Love in Action

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Welcome to week 3 of Crazy Little Thing Called Love. Hard to believe February is almost over! Does time ever slow down?
Week 1 we looked into God’s Word to define what LOVE actually is and found that God’s LOVE – the love of the Bible is something that practically does not exist in our world today. It’s not even included in the dictionary definition on love. If you missed it, watch it and you’ll probably want to read the notes because it gets deep. It’s such a vitally important concept to understand that as you read the Bible, when it’s talking about love, it is NOT talking about the romantic fuzzy emotions that we call love today. In fact, it has nothing to do with feelings and everything to do with what we do. I’ll be getting more into that today.
Last week I showed you what God’s Word says about how to reverse the curse that is on all of our marriages, and we had a full house at the first class of the marriage course that started that day. Exciting!
Today, I want to share with you what love actually looks like in action.
Now, there is a great deal of the New Testament dedicated to this very thing. So, pretty much the best thing you can do to know how to love is keep reading your bible. If you’re in the New Testament, hardly a day will go by where you are not reading something about love.
But for today’s purposes, I’m going to stick with the letter to the Ephesians that we used last week because it’s got some really good and specific stuff in it.
And just a side note of free advice before I get into it…
When these books were written (like what we call the book of Ephesians) they were not books. They were letters written by someone to someone or a group of someones. They didn’t have chapter and verse or convenient headings. And, they were meant to be read aloud rather than read privately to yourself. Not everyone could read, so that’s often how it worked. A letter was read out loud to the group, and probably repeated often to the point that they would memorize it. So, one thing I recommend you do in your bible reading is to occasionally just read through a whole letter, like Ephesians, all in one sitting – and maybe even read it out loud. Most are not very long and you could do it in just a few minutes. You might be surprised at how well put together they are and how many verses or passages you’ve often read or heard separately have a whole new perspective when included in the full thought of the whole letter.
Anyway, hope you try it some time. Back to the message for today.
Another side note, or rather reminder, my notes are always available online. And by notes, I mean a full transcript – everything I say, for the most part, is available in written form along with the video. So, if you have trouble keeping up with your notes, you can always get the full scoop on our site.
We are looking in the book/letter of Ephesians.
Last week I covered the second half of Ephesians 5 (which is really about 3/4 of the way through the whole letter) where Paul spoke specifically about marriage relationships, but backing up to the beginning of chapter 5, there is an interesting statement about love.
Ephesians 5
1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
This is a very rich statement, and right in the middle of it is the command that the rest of the statement is qualifying – the command to “Walk in love.”
We are to “walk in love,” just as Christ loved us by giving himself up for us. We are to walk in love as we imitate God as his beloved children.
So, what does it mean to “walk in love?”
Well, the Greek word for love is, of course, AGAPE – so he’s not suggesting that we walk in constant fuzzy feelings for each other.
And the Greek word for walk is “περιπατέω” (peripateó) – which literally means to walk around, but it’s meaning is really about how you conduct your life.
 
To “walk in love” is to conduct your life in a manner that reflects the characteristics of agape love.
And it is a command. In this sentence it is the 2nd person plural (meaning you all) and it is present imperative active – meaning, right now you all must walk in love.
And in this one sentence, he gives us two major reasons why we should do that.
First, because we are God’s beloved children, we should imitate God. Imitate is the Greek word “μιμηταὶ” (mimetai) which is where the word “mimic” comes from. We are to mimic God – and as we learned the first week, God IS love.
1 John 4:8
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
So, walking or living in love is simply bearing the family resemblance. As children of God, that makes Him our father, and we are commanded to be like him, to bear his image well, and thus we must love as he does – which is AGAPE LOVE.
And just to be clear, we are not all God’s children. We are all God’s creation, but only those who follow His son are called His children.
This is specified in several places in scripture, such as
John 1:12
But to all who did receive him (Jesus), who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.
And God expects, no God demands, that his children mimic Him and walk/live in love….BECAUSE….of what Christ did for us. 
That’s the other reason that Paul specifies, we are to walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, as an offering and a sacrifice to God…
We are to love because He first loved us.
1 John 4:19
We love, because He first loved us.
So, because we are His children and because He first loved us, we are to WALK/LIVE in LOVE.
So, how do we do it? And what will it look like?
The HOW I covered in week 1, and we will get to it again in our reading today – but I want to remind you so that as I go through the rest of this you don’t start hyperventilating thinking of how impossible this is going to be for you. It absolutely is impossible for you and for me on our own strength, which is why we must rely on the Holy Spirit to actually live through us. If we want to love like God loves, then we must let God do the loving through us because it is not within us to do it on our own. 
And the way we let that happen is simply by choosing it. I covered this in week 1, so you can watch it if you missed it, but the way to live in the Spirit is to simply CHOOSE TO LIVE IN THE SPIRIT and choosing it makes it so.
If you have made Jesus your Lord, then you have his spirit inside of you and have been set free from the slavery you once had to your sinful nature, and now you can choose which one to follow on a daily and moment by moment basis. To choose to live in the Spirit is also to choose to live in love.
So, before we get into the details, know that this is not something you are going to do in your own strength. We are commanded to live this way, but we are also equipped to live this way when we live in the Spirit.
 
So really, rather than a list of rules, it is a list of what you should expect to see in yourself if the Spirit is really in you. 
So, what should we expect? What does “living in love” look like?
A great deal of the New Testament answers this question. The love chapter of 1 Corinthians 13 is a good one that describes the attributes of love, which I covered in depth week 1. The Fruit of the Spirit of Galatians 5 is also good. But today I’m going to stick with Ephesians because what I’ve already shared with you is actually right in the middle of a rather detailed discussion of this very question.
In fact, if we take another look at verse 1 we see that it begins with a “therefore.” Which means, “in light of all that I just said…do this.” So, let’s take a look…
We will back it up to Ephesians 4:17 – which comes right after the familiar passage to us about why God gave us pastors, and how we should be mature and not tricked by lies so clever they sound like the truth, and how if we all work together serving Christ we will be healthy and growing and full of LOVE.
I’m going to read this whole section then break it down. I’m not going to show it on the screens right now,
 
just listen.
Ephesians 4:17-32
17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.
20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work,doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.
Ephesians 5
1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
What Paul has just done is list some very specific outward evidences of the Spirit living through you, of what it means and looks like to imitate God and walk in love.
Ironically, it is a list mostly of things NOT to do. I say ironically, because in our world today, when people talk about love, it usually implies total freedom to do whatever you want completely free of judgment. Because, after all, you can’t help who you love. And doesn’t love mean that we should all just be happy and have good feelings all the time, and not bother with things like right and wrong?
That kind of thinking is what Paul was talking about regarding “lies so clever they sound like the truth.”
 
It FEELS RIGHT, but it couldn’t be MORE WRONG!
Clearly that’s not the way God thinks about love.
Let’s dig into some of these verses.
17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.
By Gentiles here, he is referring to everyone not among God’s people, which up until that time were Gentiles because, Gentile literally means NOT-JEWISH. So, God is saying that WE, Christ Followers, should NOT live as the non-believers, the non-children-of-God. Then he characterizes them in a few ways.
  1. Futility in their thinking. Basically, they don’t know the truth and so their thinking is futile.
  2. Their understanding is darkened, they are ignorant, and separated from God, and their hearts are hardened because of their rejection of God and His ways.
  3. They have lost all sensitivity to right and wrong and basically dive head first into the pool of sin doing the best they can to experience all of them, because after all – you only live once.
  4. And finally, they are full of GREED – which is the epitome of SELF-WORSHIP, it’s all about me, myself, and I – what can I get for myself. And no matter what I get it’s never enough, I need more more more.
God is saying, DO NOT LIVE LIKE THIS. Because…
20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
This is an echo of 2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: The old has gone, the new is here!
And Romans 8 talks all about this. Putting off your old self is simply turning your back on your dead sinful flesh nature and choosing to live by the Spirit of God instead of giving into the “deceitful desires” that previously owned you.
And notice this is literally an attitude of the mind (v 23) – that’s what this is. It’s not some mystical experience, it’s a continuing attitude of the mind that is leaning on God for my direction instead of myself. And from that will come true righteousness and holiness.
Then he continues with some more specific evidences:
25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.
Love does not LIE.
Truth is very important to God. It’s why Jesus came to earth – to testify to the Truth. God cannot lie, so anytime we are not being truthful – we are NOT being like God and thus NOT loving. Someone who has truly made Christ their Lord must and WILL “put off” habitual lying and begin to be a person of truth. If that’s impossible for you, then the only real explanation is that you don’t have the Spirit of Truth inside of you.
1 John 3:6
No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.
Yes, we fail at times – but if LYING – or any of the other things I’m about to list CHARACTARIZE you, as in they are a habitual part of your life, Scripture says that means you don’t really know God.
Because the Spirit of God cannot live inside of you without having an effect. And the evidence of a changed inside is not that you had an experience one time in the past or said some kind of prayer. The evidenced of a changed inside is a changed outside. As Jesus put it: “You will know them by their fruit.” (Matthew 7:16-20)
I am emphasizing this because our world is full of a lot of watered down Christianity that tells you that all you have to do is believe and ask Jesus to forgive you and come into your heart and you are a Christian and going to heaven and that you don’t have to change a thing, and that, in fact, you can even live a lifestyle that is clearly condemned in scripture and still be saved as long as you said that prayer. 
Well, that is not what the Bible teaches. And I don’t want any of you being misled and having a false sense of security because of some words you repeated one time after a church service.
True salvation comes by making Jesus your Lord and committing to live your whole life for Him. He will accept nothing less than all of you. It is not just a mental acknowledgment that Jesus died and rose again.
You must believe with your whole heart and commit your whole being to Him, and when that happens you literally become a NEW CREATION that should NO LONGER look like or behave like the OLD CREATION. You will know what you are on the inside by the FRUIT you produce on the outside. Simple and point blank.
And ONE evidence of a true believer is that they are no longer a habitual liar.
Then he deals with something else:
26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.
This is not the exploding rage kind of anger but rather the inward, seething, smoldering kind of anger that often leads to bitterness. Basically, it is saying not to let anger CONTROL you, but rather give it to God – whether it is sinful anger, or even righteous indignation – don’t hold onto it because that is what will give the devil a foothold in your heart which will lead you to sin. Generally, nothing good ever comes from our anger. Yes, there is righteous anger, but honestly how much of your anger is that?  If your anger is in any way a result of something about yourself, then it is not righteous anger – unless you are angry over your own sin.
And God is saying here, that a life lived in love will NOT be a life CONTROLLED by anger.
28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
Pretty simple – LOVE does not STEAL. And clearly this is not just speaking of just taking something that isn’t yours (active stealing). It also includes not contributing what you should contribute to society, to others, and to God (passive stealing). Instead, work at something useful to provide for yourself and also to provide for others in need. I could go deeper in this, but I’ll save that for another time. Basically, everyone who CAN work, SHOULD. Do something beneficial for people. Contrary to what some preachers say, God DOES care where you work. There ARE EVIL jobs. And when you do work, it’s not just for you but to share with others – what’s the opposite of GREED but to SHARE?
So, God is saying that a life lived in love will NOT be characterized by STEALING, either ACTIVELY or PASSIVELY.
But rather, LOVE WORKS so you can SHARE.
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
I was a sailor for 11 years, and I could swear with the best of them…but you will not hear me doing that anymore. Not because I’m a pastor, but because I choose to live in the Spirit and He doesn’t talk that way, so neither should I, and neither should you. It’s actually quite humorous to me how everyone that I come across will always apologize to me if they accidentally curse around me – as if it’s really me that you are offending. If you won’t talk that way in front of a pastor, who is just as human as you, why would you talk that way in front of the Holy Spirit who inside of you and with you all the time?
And this is not just talking about curse words – but about any kind of talk that is not helpful for building up others. All of your speech as a Christ follower should be a benefit to those who listen.
And that goes for Facebook too. It’s amazing to me how many Christians I see on Facebook who have nothing but negative and complaining and even cruel things to say on there. How is that benefiting others? How is that making Jesus attractive to others?
And no, that is not just “telling the truth” or “keeping it real.” Telling the truth does not mean you must spout all things that are true all the time no matter how it effects anyone. These things go together. We speak the truth IN LOVE – which means we are not INTENTIONALLY IRRITATING. But speaking what is helpful to others, instead of what makes ME feel better.
So, a life lived in love will NOT be characterized by non-beneficial talk. But rather Love only speaks what is BENEFICIAL to OTHERS.

Because when we do these things wrong – the bad talking, the lying, the stealing, the anger, etc – we are grieving the Holy Spirit.
30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
It’s a tough concept, but I like to think of it as the Holy Spirit is literally inside of me – and He is holy, and perfect – and every time I choose to ignore Him and do what I want instead (which is ultimately what SIN is) I’m almost forcing the Holy Spirit to do it along with me. Or at least making Him watch and listen, and it grieves Him because he wants so badly for me to be all that He made me to be and I just keep blowing it and blowing it, and it’s even worse when I just say screw it and decide I’m going to stop even trying to please him. Imagine if one of your children did that – or maybe you’ve actually had that happen to you – doesn’t that grieve you to see your child just go down the wrong path? I think it’s similar.
Let us not grieve the Spirit who has sealed our day of redemption, who secured our forgiveness and salvation! Let us not use God’s grace as a license to do as we please. Let us not trample on his face with our dirty sinful boots. 
Let us not grieve the Holy Spirit by our lying, talking bad, stealing, being controlled by anger, and…
He continues…
31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.
 
Just stop doing the things you know are bad. Choose to live in the Spirit instead of giving into the flesh. And you will…
 
32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.
Instead treat each other with kindness (love), compassion (love), and forgiveness (love) just as God forgave you because of Christ.
That last one is really a big one. Forgiveness.
There is absolutely no greater sign that the love of God is truly inside of you than the ability to FORGIVE others the same way Christ forgave you.
As there is no sin that He has failed to forgive of yours, we should be ready and willing to forgive anyone else who wrongs us. Because I assure you, they cannot do anything worse to you than what you have done to God, yet He forgives you completely.
I know this is a hard one. In fact it’s completely impossible without God doing it for us. Even in that, you may ask how much are we really supposed to take?
Well, Peter asked that question of Jesus once… (JUST LISTEN)
Matthew 18
21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven.
23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accountswith his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’
30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.
32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
If you think that God isn’t serious about us passing on the forgiveness He gave to us to other people, just read that parable a few more times.
Forgiveness is a big deal to God, because it is the ULTIMATE EXPRESSION OF GOD’S NATURE – WHICH IS LOVE, AGAPE LOVE.
Of which we are to be IMITATORS of as his beloved Children, as we walk in love.
That is what it means to walk in love. That is what it looks like. That is what the new creation should be like if you are indeed a new creation.
You will be a person who is NOT characterized by lying, stealing, talking bad, or anger – but instead characterized by kindness, compassion, beneficial talk, hard work, sharing, and forgiveness.
And remember, it’s not you trying to muscle your way through all this. This is simply letting the Holy Spirit, who does all of these things naturally, live through you.
 
It seems impossible because it is…without Christ.
And if that wasn’t enough…there’s more.
AFTER he tells us all these things not to do with our new selves, and AFTER he sums that up as “Walking in LOVE” he continues with even MORE evidence of a life lived in love.
Ephesians 5
1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.
 
Just can’t get away from that sexual immorality. It shows up in almost every list of Christian no-no’s. And yes, it is talking about every kind of sex outside of the biblical marriage between one man and one woman. I talked about that last week. And last week I also shared why this is such a big deal to God. Basically, any kind of sex outside of a proper marriage is a perversion of the very image of God – and He is not cool with that. Watch last week for the details.
Aside from that, impurity pretty much includes all things not pure – and greed is mentioned again because it is ultimately IDOLATRY because it is the worship of SELF. And these things, are IMPROPER for God’s holy people.
He continues.
 
Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.
 
Kind of a repeat of what he said earlier, but more specific, about what comes out of our mouths. Replace that nasty talk with thanksgiving!
Then he says something that most people really don’t like…
 
For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
 
Isn’t that what I said a minute ago. There it is in scripture plain as day. If you think you can be a Christian on your way to heaven but still habitually and unapologetically live like the world, then maybe you need to read your bible more.  He says it elsewhere in another letter:
1 Corinthians 6
 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
 
Again, this is NOT saying that these sins can keep you out of heaven if you have ever been guilty of them, as is clear by the next verse:
 
11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
These things are forgivable, but once you are washed, sanctified, and justified by Christ – they should no longer be a part of your life because the Holy Spirit that now lives inside of you will simply not allow you to be that way anymore!
 
Put simply, Love does NOT DELIGHT IN EVIL.
And if you think otherwise, then you are simply deceived. You are believing a lie so clever it sounds like the truth. And Paul saw this coming, which is why he said “do not be deceived” here, and he is about to say it again back in Ephesians…
 
Ephesians 5
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 
He’s saying don’t let anyone deceive you with these clever lies that feel better than the truth (ch 4). With empty words that try to take the judgment out of Scripture. It’s because of these things that God is going to judge and punish the disobedient. And the best thing you can do is just stay away from the people who preach such lies.
Therefore do not be partners with them.
And here is why:
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14 This is why it is said:
“Wake up, sleeper,
    rise from the dead,
    and Christ will shine on you.”
Again, the contrast between what you were in the past and what you are now if you are in the Lord.  Before you were in darkness where all these evils prevail and roam free! It is in the darkness that the enemy makes his home, and it is in the darkness where people stay when they don’t want their actions to be seen. Jesus spoke of this plainly:
John 3:19-20
19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.
If your life is CHARACTERIZED by the FRUITLESS DEEDS OF DARKNESS, guess where you still reside? But if you are truly in the LIGHT, then you will bear the fruit of LIGHT: goodness, righteousness, and truth.
Do not be deceived! A child of light CANNOT be CHARACTERIZED by the deeds of darkness.
That quote, “wake up sleeper, rise from the dead,” is adapted from Isaiah 60 and many commentators believe this was a hymn that the early church would sing.
It is another illustration of what happens when a person becomes a child of God. We wake up from death in the darkness and Christ shines the light of truth on us.
Basically, all these illustrations of death to life, darkness to light, old self to new self, and so on are to make it clear to us that there is a very dramatic and very huge change and difference between a person who is a true believer and one who is just mouthing the words. And that difference will be undeniably evident on the outside in many ways.
Back to Ephesians and Paul is going to finish up this line of thinking.
Ephesians 5
15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.
 
Live wisely, which boils down to “understand what the Lord’s will is” and DO IT. Don’t waste the time you have on this planet chasing after the empty promises of the enemy, but live them fully in the submission to the Spirit and allow Him to live the life of love through you.
 
18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He is saying that instead of getting drunk on wine – be filled with the Spirit. It’s an interesting contrast. Instead of letting alcohol control or effect your mind, which will ultimately effect your actions, and likely lead to debauchery if taken too far. Instead of letting your mind be flooded by this drug or any other mind altering drug, let it be flooded by God’s Spirit.
 
Let God’s Words and Ways fill your brain cells instead, so that the effects it has on your body and actions lead to righteousness instead of debauchery.
To be filled with the Holy Spirit is not some mystical experience where you go into a trance and start speaking in tongues. To be filled with the Holy Spirit is to allow the Spirit to take control of your mind and will. It is again, choosing to Live In the Spirit. And then, and only then, will all of these things I’ve covered today be possible. And they won’t only be possible, they will be inevitable. If you truly have the Spirit of God inside of you, you will be hard pressed to keep him at bay.
And when you get this, when you figure out what surrender really is – you really won’t be able to stop yourself from singing for joy and thanking God constantly for what Jesus has done.
And when you get this, and you fill your mind with God’s words, and choose to live in the Spirit, then it will be no problem for you to abstain from all of these detestable practices listed in these chapters and others because that won’t be your nature anymore.
 
You will be truly changed on the inside that results in a change on the outside. And instead of TRYING to WALK IN LOVE, you simply WILL. Because it will be your nature to do so.
KEY CONCEPT
THE NEW YOU SHOULD NOT LOOK LIKE THE OLD YOU.
A LIFE LIVED IN LOVE WILL BE CHARACTERIZED BY THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT/LIGHT/LOVE.
This is what it means to be a Christian. It’s not a prayer you make. It’s not a get out of hell free ticket. It’s not going to church every week, or serving in the nursery, or giving to the offering. It’s not even being in a Life Group. All of those things are simply symptoms of a life that is lived in LOVE. Love for God and Love for your fellow believers, and Love for the lost. Not FEELINGS of LOVE, but CHOICES of LOVE that all stem from the CHOICE to make Jesus your Lord, and the CHOICE to follow the Spirit once He takes up residence inside of you.
And another amazing thing happens as you CHOOSE to live this way. All that AGAPE LOVE in action will transform into a genuine FEELING of love that is far more powerful than the world can even understand. If you think you can’t feel any more love than you do for your spouse or children, then wait until you start FEELING agape love!
That’s really the secret about Agape love. We say it is not a feeling, NOT because it has no feeling associated with it, but because it doesn’t BEGIN as a feeling like all the other loves do. This one begins as a choice to let LOVE live in you, and a choice to walk in that love, and as you do these things by CHOICE, God starts shaping your heart into what it’s supposed to be, which allows you to start FEELING AGAPE LOVE, and it is wonderful!
My hope and prayer is that each one of you will make that choice – daily. That you will choose to live in the spirit, to live in love. So that the world will be attracted to our Savior through us. And, so that you too will experience the one and only way that LOVE truly WINS.