The Behavior of Ordinary Christians (Eph 5:19 )

Sermon Manuscript …

The Behavior of Ordinary Christians

What does an ordinary Christian act like when they’re filled with the Spirit?

The fruit of being filled–Ephesians 5:19-21, part one


Did you know that people can gain 5 to 7 pounds during the holiday season, though according to one Medical group, most people only gain 1 to 2 pounds during this season?  And this year they’re saying that most people will not ever lose that weight, and this season is the reason they later on become obese.  Merry Christmas!  Like the bumper sticker says “If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.”

There are consequences for our actions, and there are normal results for living out certain behaviors–right?  The Bible tells us when Christ truly changes someone, when you are genuinely saved, you will live differently.  As we study the letter to the Ephesians verse-by-verse, it has become clear that on the basis of what God has done to us and for us in Ephesians 1 to 3 that we’ll live differently in Ephesians 4 to 6.

Open your Bible to Ephesians 5.  Paul uses the word “walk” to describe a true Christian lifestyle:

in 4:1 we will walk worthy–live life as a continual act of worship

in 4:17 we will walk uniquely–live differently than the rest of the world

in 5:2 he commands that we walk lovingly–live sacrificial like Christ did

in 5:8 we will walk as light–helping people see the Gospel, and now

in 5:15 we will walk in wisdom–making the most of every opportunity

Our goal in this walk is to be close to Jesus–how do we do this?  By following the three strong contrasts starting in verse 15:

To not live unwise but wise, in verse 15

not foolish but understanding, in verse 17

to not get drunk but be filled with the Spirit, in verse 18

And what happens when we do?  That’s today.  You see it is not enough to live wise, we need to be empowered and pushed toward those things, and that comes through the Spirit of God–we need the Holy Spirit.  What has God taught us?  You can’t be the Christian God intends for you to be without the Holy Spirit working in and through you.  That is what Paul says in verse 18, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.”

Seems funny doesn’t it–don’t get drunk, but be filled.  But it makes perfect sense.  At some college campuses this is reality–you’re either an alcoholic or a Christian.  For many people their social life revolves around drinking, but Paul says let your life revolve around the living God.

God is saying don’t try to have a religious experience through alcohol, have a genuine intimate relationship through the Holy Spirit.  Don’t give in to excess, don’t get drunk with booze or escape life’s difficulties with sleep, eating, friendships, watching TV, voyeurism or anything else to find satisfaction.  No, turn to the Holy Spirit.  Don’t rely on the counterfeits, rely on the real thing.  Don’t fight the normal pains of everyday living with alcohol, deal with them through dependence upon God who indwells you.  Don’t be under the influence of alcohol, be under the influence of God.  Don’t have alcohol leading you into sin, have the Holy Spirit leading you into sanctification (Christ likeness).

Now the Bible doesn’t say drinking is a sin, but drunkenness is sin.  In the same way, eating isn’t a sin but gluttony is.  Drinking is not a sin, but overconsumption is.  So why do people drink obsessively to the point of getting drunk?  Why do people drink to get drunk?  They’re depressed and trying to avoid life.  They despise their life and they are trying to forget it or they’re trying to escape it all together–I’m not happy, I don’t like my life, I am not doing good so I am going to drink to forget.

And alcohol is a depressant–if you are depressed it only makes you more depressed.  If you are angry, you get angrier.  Alcohol only intensifies the emotion, despair and heartache.  Ultimately it starts a cycle of intensifying your problems and throws you into this downward spiral that ends up at this bitter place of country western music–it’s just terrible.  People who drink to the point of drunkenness do so to escape to try to gain peace, to alleviate the pain of living.

But if you are filled with the Spirit of God you get a new life so you don’t need to exit reality.  You become totally new when you come to Christ, like Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”  You get a new life and not just a new leaf.  Instead of folly you get wisdom, instead of weakness you get strength, instead of loneliness you get love, instead of a wasted life you get a purposeful life, instead of sin and filth you get forgiveness and cleansing, and instead of despair you get hope.  Knowing that the way my life is now does not have to be the way it is going to be–the way it was does not need to be the way it will be.  The person I was need not be the person I am or am becoming.  With God the Holy Spirit all things are possible and with God all things can be different.  So verse 18–don’t just drink yourself into a stupor, submit yourself to the Spirit of God.

We know that the worship of Artemis in the great temple in Ephesus not only involved people committing immorality with temple prostitutes for the purpose of exciting Artemis to produce a great harvest, but that drinking to the point of drunkenness was a part of that process.  Paul says that is not true worship–it is counterfeit.  True worship is living completely dependent upon the Spirit of God.

The picture of filling here is akin to a sailboat–a sailing vessel with a destination, with a stiff breeze at hand.  That ship is you, your life–the port where you are headed is Christ.  Your goal is to get closer and closer to Jesus Christ–the breeze is the Holy Spirit, and today the filling of the Holy Spirit is setting your sails to catch the wind in order to push you towards Christ.  The filling of the Spirit is setting your sail towards Christ.  The question filling raises today is this–is your sail set?

If you say, “I am not getting closer to Christ, becoming more like Christ and farther away from sin”–then you are not living filled with the Spirit, your sail is not set.  The breeze is blowing, the port is clear, others around you are becoming more like Christ–but if your sail is not set, you will not grow.  All true Christians have the Holy Spirit, but many Christians live much of their lives in their own strength called living in the flesh, and they do not live by God’s strength, called living filled with the Spirit.

Now how many of you have heard really bizarre, freaky things about being filled with the Spirit?  I have read about, heard about, and seen really weird things.  One pastor said sarcastically, “It’s almost as if the Holy Spirit makes you into an aerobics instructor, as if the Spirit makes you scream and yell and jump up and down—‘Oohh, I am Spirit-filled,’ No, you’re an aerobics instructor.”  That is not what God is talking about here.  To be filled with the Spirit is literally to be empowered, guided and led by God.

Up to this point in Ephesians, Paul has talked about the Holy Spirit on a few different occasions, and Ephesians 5:18 is most likely the culmination of those teachings.  So we don’t need to speculate, “Oh, how do I get filled with the Spirit?”  Usually when we do that, we end up doing weird things like, “You comin’ up here and I’ll whack you on the forehead so you can fill ‘er up.”  That is sort of peculiar to me–if you want, I’ll take a shot at ya’ for sport–but we don’t need to do that to fill you with the Spirit.

To be filled with the Spirit comes from God, not from man, and it is something God does for His children—unless, note this, we stop acting like genuine Christians, or we do something to resist Him.  Last week we talked about PASS–saturated with a Passage, Aware you can’t, dealing with Sin, Serving and Sharing.

Let’s look at the same thing another way–when you see how Paul talks about the Spirit in this letter to the Ephesians, you will clearly see how to be filled with the Spirit.  Here are the normal means in which to be being kept filled.  Turn over to Ephesians 1:13, “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation–having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.”

#1  Are you a Christian?

In Ephesians 1:13 it says Jesus died for our sins, and if we put our faith in Him then subsequently we’re sealed with the Holy Spirit–protected, guaranteed by the Spirit.  So here’s the question—are you a Christian?  Have you turned from your sin to depend in faith upon Christ, demonstrating a new heart of repentance, meaning you have turned from living life your way to following after Christ His way?

Listen, you cannot have the Spirit of God if you are not a Christian, and if you are a Christian you have the Spirit of God.  Once you are born again, there is nothing magical you have to do to receive the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit comes with Jesus–if you have Jesus you have the Holy Spirit.  You get all of God indwelling you, not parts.  The Spirit is the third person of the Trinity–persons don’t come in portions or parts.  He either is in you or He is not.  As Paul says in Romans 8:9b, “But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.”

#2  Do you pursue knowing Christ intimately?

Look at Ephesians 1:17, “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.”  Most see this as the wisdom the Spirit produces in us, and ultimately it is the personal intimate knowledge of God that is in view.  The Spirit of God instructs us so we can get to know God in an intimate way.  True Christians, through the Spirit of God, have a personal relationship with God.  When someone brings up the name of God in any manner, even as a swear word, you Christians can say, “You probably didn’t know this, but God is a personal friend of mine–I know Him intimately.  Do you?”

#3 Do you pray?

In Ephesians 2:18 it says, “For through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.” We have access to the Father through the Son by the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit enables us to pray.  Jesus takes away our sin so that we can talk to the Father.  The question is–are you a person of prayer?  Do you talk to your heavenly Father about things?

#4  Do you read your Bible?

Notice Ephesians 3:5, “which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit.”  Here we’re told the apostles and prophets were inspired by the Holy Spirit.  Only the prophets were the writers of the Old Testament, and only the apostles and those under apostles were uniquely inspired to write the New Testament.  The Bible is God’s Word.  So do you read it?  Are you studying the Scriptures?  The living active Word of God energized by the Spirit will transform you into Christ and make you sharp tools for His purposes in the world.  Are you cooperating with the Spirit of God in what He wants you to do, or have you redefined Christianity into what you want to do?

#5  Are you serving in ministry?

Ephesians 3:16 says, “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.”  The Spirit of God empowers us for ministry and service–are you serving God?  Are you involved in ministry, informal or formal?  Are you cooperating with the Spirit of God as He does His work in this world?  Are you truly under the sovereign leading of the Spirit, committed to God, doing the things He has designed for you to do?  And the last reference to the Spirit prior to Ephesians 5:18 is . . .

#6  Are you committed to a spiritual community?

In Ephesians 4:3 to 4 it says, “being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling.”  Among other things, the Holy Spirit is knitting people together in a church in spiritual friendships.  He places you in the body of Christ, and you only grow to be like Christ personally as you are intimately committed to spiritual friendships in the context of a local church.

This is not rocket science–if you do these things you will be filled with the Spirit, because this is how you set your sail.  If you as a Christian dependently pray, study the Word, serve in the church and spend regular time with Christian friends, you are setting your sail to be pushed along by the Spirit.  That is how He works.  So if you have those sails open, then the Spirit of God is going to push you along with spiritual progress by God’s power and in God’s direction by God’s grace.  You don’t need to sit below your sail and blow, “Come on wind!”  You set your sail the way God designed, and you are going to move.

I love sailing–I am not very good at it, but I love it.  I can’t stand sitting at the dock, I am not a real fan of just sitting in the boat.  I want sails up and for the wind to catch and watch that vessel move–there is nothing like it, that is what the boat is designed to do.  Is that you too?  I wonder.  Understand, there are four kinds of people here today.

First  There are some of you here today who don’t have the Holy Spirit

You are not saved, and you desperately need to turn to Christ.  Admit that you are sinful in every way before a Holy God, embrace that you can never live good enough for you to be acceptable to God, and trust that Jesus Christ took the punishment for your sins on the cross.  You have to be perfect to go to heaven, and none of us are.  That is why we need Christ to take the punishment for our sins and give us His perfect righteousness so we can stand in God’s presence.  Christ proved it was all true by rising from the dead.  Some of you today need to turn to Christ–you don’t have the Holy Spirit.

Second  Some of you here today need to set your sail

Don’t put out the fire of the Spirit in your life–don’t quench Him, as I Thessalonians 5:19 talks about.  We will put His fire out in our church and in our lives if we don’t pray, read, serve and fellowship with our spiritual family.  Set your sail, cooperate with His design to make you more like Christ.

Third  A few of you here today are actually stopping the Holy Spirit

God wants His children to make progress toward Him, and the only thing that encumbers that progress is Ephesians 4:30, grieving the Holy Spirit with our choices to sin against God’s Word.  Sin is what keeps us from moving forward toward holiness, and when we choose sin, we are dropping our sail, sometimes even damaging it.  The Spirit of God is pushing us toward Christ, and we are trying to head the opposite direction, against the wind, toward the rocks and danger.  Again, our goal is to get close to Jesus, and sin is anything we do to head in any other direction.  Sometimes it may even seem a healthy direction, like politics, family, work, hobbies–but it is away from Christ.

Repentance is acknowledging that I am sailing away from God and moving towards sin—stopping, then changing direction, resetting my sail so I am cooperating with the Spirit of God and now heading back toward Christ and getting closer to Him.  As we continually repent, repeatedly adjusting our sail so we are headed in the right direction, sometimes with little adjustments to catch more of the wind, sometimes with a major come about, true Christians are always repenting in order to head towards Christ.

Fourth  There are those here today who are living in the Spirit

Reading their Bibles, praying, serving God in ministry, developing Christian friends in the church and you will move forward quickly because God is gracious, and these are the means of grace to grow.  That’s all review for those of you who are new today, and those of you we might not see again till Easter, they have a name for you now—Creasters.  Look again at Ephesians 5:18, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.”

When you are drunk with wine, there are consequences–dissipation, loose living, out of control behavior.  When drunk, you will talk to yourself, sing songs, say things and act different towards others.  And when you are filled with the Spirit, there are also consequences.  You will talk to yourself, sing songs, say things and act different toward others, but it is totally different than being drunk.  What is the behavior of ordinary Christians?

What do you act like when you are filled with the Spirit?  Verses 19 to 21 say, “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; 21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.”  This is the behavior of normal Christians.  Anyone who is filled with God’s Spirit will act this way.  A church filled with the Spirit is going to function in this manner.

Notice that there are four main results of being filled.  There are five participles that explain the main command be filled, but two of them belong together in the original language–four total.

In verse 19:

#1 Speaking to one another

#2 Singing and making melody are together

In verse 20:

#3 Giving thanks

In verse 21:

#4 Being subject to one another

Just like the result of being drunk is dissipation, the result of being filled with the Spirit is these four participles.  They are listed here in the original language to explain what happens when a Christian and a church are filled with the Spirit.  Each is practical and profound, and we will dig apart each one, starting with . . .

#1  The communion of praise

The first participle is verse 19a which says 19, “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.”  Now I know it’s Christmastime, and you may not want to think all that much, but this morning you are going to have to really tune in, because we’ve arrived at a phrase that is difficult to interpret.  What do I mean?  Verse 19 has two main potential meanings–it either refers to 1) communing in your own heart to the Lord by means of psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, or it means 2) clearly speaking to one another as Christians by means of psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.  Now stay with me!  Why might we think it means communing in your own heart to the Lord?

Look at verse 19–the phrase “to one another” is actually, literally, in the Greek “to yourselves”.  That is the actual word, not one another.  The term speaking is clear communication.  It doesn’t seem to be talking about singing here, since that is the very next participle–singing and making melody are unique from speaking here.  Paul did not mean to say one another since he uses that exact phrase in verse 21 when he says to submit to one another.  Because Paul uses it in verse 21, he didn’t mean to say it in verse 19.

Plus, when you’re drunk, you usually talk to yourself–so there is a direct parallel here to speaking to yourself when filled in this context.  Finally, the parallel passage in Colossians 3:16 has God’s Word dwelling in our hearts (at home), which is what is in mind here–communing in your heart.  So it would seem best to say that what Paul has in mind here is speaking to yourself by means of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.

You know how important it is to speak truth to your own heart.  Do not allow fearful emotions to direct your life, but allow the truth of God’s Word in forms that are easy to remember–psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.  Christians filled with the Spirit will be filled with the truth of the Word–they will think the Bible and fully dwell on what is true.

Now turn over to Colossians 3:16–why might we think the phrase means clearly speaking to one another as Christians by means of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs?  The parallel passage of Ephesians 5:19 is Colossians 3:16, which says, “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”  This passage has the idea of speaking to one another, teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs–so could that also be the idea in Ephesians 5:19?

Plus in verse 13 of Colossians 3, both the Greek words for one another and yourselves are used in the same verse, “Bearing with one another, and forgiving [yourselves] each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.” The idea is this–you yourselves find forgiveness in your heart, then extend that forgiveness to others.

So what is the answer–is it commune in your own heart with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, or is it speak to one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs?  Are you ready for my answer?  I don’t know–I can’t be dogmatic.  Possibly it’s both, or a part of both.  We do know it is by the Word, it is in your heart, and ultimately it will affect others around you.  By being filled with the Spirit, do we commune in our hearts with the Lord over truth, reflecting on songs and psalms and hymns?  Sure.  By being filled with the Spirit, do we speak clearly to one another over truth by means of psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.  I guess–not too many people come up to me and say, “Amazing grace, Chris, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.”  And I say, “You got that right–you’re a wretch . . . and weird too.”

You say, “No, it means we are singing those things to each other and to the Lord.”  And you are probably right–that is what Paul had in mind.  We speak these things clearly to our own hearts–within ourselves, communing with God sincerely over these truths that we personally own and celebrate.  Then because of the Spirit, we then communicate these psalms and hymns and spiritual songs speaking clearly through our lips, sing them out to each other and to the Lord when we are filled with the Spirit.  So it is probably what you thought in the first place–but it does involve clear communication, your own heart and God’s truth.

Now, what is it that we speak?  Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs–again, most commentators didn’t even bother to try to help understand each of these terms.  They would say things like, “Well, they are so similar we can’t really make a distinction.”  In interpretative circles, we call that approach burping and moving on.  Excuse me, no comment, burp, I don’t recall, moving on.  Well, that is not good enough for me–so after lots of digging, I think I might be able to help you see what Paul has in mind here.  When filled with the Spirit, how do we normally behave?  Well, we will speak to ourselves and others three ways.

First  Psalms has to do with instrumental plucking of strings, and like many of the Old Testament psalms include the word Selah from time to time, meaning pause and reflect.  This term psalm contains an encouragement to pause and reflect.  Almost all the references to this term have to do with Old Testament psalms which were often put to music.  Before the New Testament was completed, 1 Corinthians 14:26 tells us when the church gathered, “When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.”  Normal Christians love music and love to reflect on truth.  The focus here is on instrumental music and reflection.

Second  Hymns have to do with a poem of praise. The same word is used in Acts 16:25, “But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.”  In genuine Russian churches, often people will come with a poem of praise, a hymn written in prose in order to encourage others.  In their three-hour services, they’ll bring their poem up to the pastor, who will review it, then encourage a few to read their poem to the body.  Hymns were often written in acrostics, or with familiar tunes so they were easy to remember.  Don’t be sad, but many of the reformation hymns took biblical truth and put it to the tune of a current drinking song that everyone knew.

The reason many of us love hymns is because of the profound truth, and that we know them, we have memorized them.  There are modern songs and hymns we love because of the truth and because of the tune.  But there are other songs we sing that are not memorable, in fact they’re hard to sing, hard to recall, many times they are dirges that speak truth but don’t remain with you.  Hymns are solid truth written in such a way it is easy to remember, not always with a tune, sometimes a poem or acrostic.  So the focus here is a poem of praise with memorization in mind.

Third  Spiritual songs has to do with a celebration of praise. These are songs of rejoicing, celebrations of truth, hallelujahs of praise–sometimes in the Greek version of the Old Testament, the LXX, this term spiritual songs is used with musical accompaniment, and on occasion included both music and dancing, as when David and the Israelites sang and danced before the ark.  Look at 2 Samuel 6:5, “David and all the house of Israel were celebrating before the Lord with all kinds of instruments made of fir wood, and with lyres, harps, tambourines, castanets and cymbals.”  Before I say this, let me remind you that FBC has a very clear stance on the sign gifts–we are not a charismatic church.  We are very committed to never violating the Scripture in anything, but shame on you who are stoic or stiff in your worship.  Shame on you if you don’t express emotion to the Lord your God.  When we are filled with the Spirit, we reflect with truth, we memorize truth and we celebrate with songs of truth–we enjoy the communion of praise.  What is the next result of being filled, a normal consequence?

#2  Public praise in song

The next two participles in verse 19 are linked together when Paul says, “singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord.”  The Greek connects them, and so it should literally read, “Singing with the voice and making melody with instruments.”  How many of you are encouraged by singing with God’s people?  Spirit-filled Christians sing, and spirit-filled churches sing.  God’s true children want to and will sing–even if it is not in key, as some of you truly make . . . a joyful noise.

That reminds me of the worship leader who was visiting the south and decided to sing Old Kentucky Home as a closing number.  One lady started to cry, and the louder he sang the louder she wept.  He was really getting into it, until she was shouting out her cries.  So the music leader stopped and asked her, “Miss, are you alright–are you from Kentucky?”  And she said, “No, I am a musician!”  Regardless, God’s people love to sing–we love music.

How many of you listen to ten hours of music a week?  More?  We live in a culture where you can listen to music all day and all night–in your car, on your computer, in your home, at work, walking, jogging, riding a bike, waiting in line . . . you can be surrounded by music 24/7.  Now the issue is band-width, we can’t get enough band-width to support all the desired radio stations, so now we’re going to satellite so there are an infinite number of radio stations and music styles.  That’s the world we live in.  Why are there so many bands, concerts and artists?  Why is American Idol such a hit?  Why country music at all?  Why do people spend so much money on their music collection?  Because that is the way God made us.

Is God a composer of music?  Yes, He inspired the writing of the book of Psalms.  An enormous portion of your Bible is also poetry.  Is God also a musician?  How many of you play an instrument or sing?  Some of you only play the radio.  I sing, used to play trumpet and guitar.  But the Bible says God is a musician.  Zephaniah 3:17 says in the NIV a little more accurately, “The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”  God will sing over them.

One of the great pictures of heaven is God puts on a concert, and it is God who sings–and you thought Jubilant Sykes was good.  In the book of Revelation Jesus is revealed and ten new songs are cut.  God’s people love music, and God’s people love to sing.  Notice some obvious truth here.

First  Singing is the expression of the fullness of the Spirit

Singing flows out of being filled with the Spirit.  This means Christian singing is not natural, but supernatural.  The Holy Spirit is God, and He is supernatural.  He comes and fills His people and moves them to act in certain ways–singing is one of them.  But beware–singing about Christian things in Christian settings is not necessarily pleasing to the Lord.  Amos 5:23 and 24 say, “Take away from Me the noise of your songs; I will not even listen to the sound of your harps. 24 But let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”

Religious singing is offensive to the Lord.  Any singing that is not a work of the Holy Spirit is offensive to Him–it must not be mindless, emotionless or routine.  It must be the Spirit through us.

Second  Singing is to be from the heart

Notice verse 19b again, “Singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord.”  Singing and making melody can be done as an act of the will–you can force your mouth to move, and force sound to come out.  But by saying with your heart, God is signifying that you mean it and feel it–not “out of control” craziness, but emotions expressed toward God.  You don’t have to be red hot for God, your emotions can be longing, even expressing remorse, or celebrating and rejoicing, but there will be emotion and always sincerity when you are filled with the Spirit.

Don’t miss this–when Paul says your heart, the word “your” is plural and “heart” is singular.  That means you all individually together are singing with one singular heart to the Lord.  When we are filled with the Spirit, gathered for worship, we come as individuals–but when we gather, we are His body.  All these individual voices are to be singing with one heart together.

Third  Singing is to be to the Lord

Again, verse 19 wraps this way, with your heart to the Lord.  True worship in song is God-centered.  Whether through a direct reference or indirect reference, your focus is to be on Christ.  It’s true, we would have a hard time getting together to sing about anything other than our God.  There isn’t anything we would want to sing about with great enthusiasm other than Jesus–true?  If I said, “Okay, today we are going to all sing about our jobs–we’re going to sing about how we appreciate our jobs.”  Great is your salary, when you drive faster, if you don’t sell to them, your bonus will fester–who cares?

We don’t want to sing about our health–some of you have lost all your hair, it’s now coming out your ears and it looks like you snorted a cat.  We don’t want to sing about our health.  But we can all agree to sing about the Lord, His Word, His truth, His promises, His Work, His character, His work, His people, His plan, His heart—yeah, we can all sing about Jesus Christ.

Fourth  Singing trusts in God’s sovereign character

In verse 20 the reason we can give thanks for all things, even when life hurts and our hearts ache is because God, who is all wise, loves us completely, and has total power, is in charge.  True Christians can sing in the midst of great loss, because they know their loving Father is in charge.  More on this next week.

Fifth  Singing is to each other

As we already discovered, we not only speak to our own hearts, but to each other in song–not only in isolation, but in community.

Sixth  Singing is varied in its form

Again, it is psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, not merely the old hymns or contemporary choruses.  Not dirges, but memorable theology sung to memorable tunes, and songs of celebration and rejoicing.  There are different kinds of songs, and different kinds of emotions.  You lose all four daughters and your wife out at sea, and you might sing It is Well with My Soul.  Or you are rejoicing over the truth that God became a man to save us from our sins, then you might sing Joy to the World.  When you are filled with the Spirit, you will give public praise in song.  So let me ask you, are you filled with the Spirit?

1 Only if you have a relationship with Christ and not merely religion

Hey, don’t do what I say, please don’t–I am human, I am flawed.  But if you are here today, and you have no desire to do what God says, if you are unwilling to follow God’s Word, unwilling to do whatever Christ asks you to do, then you don’t know Christ.  You only have external religion that God hates.  Today you need to understand, if you become a genuine Christian, you are born again, transformed from the inside out, given a new life, not just turned over a new leaf.  You will have faith to depend on God, and you will show repentance, which means you will stop living the way you want and start living the way God wants.  Only Christ can make you right with God, forgive your sin, and allow you to go to heaven.  I don’t care what they will say at your funeral–if Christ didn’t transform you, you are in hell–Merry Christmas!  Are you filled with the Spirit?

2 Only if you are communing with God and have a passion to sing

The Holy Spirit makes you love music, even when you can’t sing or play.  The Holy Spirit puts a desire in your heart to express praise to God and others.  The Holy Spirit makes you want to sing praise, even when it is a joyful noise and difficult to hear for anyone who knows music.  Some of you are too stoic, unemotional, unfocused and distracted.  Some of you are too locked into one style–by the way, as we grow, our music leaders, Lord willing, will also develop more variety.  But friends, if your heart is distant, indifferent, or routine, that is a bad sign.  God must sing praise through you–are you dependent?  Finally, verse 20 will radically change your heart about God, and verse 21 will radically transform the way you deal with others and view others.  Are you filled with the Spirit?

3 Only if you come back next week–let’s pray



About Chris Mueller

Chris is the teaching pastor at Faith Bible Church - Murrieta.