Ephesians 5:18-20

Sunday Morning Bible Study

July 23, 2006


Last week we talked about understanding the will of God for our lives.  Paul wrote,

(Eph 5:17 NKJV)  Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Now we will look at one of the things that is clearly God’s will for our lives.

:18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,

dissipation – the word speaks of a wasted life.


One Drunken Night
A fellow decides to take off early from work and go drinking. He stays until the bar closes at 2am at which time he is extremely drunk. When he enters his house, he doesn’t want to wake anyone up so he takes off his shoes and starts to tip toe up the stairs. Halfway up the stairs, he falls over backwards and lands flat on his rear end. That wouldn’t have been so bad except that he had a couple of empty pint bottle in his back pockets that broke and the broken glass carved up his rear end terribly. But, he was so drunk that he didn’t know he was hurt. A few minutes later as he was undressing, he noticed blood, so he checked himself out in the mirror and sure enough, his behind was cut up something terrible. He repaired the damage as best he could under the circumstances and went to bed. The next morning, his head was hurting, his rear was hurting and he was hunkering under the covers, trying to think of a good story, when his wife came into the bedroom. “Well, you really tied one on last night, “ she said, “where did you go?” “I worked late,” he said, “and I stopped off for a couple of beers.” “A couple of beers? That’s a laugh. You were plastered last night, so where did you go?” she inquired. “What makes you so sure that I got drunk last night anyway?” “Well, she replied, “My first big clue was when I got up this morning and found a bunch of band aids stuck to the mirror!”

This all sounds funny, until it’s you lying in that bed …

be filledpleroo – the Greek could be translated, “be continually filled”


Filled with the Spirit.

Why are these two things paired together?

Why does a person drink?
Sometimes a person drinks to get courage or boldness to face some situation.

Yet that’s exactly what the Holy Spirit does.

(Acts 4:31 NKJV) And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.

Sometimes a person drinks out of pain, to try and feel better, to escape from a problem.

The Holy Spirit brings true comfort.

(John 14:16 KJV) And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

A person who is drunk with wine is “filled” with the wine, but Paul says we are to be “filled” with the Spirit.
A person who is drunk with wine is often seen as “controlled” by the wine.
People will say that a little drink just “loosens” them up, but those of us who watch a person that’s drunk will say that “it’s the wine that’s speaking”, they are considered “under the influence”.
A person who is filled with the Spirit is one who is “controlled” by the Spirit, under the “influence” of the Spirit.
There is another Scriptural reference that pairs these two together.
On the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), the Holy Spirit was poured out on the church for the first time. The believers began to speak with tongues. They were speaking in foreign languages and the things they were saying were giving praise to God.
The crowd that began to gather thought the disciples were all drunk.
Peter got up and explained to the people,

(Acts 2:15-17 NKJV) "For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. {16} "But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: {17} 'And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams.

What does it mean to be “filled with the Holy Spirit”?

With, In, Upon

In the Greek language there are three different words, three “prepositions” that are used to describe the different relationships that the Holy Spirit has with people. These three kinds of relationships can be described by the words, “with” (Greek para), “in” (en), and “upon” (epi).

1. With

There is a sense in which the Holy Spirit is “with” everyone in the world, both believers and unbelievers.
When the Holy Spirit is “with” us, He is along side of us to encourage us, comfort us, and to convict us.
Jesus talks about this when He said,
(John 14:16-17 NKJV) "And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever; {17} "the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.

2. In

Jesus said that the Spirit would one day be “in” the disciples.
When we receive Jesus in our heart, the Holy Spirit comes to live “in” us.
A person who does not have the Holy Spirit living “in” their heart cannot be a Christian.
(Rom 8:9 NKJV) …Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.

3. Upon

Luke connects the “upon” word with being “baptized with the Holy Spirit” and “being filled” with the Holy Spirit.  First Jesus let His disciples know what was going to happen …
(Acts 1:5 NKJV)  "for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."
(Acts 1:8 NKJV) "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."
Then when the event does happen, Luke calls this being “filled” with the Holy Spirit.
(Acts 2:1-4 NKJV) When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. {2} And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. {3} Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. {4} And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
We believe that the Bible makes it clear that though this might happen at the same time that a person gets saved, it is often something that happens after a person gets saved.
The disciples received the Holy Spirit after the resurrection when Jesus “breathed” on them (John 20:22). But they were filled with the Holy Spirit after Jesus ascended into heaven and they were praying on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2).
When Philip went to Samaria, he preached the gospel, miracles were performed, and the people believed and were baptized. But there was something missing.

(Acts 8:14-16 NKJV) Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, {15} who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. {16} For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

We see the same thing happening in Acts 19, where Paul comes across a group of disciples in Ephesus.
There are some churches that are very strong in teaching that every believer has been “baptized” with the Holy Spirit.

I think that some of this is a reaction to the idea that those in Pentecostal or Charismatic churches talk about those who “have it” and those who “don’t”.

But this is not a matter of salvation. You are saved and going to heaven if you’ve invited Jesus into your heart.

The filling of the Holy Spirit has to do with having God’s power in your life, not salvation.

This is a matter of whether or not God is in control of your life.

How do I receive the filling of the Holy Spirit?

I’ve heard all kinds of explanations of this over the years and I’ve come to the conclusion that we make it all much too complicated.

It is not a difficult thing to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

(John 7:37-39 NKJV) On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. {38} "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." {39} But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

It all boils down to this – are you thirsty? Do you realize your need for the Holy Spirit to fill you?


Three students are leaving their last classes of the day. The law student is thinking, “I’m tired and thirsty. I must have coffee.” The engineering student is thinking, “I’m tired and thirsty. I must have a coke.” The medical student is thinking, “I’m tired and thirsty. I must have diabetes.”
Are you tired and thirsty?  What are you thinking?
If you are thirsty, then come to Jesus, drink, and believe.


One way of thinking of about the difference between the Holy Spirit being “in” you and “upon” you is by thinking about a pitcher, a glass, a bowl, and water.
You are the glass. The pitcher is Jesus. The water is the Holy Spirit. And the bowl is the world around you.
If I set the pitcher next to the glass, the water is “with” the glass.
If I pour water from the pitcher and fill the glass in front of you, the water is “in” the glass.
But if I pour water into the glass until it overflows, the bowl gets wet. This is the picture of the Holy Spirit being “upon” you, of the Holy Spirit filling you.

Will the Holy Spirit make me do “weird” things if I am filled with the Spirit?

Some people do respond to the work of the Holy Spirit with an emotional response.

But the evidence of a person being filled with the Spirit is not a loss of control, doing strange things, or even speaking with tongues.

Jesus said in Acts 1:8 that the result of being filled with the Spirit would be the power to be His witnesses.

We’ll talk in a minute about some other things that come as a result of being filled with the Spirit in the rest of this passage.

Can a person be filled with the Holy Spirit more than once?

Yes. He wants to continually fill you. The same disciples in the book of Acts are filled with the Holy Spirit over and over again.

The way Paul writes Eph. 5:18 in the Greek, he commands us to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit.

The problem is that we leak. We need to be filled over and over and over again.

Are you thirsty this morning?

It can start with a simple little prayer … Let’s do it now …

:19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,

If you track the Greek grammar that Paul is using, Paul used a command, an imperative, back in verse 18, “be filled”. The rest of the verbs throughout the end of the chapter are “participles”, meaning that they are the things that result from the command.  If you are “filled”, then these things will happen…

speakinglaleo to speak – I find it interesting that Paul doesn’t say “sing” here. But then some of us aren’t so comfortable in “singing” to one another, but it might not be so hard to just “speak”.

psalmspsalmos a striking, twanging; the word might be speaking of songs based on the Old Testament Psalms, or simply music that has an instrumental accompaniment.

hymnshumnos – This isn’t talking just about those old songs found in the Baptist Hymnal. The main idea of this word is a song of praise.

spiritualpneumatikos – “related to the spirit”; it might refer to songs from a human spirit, but it probably refers to songs that come from the Holy Spirit. I think it’s possible that this might also refer to a phenomena called “singing in the Spirit” where a person may sing to the Lord with the gift of tongues. Paul talks about “singing in the Spirit” in 1Cor. 14:15 and seems to be talking about singing with tongues.


Public worship

One of the things that come from being filled with the Holy Spirit is a pouring out of worship to God before other believers.
Here the emphasis is on the fact that when we worship together, we affect each other, we are to speak “to one another”.
It’s important that we take time to worship together. Sometimes it’s easy to think that it’s not that important if you miss the “music” as long as you make it for the message.
Yet the “music” is one of the times that God may use you to speak to others.
And it’s an opportunity where the Holy Spirit wants to work through you.
Paul and Silas were in prison along with the other prisoners, but they acted differently:
(Acts 16:25 NKJV) But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.

The other prisoners were affected by what they heard from Paul and Silas.

From time to time I will look around the room while we’re worshipping and I become encouraged in my own worship when I see how some of you are so in love with the Lord when you sing to Him.
You don’t have to be up on stage to be used in worship.

:19 singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord,


Private worship

Whereas the first phrase was about how our worship ought to be public, here the emphasis is on what happens in our heart.
I think this is the heart of what I call “worship”. It’s your heart reaching out to touch God’s heart.
One of the ways that our heart touches God’s heart is through music, the music in your heart.
When we are gathered together as a church, the music ought to be something that comes from your heart.
When you are alone with God, there ought to be time when you are singing to the Lord.
You may be uncomfortable with this idea, but part of the design that went into the creation of a human being was the idea to be a God worshipper. And I believe that you cannot find your full potential as a person until you learn to bow your knee before your Creator and offer to Him praise and worship.
(Rev 5:11-13 NKJV) Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, {12} saying with a loud voice: "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!" {13} And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: "Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!"

I believe we find our highest purpose in life when we learn to worship God from our heart.

This all comes as a result of being filled with the Holy Spirit.
One of the Holy Spirit’s jobs is to bring glory to Jesus (John 16:14)

(John 16:14 NKJV) "He will glorify Me…

I’m not sure you’re even going to understand the joy and glory involved in worship until you allow God to fill you with His Holy Spirit.

:20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

giving thankseucharisteo (“well” + “grace”) to be grateful, feel thankful; give thanks


Thankful heart

The Holy Spirit produces a heart of thanks.
It seems that even though we live in the most blessed country in the world, we are a nation of complainers. It seems that complaining must be our greatest national pastime after Baseball that is …
The San Francisco Zoo had an elephant, named Calle. It seems that Calle had a chronic illness which requires daily medication. The zoo people couldn’t get Calle to take her dose orally, so a pharmacologist developed a suppository for her. The 10-inch-long, four-pound, cocoa-butter bullets are crafted by the good folks at Guittard Chocolates in Burlingame, California. Administering the DAILY medication took five zoo workers, including one person to distract Calle with treats and one person who wore a full-arm glove.
It means that if you have a job, there are five people who have jobs worse than yours! So stop complaining about your job.
I think that sometimes we have more in common with the Israelites wandering in the wilderness than we care to admit. Even though they were constantly surrounded by God’s miracles, the thing they were best at was complaining.
Would you know who is the greatest saint in the world? It is not he who prays most or fasts most; it is not he who gives most alms, or is more eminent for temperance, chastity, or justice; but it is he who is always thankful to God who wills everything that God willeth, who receives everything as an instance of God's goodness, and has a heart always ready to praise God for it.

William Law (1686 - 1761), A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life

Corrie Ten Boom in The Hiding Place relates an incident which taught her this principle. She and her sister, Betsy, had just been transferred to the worst German prison camp they had seen yet, Ravensbruck. Upon entering the barracks, they found them extremely overcrowded and flea-infested. Their Scripture reading that morning in 1 Thessalonians had reminded them to rejoice always, pray constantly, and give thanks in all circumstances. Betsy told Corrie to stop and thank the Lord for every detail of their new living quarters. Corrie at first flatly refused to give thanks for the fleas, but Betsy persisted. She finally succumbed. During the months spent at that camp, they were surprised to find how openly they could hold Bible study and prayer meetings without guard interference. It was several months later when they learned that the guards would not enter the barracks because of the fleas.
Complaining or thankfulness?  The Holy Spirit produces a heart of thankfulness.