18 “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:18–20 (ESV)
A believer in Christ is to seek the filling of the Holy Spirit. The evidence of such filling includes singing praises to God with fellow believers in a corporate worship setting. The filling of the Spirit also includes personal worship. Making melody to the Lord in one’s mind, emotions and will should not only frame our weekly corporate worship but also our daily worship.
Another evidence the Apostle Paul gives for the Holy Spirit’s filling is the discipline and attitude of thanksgiving. Giving thanks means to actively and consistently express gratitude to God. Believers in Christ should be grateful to God not only for who He is, but also what He has done. Believers in Christ are to be always grateful to God for everything in their lives.
The Apostle Paul cites one more evidence of the Spirit’s filling. It is personal and relational submission. Submitting (ὑποτάσσω; hypotasso) means to willingly obey, and be obedient (Luke 2:51; Eph. 5:22). It also means to bring oneself under control, and to put in subjection (1 Cor. 15:27; Eph. 1:22; Php. 3:21; Heb. 2:5, 8). It is the Holy Spirit who does this work in the believer’s heart.
The Strong’s Greek Lexicon explains that submission is a “Greek military term meaning ‘to arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader’. In non-military use, it was ‘a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden’.”
It is the believers’ reverence (φόβος; phobos), fear and awe of Christ that prompts this voluntary attitude and behavior of submission. Submission cannot be demanded by an individual towards an individual. It must be truly voluntary for the act of submission to be truly biblical. This is especially true in the marriage relationship which the Apostle Paul will be addressing in Ephesians 5:22-33.
Dr. R. C. Sproul writes, “Regardless of their social rank, all Christians should pattern their social behavior on the humility and kindness of Christ (4:32-5:2; Luke 22:24-27; John 13:14-16).”
Every one of us submits to someone at some place and time. It may be an employer, teacher, spouse, parent or a fellow believer in Christ. May each of us do so because of our reverence and awe of Christ and not because of intimidation by another individual.
Soli deo Gloria!