"15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ."
We look now at what Paul says in 18, in some ways the climax of the passage: the words 'Be filled with the Spirit.' This has become very much a loaded statement and exhortation today, and it is safe to say that there have been all sorts of distortions to its meaning; and these distortions have arisen because the Apostle's words have not been interpreted in their context, with meanings read into them rather than meaning taken out of them. It is here that we see the real value of continuous and systematic expository ministry, for when we take these words in their context and in the flow of Paul's thought throughout the epistle, their meaning becomes very plain. Let us consider what Paul has been saying throughout the letter. Having unfolded the wealth that is ours in Christ, in chs 1-3, he proceeds from chapter 4 onwards to spell out how this wealth that is ours in Him is to express itself - in a Christian walk that is worthy of the vocation by which we are called. It is a call to be different - not as the Gentiles walk (4:17), but to walk in love (5:1, 2), and in the light (5:3-14), and in wisdom (5:15ff). It is in this general context that we best understand what Paul says in 18, 'be filled with the Spirit'. And it is important to see that, in context, Paul is not so much saying something different or additional to what he has already said, as something parallel to what he has said and explanatory of it. It is only in the energy of the Spirit, and in His control that we can be different, and walk in love, and light, and wisdom. These, indeed, are the marks of the fullness of the Spirit. It is as if the Apostle had said, 'All that I have been saying to you up to this point can be comprehended in this word: "Be filled with the Spirit"'. We shall continue this discussion in the next Note.