Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Walking Wisely (Ephesians 5:15-20)

"Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;” (Ephesians 5:15–20, NASB95)

Verses 15 and 16 should be a very obvious instruction as we look around. But it is one that we also need to pay very careful and close attention to as well. The big things may be easy to see, but how often do we enter something by doing a radical turn and rushing right in? I imagine that this is not the case for most. What happens with most of us is that we cut a corner or ignore a stop sign on some “smaller” things. Then, when we don’t deal with it or we don’t feel any immediate consequence or maybe even some initial gratification, we do it again or maybe even do something a bit further out. And with this the cycle begins and continues to grow.
We are told to be careful how we walk as wise men. In James 1:13-15 we read, “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.” (James 1:13–15, NASB95) What we see here is that these thoughts do not come from God. He does not tempt anyone to evil. We become tempted when we hold onto desires apart from God and nurse them in our hearts and minds. We desire something and then we do it, and then having done it we continue to do it. But this is not how we are supposed to live. It is not how we are supposed to handle or respond to our thoughts.

We are to take these thoughts firmly in hand and expose them to the light which is God, which is what we read in 2 Corinthians 10:5-6. “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.” (2 Corinthians 10:5–6, NASB95) I love verse 7 which follows, “You are looking at things as they are outwardly. If anyone is confident in himself that he is Christ’s, let him consider this again within himself, that just as he is Christ’s, so also are we.” (2 Corinthians 10:7, NASB95) From this verse we see affirmed in Scripture that circumstance is not to shape our views or response, but rather we are to view these same circumstances from hearts that have looked inward to who we are in Christ and then responded appropriately to the directives of His Word. The light the world shines is never to replace the Light of Christ. The wise man is the one who stops to listen to God and who then responds according to who he (or she) is in Christ.

In Philippians chapter 2, Paul wrote, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.” (Philippians 2:14–16, NASB95) Clearly we live in dark day, just as the days of Paul. This world is immersed in darkness and evil. We are to live with this as an ever present reality, and not become overwhelmed or succumb ourselves. Rather, we are to think with the mind of Christ living as the light that we are in Him.

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians, “Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.” (1 Corinthians 15:34, NASB95) We are not to be foolish (thought-less, slack or lazy) in our thinking. We are to hide God’s Word in our hearts and to keep our minds and bodies clear and clean, fully submitted to His Spirit in us. This past Sunday, at church, the pastor wrapped up his message by discussing some circles developed by Dr. Bill Bright and used for many years to demonstrate the difference between a Christian living a self-directed (carnal) life and living a Spirit-directed life.

These circles have been widely used and distributed, and can be found not only in publications for purchase, but in various locations at the Campus Crusade for Christ website (www.cru.org). I will discuss these circles and verse 18 more in the next post. For more see: https://www.cru.org/train-and-grow/10-basic-steps/1-the-christian-adventure.2.html#

Consistent with the put off and put on as our minds are renewed principle given by Paul in chapter 4, we find here also that we are to stop thinking and acting like the world. We are to look intently to God’s Word for our direction, hide ourselves in Him and rely on His Spirit to direct our steps, and then we are to actively put on things which bring glory to God and build up others. We read, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; (20) always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;” He has saved us from this yuk, and given us an eternal promise with present help immersed in love. Our response is to take these truths captive and to encourage each other in them.

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