Living under the influence

In Ephesians chapter 5, the Apostle Paul continues his letter to the church at Ephesus on the importance of maturing in their faith. He encourages the Christians to walk in love with one another, be light to the world, and live in wisdom by following God’s precepts. Then, in verse 18, Paul warns the church, “And don’t get drunk on wine, which is rebellion.”

Keep in mind Paul was addressing Christians, those who should have known better than drinking too much. Clearly he had no agenda; he was enjoying the hospitality of a first century Roman prison. He is not attacking those who take a drink of wine; Paul is referring to being under the influence of the wrong spirit, which is alcohol. Drunkenness causes an altered state of consciousness and affects blood and sugar levels. Paul provides an alternative to this kind of life with the second part of verse 18, “instead, be filled with the fullness of the Holy Spirit.”

If we read verses 15 and 16, we see Paul pleading with Christians to set themselves right before God in every aspect of their lives. “So be very careful how you live, not being like those with no understanding, but live honorably with true wisdom, for we are living in evil times. Take full advantage of every day as you spend your life for His purposes.”

Sadly the courts are full of those who have failed to follow these directions for life. Nearly every family has been touched by the negative effects of alcohol and drugs, people living under the influence of the wrong spirits.

While I can only speculate about Paul’s drinking habits, it is obvious he has seen the effects of drunkenness. Before he became a Christian he used to hunt down and kill Christians because he believed he was doing the right thing. That all changed when the Spirit of God knocked him off his high horse and blinded him for three days. This encounter with God radically changed him through and through. Whatever Paul had done was forgiven, and his old ideas were replaced by the Spirit of the Living God. Being filled with the Holy Spirit helped him understand the barrier sin placed between a person and God. Paul experienced his life under God’s influence and he recognized how sin could destroy their relationship.

So has God been trying to get your attention? Has your heart been pinged when you know you are doing something against the Word of God? Perhaps you have been knocked off your high horse or thumped on your head? Maybe your life is driven by a particular influence, like hatred or malice or revenge. In order to be led by the Holy Spirit, like Paul, we must come to the end of ourselves and submit fully and completely to God. Whether you believe yourself totally surrendered or not, test your life for things outside God’s narrow path.

During a recent Sermon our Pastor presented some stirring scenarios which pierced my heart. While not exactly his questions, I believe you will see the point. Would you invite Jesus to have a few drinks at the bar? Would you invite Jesus to sit in with your friends to gossip and talk about others? Would you invite Him to sit down on your couch and watch a popular television series, and then fast forward through the sex scenes to keep things pure? Would Jesus understand your unwillingness to forgive your neighbor, friend or relative? Here’s a good one, let’s invite Jesus to watch our favorite athletic team, and then be ourselves, yelling, screaming and cursing the referees. As I said, “the sermon pierced my heart.”

These are hard topics and I am certainly not sitting in judgment of anyone. I have more than enough faults and sins to confess to God daily. I am asking, “Do you really care if you are filled with the right spirit? Do you want to live in the fullness of all God has for you? Do you want signs, wonders and miracles to follow you?” God’s promises will not manifest living under the influence of our culture. We must be willing to live by His Word.

So where do we look for answers? We know our culture has been compromised by the legalization of drugs which are contrary to God’s plan. We find the answers for all of life’s questions in the Word of God. Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the word of Christ live in you richly, flooding you with all wisdom. Apply the scriptures as you teach and instruct one another with the Psalms, and with festive praises, and with prophetic songs given to you spontaneously by the Spirit, so sing to God with all your hearts!”

When we allow God’s Word to make itself at home in our hearts, we take the first step. When we apply His Word to everything in our life, we cannot help but be radically changed. We will be overflowing with gratitude, joy, good behavior, and right relationships. His truth should be piercing our hearts and cutting through all the junk that separates us from God. Now that is living under the right influence!

Shaped by Faith Prayer

Lord, open wide our hearts and fill us Up with YOU! Squeeze the last drop of us out Lord, so that everything about us is a reflection of Your love! Change our hearts and desires to be Your Will and Your Way Father! Let everyone who meets us See only YOU!

 

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