See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ; submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.' All these verses must be brought in under the same heading as the verses discussed in our preceding article, viz. - Two worlds of one race. These verses continue to indicate the duties pertaining to the world of Christian men. The duties, which we previously discussed, were separation, reprehension, illumination, and resuscitation; the duties which we have now to notice are Christian consistency, holy excitement, and social worship.
I. CHRISTIAN CONSISTENCY. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise." The verses teach that walking strictly in harmony with the Christian creed implies:
1. Wisdom. "Not as fools, but as wise." A conduct inconsistent with the Christian creed we profess is exceedingly foolish.
(1) It damages our own moral nature.
(2) It misrepresents the gospel of Christ.
(3) It insults the omniscience of God.
Hypocrisy is in every way unwise.
2. Diligence. "Redeeming the time" - "Buying up opportunities." How is time to be redeemed? Not by regaining any portion of the past. The past is irrecoverably gone. Not by inoperative regrets concerning the wrong of the past. Not by mere sentimental desires that the future may be better. How then?
(1) By deducing the true moral lessons of the past.
(2) By a deep and devout determination to avoid all the evils of the past.
(3) By turning every circumstance of our life to a right spiritual account. Because the days are evil, says Paul. The times in which Paul wrote were corrupt; our times are corrupt. There are several things that make our times evil.
(1) A ruling secularism. How mercenary is our age!
(2) Religious formalism. The forms of religion abound every- where; the real spirit is rare. The "letter" is killing the "spirit."
(3) Skeptical rationalism. The world's philosophy, as it is called, is for the most part anti-theistic, anti-supernatural, anti-Christian. These elements fill the social atmosphere with the moral fungi that make our "days evil. Because our days are charged with so many evils we should be diligent; we should seize every opportunity to crush the wrong and to promote the right.
3. Inquiry. Understanding what the will of the Lord is." God has a will concerning us, and it is our duty to endeavor to understand it, and for this purpose we must inquire into it.
II. HOLY EXCITEMENT. "Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit." This verse suggests several thoughts.
1. Man has an instinctive craving for excitement. The words evidently imply this. Paul assumes that his readers must have excitement, in telling them in what they should and in what they should not find it. Excitement is a necessity of our nature. The soul has a deep hunger for it.
(1) Observation shows this. Look at society, either as it appears on the page of history or as it surrounds you now in all the activities of life, and you will find that the love of excitement explains much of all its restlessness, amusements, and toils.
(2) Consciousness shows this. All are conscious of this impulse. Monotony and stagnation become intolerable. We crave a quicker pulse, a warmer and a fuller passion. Yes, man has a native hunger for excitement. Hence the popularity of sensational theatres, sports, books, scenes, music, sermons.
2. Man has recourse to improper expedients for excitement. "Be not drunk with wine." Wine stimulates excitement. It quickens the pulse, it heats the blood, it fires the passions. Hence men like it. They use it, not for the sake of intoxication, but excitement. Wine-drinking is only one of many improper expedients for excitement. Drunkenness is here a type of whatever improperly stimulates the senses and enkindles the lusts.
(1) There is sensualism. How many seek excitement in an inordinate gratification of mere animal propensities!
(2) There is gambling. What thousands resort to the race-course, the exchange, the billiard-table, for excitement!
(3) There is immoral literature. Luscious tales, filthy narratives, and sensational romances; - these are eagerly sought because they make the imagination glow with impure fires.
III. SOCIAL WORSHIP. "Speaking to yourselves," etc. These verses (from the nineteenth to the twenty-first) show what is meant by being "filled with the Spirit."
1. High spiritual intercourse with man. "Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs." Speaking to men the highest things in the highest forms of language - poetry. High feeling always runs into poetry.
2. Devout fellowship with Christ. "Singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord." The soul pouring out its devotions in sweet melodies in the Divine ear.
3. Thankful recognition of Divine favors. "Giving thanks always for all things unto God."
4. Godly devotion to the common weal. "Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God." All this is implied in being "filled with the Spirit?' And is there not sufficient excitement here? To be filled with the Spirit is to be filled with the Spirit's ideas; and what exciting ideas are his! With the Spirit's purposes; and what inspiring purposes are his! With the Spirit's love; and what an immensity of stirring impulses is in that love! - D.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,