Sabbath School Lesson for August 19-25, 2023
Overview for Lesson 9, Living Wisely
Memory Text: “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” Ephesians 5:15-17 ESV
What to expect:
- Sunday: “Instead Let There Be Thanksgiving”–Walk in love, Ephesians 5:1-6
- Monday: Walking as Children of Light–Walk in light, Part 1, Ephesians 5:7-10
- Tuesday: “Awake, O Sleeper!”–Walk in light, Part 2, Ephesians 5:11-14
- Wednesday: Snapping Up the Bargains–Walk in wisdom, Part 1, Ephesians 5:15-17
- Thursday: Spirit-Filled Worship–Walk in wisdom, Part 2, Ephesians 5:18-21
Looking at chapter 5 of Ephesians, we are once again reminded of the sharp divide between the lifestyle of the Gentiles versus those of faithful Christians. We also see significant differences in our secular and Christian society today. It seems that Paul is addressing those of us in the last days, when he tells us to redeem the time, or make the best use of our time, because the days are evil and His coming is near.
Two things determine our values and whether our lifestyle is wise or not: our worldview and our identity. A worldly lifestyle, how they walk, generally looks different than the one of a Christian. One bases choices on self and the other on God’s will. We must choose between one object of worship or the other. Will it be God or self?
To Paul, the only wise choice is to follow God’s will. When this happens, we reflect God’s love and light to the world. It’s a win-win situation. Our lives will not only end up more satisfying than they would otherwise, but God is able to proclaim His gospel and advance His Kingdom to the world though us.
Sunday: “Instead Let There Be Thanksgiving”
We are to imitate God, just as children imitate their parents (Ephesians 5:1). The kind of love that should exist between parents and children is a self-sacrificing love that goes back and forth for a lifetime, based on thankfulness for all that is done for each other.
Just as Christ became a sweet-smelling sacrifice offering for us (Ephesians 5:2), we are to imitate the kind of sacrificial love that made Him become our Substitute.
Ephesians 5:3-5 presents the opposite of walking in love, which would include a kind of sexual ethics that focuses on self-pleasure, rather than genuine love of a person. These behaviors are marked by drunkenness, foul speech, questionable entertainment, and other acts of sexual immorality. Many are deceived into thinking that these worldly desires and pleasures will satisfy them, but they only end up making their lives more empty and bitter (Ephesians 5:6, 7).
Keep in mind that the “wrath of God” Paul mentioned in Ephesians 5:6 is nothing like our human emotion of wrath, or anger, that may lead to hateful, violent reactions against our enemies. God’s wrath is merely the just response of a patient, righteous God against those who stubbornly commit themselves to evil.
- Why should we imitate Christ’s love, and how do we do it on a practical level from day to day?
- Why do you think Paul repeats the behaviors of an immoral person so explicitly here again?
Ephesians 5:6, 7
- Who are the “sons of disobedience” and when and how will the wrath of God come upon them?
Monday: Walking As Children of Light
Paul begins a passage in his epistle, Ephesians 5:7-10 by using the metaphor of light and darkness to contrast the behavior of Christians and Gentiles, non-Christians. Indeed, their lifestyles are often as different as night and day.
The Ephesians are told not to partake of the the immoral behaviors he has mentioned, and instead walk, or behave, as children of light (Ephesians 5:7, 8). Doing so will allow them to bear the fruits of the Spirit, such as goodness, righteousness, and truth (Ephesians 5:9).
This can only be done through the Holy Spirit showing them the will and God. This interaction with the Spirit, which includes prayer and Bible study, is what leads to wisdom, Paul says, which should be their greatest desire, motivated by the love they have for their Redeemer.
- How can we know what is acceptable to God?
Tuesday: “Awake, O Sleeper!”
Ephesians 5:11-14 indicates that the Christian lifestyle sheds light on the darkness of the worldly lifestyle. The light reflected from Christ exposes the darkened existence of their non-Christian neighbors, and hopefully awakens them out of slumber, and draws them to the glorious light found in God’s word.
It’s interesting to note that Paul advises us to have no fellowship with the WORKS of darkness, not with WORKERS of darkness. Our carefully-guarded fellowship with those not of our faith may actually be needed in order for us to reach them with the light that we reflect from God.
Christ uttered this same sentiment in His famous Sermon on the Mount when He said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Of necessity, there will be times when some closeness is appropriate and needed in order for that light to reach them.
This message was similarly given to the Philippians with the words: “in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15). It’s recognized that we can be “in the midst of” and “among” them, and still shed our light upon their inappropriate behaviors and perhaps waken them out of their sleepful state.
Ephesians 5:11-14 and Philippians 2:14-16
- What guards us from partaking of the sins of darkness, when it is all around us?
- How do our good works show God’s light?
Wednesday: Snapping Up the Bargains
Paul often uses the term “walk” when talking about how we should live. Ephesians 5:15 includes that imagery as well. The expression to “watch your step” seems appropriate for what Paul is saying. There should be intentional discipleship on our part, in order to live “circumspectly”, or wisely.
The first cluster of warnings Paul gives, as he counsels the Ephesians to live wisely (Ephesians 5:15-17), focuses on the concept of “redeeming the time”. Another version, the ESV, says to “make the best use of the time.” And the reason for this is “because the days are evil.” We certainly can’t deny that the days are becoming more and more evil in the wake of Christ’s Second Coming, so we had better take this advice to heart and strive even harder to understand the will of God in our lives today.
The word “redeeming” used by Paul in Ephesians 5:16 is an intense form of the Greek word for “buying” that suggests “snapping up the bargains”. Often sales that offer the best discounts are brief, and savvy buyers know that it is best to snap them up, or take advantage of them while they can.
In the same vein, we should take Christ’s free offer of salvation to heart quickly and not delay making a change in our “walk” with the Lord, as we continue to understand His will.
Ephesians 5:15, 16
- Why are we told to live wisely?
- How can we avoid being unwise in our life choices?
Thursday: Spirit-Filled Worship
Many aren’t quite sure what the term “dissipation” refers to in Ephesians 5:18. Paul tells us not to “be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation.” Other translations use more familiar words, such as “excess”, “riot”, “debauchery”, “wild living”, and “depravity”. I think most of us would agree with those terms describing one who is filled with alcoholic beverages.
Instead, Paul encourages them to be filled with the Spirit, rather than drunk with wine. And in Ephesians 5:19-21, we are told ways that this filling is most readily achieved. It’s by our fellowship with believers, as we praise God together, through spiritual songs, prayers of thanks, and submitting our hearts to one another.
“Making melody in your heart to the Lord” seems to have been a main feature of early Christian worship. Colossians 3:16 mentions “teaching and admonishing one another in songs and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” James 5:13 tells us, “Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms.” And don’t forget how Paul and Silas prayed and sang hymns to God in prison (Acts 16:25).
- What is better than being drunk with alcohol?
- How do we become filled, or drunk with, the Holy Spirit?
Friday: Final Thoughts
Greek philosophy, and other Eastern religions such as Buddhism, tell us that in order to achieve wisdom, we must strive to “know thyself”. Psychology and other modern lines of thinking rely primarily on that premise as well. Great amount of effort is spent on knowing oneself in order to be wise. When in reality, only by knowing God, a power higher than ourselves, will we be able to know how to live wisely.
The apostle Paul redirects our thinking to the true source of wisdom–knowing and following the will of God. answering His call to consider our identity, renewing our commitment, and seeking ways for connecting with a community that includes Spirit-filled worship to our Creator. This will help us acquire a saving wisdom so needed in these last days.
Next Week: Husbands and Wives-Together at the Cross
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