Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.Ephesians 5:18
It is interesting that Paul puts these two things in contrast, one against the other. Don't get drunk with wine, he says. This recognizes there are things in life that tend to drive you to drink. There are pressures in life, there are demands made upon you so severe that you will feel the need of some stimulation, something that will undergird you a bit, give you some confidence and add help and strength.
But don't let it be wine or any other artificial stimulant, because, he says,
the trouble with that is, it so easily leads to lack of control. The word here translated debauchery is the Greek word that means
without any limits, with reckless abandonment. It refers to escapism and the tendency to throw all restraints overboard and live without control.
But in contrast to that he says to satisfy that need for something to stimulate and strengthen you by being filled with the Spirit, for that is God's provision for this need in human life. There is no need to feel ashamed over the sense of need. We were not made to be self-sufficient, independent creatures. Because you feel like you need something to help you, to strengthen you, to make you feel adequate to face life, do not be troubled by that. You do need something. But let it be the right thing.
Be filled with the Spirit.
Here he touches the great secret of real Christianity, the possibility of being filled with the Spirit. When you became a Christian, when you believed in Jesus Christ and received Him as your Lord, the Holy Spirit came to live in you. You have the Spirit, but the interesting paradox is that, though all Christians have the Holy Spirit, we constantly need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The filling of the Holy Spirit is the momentary taking from Him of the resources you need for the situation in which you are. It has nothing to do with an experience or a feeling or a crisis; it is a quiet drinking again and again of an inner supply of strength.
This is a truth that many Christians seem to miss. They think that Christianity means coming to church, getting a blessing, and then going away to try to live in the light and warmth of the blessing until it leaks away, and then they must come back and get filled up again. But that is not Christianity. When Jesus said of the person who drinks of Him,
Out of his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water, John says,
By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive (John 7:39a). That is the strengthening that comes from within, and there is plenty there for any situation.
Father, I pray that You will teach me to draw upon the well of water within, to know that every demand made upon me is a demand made upon You, and that you are prepared, ready, to live Your life through me in every situation and thus manifest Your grace.
How do we react to the severe demands and pressures of life? Are we learning to acknowledge the Spirit of Christ within, and to be overflowing with His Presence?