Sunday, December 28, 2008

Ephesians 5:15-17

15Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise, 16making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is.

Paul has motivated us to right living by mention of Judgment Day and by reminding us of who we were and who we are in Christ – our past, present, and future. Now Paul motivates to right living with wisdom. His argument is very simple in v15-17: You are wise. God by His grace has made you wise. Once you were foolish, apart from Christ, but God has made you wise. Now live that way (James 3:13). But you may be thinking, “Paul doesn’t say that we are wise; he says that we ought to live wisely.” You’re right; he doesn’t say that we are wise; but it’s implied. He knows that we know that if we’ve trusted Christ, then we’ve proven our wisdom. If we’ve been born again, if we are new creations, if we no longer live but Christ lives in us, if we have the Spirit of God indwelling us, then we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:15), and we are wise. But we need to live wisely. We need to – by God’s grace and with the help of the Holy Spirit – apply the wisdom of Christ to our living.

Again, I like what Vincent Cheung says: “Throughout this letter, Paul labors to convey the tremendous intellectual and moral differences between the Christians and the non-Christians, and here the imagery cannot be any clearer – Christians and non-Christians are intellectual and moral opposites.” And in these three verses, Paul shows what it looks like to be wise. First, the wise are careful how they live (v15); they are careful – full of care. They think before they act. Second, the wise make the most of every opportunity (v16). They realize that the days are evil (everything around them in the world is dangerously corrupting), and so they don’t waste their time. They “throw off everything that hinders and run the race” (Hebrews 12:1). John Piper wrote, “Don’t Waste Your Life.” Andy Stanley wrote, “Choosing to Cheat.” The idea is to live efficiently, because time is precious. And third, the wise understand God’s will. They make wise decisions, because they know what God would have them do in any circumstance. How do they know that? By living by the Spirit in the word (Psalm 119:9)! Paul says, “You are wise. Now act like it.”

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