17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.
Christians are not to live foolishly. God’s will for our lives is very carefully spelled out in the letters that were given to the church through Paul including;
1 Thessalonians 4:1 ¶ Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. 2 For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: 4 That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; 5 Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: 6 That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. 7 For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. 8 He therefore that despiseth [to hold in contempt and dishonor], despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.
Paul has been very specific here about the wrongness of sexual immorality, which is so prevalent among human beings to a great deal because of covetousness and selfishness. Humans, left to their own devices, neither respect their own persons or the persons of others but the Christian is called to live inside his or her own body, “in sanctification and honour.”
18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
In another context;
Job 35:10 But none saith, Where is God my maker, who giveth songs in the night;
Is it not appropriate that Paul, while speaking of how the Christian should abstain from immorality, should tell us not to be drunk with wine? Alcohol is that great remover of inhibitions and reducer of moral standards. Paul tells us that a better thing to be filled with is the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and gospel songs of praise and rejoicing in our hearts and among each other.
Keeping our minds focused on God would be such a huge help for us if we weren’t so taken by the world and the siren song of our own flesh.
Isaiah 26:3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
Paul told the Galatians what the fruit of the Spirit, the proof of having God’s Spirit inside you is. It never hurts for you, Christian, to hear and see it again;
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
In these verses in Ephesians we have one result of being filled with God’s Spirit, singing praises to Him. Some differentiate between a gospel song and a hymn this way; that a hymn praises God for who He is, such as Martin Luther’s, “A Mighty Fortress is our God,” while spiritual songs praise God for what He has done for us like, “Just as I Am.” Regardless of classification this is what we want to have our hearts filled with rather than songs about lust and selfishness. Feed the new man, not the old.
20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
The reverse of covetousness that leads to fornication is thankfulness to God. Being grateful for what He has given you and developing that relationship to its utmost is a great blessing.
Paul has called us in these chapters of Ephesians to peace and unity among the brethren, personal morality toward our spouses, and thankfulness to God for all things, even, I might add, the difficult things.
Colossians 3:12 ¶ Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; 13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. 14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.[This is another reason why hymns and gospel songs should be read to make sure they are doctrinally correct as the singing we do teaches us.]
1 Thessalonians 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
There are a great many sins and resulting sorrows that come from an ungrateful heart toward God. Ingratitude toward God’s blessings in your life does not lead to unity or righteousness. Your anger toward yourself and your bitterness toward your spouse all reflect a heart lacking in gratitude toward God. You say in your mind, “if only this had happened,” or, “if only that hadn’t happened,” then my life would be better. Your unwillingness to let go of the past and experience Christ’s mercy, forgiveness, and grace in the present is part of your sin problem.
Give thanks for all things. Paul has prepared us for the most difficult part of this most advanced treatise on what it really means to be a Christian in practice. He has shown us where we, as the body of Christ, are sorely lacking in what we are called to do and to be. And now, he is about to open the floodgates and because of unbelief many people will sink beneath the waves on what is to follow.