As we come to this passage Paul is calling us to show the worth of our salvation through our walk, and we are to walk in the wisdom of God, and how that is accomplished is being filled with His Spirit. We recognize the Holy Spirit of God has entered into a living relationship in our lives to point us and direct us to Christ. He is inside the believer. We are to be controlled and have every area of our life saturate and permeate our lives with the Holy Spirit of God so that what comes out of us is exactly what God wants to come out of us. We are not to be controlled by circumstances, or having our own will done, or by rage and anger, or hopelessness, or lust, or anything else but God’s Spirit. And we realize what the Holy Spirit uses to control the believer is His Word. We looked last week at the parallel passage in Col. 3:16 where the command is to let the Word of Christ richly dwell within you, and we recognize that is the same command that we have here. We are to saturate our minds and hearts with God’s holy Word so we know the truth and promises of God, and we will look at our difficulties and struggles through the lens of Scripture. This is why services are so important. We learn divine truths that we might not want to learn or never thought about. It urges us to think and ponder and read and study more about our Savior. The Holy Spirit is using His Word to direct our lives.
Now here is the question: what does the Spirit life look like? What does it look like to have our lives directed and controlled by the Spirit? What would it look like in our churches, and families, and individual lives? As you look at your relationships, which Paul will deal with after this section, are you being controlled by God’s Spirit to respond to the difficulties and inconsistencies of your spouse when they sin against you? Are you living so close to God that it is seen in how you relate to your children? Are you so spiritually controlled that you are ministering to other believers and seeking to help them even when you are hurting?
What is amazing about this passage and this command of being filled is that Paul does not leave that question up to us to answer. He indicates what the Spirit filled, word controlled life looks like. He shows us what it produces in verses 19-21 specifically. So if you and I are wondering if we are controlled by the Spirit we do not have to wonder, because Paul tells us. Look at the break down because there are four major ways that being Spirit controlled will affect our lives. Verses 19 indicates that we will communicate with one another in a certain way: “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” The second aspect is what is going on inside the believer: “singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord? The third evidence of being Spirit controlled is gratitude: “always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, even the Father.” And the last evidence is a submissive heart and life toward other believers: “and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.”
I want us to handle the first two evidences of being Spirit filled and Word saturated, and those have to do with our joy that is both internal and external. The question to ask yourself is if this is the attitude of the Spirit filled life does it seem foreign to you? Is there any joy in your life, in your marriages as you speak and think about life? Is there any thought about the greatness and grandeur of God as we function in life even when life doesn’t go our way? So often as we think about life we are not applying God’s Word and the joy of our salvation, or even considering it so much so that the Spirit life that centers on Christ never enters in. God want you to know that this can be your life. As you meditate and feed your heart these truths what will come through is a joy that cannot be contained, and that will speak of the worth of your salvation. I want us to see the first two evidences of the Spirit life and that is how we communicate to one another, and what is going on in our hearts.
1. The Spirit-filled life will cause us to communicate with one another is a new and glorious way. V.19
How do you communicate with others especially in your home and in the church? Think about it: there is seldom a day that goes by without some sort of conflict in your homes. Think of how you communicate to others. What is coming out? We want to blame so many other people and things for the way we talk. We want to blame our personalities: I’m just not a morning person or I’m just a person who speaks my mind. We want to blame our upbringing. I was taught to win at all costs, or I was never given that loving example from my parents. We want to blame others: if only my children were more compliant, or if only my husband loved me the way he should, or if only my wife was not so critical. We cannot blame our circumstances: if only had time for more rest or if only my job wasn’t so demanding. Yes we are living with sinners who will sin against us, and yes there are circumstances that will test us in this fallen world, and yes we all have different personalities that aid us and also get us in trouble. But that is the whole point. God has given His Spirit not in spite of these things but because of these things, that we might respond by doing His will and finding our all in Christ. His power is not distant and inoperative but active in the here and now, so much so that it can change what comes out of us, and that will show the reality of our salvation in Christ.
Now look at our verse: “speaking to one another.” There is the reality. We communicate to one another. It is something that we do so frequently to our spouse, people we work with that we might not even think or consider what is coming out. You are speaking and communicating but what is coming out? And as you combine this with Colossians 3:16, which says, “teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,” we recognize that we are teaching and warning people with our communication. It is easy to see in this passage that our teaching and admonishing is gospel centered. The response that we have to the hassles and difficulties of life speak about what Christ has done and are to be a reminder of His great love and eternal relationship with us.
Look at what Paul says we are to be communicating when controlled by the Spirit: “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” Now please do not misunderstand the text. It is not talking about that we give up on normal communication, and now we sing to one another with some sort of rhythm. The importance here is the content in which we are communicating to one another and the attitude in which we are communicating with one another. Now there is not much difference in these three terms. The word “psalms” has the idea of the Old Testament psalms, but can mean other types of songs which find there prototype in the psalms. The second word describes our communication with one another is “hymns,” which is a word that describes festive religious songs, and the third term “spiritual songs,” which were songs of praise because of who God is.
Now there is a couple of applications that we can make with this passage. The first is in our corporate services or worship services. In our services we are to be singing and rejoicing about our theology with one another. Music is the medium that we remind one another about God, and who He is and what He has done. Our songs are to have substance. So much of what is sung is more about the worshiper rather that who we are worshiping and celebrating what He has done. Many current songs are left so vague about the content that you can believe anything about God and sing the song. The whole goal is not the content but just to make the person feel good. It is not that we do not rejoice and that our songs should be a dirge, again, they should be full of joy because of the truths that are being expressed. Spiritual songs have a dual purpose. One is to prepare our hearts to worship. We are being reminded of truth. And secondly, it is a response to truth. Our hearts really rejoice before these great and mighty truths. What is lost in many modern worship services is the truths about God and Christ. Our emotions express our love for Christ but it is never to be content less.
The second application is that these truths that are worth singing about and celebrating are the truths that we are to share with one another. Think about how you communicate. Do you ever share the truths that you rejoice in and sing about? I believe that husbands and wives have used speech that has been the opposite of Spirit filled speech that it does not even register that they are not celebrating and sharing hope. They communicate the opposite by exaggerating faults, by using words like “never, always, or only.” You never love me. You always are critical. You will only be nice when you want something. Many give one another pet names: you are such a jerk. You are a monster or a liar or a pathetic loser. What we are telling the individual is that is who they are. There is not thought that this person is made in the image of Christ. We think the worst of the individual. “Don’t think I know what you are up to.” Now think about sharing and speaking honestly and gently your theology recognizing the Spirit of God is with you. How about something like this: “I know God wants better for us so let’s take some time to cool off and pray.” How about a response like this: “I know God has made us husband and wife, but He has also made us a brother and sister in Jesus Christ. Let’s stop and listen to one another and help each other grow.” How about this: “One thing I’ve always loved about you and I see God in you in this way (and fill in the blank). We can overcome this through God’s help.” Our theology in our relationships is just like a breath of fresh air in places that might be and can be filled with so much darkness. When we are controlled by His Spirit we must resist the urge to respond in sin and seek to minister the same grace that we have received from Him.
2. The Spirit-filled life will cause us to celebrate in the inner person. 19b.
Have you ever had a case of the blues or felt overwhelmed with life so much so that you wanted to escape everything and everyone? Have you ever felt yourself getting really low so much so that you felt hopeless? One of the ways that God ministers truth to us and the Holy Spirit directs our paths so that we do not give up and even changes what we think and feel is through the truths of Scripture that are to put to music, so much so that they communicate to us in a real and vital way. What we listen to with our ears and what we ponder in our hearts is so important if we want God to control our lives and the reactions to life.
The first half of the verse concentrates on what we say to others, and here it is what we are doing ourselves. This phrase takes in both what we are saying externally and what is taking place internally. The idea is that we are singing with one’s whole being. Look at what is coming from our lips, “singing and making melody” There is not much difference with these words but they form a unit. Now look at where this takes place: “with your heart.” The heart is the inner person. It is his thinking, doing or willing or actions that come from inside, and his feeling. The singing that is going on is not something bland or just mere ritual but engages the inner person in a joyous way. We want to sing about and celebrate what brings us joy. The singing certainly is more evident and more real in our lives as we meditate and concentrate on the realities of Jesus Christ. And that is what is meant in the last phrase where we see the direction of our singing: “to the Lord.” The “Lord” is used in this epistle to describe Jesus Christ. He is our new Lord who has canceled our debt of sin, appeased the wrath of God, and given us new life. So the rejoicing is not just rejoicing but it is because of this living relationship with our Lord. As we learn more of Him and ponder the significance there is more to rejoice about and more confidence in His power to shape and mold our lives.
You know that you are filled with the Spirit of God when we are Christ centered and celebrating His work. Christ sent the Spirit to direct our hearts towards Christ. Listen to who the Holy Spirit will direct the believer to in the words of Jesus in John 15:26, “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, He will testify about Me.” Who will He testify about – Jesus Christ. The Spirit-filled life is not about a certain feeling but our hearts seeing and savoring and rejoicing in our Lord Jesus Christ. And if you are it is amazing how that will control so many of the things that happen in your life. What will come out of your life is what is truly in it. If Christ is preeminent and we are taking the time to grow in that area then what will come forth is Jesus Christ. Spirit filled people overflow in song in every area of their lives to the glory of Christ. God is never pleased with mere external worship, but wants worship to come from the heart. An example of that is found in Micah 6:6-8. God rejects the external service. Why, He command sacrifices? The reason why is because it did not proceed from the heart.
As you look at your life, are you satisfied with where you are spiritually? Are you happy and satisfied how you respond to many of the difficulties in your family life? Are you happy with your witness in the work place? Is there any joy that speaks of the goodness and grace of Jesus Christ? If the answer is no to any of these questions or all of these questions, then you have to realize that something different has to be done in your life. More the same will breed more of the same. If you keep on the same path you get the same thing.
What you need to do is recognize that God wants you to feed your soul with this Word. Maybe you need to be more faithful to the church services. Maybe you need to have more intake outside of church. But you need to feed your soul, and then you need to really think about what these truths mean, and how they apply to your life. It is amazing how we can hear the Word but really not hear it. We see how it applies to others but doesn’t apply to us. God the Spirit has chosen to use His Word to change the course of our lives, and direct our path, and change our marriages, and control our lives. But you need to fight for your life. You need to trust Him that if you go down this road that He will change you. And recognize there is so much to celebrate and more the heart towards Christ-like obedience, and so much joy in our lives. Since Christ has come, and since the Spirit has come into our lives, things can be different. We can actually respond differently and be different. There is so much hope here because we can be controlled by His Spirit.