What does a Spirit filled church look like?
In Ephesians 5:19-21 Paul gives several characteristics of the Spirit-filled church. The phrases in this passage describe very specifically what it looks like for the Spirit to fill us.
First, Paul says that when the Spirit fills us, “we are going to address one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.”
In other words, we are going to encourage one another with biblical truths.
When people are controlled by earthly pleasures, it impacts their conversations and so what happens is they spend a great deal of time talking about all that kind of stuff; have you ever hung out with a group of unbelievers, what are some of the kinds of things they talk about and get excited about, it is usually stuff that has to do with now; but the point is here when we as a church are drinking deeply of Christ and are filled with the Spirit, things will be different when we get together, the Spirit will transform the kind of things we speak about to one another.
Specifically Paul says here we are going to address one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs; which are three terms that all pretty much have to do with praising God for who He is and what He’s done. And what Paul’s saying is that this is something we can look for, if we are interested in whether the Spirit is filling us, are we a community of people that are constantly encouraging one another to look to God and be amazed by His character and His work on our behalf?
Please understand that of course Paul’s not talking about being fake, this is not a group of people getting together and putting on serious voices and saying God in funny ways; instead this is where your life is revolving around God and His Word and the good of people around you, you are thinking about these kinds of things night and day, and so of course, this is what comes out over and over again when you are in conversations with people you love.
Second, Paul says we are going to “sing and make melody to the Lord with our hearts.”
We are going to find deep down delight in God.
I think one of the things I like the most about this phrase is the fact that Paul tells us we are going to make melody to the Lord in or with our hearts.
He’s not saying obviously that when we get together as Christians we all stand here and sing to God with our mouths closed, like we only sing in our hearts, instead he’s talking about singing that comes from the bottom of your heart.
We all know how easy it is to just sing with your mouth and just go through the motions of singing, faking it, it is another when your heart is so filled up with joy in God that you are singing on the inside. Now for me that’s the best place to sing, because when I sing with my mouth, people usually hope I am quiet, but you can sing as you loud as you want in your heart, and really I think what Paul’s getting at, is that when the Spirit of God is filling us, we are not just jumping up and down on the outside but there’s a deep, profound delight that’s going on in your heart.
Third, we are going to “give thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
We are going to overflow with gratitude to God.
You can underline here always and for everything. There’s hardly anything that characterizes people that are about themselves more than complaining, they are constantly finding reasons to be dissatisfied.
The crazy thing about people that are controlled by a desire for their own pleasure is that they are so unhappy all the time.
And that’s just because when you are proud you think you deserve everything and so you complain, and when you are selfish you want everything to exactly your way so you complain, but when the Spirit of God is at work, you see yourself for who you are and you understand what you actually deserve and everything that you are receiving just becomes AMAZING and so you are constantly thankful and you become thankful about everything because you know God is for you and His hand is at work in everything for your good and for His glory.
It’s interesting to note too, how the Spirit here enables believers to give thanks in a very specific way. Paul says we don’t just give thanks randomly or in a vague way, we give thanks to God the Father in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, in other words, the Spirit of God enables us to give thanks to God the Father causing us to humbly recognize that everything we have, all the good we are experiencing comes to us on the basis of who Jesus is and what Jesus has accomplished for us when He died on the cross. There’s a lot of theology and doctrine in that statement actually, that’s Trinitarian thanksgiving!
And finally, fourth Paul tells us that when the Spirit fills us as a church, we are going to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Which must be very important for Paul because he goes into big time detail about this one, talking about how it works out in our lives all the way down until chapter 6:9.
But for now, again we should just sort of be amazed by the way the Spirit of God works. When you are controlled by earthly pleasures like alcohol or whatever, what usually happens in those relationships, it’s people trying to outdo one another, top one another, be in charge of one another, be higher and exalted over one another, but what happens when the Spirit focuses our attention on Christ is that we fear Him, and we are not nearly as concerned about our own glory or own importance anymore and so that changes the way we relate to one another, when the Spirit is controlling us we are going to happily go low in our relationships with one another for the glory of God.