A DIFFERENT KIND OF INTOXICATION
Do not get drunk on wine which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of the Lord Jesus. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (Eph. 5:18-21).
What an apt contrast between control by a spirit and control by the Spirit!
I have never been a wine bibber or a pub crawler, but I have seen and heard enough to know what alcohol does when it controls a human being. Inhibitions go and raw animal instincts take control. Whatever the drinker’s disposition, alcohol takes over and enhances. The more alcohol, the more the individual acts out who he or she is. Some become morose and retreat into themselves; others become loud and bawdy or angry and violent. The bottom line is that self-control gives way to alcohol’s control.
Unfortunately, alcohol does not leave the body quietly. It poisons the brain and leaves a trail of devastating consequences. The drinker suffers the aftermath of intoxication – “hangover”, headache, the stomach revolts and, over the long term, dignity and respect go, brain function deteriorates and the individual lives a lie rather than acknowledges the problem and calls for help. Wives and families are dragged into the mix; embarrassment and shame drive them to hide the problem and shrink from society.
Paul warns against such a lifestyle – which was probably common among those who had turned from their old ways to embrace their new life in Christ. He indicated that excessive consumption of alcohol leads to debauchery. What is debauchery?
“Debauchery is the habitual and unrestrained indulgence of lust and sensuality. There are several places in Scripture where the word debauchery is used to indicate what we would, today, call “partying.” It encompasses several aspects of unholy living, including but not limited to sexual immorality, drunkenness, crude talk, and generally out-of-control behaviour.”
http://www.gotquestions.org/debauchery.html – retrieved January 2016.
The tragedy in modern western society is that many young people think that it is “adult” to drink. They do it with or without their parents’ knowledge, some even learning and practising the drinking habit in their own homes, not knowing or realising the consequences until it is too late. They kill someone by drunken driving or violent confrontation, they get young girls pregnant in their drunken state or they even begin the downward slide towards alcoholism with its accompanying crime and wasted lives.
This is no way for a child of God to live. We have a Spirit that resides in our hearts and desires to control us, just as alcohol controls those who imbibe, but with very different results. When the Holy Spirit controls, He does not take a person over with devastating consequences. In fact, the Holy Spirit never controls an individual’s will. The Holy Spirit guides and directs only by permission.
The Holy Spirit’s control leads to enhanced sensitivity and responsibility. His focus is always on the Father and the Son. He removes the inhibitions that impede our obedience to Him, but not the inhibitions that protect against immorality. He gives the boldness and confidence to trust the Father and to praise Him without hindrance. He removes the fear of man and enables us to overcome barriers between ourselves and our spiritual brothers and sisters to bring hope and encouragement and to build up one another’s faith in the Lord.
The Holy Spirit fills us with joy and loosens our tongues to praise God with every expression of music and song. He fills our hearts with thanksgiving and gratitude to the Lord for His goodness to us.
We never let go of our right to make decisions and choices but the Holy Spirit in us will influence us towards what is righteous and true when we submit to His leading and allow Him to empower or choices with action.
Paul used the Greek present continuous tense which infused his instruction with meaning. Being filled with the Spirit is not a once-off experience that gives us the right to classify ourselves or others as “Spirit-filled” believers, as though there are two classes of believers, Spirit-filled and not-Spirit-filled, depending on whether or not you have had the “baptism” of the Spirit.
Scripture makes no such distinction. Every believer has been given the Holy Spirit. He indwells all who believe in Jesus and acknowledge Him as Lord. It is every believer’s responsibility to give the Holy Spirit freedom to influence his choices and behaviour every moment of every day. The command is, “Be being filled,” or “Keep on being filled with the Spirit.” It is a moment-by-moment awareness of the Spirit’s presence and the need to allow Him to direct our decisions and choices according to His Word.
To be filled with the Spirit is not a label, it’s a lifestyle of obedience to His leading.
Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Have you read my first book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!
ISBN: Softcover – 978-1-4828-0512-3, eBook 978-4828-0511-6
My second book, Learning to be a Disciple – The Way of the Master (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing), a companion volume to Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart, has been released in paperback and digital format on www.amazon.com.