For the proclamation of the Gospel and the edification of the Body of Christ
Drunk with His Spirit
Being full of the Holy Spirit is not only a charismatic reality, but is also -and especially- living Christ's life in daily chores.
Today, the family and marriages are turning pale from the many threats that perturb a healthy family coexistence. One of them, alcoholic dependence, causes great numbers of broken marriages. I have been a witness to how the passion of planning a life together crumbles in front of a simple glass of alcohol. How absurd; how tragic! To think that a chemical component can cause such havoc in hundreds of marriages.
How many women have had to assume the complete authority of the home -with the efforts that it entails- because their husbands have lost respect for themselves and toward others, succumbing to the dominion of the drink! In the same way, there are many families where the mother is sunk in alcohol, leaving her children defenseless, and are forced to beg in order to be able to subsist.
This is not a tragedy that appears in marginal sectors; people of all social strata have suffered the personal physical pain, in flesh, of having a father, a mother, a son, a sister, a brother, and even they themselves, burdened for the lash of alcohol. We know that sin has multiple manifestations and that alcoholism is one of those.
Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, speaking to the church, advises: "Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the spirit." (Ephesians.5:18). What are the consequences of alcohol abuse? What is the result of intoxication? The answer is: debauchery, that is to say, uncontrolled, lecherous, with the impossibility of restraining oneself and of being self-controlled. We find then, in being intoxicated with wine, irresponsibility, a lack of control of the emotions, confusion, a loose tongue, interference of one's thoughts, etc. A drunkard doesn't know what he says, he doesn't know what he does, he doesn't know when to stop; in summary, he has lost control of his life.
For that reason Paul advises: "Do not get drunk on wine..." Instead, or on the contrary, he says: "Be filled with the spirit." Following the context, we could paraphrase this as: "Drink of the Holy Spirit; get drunk with the Spirit", as if were the contents of drink to take. What can we say of this? Does it refer to a charismatic action? Does it mean the Spirit will produce similar effects to being drunk?
The Effects of Being Filled
If we continue reading, Paul explains the direct consequences of being filled with the Spirit: "Speak to one and other with psalms, with hymns and spiritual songs..." (Ephesians.5:19).
In contrast to the disillusion that one finds in wine, the Holy Spirit, which is Christ's life operating in the believer, causes a mutual exercise among the children of God that it is expressed by speaking of that to which we have been witnesses. That is, speaking to one another about the sufficiency of the Lord in our daily life. To proclaim -just like the psalmists- how, in the moment of anguish, his hand was sufficient. In this way we recognize the Lord in weakness, in insufficiency, in sadness, in persecution, in joy and in victory. Oh!, what joy, what happiness to know that the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer's life makes him speak in this way; the Spirit makes him proclaim the marvels of God for the edification of the church.
"Speak to one and other ... with hymns", is to proclaim the development of Christ's victory on the cross and in the resurrection. Our first brothers and sisters had a tradition of singing hymns that told of the feats of the Lord. For example chapter two of Philippians. There in hidden locations, in the persecution, in the catacombs, in the intimacy of the houses, the children listened their parents tell the church largely about the Christ's sufferings and victory over all the powers and authorities. There they strengthened their faith and their spirit; the church received the strength of the Lord to be martyred; the children were instructed in the truth; the women received consolation; and the whole church was edified by those brothers and sisters who spoke filled with the Holy Spirit.
They are songs born of the Spirit that are developed there in the depths of life and arise free from the contamination of the flesh. Pure and transparent. We are men and women redeemed from the power of the flesh in order to offer ourselves to God in the service of the Spirit.
"Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord"... Secondly, to be filled with the Spirit implies an active and healthy interior life, free from resentment and bitterness. It is a life in which grace flows. All of the Christian's interior life is transformed. All the memories and psychological processes are seized by the divine grace, through which the heart can sing freely and spontaneously.
"Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Thirdly, the fullness of the Spirit is evident by reflecting the interior fullness externally, with words of gratitude to God the Father in Christ's name.
The Strong Plate
When reading the letter, the apostle's advice seems to go no further than this. In fact, some Bibles divide the following paragraph with a subtitle and a new paragraph. But, when reading attentively in the Greek, we realize that the consequences of being filled with the Holy Spirit continue in the subsequent text. What's more, it appears that what comes afterwards is the strong plate, because it continues saying: "Submit to one and other out of reverence for Christ."
Here the square is completed, since it doesn't only affect our speech, our internal attitude and its expression, but it also directly affects our relationships with others.
The Woman Filled with the Spirit
At this time we will stop, by way of example, only in the first verses referring to marriage. "Wives submit to your husbands as to the Lord." (Ephesians 5:22). And Paul confirms this instruction for the women, giving Timothy and Titus the responsibility and care of this work, saying: "Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and their children..." (Titus 2:3); "their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything...." (1 Timothy 3:11)
Firstly, a woman full of the Holy Spirit is a woman that submits to her husband's protection. In general, one only associates the action of the Spirit with a charismatic activity, as if it were independent of the believer's daily chores. Or, in other words, that the work of the Holy Spirit is relegated exclusively to moments in meetings for worship.
Yet, what the Word tries to tell us is that to be "drunk with the Holy Spirit" for wives, means having a life that is consistent with the life of Christ in His church. Just as the church comes before its beloved with a submissive and respectful attitude, so too women must be before their husbands.
The Greek word, "submit", is literally translated as "to be under an order"; therefore, a woman that cultivates an affable and gentle spirit towards her husband is a woman that lives in the order of the Lord. Notice how beautiful this figure is: whilst a woman filled with "wine", is in rivalry with, discusses with, fights with, and dishonors her husband, a woman that drinks of the "good wine" educates her spirit to honor her husband. What greater or more glorious effect than a woman voluntarily, through her love and fear of the Lord, recognizing her husband, who is full of weaknesses and imperfections, who is given in love, to be her head. This work could not be done without the direct intervention of the Spirit of life, operating the life of the Son in believers.
There is also, at the present time, a literal application to the apostle's declaration. Our society has sophisticated the use of alcoholic drinks, and it promotes them with beautiful women on the television, in newspapers, magazines and various other means. The drinker's typology has changed in the last twenty years. Presently women don't have any type of repression when drinking in public and the spectacle of young drunken girls in the streets is really depressing. The explanation is that modernity and technology have increased the rhythm of life, and the pressures and the psychological emotional stress have increased. And together with these, the escape routes have also increased.
There are probably some women who will never try a drop of alcohol in their whole life, but what about abuse of drugs such as medication, food, dreams, tobacco? What of others such as music, friendships or shopping? Are these intoxicating elements not forms of escaping from an intolerable reality? Aren't these the small foxes that ruin vineyards, in marital relationships? Sisters, take the Apostle's advice and constantly thirst to be filled with the Holy Spirit!
The Husband Filled with the Spirit
"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her..." (Ephesians.5:25). The husband "drunk with the Spirit" will not only proclaim the virtues of Lord, with song and praise in his heart and be grateful to the Lord, but he also submits to the instruction of loving. Is there anything more concrete than love? It would seem that the apostle lands husbands in a emerigency landing. John defined it in few words and in a masterful way, saying, "If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? ...Let us not love with words or tongue, but with actions and in truth." (1 John. 3:17, 18)
How practical and objective! Christ's love is practical and objective. "Just as Christ loved to the church... "One of the errors of husbands trying to love is by doing it in their own way, "as it seems to me." Brothers, love does not seek its own. The husband must love his wife just as she wants to be loved. Sometimes wives require something so simple of their husbands. Generally, a wife does not require great things, but rather a small detail that will make her feel deeply loved by her husband.
Men must learn how to decode their wife's messages. It is as simple as, for example, showing oneself to be a worker. There are so many tasks in the home in which the women hope for the husband's initiative to help.
A man, filled with the Spirit doesn't wait to be attended, but rather, he serves others. For example, after a long day's work, in which you've talked all day long, and you just want to arrive at your house, eat and rest. Imagine that your wife was at home the whole day attending to a thousand different things, waiting for it to end in order to start up a practical conversation with her husband, needing to ask him about some domestic issues in the house, or simply because she wants to speak about something important to her. You are tired and hungry... What will you do?
I will tell you what Christ did, He who is in you. He attended the church, washing and purifying it in the cleansing water through the word. How beautiful!, the male drunken in the Spirit will assist to his wife's most insignificant details and he will wash, he will purify his wife with a wise word while he offers to assist her and help with her chores. It seems idyllic, but it is not. To drink of the Holy Spirit is to drink of Christ's life. The husbands, just like Christ, show devotion to their wives and instruct them with the word.
Christ Has the Good Wine
In short, there are too many examples that we could mention, within the given time, in order to educate the matrimonial life. I only want to say that Christ has a good wine. When he was invited to weddings and the wine was scare, he provided the best, and the celebration that day rejoiced. If for some reason there is shortage in your marriage, then come to Christ. Listen to the words of Mary saying: "Do whatever he tells you..." And there will be the Good Wine on your table. Yes, let us do all that he tells us and the fullness of Christ's relationship and his Church will be reflected in us for the glory of God. Amen.