Overcoming Unwanted Challenges—Ephesians 5:18-21

18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation (overindulgence), but be filled (controlled or led by) with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; 21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

People naturally want to live productive and fulfilled lives. They want to live free and be happy or content no matter the degree of wealth they each might have. It is also a human desire to be loved or appreciated. But life is not fair for any number of reasons: differing degrees of intellect, talents and skills, place of birth (born in the United States as opposed to being born in Somalia), prejudices, medical challenges, etc…. So to what or to whom does a person turn when challenges undermine his/her need to produce and be happy and loved? Unwanted challenges are omnipresent—they are everywhere. To what source do we turn to get us through these unwanted challenges?

How do people stay focused on living free, productive and happy when those whom they want or need to love them don’t, that is, when relationships they depend upon are threatened or lost, when their jobs don’t work out the way they planned or no longer provide for their perceived wants and needs, or when illness or death invades their lives? To what or to whom do people turn to get through the natural and inevitable challenges that will threaten their lives, their freedom, and their happiness?

Firstly, please remember that there is no earthly or biblical guarantee that you will be loved by anyone other than God, and to be honest, the degree to which God’s love is experienced depends upon the degree to which a person loves and obeys God (1 John 4:7-14) Love between human beings depends upon the degree to which a person or a people is willing to love others; therefore, the less a society knows the true God, the less unconditional love it will experience.

Secondly, the absence of divine love (God) in society leaves it vulnerable to replacements, none of which restore hope. This is also true of believers who, for whatever reason, lack knowledge or an adequate faith in the Lord. The phrase, “do not be drunk with wine” in Ephesians 5:18 is often understood too narrowly as if the passage is only warning against the abuse of alcohol. In reality, it refers to any substance or behavior that would diminish the influence of the Holy Spirit in one’s life.  These include, but are not limited to the excessive use or influence of alcohol, prescribed and illegal drugs, movies, television, sex, power, and the need for attention and excessive praise. Basically, the warning in Ephesians 5 refers to anything in which a person overindulges. To overindulge means to be involved in an activity or activities that interfere with the Holy Spirit’s ability to be the deciding factor with regard to your life decisions. Anything that hinders or gets in the way of a growing faith in God is an overindulgence, which can simply keep you from being an effective witness for God or deposit you into the hands of severe addiction, illness, and premature death.

The world without Christ is spiraling downward. Without an intervention[i] from God, it has always, and will always spiral out of control and into the clasps of death. World history is proof of this last statement. For those of you who have received the gift of faith, you must ask yourselves if your knowledge and love of Christ is enough to prevent you from spiraling to the point that your lives no longer reflect God’s love and grace as described in Scripture. In our day, there are many false teachers, which include Hillsong, Tony Evans and his daughter Priscilla, Beth Moore, Joyce Meyer, Joel Olsteen and the many other prosperity gospel advocates, Nancy Leigh DeMoss Wolgemuth, T.D. Jakes, Sarah Young, Lisa TerKeurst, disciples of the Emerging Church, and so many others who simply refuse to be serious students of Scripture.[ii]

The world is a powerful force that, apart from God’s Scripture, is irresistible, addictive, and without hope. You must become students of the Word yourselves. The more you read the Word of God, over time, it becomes clearer and clearer, especially if you are fortunate enough to find a church whose pastor is first and foremost a student of the Word and can, therefore, support you in your own study. Every day my heart breaks for the flock of Christ. There is so much that attempts to ensnare God’s children; therefore, you must take time to study the Scripture on a regular basis. Don’t get caught up in the daily news. Look at it a couple of times a week—the same is true with regard to listening to Rush, Mark Levin, and others. Too much is not healthy for you mentally, emotionally, or spiritually.

To overcome unwanted challenges, please be students of the Word of God[iii] and find believers with whom you can praise and worship our great King and Lord. In this way, we all can corporately and accurately be a testimony of the Lord’s life, words, and love to one another and to the world at large (Ephesians 5:19-21).

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[i] See Let’s Talk When God Intervenes: https://christianboast.com/2019/03/04/lets-talk-when-god-intervenes/.

[ii] Reformation Charlotte: https://reformationcharlotte.org/2019/03/26/false-teachers-evangelical-churches/ Jeff Maples.

[iii] I suggest that each of you purchase the Bible Knowledge Commentary, (Two Volumes), 2001. You will find its worth beyond value! https://www.amazon.com/Bible-Knowledge-Commentary-Set/dp/B003OTJ1FE/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3GEQFGE2WJPGA&keywords=bible+knowledge+commentary+2+volume+set&qid=1554493085&s=gateway&sprefix=Bible+Knowledge+Commentary%2Caps%2C135&sr=8-1.

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I am a published author, co-author and editor of 13 books, written numerous articles, taught online at Liberty University and Grace College (Indiana), and appeared on numerous radio and TV programs. I am a theologian, bioethicist and retired veteran.

2 thoughts on “Overcoming Unwanted Challenges—Ephesians 5:18-21

    1. Thank you. I’m grateful that the article was helpful to you. I am presently working on two other articles, but I will consider your request and see what comes to mind that I think would add to people’s understand of our wonderful Lord God.

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