Tony Evans - The Wine
Paul had a concern. It was a concern that the Christians in the church at Ephesus needed to wake up, wake up to the new spiritual reality in which they lived and in which they functioned. You see, the Christians at Ephesus were in a pagan environment. They were in an anti-God culture. But these believers had come to Christ. They had trusted Christ and had been radically transformed. But unfortunately, they had begun to enter into a spiritual stupor. That's why throughout the book of Ephesians he keeps wanting them to know, that their new place of operating was heavenly places. A spiritual sphere that they needed to learn to live in, function in, and operate from the perception and perspective of. So he calls on them.
In Ephesians chapter 5, he asks them to wake up, verse 14. For this reason it says, "Awake sleeper and arise from the dead and Christ will shine on you". What's true of Christians in Ephesus is true of Christians today. Far too many Christians are spiritually asleep. They are asleep to the spiritual orientation to life, and have begun to be asleep in the secular, satanic, demonic, ungodly world of the physical, because they are too asleep to the spiritual. He understands that if they're going to be properly acclimated, they're going to have to learn a spiritual truth. A spiritual truth that's one of the dominating truths of scripture. I'm simply calling this the wine.
This is the principle of the wine. We've been talking about the spiritual and to understand the spiritual, you need to understand the Holy Spirit and his role in how you live in a secular culture as a sacred saint. It is this absenteeism, this slumber, snoring if you will, of Christians and our refusal to wake up, shake up, at the alarm clock of heaven, getting us up from our spiritual slumber that keeps us from being ineffective, and not impactful as God would have us to be. And so he says in verse 15, "Be careful how you walk". So he's talking about how you operate in the world. "Not as unwise men, but as wise". Being able to make the right kind of decisions in the secular world environment. Making the most of your time stop wasting time you know, 'cause the days are evil.
See, he's talking about the evil world in which we live, worship, work, play, raise families. Ain't talking about our world. He says, it's time to get up, it's not time to lay in bed all day like you don't have something to do, and he says to do that, you must understand what the will of the Lord is. You must understand what God is up to. You must learn to look at life from God's perspective, so that you are fulfilling God's purpose in your life, to your life, for your life, and through your life. Well, how do you wake up? Well, that's where the principle of the wine comes in. Because he says in verse 18, "Do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation," that's destructive, "But be filled with the Spirit".
He makes a contrast between what wine does when you've had too much of it, and what the spirit does when you get too much of him. God is actually inviting Christians to get drunk, but not on wine. "Be not drunk with wine," but I do want you to become intoxicated with the Spirit. I want you to wake up, and I want you to fill up when you wake up, so you can fulfill the will of God and if you're gonna be full of God and full of God's purpose in your life, you gonna have to learn to be an intoxicated Christian but not with wine, but with the Spirit.
Now, the filling of the Spirit is designed to produce discernible, behavioral differences. Your views are different, your standards are different, your operations are different, 'cause you are different, 'cause you had too much to drink. You remember, on the day of Pentecost in Acts chapter 2 when they were talking outside of themselves and the folks say, "These folk are drunk". Peter has to say, "We're not drunk like you think, we've just been overcome by the Holy Spirit". He says, "Be not drunk with wine, but I do want you to be intoxicated". Every believer, every person, has received the Holy Spirit if you're a Christian, you have received the Holy Spirit you've been baptized and indwelt by the Holy Spirit. But to have him, is not equal to being intoxicated with him.
To possess him doesn't mean you are under the influence of him. It means he's there, but it may not mean he is in control. When police pull you over, it's a DUI, you're driving under the influence. God wants all Christians to be LUI, living under the influence. The world should pull you over, because you are an intoxicated person, but not because you've had too much alcohol, you've had too much Holy Ghost. Now, it's not that you need more of the Holy Ghost, the Holy Spirit you have all that God has to give you. What you need, what I need, what we need, is to come underneath his influence. The word, "To be filled" means to be overcome with or overwhelmed with. This word is used throughout the New Testament, of many different scenarios.
For example, the Bible says in Luke chapter 4, verses 1 and 2 that, "Jesus being filled with the Spirit was led into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil". See because he was under God's control, he could be guided, led into the wilderness, and he could be on the offense against Satan, led into the wilderness to face the devil. You know why the devil is running over us? 'Cause we're not intoxicated enough. We haven't gotten drunk yet with the Holy Spirit. Or take for example John chapter 16, verse 6, it says, "The people were filled with sorrow," they were overcome with sadness. Sadness was ruling their emotions because they were filled with it.
So when you are full of the Spirit, it means you're overcome, you're overwhelmed. You can't stop crying when you are full of sorrow. According to Luke chapter 4 verses 28 and 29, it says, "The people were filled with rage," so much so that in verse 29 it says that, "They wanted to throw Jesus off the cliff". In other words, they were so overcome, they couldn't control themselves, they couldn't control their anger, they went after him and they wanted to kill him and Jesus had to supernaturally wiggle his way out of their midst in order to escape their anger.
See, if you're just a natural man or a natural woman, is 'cause you're not a drunk saint. You have not become intoxicated yet with God. In Acts chapter 13, verse 45, it says, "The folks were filled with jealousy". In other words, jealousy had enraged them, controlled them. So he says, "If you're going to wake up, shake up, bake up, if you're gonna hit this evil world and be the kind of man, the kind of woman who knows what the will of God is, who sees God maximizing their time, the shortness of their lives in confronting the evil of our culture," he says, "You gonna have to get a little bit of... you need some juice. You need enough juice to become intoxicated". He says, "Be filled with the Spirit".
Well, first of all, let's talk a little Greek. The word "be filled," is a passive present, plural, imperative. Let me say that again. The verb "be filled," this is very important, is a passive present, plural, imperative. Okay, first of all, it's an imperative. An imperative is a command. He's not asking you to be filled, he's not recommending that you be filled, Paul, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, is demanding that you be filled. Now you can reject the command, but that means you'll be asleep Christian, a Christian that doesn't see the will of God, a Christian that is not unique or different. You'll be a natural saint because you will not be operating under the influence of the spiritual wine that is the Holy Spirit.
So it is a command that you must obey, not a recommendation that would be nice if you did it. So, it is passive. Passive means, it's not something you do, it's something you allowed to be done. Be filled is passive. In other words, you don't fill yourself, the Holy Spirit fills you. So he makes a command to stop blocking the Holy Spirit from filling you. So the Holy Spirit that's in you wants to fill you. He says, "With the passive, let him". He's eager, to control you. He's eager, to turn you into a drunk Christian, Christian living under the influence.
So he's saying, "Let the Holy Spirit take you there, stop resisting his Word". He says, "It's plural, the verb is plural". That means it belongs to everybody. He's saying, "All y'all, all y'all be filled". He does not want you just to be a filled individual Christian, he wants you to belong to a filled church. He wants everybody in congregation to be drunk. He doesn't want anybody not to be intoxicated with the Holy Spirit, 'cause he uses the plural and he's speaking to the whole church at Ephesus because the scripture says, "We've all been baptized with the Holy Spirit," in 1 Corinthians 12, so every believer has equal access to the filling of the Holy Spirit. This present tense is, be filled presently, ongoingly.
Let me put it another way. Don't live on yesterday's filling, 'cause you need today's filling. It's a present tense. Many Christians will talk about how God did this yesterday. They'll give testimonies about past work of God in their lives, but when you talk about what is he doing now, they get silent. Why? 'Cause they're asleep. They're not alive to the intoxicating work of the Holy Spirit. So when he uses the present tense, he's saying, "Keep allowing yourself to be filled with the Holy Spirit". Keep allowing the atmosphere of the inclusion, the presence of the Holy Spirit to dominate your life.
Now, the question is, what gets in the way of the filling? And by filling we mean under the influence of, controlled by. You cannot, watch this, be full of the Spirit, if you are full of yourself. Let me say that again. You cannot be full of the Spirit if you are full of yourself. If you are self-sufficient, you will have blocked the Holy Spirit from filling you. The Holy Spirit is just that, God's presence in you. Jesus is in you, in the person of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will only fill you to the degree you are surrendered to Jesus Christ.
Let me say that again. The Holy Spirit will only fill you, and I'm gonna show you that in a moment, to the degree that you are surrendered to Jesus Christ. If you are not surrendered, you can't be intoxicated. Until you surrender to alcohol, you can't get drunk. Until you surrender to Jesus Christ and yield, this is not a hallelujah statement, this is a yielding of your life on a continual basis, which frees the Holy Spirit up, because you've emptied yourself of self. That's why Jesus said, "If anyone be my disciple, he must," what? "Deny himself". So whenever you choose you over the Lord, you have blocked the filling of the Holy Spirit. He says, "I wanna control you, I wanna make you intoxicated, wake you up, show you my will, let you see me act in your life".
So, how do you practice this? You say, "I wanna be full". Well notice what he says. He says in verse 18 and verse 19, "Speaking to one another in Psalms, hymns, spiritual song, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father, and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ". He lists the number of participles one right after another where he tells us to submit, to sing, to give thanks, he gives these participles, which explains how he wants us to stay filled, okay?
Let me sum 'em up. The two things you must do to stay filled, is to consistently minister to God, and consistently minister to others, with a good heart. Says, "With your heart". He says, "To the Lord," but then he says, "To one another" and he's specifically talking about ministering to Christians here. Although it's not limited to that, that's a specific thing because it's a family affair. You must be involved, administering to God and others, and that creates the atmosphere for the Holy Spirit to work. Look at what he says in the book of Colossians verses 16 and 17. "Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms, hymns..." You recognize those words? "And spiritual songs singing with thanksgiving in your hearts to God. Same thing he said in Ephesians. Whatever you do in word or deed do all in the name of the Lord Jesus giving thanks to him, to God the Father".
So he says basically the same thing, but in Ephesians he's focusing on the Holy Spirit, in Colossians, he's focusing on Jesus Christ, in Colossians he adds the Word because the Word of Christ, since the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth, the Word of Christ should govern the songs we sing, the ministry we give to the Lord, and the ministry we give to others. So when God's Word, through a surrendered life, is utilized to give praise to God, and ministry to others, the Holy Spirit is saying, "Come on now, come on now, you're taking this thing seriously, you're not just a Sunday Christian now. You may come for the big drink on Sunday, oh, but you're sipping all week long".
You know what he's basically saying? He wants worship to be a lifestyle, not a weekly event. For many of us worship is an event we go to, not a lifestyle we live. How do you live a lifestyle in worship? You minister to God. You sing songs to him, you praise him, you read his Word, the Word of Christ about him. You talk to him, you include him all day long. He dwells in your life. You know what the word "dwell" means, to make yourself at home. The word "dwell" means to hang out. Jesus says, "I wanna make myself at home. I wanna go into every room in your house, and I wanna see the dirty rooms, I wanna see the bad rooms, I wanna see the messed up rooms. Yeah, I'll pass through the cute rooms that you wanna keep me looking at 'cause you would clean them up in advance, but I want all the rooms, I want totally access, I want to dwell in your life richly". That means fully, completely. "I want full access to every room".
Now that exchanged your prayer life 'cause that means you're not hiding anything. You're talking to God about the junk, you're talking to God about the addictions, you're talking to God about the sins, you're talking to God about the failures, and yes, you're celebrating God about the victories, too, but you're bringing him in on everything. When you're bringing him in on everything, then he is dwelling richly with you, fully with you, completely with you as you minister to him, and then as you have opportunity to minister to other, particularly to one another, other saints. What saints have you ministered to this week? What saints have you prayed with? You won't get drunk by the Holy Spirit by taking a Sunday sip. You will only get drunk by the Holy Spirit if you're drinking him regularly all the time.
And how do you know when you're drunk? The same way you can know when a person is intoxicated, because they're acting outside of themselves. They're talking different, thinking different, reacting different, going against themselves. "I wanna do this, but because I'm drunk, I gotta do that". Because they are now intoxicated with the Holy Spirit of God. You say, "How do I get this process started"? Well, let me give you a promise. Luke chapter 11, verse 13. It says, "God will give the Holy Spirit to anyone who asks him". So you start simply by asking him, "Lord I want to be filled". In fact, ask him every day, "Lord, fill me today with your Spirit as I worship you, as I minister to others, and as I surrender to Jesus Christ and his Word". That's it.
"As I praise you every time I get a chance, I'll just throw up a prayer here, throw up a praise there, give thanks over here, give thanks over there, and as I minister, as you allow me, people to cross my path, particularly other believers, that as I do that, and as I live a surrendered life based on your Word, fill me, I ask you, because you have to be the filler". Let me warn you, when you get drunk from the Holy Spirit, some folk gonna get offended, because they don't wanna see that kind of intoxication. Now that's the good kinda intoxication. But carnal Christians are gonna be mad at you, they're gonna call you too spiritual. They gonna say, "You just keep bringing up the Bible". They gonna do that when you get drunk 'cause they have never been drunk with the Holy Spirit.
Now in order to be drunk with the Holy Spirit, you have to have him. And the way you have him is to come to Jesus Christ for salvation. Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, he rose from the dead for your eternal salvation, and if you'll simply place your faith alone in Christ alone, if you'll simply go to him now and say, "Lord Jesus, I'm a sinner and I need a Savior. I not only live in an evil world, I'm a sinful person," 'cause he only saves sinners. You gotta agree that you're a sinner that needs to be saved. But once you acknowledge that, and you go to him, and you say, "Lord I'm believing you to be my Savior because I'm accepting you as my substitute. You died for me, you rose for me, I want you to save me, and I'm entrusting my life to your sacrifice for me on the cross". When you receive him as your personal Savior, he comes into your life by means of the Holy Spirit. And you become indwelt, which allows you now to become filled.
Changing water into wine. That's what Jesus did in his first miracle, and what he did was bring joy to what would've been a disappointing occasion. And you know life can be like that. Life can be very disappointing. You're expecting happiness, joy, celebration, and exuberance, and then you find out life is not all that it's cracked up to be, that is until Jesus does one of those water into wine miracles, when he brings joy back and the beautiful thing about that miracle, is when he did that miracle, he saved the best for last.
The beautiful thing about looking to God when you've run out of your get up and go that has gotten up and gone, when life has become empty, when life has become routine, to know that Jesus still turns water into wine, he can still take the emptiness of existence, and when we give him something to work with, our commitment, our love, and our obedience, that is the water of our lives, he takes it, speaks over it, blesses it, changes it, and woo, joy comes out of misery, celebration comes out of sorrow because he's turned the water of disappointment, into the wine of gladness. Look forward to the miracle God has for you, he still loves turning water into wine.