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Scripture Reading: Ephesians 5:15-21 Sermon Title: Walk in Wisdom Sermon Text: Ephesians 5:15-21 Memory Verse: Ephesians 5:17 MAIN IDEA: Walk in wisdom by redeeming the time, fulfilling God’s will, and submitting to His Spirit Walk in Wisdom Redeeming the Time Walk in Wisdom Fulfilling God’s Will Walk in Wisdom Submitting to God’s Spirit   NOTE: “Scripture quotations are from the NASB." This manuscript is provided as a courtesy and is not intended for publication. The audio message will differ because the manuscript is not followed word for word. Thanks for understanding.    

Introduction: Walk According to our Salvation

Imagine we corroborate together on a movie script. We put pen to paper and begin to write. Our story begins by telling of a far-away place filled with corrupt people. Evil is committed every day. In the country is a good judge, who, according to the law of the country, is empowered to act with all authority to forgive or convict all who come before his judgment seat. Because evil is so rampant, and in an effort to curb the evil, legislation is passed so that all crimes in the country, no matter how small, are punishable by death. In that place, we write of a man who we name Criminal. Criminal is poverty stricken, angry, and forever living in hunger and exposed to the elements. One day, Criminal is arrested for a crime against his neighbor. He thought his crime is against just another evil citizen. However, his crime is not against any other citizen, but against the judge. He violated the judge’s property. The judge saw Criminal commit the crime. In fact, the judge saw Criminal commit many crimes. Over the years, Criminal stole from the judge called the judge vile and obscene names, and he slandered against him by accusing him of crimes which the judge did not commit. One month, Criminal took the judge’s horse and rode it so hard that it took weeks for the horse to recover. The judge is fully aware of the many crimes Criminal committed because they are done in plain sight. Everyone in the country knows Criminal is guilty. There is no lack of evidence. Gallows are constructed on the day of the trial in preparation for the execution. Criminal is to stand trial before the judge he offended in an open and shut case. The day came for the judge to render a verdict. On that day, Criminal came to realize the man he committed his crimes against is the judge who decides his fate. Imagine his surprise to see that the one he has been committing crimes against is the judge. Criminal’s face is filled with gloom upon realizing he trespassed against the judge and not any another person. Criminal knows of his guilt and expects to receive the deserving sentence of death. The judge reads the verdict, “Not guilty.” Looks of bewilderment fill the courtroom. All who are present are astonished. All eyes turn toward the judge who explains his verdict. The day before the trial, he made full restitution for all the crimes committed by Criminal. As judge, he ordered all the evidence removed and obliterated. Not a shred of evidence remains. The judge proclaims it is within his jurisdiction to demonstrate mercy and forgiveness as the one who is trespassed against. Criminal weeps openly and is filled with joy. That day, the judge brought Criminal into his home, fed him with choice food, and clothed him with fine linen. He shows Criminal his new bed piled with blankets where he may lay his head at night. He told Criminal his name is no longer to be Criminal, but because the judge adopted him, his name is now Innocent. Innocent may freely come and go in the judge’s home. All the judge owns belongs to Innocent. We put our pens down. The script is finished. We give the movie a title, “From Criminal to Innocent,” and we submit the script to the producers. They love the script. They like it so much; they ask us to write a sequel. They want to know what happens to Innocent after this dramatic event in his life. How should Innocent live? Should we expect a change in his life? Will our sequel show Innocent living a new life demonstrating thankfulness? Will our script show Innocent to be joyous? Will Innocent tell others about the kindness and mercy of the judge? Will Innocent warn other lawbreakers about the just punishment for their crimes? Will our script show a dramatic change in Innocent’s life? Or, would our script show no change at all in Innocent’s life? Will we write in the sequel that Innocent often sleeps at nights in his rat-infested previous place? Will Innocent wear his old ratty clothing except on the days he visits the judge? Will we have Innocent daydreaming about the days of his past and bragging for hours on end about his foolish crimes? We are living in the movie, “From Criminal to Innocent.” This is our story. God wrote the script. Ephesians chapters 1-3 describe the first movie. We used to walk as criminals, according to the evil of this world. We walked under the devil’s influence doing works of disobedience (Eph. 2:2). But God, being rich in mercy, and because of His great love with which He loved us, made us alive together with Christ (Eph. 2:4-5). Our Judge has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. Our sin is cast away as far as the east is from the west. We are clothed with righteousness, and we stand before His throne holy and blameless. We are the adopted sons and daughters according to the kind intention of God’s perfect will. God is using the surpassing greatness of His power to save us and grant us a glorious inheritance. As a surety of our inheritance, God placed in us His Holy Spirit as a guarantor and Helper. He is our personal companion and guide, bringing us to our eternal home in heaven. The second half of Ephesians, Chapters 4 through 6, is the sequel. It is God’s scripted response to what our life should look like after He changes our name from Criminal to Innocent. God’s sequel is titled, “The Walk of Innocent.” The sequel tells that we are God’s workmanship, born again for good works which God prepared beforehand so that we will walk in them. (Eph. 2:10). The sequel is scripted that we are to walk in a manner worthy of our being called Innocent (Eph. 4:1) and we are to no longer walk as unbelievers walk (Eph. 4:17). Instead, we are to walk in love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us (Eph. 5:2). We were formerly darkness, but now we are Light in the Lord; so we are to walk as children of Light (Eph. 5:8). We continue this morning looking at the Walk of Innocent. Our script tells us: MAIN IDEA: Walk in wisdom by redeeming the time, fulfilling God’s will, and submitting to His Spirit

Walk in Wisdom redeeming the time

15Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16making the most of your time, because the days are evil.

These evil days

Ever since the fall, the days have been evil. In the days of Noah, the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually (Gen. 6:5). During the time of Judges, the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals (Ju. 2:11, 3:7, etc.). Isaiah warned of impending judgment for those who call evil good and good evil (Is. 5:20). Jesus said to the scribes and Pharisees that they were living in an evil and adulterous generation (Mt. 12:39). Paul told the Galatians (Ga. 1:4) and the Ephesians that the time they lived in is an evil age. Our days are evil. The days will remain evil until the day of Christ’s return. Because our days are evil, we need to be careful how we walk. Every time we see evil committed in this world, allow the evil to serve as a reminder, “I must be careful how I walk. I need to walk with wisdom.” As we hear about the evil of innocent children being aborted and killed in the womb, we are reminded, careful. Be reminded of the need to walk carefully when we hear that jihadists strapped a bomb to their chest so they may kill innocent people in the public square. When corruption is revealed on Wall Street and Washington, be careful how you walk.

Making the most of our time

The way we are to be careful and walk in wisdom is to make the most of our time. We need to seize every opportunity to redeem the time. Opportunities come and go. They are gifts from God. Opportunities are proportionately less compared to all the other moments of our lives. We can all remember times in our life when we have not taken advantage of an opportunity. We look back, with regret, and we say, would’ve, should’ve, could’ve. There have been times when people have visited close friends or relatives in the hospital, had an opportunity to say something really important, maybe, ask forgiveness, say I love you or share the Gospel. But they didn’t. They do not make most of their time. Wise people are purposefully opportunistic. They prepare for opportunities beforehand. They are wise by being ready. They are like the farmer who sows the seed in the spring, so there will be crops in the time of harvest. Making the most of our time is wise. We walk as unwise when we do not make the most of our time. Instead of doing good, we cause harm by giving a flippant, careless word or act in an uncaring, unloving way. We are unwise when everything becomes an opportunity to make a joke. People who are uncaring, lazy, sluggish, and try to cruise through life will never make the most of their time. They lose out on the joys of ministry. Wise people see time as precious. We need to be prepared.

The wisdom of the children of God

In all the earth, there are none wiser than the children of God. We are not wise because we have better brains or because we have studied harder or gone to good schools. We are the wisest because our eyes are opened to the wisdom of God. We are the only people who know the answer for evil in our time. The answer is not in politics, entertainment, academia, sports, or medicine. The Holy Spirit of Truth reveals to us the Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. In Christ is all the wisdom. Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Col. 2:3) The times we bring Christ into the situation are the times we are making the most of our time. When we make much of Christ, we are bringing for the treasures of wisdom and setting them before us like apples of gold and trays of silver. Don’t be unwise, but wise. Walk in wisdom, redeeming the time

Walk in Wisdom fulfilling God’s will

17So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Those who don’t endeavor to understand the will of the Lord, God calls fools. It is infinitely foolish not to seek to understand God’s plan for the Universe.

Be wise and understand God’s will is the exaltation of Jesus.

Ephesians begins by telling us that God made known to us the mystery of His will (Eph. 1:8-9). God’s will from the beginning of time is the exaltation of Jesus Christ. All which God desires to be accomplished in Creation is being accomplished in Christ. God is orchestrating all which takes place in the Universe to arrive at a goal which is stated in Ephesians 1:10, God is aiming for “an administration suitable to the fullness of the times.” The word administration means under management or overseen. The administration which God sees as being suitable for all times is to have Jesus Christ as Lord over all things; things in the heavens and things on the earth. When Christ walked out of the tomb, that administration reached a significant point because that is when Jesus Christ ascended to heaven and took His seat of power. Right now, Jesus Christ is exalted and sitting at the right hand of God.

Be wise and understand God’s will is for Christ to save men.

We submit to God’s will when we submit to Christ for our salvation. Our salvation is the end of our rebellion to God, and the beginning of a life spent fulfilling God’s will.

Be wise and understand God’s will is for His wisdom to be made known through the church.

It is God’s will for His manifold wisdom to be made known through the church (Eph. 3:10). God desires for us to wake up and declare the unfathomable riches of Christ in our present evil age. We are the children of light, and God desires for us to bring, Jesus Christ, the Light of the world to shine upon everything and expose the evil. We are to shine the light of Christ’s unfathomable riches upon the darkness of every human need. For people who hunger and thirst, reveal how Christ richly nourishes as the bread and water of life. For people experiencing pain and suffering, tell how Jesus is a healing ointment poured forth (Song of Sol. 1:3), the Balm of Gilead (Jer. 8:22) and the Great Physician (Mt. 9:12; Lk. 4:23). For those living in the darkness of fear, shine light upon the refuge of Christ as the great Shepherd who watches over His flock (1 Peter 5:4) and lays down His life for His sheep. Set the glorious light of Christ on a hill so people may see His joy, beauty, justice, and everlasting life.

Be wise and understand God’s will is salvation through faith in the gospel.

There is only one way for God’s will to be completed and that is to preach the gospel. The preaching of the gospel is the means to bring about God’s administration. When people hear the Gospel and put their faith in Christ, they are “summed up” in Christ. They, by God’s grace and by faith, are placed in union with Christ. Jesus is the head, and His people are the body. Jesus is their Lord.

Be wise and understand God’s will is for the gospel to be preached even through suffering.

When we shine forth, some will hate the light because their deeds are evil. They will reject our message because the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. We are the aroma of death leading to death. But, to those who are being saved, the Light of the cross is the power of God and we are the aroma of life leading to life (1 Cor. 1:18; 2 Cor. 2:16). Understand the will of the Lord. God’s will is to save people. When we preach the gospel, we are exalting Jesus Christ and making the most of our time. If we are not making much of Christ in our lives, we are not walking according to God’s will. We are not wise, but foolish. Walking in wisdom is to live with an understanding of God’s will.

Walk In Wisdom Submitting to God’s Spirit

18And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, In the Greek, “be filled” is one word, an imperative. Because it is an imperative, it is a command. This verse is a command telling us to be filled with the Spirit. It may be interpreted two ways, but only one way is correct. One way to interpret this verse is that we to make an effort to increase the amount of the Holy Spirit abiding in us. In doing this, we become more filled with the Spirit. With this interpretation, we understand we have a partial amount of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and through works of holiness or prayer, or some other means, we have added more of the Holy Spirit. At the same time, if we sin, a partial amount of the Holy Spirit leaves us. So, as Christians, we are to try our very best to increase the measure of the Holy Spirit within us by our efforts. This is not how to interpret this verse. God’s Holy Spirit is not broken up into pieces so we may have a little bit of Him or a little more of Him. Jesus told Nicodemus that God, “gives the Spirit without measure” (John 3:34). In other words when God is giving us His Spirit, He doesn’t give a small portion to one person and a larger portion to someone else. When we are saved, we receive God’s Holy Spirit in full measure. There is no verse in Scripture declaring the Holy Spirit to be partially in a person. If we do not have the Holy Spirit, we are not saved. Humans do not have the power or ability to increase God’s Holy Spirit. We either have all of God’s Holy Spirit, or we have none. In this letter to the Ephesians that after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of our salvation—having also believed, we were sealed in Christ with the Holy Spirit of promise (Eph. 1:3). We may not fill ourselves with the Spirit any more than the Simon the magician could pay to have the authority of the Spirit in him (Acts 8:18). The correct way to interpret this command to be filled with God’s Holy Spirit is that we are to Him to influence our lives. Just as wine influences behavior, for the worst, God’s Holy Spirit influences behavior for good. Think of it in the same way that the wind fills the sails and puts pressure on them, so they move a boat. When sails are laying in a room, we will say the sails are filled with canvas. But, on the ocean, when the sails are billowing, we say they are filled with the wind. Scripture continually commands us to allow the Holy Spirit to influence our lives. Being filled is another way of saying walk by the Spirit, (Ga. 5:16-18), sow to the Spirit (Ga. 6:8), live by the Spirit (Ga. 5:25), and be led by the Spirit (Ro. 5:18; Ga. 5:18). We are filled with the Spirit when we are completely under His influence, and He controls all our thoughts, feelings, words, and actions. What does being filled by the Spirit look like in a believer’s life?

Spirit-filled is to be Christ-Centered

First and foremost, a person filled with the Spirit is Christ-centered. Notice each phrase has a qualifier. We are not just to sing, but we are to sing with our heart to the Lord. We are to be thankful, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. And we are to be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

Spirit-filled is to be worshipful

A person filled with the Spirit worships the Lord with others. 19speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; When we are filled with the Spirit, we worship not just with our lips or our mind, but we worship with our heart to the Lord. Those who are Spirit filled find joy in music and melodies proclaiming the glories of Christ. We talk about the songs, and they give us a bounce in our step.

Spirit-filled is to be thankful

A person filled with the Spirit is thankful to God.  20always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; An unthankful Christian is an oxymoron. Romans 1 tells us God’s wrath comes upon those who do not honor God or give Him thanks. Being unthankful is a sign of unbelief. Giving thanks in all things is the will of God in Christ Jesus for us (1 Thess. 5:18). The Psalms are filled with expressions of thanksgiving by God’s people who worship Him. Singing with thanksgiving shows the abundance of what is in the heart. Not only do thankful words come out, but they come out as a sweet-sounding melody. We are to pray with thanksgiving (Ph. 4:6). When we pray giving thanks, we acknowledge God as the provider and sovereign power of our life.
All things always
The word “all” in the Greek means anyevery, the whole; whatsoever and whosoever. It is the same word used to say God created all things. The word “always” in the Greek is a combination of the Greek word for all, pas, combined with the word which means “every when.” (When – every when. Which every –  when all of them.) In the whole thing, in whatsoever, in everything, in anything, and in whosever, we are to every when, and in all when, be thankful. There is no time or thing excepted from giving thanks. This verse encompasses every created thing, in every moment of time. Are we to be thankful when we are prosperous? Always. Are we to be thankful for that mean person at work? Always. Are we to be thankful for being hungry? Always. Are we to be thankful for suffering and illness? Always. We are always to be giving thanks for all things. We are to be thankful because we know God is sovereignly over every moment and every event of time. God is working all things for the purpose of His will. Every positive and negative encounter in our life is designed and orchestrated to make much of Christ.

Spirit-filled is to subject to others

A person filled with the Spirit is humbly devoted to others. 21and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. We are equals. We have different roles, and we are equals, just as the Persons of the Trinity have different roles, but are equal. We are dependent upon one another as members of the body. We may not say to one another; I have no need of you. We are to be subject to one another. Our subjection to one another finds an example in Christ laying down His life for us. We are to walk in love toward one another just as Jesus loves us (Eph. 5:2). Our subjection to one another is based upon our unity in the Spirit. Every person in the church is a blood-bought child of the God of the Universe. We are children of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We are to be subject to one another because we are children of the King. Being Spirit-filled is to be Christ-centered, worshipful, thankful, and being subject to one another in the fear of Christ. There is more to being Spirit-filled. This list is not all inclusive. The Scripture provides other ways for us to be Spirit-filled. For example, we are to put to death the deeds of the flesh; we are to be humble, and love mercy. Being Spirit-filled is to have the word of Christ dwell in us richly. Most importantly, almost every example of a person described as being Spirit-filled in the book of Acts is in the context of the proclamation of the gospel. Being Spirit-filled is to proclaim Christ. The point of being Spirit-filled is to take every thought captive to Christ; live humbly and to love mercy; to have God’s will be the focus of our affections and our pursuits while along the way the fruit of the Spirit spills out like fruit tumbling out of an over-filled basket.

Conclusion

We are to walk in wisdom. Wisdom is different than having knowledge. We do not reveal our wisdom by demonstrating how much we know. We may be knowledgeable, which means we know information. However, don’t confuse being knowledgeable with being wise. Wisdom is knowing facts and living appropriately. Don’t tell us how wise you are, show us how wise you are by how you live. Wisdom is demonstrated in how we live our life. We know we live in an evil age. Let’s be wise by making the most of our time knowing the days are evil. We know and understand God’s will. He has revealed His will to us by His Holy Spirit. Let’s be wise, and not foolish, by walking according to the will of God. There are many ways we may be influenced in our lives. Let’s be wise and be walk in wisdom by being filled with the Holy Spirit and submitting to His leading and influence. Remember the movie script, “From Criminal to Innocent”? How does Criminal place upon the redemption given to him by the judge? How would he show that what the judge did for his has worth? The criminal shows the value of his redemption by living a new, changed life. He is given a new life and should live accordingly. If the criminal in the story went about life unchanged, we would consider him to be a fool of fools. There is infinite value in the blood of Christ and the glories of redemption.  So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.