drinker.” God’s grace allows you to be free from drunkenness and self-righteousness. As a Christian, you may chose to drink or you may not, but you don’t look down on someone who has a differing opinion.. But we all clearly see that when you get drunk.. you are not controlled by God.. And not operating in His will. Grace is the Greater. Greater than Self-Indulgence… Greater than Self Righteousness.
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