Speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music to the Lord in your heart. —Ephesians 5:19
Ephesians 5:18-20 is Paul’s definitive treatment about being filled with the Spirit, so it’s helpful to memorize the whole (short) paragraph. This is one of the most important passages in the Bible about the reality of daily Christian living.
In the upper room discourses of John 13-17, Jesus explained that He had to return to heaven but would send another Comforter who would be with us and in us forever. After His resurrection Jesus ascended to heaven as promised, and ten days later the Holy Spirit was poured out on the early church, as described in Acts 2.
Now when we receive Christ, we’re actually receiving the Holy Spirit who applies the finished work of Christ to our lives. Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus comes to live within us. As we live in yielded obedience and faith, we’re filled with His Spirit, living under His influence.
The first and most natural by-product is a song in our hearts. Notice the unbroken nature of this passage: “Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music to the Lord in your hearts.”
We’re to sing: (1) to one another, joining voices and encouraging one other with songs of praise; and (2) to the Lord.
We’re to do it: (1) with our voices in speaking and singing; and (2) in our hearts.
We’re to do it with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Experts debate the differences among the three terms, but it makes sense to think of them in epoch terms. Psalms are hymns from biblical history. Hymns are those from Christian history. Spiritual songs are expressions of worship that are more contemporary to our own generation. Ephesians 5:19 makes a case for what’s often called “blended worship.”
The primary point, however, is this: the first evidence of being filled with the Spirit is a singing heart.
Four times the New Testament tells us that, in some wonderful sense, the Holy Spirit represents the presence of Jesus Himself via the Spirit.
- When they came to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. (Acts 16:7)
- But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, He does not belong to Him. (Rom. 8:9)
- I know this will lead to my deliverance through your prayers and help from the Spirit of Jesus Christ. (Phil. 1:19)
- They inquired into what time or what circumstances the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating when He testified in advance to the messianic sufferings and the glories that would follow. (1 Pet. 1:11)
Singing I go along life’s road, praising the Lord, praising the Lord.Singing I go along life’s road, for Jesus has lifted my load.—Eliza E. Hewitt
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