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Bible Studies for Life Sunday School Lesson June 26

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By Roy E. Ciampa, Ph. D.
Armstrong Chair of Religion, Samford University


Ephesians 5:8–21

Walking is used in the New Testament as a metaphor for how one lives one’s life. It is an important theme, introducing key sections in the second half of Ephesians. Believers are to walk (live or behave) in a manner worthy of our calling in Christ (Eph. 4:1). That means we must not walk like unbelieving Gentiles do (Eph. 4:17), since they were known for their vices, especially idolatry and immorality. Rather, we must imitate God by walking in love (Eph. 5:2), walking as children of light (v. 8) and walking wisely (v. 15). To walk, or live, as God intends, we must be filled with the Holy Spirit.

We are no longer to walk in the ways of the world. (8–14)

Darkness has been associated with what is bad, wicked, false or wrong since the beginning.

Paul says light has to do with all that is good, righteous and true. God has made us light, and we must walk as children who reflect what is good, righteous and true.

We are also to test or examine things to see if they are compatible with the light and pleasing to the Lord. We must reject activities that fail that test and warn others about their dangers as we would if we found a bridge in danger of collapsing.

Integrity has to do with how you would behave if you knew no one would see or find out. Many will engage in shameful activities in secret, but everything we do is visible to God. God calls us to bring light into the darkness so people can see things for what they really are, including spiritual dangers hiding in the shadows.

We walk wisely when we walk under the Spirit’s control. (15–18)

When Paul says we should walk “as wise,” he is once again expounding on being “imitators of God” (Eph. 5:1).

Since wisdom is another well-known divine attribute, we are imitating God when we walk in wisdom rather than as unwise people. The wisdom we need to walk in is not the wisdom of this world but the wisdom given to us by God. To be truly wise, to walk in wisdom, is to live a life marked by the fullness of God’s Spirit. The Spirit gives us God’s wisdom to live a disciplined and controlled life rather than a life marked by reckless or uncontrolled living, as when one allows one’s life to be governed by alcohol or passions.

Given the ongoing battle between the reign of God and the reign of the powers in rebellion against God, wisdom dictates we take every opportunity to advance God’s kingdom agenda, living lives governed by His Spirit rather than other influences surrounding us.

We worship and live thankfully when we walk under the Spirit’s control. (19–21)

We walk as wise people when we live Spirit-filled lives, and we are walking under the Spirit’s control when we worship from the depths of our hearts and express our gratitude to God for all He gives us. In these verses Paul unpacks what it means to live a Spirit-filled life, using a series of participles to unpack the meaning of that expression: speaking, singing and making music, giving thanks and submitting to each other.

In other words, when we glorify God by entering fully into authentic worship, in a spirit of deep gratitude and appropriate submission to other members of the worshipping community, we are expressing the life of the Spirit within us.

There is no magic formula for being filled with the Spirit (no need to attend special conferences to receive some secret key to the fullness of the Spirit). To submit oneself fully to the Spirit’s leading in any moment is be filled with the Spirit, resulting in the glorification of God. The fullness of the Spirit is reflected whenever we glorify God.