Ephesians 5:15-21 Walking Wisely

Our text this morning is Ephesians 5:15-21. It says,

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.

Last week we spent the entire sermon on the first part of Ephesians 5:15, “Look carefully then how you walk...”. This morning we will discuss the rest of this section. Let me begin by briefly discussing the surrounding context and also make a few points about the text itself.

We have now come to the last time that Paul speaks about the way that a Christian should walk. When Paul speaks of a believers ‘walk’ he is addressing their daily conduct and their consistent manner of life.

  1. In Ephesians 4:1 Paul encouraged Christians to walk worthy of their calling saying, “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called”

  2. In Ephesians 4:17 believers were encouraged to walk in holiness. He said, “Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.”

  3. In Ephesians 5:1-2 he told us to walk in love. He said, “And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

  4. In Ephesians 5:7-8 believers were told to walk in the light. He said, “Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light...”

  5. And now, in Ephesians 5:15 Paul encourages believers to walk wisely by the ennoblement of the Holy Spirit. Paul says, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,”

In Ephesians 5:1-14 we see that there are a series of commands that Paul is giving to Christians.

  1. In Ephesians 5:1 we are commanded to be imitators of God

  2. In Ephesians 5:2 we are to walk in love just as Christ loved us

  3. In Ephesians 5:3 commands us that fornication, uncleanness and covetousness cannot even be mentioned among us.

  4. In Ephesians 5:6 we are commanded not to be deceived by vain words

  5. In Ephesians 5:7 we are not to be partakers with those who practice unrighteousness

  6. In Ephesians 5:8 we are commanded to walk in the light

  7. In Ephesians 5:11 we are commanded to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness; but rather we are to expose them (2 Commands)

  8. In Ephesians 5:14 we are commanded to awake and to arise

In Ephesians 5:15-21 we are given four more commands to obey.

  1. We are commanded to walk circumspectly, not as fools (v.15)

  2. We are commanded not to be unwise, but we are to understand what the Lord’s will is (v.17)

  3. Ephesians 5:18 contains two commands: Do not be drunk with wine; but be filled with the Spirit.

In Ephesians 5:15-21 Paul will give us three characteristics of a believer who is walking wisely.

  1. A wise person will make the best use of the time (16)

  2. A wise person will seek to understand what the will of the Lord is (17)

  3. A wise person will not be given to fleshly addictions but will be filled with the Spirit (18)

Also notice that Paul uses three sharp contrasts to describe how a wise person will walk. For example:

  1. A wise person will not be unwise; BUT wise

  2. A wise person will not be foolish; BUT understand what the Lord’s will is

  3. Finally, a wise person will not be drunk with wine; BUT they are to be filled with the Spirit

Our text contains a couple strong warnings that ought to capture our attention. For example,

  1. A believer is to be wise, and not unwise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Dr. Ferguson says, “While we have been delivered from the present evil age (Gal.1:4) we continue to live within its context and remain exposed to its influences. It is dominated, indeed obsessed with, the idea of living for the ‘now’ and turning a blind eye to eternity.” Because we still life within the context of this dark age and remain exposed to its influences, Christians need a great deal of wisdom.

  2. A believer is not to be drunk with wine, for that is debauchery. Rather, they are to be filled with the Spirit.

This may not seem like much of a warning. But I always appreciate that the Scriptures do not speak in politically correct language. For example, we are told in scripture that sin is not just an accident or a trite thing we may do; it is lawlessness. In our text, to get drunk is not simply having one too many drinks. To get drunk is debauchery (excessive indulgence in sensual pleasures). John Flavel says, “The Spirit of God, doubtless, has put such odious names upon such sins on purpose to deter and frighten men from them...How then are you able to look to these Scriptures in the face and not blush?” (John Flavel, Impure Lust, p. 8-11)

There are also strong encouragements for believers who will walk wisely. For example,