Thursday, October 9, 2014

How much time do we really have to indulge the flesh?


Watch carefully then how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, redeeming the time because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15

The world is very evil, but we did not always think so.  We used to think that adults were in charge, dedicated people, doing rational things for the benefit of their fellow man.  That was before 24 hour news coverage.  Now we know that those who are supposed to be the “brightest and best” among us have the emotional maturity of 6 year old children on the playground who call one another nasty names and blame each other for the messes they themselves make.  In the mean time the world is crashing, but don’t despair, dear Christians, because this is nothing new!

Two thousand years ago Paul told the Christians in Ephesus to be wise and to redeem the time because the days are evil.  Why does Paul say that?  Was he just having a bad day?  Hardly.  He says it because it is true.  He says it because the devil wants us to think otherwise, to believe that planet earth is a good place, that can be made even better if we will just forget about Christ and fall down and worship him.  He says it because the world wants us to approve whatever it “values” at the moment and never to question its wisdom, but that is the road to perdition, and he speaks this way because he knows that our Old Adam is foolish enough to believe anything that promises it a good time, starting immediately!

After 2,000 years Paul’s advice is still good.  He might say it a little differently today but the gist would be the same.  Today he might say, “Don’t believe the bald-faced lies served up each day in the cafeterias of public opinion, public education and public service.”  The days are still evil.  The Christian faith which once informed western culture now meets strong resistance.  Biblical morality which taught fallen man a new way to live is now scorned.  Knowledge has given way to superstition, reason to emotion, science to voodoo, and civilized behavior to disorderly conduct in every sphere of life.

Are such sins too distant or vague for us to appreciate?  If so, we only need to examine our lives in the mirror of God’s Law where we will quickly discover that we are part of the problem; confirmed members of the sinful world whose chief motto is eat, drink and be merry, who never sober up long enough to hear the voice of Jesus saying: thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee. (Luke 12:20 KJV)  When Paul told the Ephesians: don’t be drunk with wine he said it because there was a problem.  His congregation, influenced by the pagan world that surrounded them, were living like sots.  Wine is still a problem today, not its use but its abuse.  It is one of God’s good gifts, but like every other blessing it should be received with thanksgiving and used in moderation.  Sobriety is a Christian virtue, intoxication is a sin!  It isn’t only alcohol that can make us drunk.  We can become intoxicated by a variety of drugs, and making them illegal doesn’t lessen the problem.  Nor is it only these that can inebriate us.  We can become drunk with power, drunk with rage, drunk with envy, revenge, lust; self-pity, self-love and self-congratulations.  Yes, the world is very evil so St. Paul instructs God’s people to “redeem the time.”  But how do we do that?

First by believing that Christ redeemed all things by His death on the cross, and reconciled us to God by His blood.  It purifies us from every fault, and cancels out the wages of our sins.

We redeem the time when we heed Paul’s command to be wise; or stated another way, when we gladly learn God’s Word which is the font of all wisdom, and source of all truth.  The Bible is the book that makes us wise unto salvation which is through faith in Christ Jesus the Lord; who is our wisdom, righteousness and sanctification.  To be wise the way Paul says, means to hunger and thirst after divine knowledge, to treasure His commandments and to order our lives according to them rather than to the sinful pleasures of the flesh.

We redeem the time when we heed Paul’s command: don’t be intoxicated with wine, but be filled with the Spirit. We learn in the 104th psalm that God made wine to make glad the heart of man (v.15). But wine’s most perfect use, the one that makes us gladdest of all, is when it becomes the blood of Christ in holy communion. For many Christians this is too much to swallow, but why should it be? If Jesus can convert water into wine, why can He not change wine into His blood? In this most superb of all miracles our omnipotent Lord consecrates bread and makes it His true body, consecrates wine and makes it His true blood, and then gives it to His Christians to eat and to drink for the forgiveness of their sins, for life and salvation.

What is at one time ordinary wine becomes by Christ’s Word the medicine of immortality that makes us as supremely glad; glad because we know that Christ put our sins into remission and that we will live forever; glad because no matter how bad this crazy, mixed up world becomes – and it can get very crazy – that Jesus will be with us through it all, and in the end make all things new.

We redeem the time when we address one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, and when we give God thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Here St. Paul describes Christian worship! The best hours we will spend are the ones spent in God’s House, singing new songs of praise to the Christ who is the Song of Songs.

It is true that there is no mightier force on earth than God’s Word. It creates life, redeems us from sin, gives hope to the despairing and good cheer to the forlorn. But when that Word is combined with the church’s inspired music then what is dynamic becomes nuclear! Parabolic! Potent enough to snatch us from the power of darkness, and induct us into the heavenly choir where we will sing thanks to God and to the Lamb for all things, for all eternity. Amen.

~Rev. Dean Kavouras

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