Cornerstone EPC Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734 April 10, 2016
“Walk in Wisdom”
Text: Ephesians 5:15-20
We have been walking much in this fifth chapter of Ephesians. Early in the chapter we received the Lord’s directive to walk in love (5:1-2). Then, just a bit later, we heard from Him to walk in light (5:3-14, esp. 5:8). Today the Lord urges us to walk in wisdom. Let us see how to do this—both in what to do and in what to avoid—as we hear the Lord speak through His Word.
(HERE READ THE TEXT)
The Holy Spirit teaches us today, through the Apostle Paul, how to walk—that is, how to live generally—in wisdom. First, we avoid walking after the pattern of this world. We shall avoid such unwise, foolish behavior as has been much noted since Ephesians 4:17. In particular, we shall note in today’s text a debauched, debased, reckless behavior to be avoided—drunkenness, with often attendant immorality of various kinds. These deeds, and others like them, often occur without a thought for consequences or collateral damage. As Ephesians 4:17-32 taught us to put off the old man and to put on the new one, so we again receive that spur today. To continue to practice the deeds belonging to our old nature is, among other things, unwise. God not only calls us to flee this, but He empowers our flight as well.
Second, God calls us to walk after the pattern here enjoined—and the bulk of our time and energy lies here. Our text lists five ways that we can walk in wisdom. First, we walk wisely before the Lord by redeeming the time allotted us. We think here of making the best use of our time or of buying up time for wise use. This is needful because the days are evil. We will improve time, to use an old phrase, to avoid evil and to do good. In so doing, some not yet walking with the Lord may see Him working in our lives—and consequently be irresistibly attracted to Him. This indeed is a good use of time.
Second, we walk wisely before the Lord by understanding His will. Think in more general terms here, rather than in the specific details where we seek God’s infallible guidance. God’s will for us is our sanctification—or, according to some translators, our holiness (1 Thessalonians 4:3). We would, therefore, be both set apart by Christ for Christ and increasingly conformed to His likeness. Also, His will for us is that we give thanks in every circumstance—a claim that we shall treat later in this message. We come to test and approve God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will by His transformation of us via renewal of the mind (Romans 12:2). As the Lord transforms and renews us, then, we increasingly know His will for us—both in widely general terms and in personally specific ones as well.
Third, we walk wisely before the Lord by being filled with the Holy Spirit—and that in place of the harmful direction catalyzed by intoxicating beverage. When the Lord converts us from death to life, He gives us His Spirit as our new-birthright inheritance (Ephesians 1:13-14). Yet, as we walk with the Lord, worship Him, and endure various trials in His good providence, He fills us afresh with His Spirit again and again. By these fresh fillings we receive fresh power from on high to love God well, to worship Him aright, and to serve Him energetically and fruitfully. Indeed, may He fill us each and all afresh by His Spirit this very hour.
Fourth, we walk wisely before the Lord by edifying one another—that is, by building up one another. We have a curious means of edifying each other listed here, namely, by singing the Lord’s praise. We mutually edify each other by psalm, hymn, and spiritual song. You may have some dread of being called, when you meet a fellow Christian despairing of this world’s goods in aisle five at Ingle’s, to sing a Broadway-style rendition of “God Will Take Care of You” right then and there. This, perhaps to your great relief, is not the thrust of this text. Rather, we encourage one another as we sing our praise to God and as we hear others around us sing His praise in the context of public worship. This is one of many reasons why we do well not to forsake the assembling of ourselves in public worship (cf. Hebrews 10:25). We sing out to the Lord from our inmost being—to the depth of who we each are—and it encourages others and us mutually in God’s goodness.
Fifth, we walk wisely before the Lord when we give Him thanks for everything. We thank Him, of course, for the evident blessings He showers upon us, but we also thank Him for those other things too: our adversities, trials and the like—in short, the things about which Bruce Carroll sings in his 1992 contemporary Christian song entitled “Sometimes Miracles Hide,” namely, our blessings wrapped in disguise. Thanking the Lord in all circumstances is God’s will for us in Christ Jesus—as the Spirit tells both the Thessalonians and us through the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Moreover, this thanksgiving in every circumstances is a hallmark of the Spirit-indwelt life.
What we have seen today—what to avoid and what to perform, and each by God’s grace alone—is wise life according to the Scriptures. We shall have this walking in wisdom ever in view as we consider the so-called household code (5:21-6:9, cf. Colossians 3:18-4:1) over the next few weeks. May God give this abundant, eternal life to us—and may He ever increase its sway in us each and all.
 I am indebted to William J. Larkin for this insight; see his Ephesians: A Handbook on the Greek Text. Baylor Handbook on the Greek New Testament (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2009), 130.