See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. (Eph. 5:15, 16). The Amplified Bible renders verse 15 “Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people).” The NIV translation also says “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise.”
The Bible already warns us that the days are evil. The whole world lies in wickedness, or under the sway of the wicked one. (1 John 5:19) Satan is called the god or prince of this world. If the days were deemed to be evil in the times of Paul and Peter, what would we call the days we live in presently? Satan, however has no new tricks. The Bible says “all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life,” (1 John 2:16) and those three things are still all that is in the world.
Everything Satan is using to tempt and destroy humanity still falls within those three categories. Although Satan is the god of this world and the whole world lies in his sway; the Bible says “whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” (1 John 5:4)
We must learn how to live carefully in these evil times to appropriate the victory that is already ours in Christ Jesus. Paul admonished the Ephesian Christians, “See then that you walk circumspectly (or carefully), not as fools but as wise.” “Wisdom is the principle thing.” (Prov 4:7) We need the wisdom of God to be able to navigate through life. Thank God that Christ has been made unto us wisdom from God and also for the wisdom we receive from God’s Word; the Holy Spirit is also called the Spirit of wisdom in Isaiah 1:2. Let the Word speak for itself in telling us how to live carefully. Read the whole of Ephesians 5, to get the context in which Paul was speaking.
HOW DO WE LIVE CAREFULLY?
1. Do not fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness
Paul warned in verse 7, “Therefore do not be partakers with them.” He was referring to the things he had mentioned in verses 3 and 4, namely; fornication, all uncleanness, covetousness (which is idolatry), filthiness, etc. I believe all uncleanness would include, in our own days; pornography, dirty films, etc. Someone rightly said, “whatever entertains you, enters you.” Think about it! I believe these things actually open up our lives, our homes, our children and even our ministries, to the devil. Jesus said, “the prince of this world comes and he has nothing in Me.” Whatever Satan has in us is what gives him a foothold and the authority in our lives, to steal, kill and destroy. The Bible says, if we sow to the flesh, we will reap corruption. But if we sow to the spirit, we will reap life eternal. (Gal 6:8) Also, to be carnally minded is death (i.e. deterioration, decay, destruction, calamity, corruption, etc) but to the spiritually minded is life and peace. (Romans 8:6) Do you want peace in your home? Then stop sowing to the flesh, cease fellowshipping with the unfruitful works of darkness. Instead, start sowing to the spirit; start sowing obedience to God’s Word and you’ll reap life and peace in every area of your life.
2. Expose any works of darkness
Eph. 5:11-12: “But rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.” Satan is the ruler of darkness; he loves secrecy, he thrives in secrecy, that is his domain. Expose lust, pride, rebellion, sexual immorality, sin, and so on. Bring them out in the open. “The prince of this world comes and has nothing in me.” It is whatever he has in you that he will place a demand upon, either now or in the future!
The Bible says each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lust or desires. (James 1:14) That is, Satan won’t use what is outside you to get you, he’ll use what is inside of you. So expose it, or it will explode one day on your inside like a time bomb, that’s been ticking away unnoticed. “But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.” (Eph. 5:13) The truth is that whenever we are actually ready to deal with issues in our lives then we will be ready to expose them, to be reproved for what they really are! “For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.” (John 3:20) When you are truly ready to be delivered from the sinful habit of addiction, bring it out into the light. That breaks Satan’s control over you. Why do you think people yield to blackmail? Why do they pay someone so much money just to keep quiet? But have you noticed they never get free of that sin? Rather than be free, they will get into an additional bondage to the person who is keeping their secret. If we are going to be free and not come under bondage to Satan and sin, we must expose the unfruitful works of darkness in our lives. This calls for the need of accountability. We must make ourselves accountable to others. Don’t forget that there can’t be any real accountability without transparency. This of course, makes us vulnerable to someone else. I think that the gains far outweigh the price! Besides, if we don’t pay the price in being vulnerable, we pay the price in something else.
Expose the devil; expose his thoughts; expose wrong habits, addictions, wrong tendencies, secret sins, etc. Make yourself vulnerable to someone or some people- that’s wisdom!
3. Be alert!
Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.” Sleeping connotes lack of watchfulness and prayerlessness. In the parable of the wheat and the tares (Matt. 13:24-30) Jesus said while men slept, the enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way (verse 25). Note that, 1) the man sowed good seed in his field, 2) the tares were sowed among the wheat and 3) the tares weren’t detected until they sprung up. We can’t afford to be spiritually careless. Peter admonishes us to “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) Praise God; Satan can’t pounce on us; he has to “seek whom he may devour.” Jesus has stripped him of all his authority and given us authority over all Satan’s ability. The Bible says that we should give him no room. That is why Satan has to go about ‘seeking whom he may devour!’ Beloved, you can’t afford to be careless in any area of your life. It is like leaving your door wide open, while living in a rough neighbourhood! Don’t give Satan room in your thought life, in your utterances, in your emotions, in your marriage, and so forth. Keep him out by being sober and vigilant.
4. Redeem the time
“Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” Some other translations say, “Making the most of every opportunity.” The Amplified Bible adds; “buying up each opportunity.” If we are going to live carefully in these evil times so that we don’t become victims or casualties, we must learn to make the most of every opportunity. The encouragement we get from these Scriptures is that time can be bought back. Receive this, if you have given up on mistakes of the past. Stop thinking about what could have been and what should have been. Stop moaning about the past; stop crying over spilt milk. You might not be able to change the past, but you can make up for those mistakes by making the most of the present opportunities that are being presented to you. It is a winning attitude that you must imbibe.
5. Understand what the will of God is
The Amplified Bible says “live purposefully and worthily and accurately.” (Eph. 5:15) “All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Rom. 8:28) Find out what God is doing and plug yourself into it. The safest place to be is in the centre of God’s will. Mordecai told Esther, “if you don’t do anything about the situation because you are afraid of losing your life; God will send help to His people from somewhere else, but you (Esther) and your father’s house will be destroyed- maybe you are in the Kingdom for such a time as this.” Esther got the message and said “If I perish, I perish.” She took her life in her hands, as it were, she approached the king. Esther didn’t die! Why? She was right at the centre of the will of God. Many folks today are playing into the hands of Satan because they are out of the will of God. Don’t let the fear of death, lack or rejection, push you out of God’s will, right into Satan’s waiting claws! The will of God has the power to protect you from evil. The centre of His will is the place of protection, provision and promotion. “He that does the will of the Lord abides forever.” These days are so evil that you must ensure you stay where He wants you to be; go only where He wants you to go and do only what He wants you to do and say only what He wants you to say.
6. Be filled with the Spirit
“Do not be drunk with wine… but be filled with the Spirit.” (Eph. 5:18) Whatever we are full of is what will control us. If we are full of wine, it will control the way you walk, what you say and what you do. The same way the Holy Spirit will control your walk, your utterances and your actions if you are full of Him. Jesus was full of the Spirit and was therefore led of the Spirit. So, if you are full of the Spirit, you will be led by the Spirit, you won’t fall into Satan’s hands; you will learn to overcome him- he’ll be no match for you. If you are full of the Spirit, you don’t yield to the flesh. Paul said if we live by the Spirit, we will not fulfill the desires of the flesh or the sinful nature because the desires of the Spirit are contrary to those of the sinful nature. (Gal. 5: 16, 17) When you are filled with the Spirit, you become very discerning, so you don’t fall into Satan’s tricks and devices. You detect them miles away. “Wolves in sheep’s clothing”; you don’t become a victim of deception! Being filled with the Spirit also gives you the power to overcome temptations. The Bible says we mortify the deeds of the flesh by the help of the Spirit. The will of God becomes easier to know and to do when we are filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit knows the mind of God and makes intercession for us according to His will. (Rom. 8:27) The Holy Spirit, as our Helper, helps us to do the will of God. Jesus baptised us with the Holy Spirit but it is our responsibility to stay filled with the Spirit.
7. Maintain healthy relationships
“Submitting to one another in the fear of God. Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” (Eph. 5:21, 22) “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.” (Verse 25) “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honour your father and mother.” (Eph. 6:1, 2) “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” (Verse 4) “Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh… as to Christ”. (Verse 5) “And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.” (Verse 6) It is very interesting and not a coincidence, that right after discussing relationships Paul began to talk about spiritual warfare. If we are going to walk carefully and not become casualties in these evil times, we must have all our relationships in the right places. Satan knows the power of right relationships, so he fights them tooth and nail. We can’t afford to be ignorant of the devices of the devil. So important is maintaining right relationships that Jesus said, if we bring our gift to the altar, we remember that our brother has something against us, we should leave the gift and first of all go and be reconciled to our brother. The Bible says, in the last days, perilous times will come, because men will, among other things, be disobedient to parents, unthankful, unloving, unforgiving (irreconcilable) and traitors (2 Tim. 3:1-4). Have you noticed that all these are related to relationships with others? We must learn to relate rightly both vertically (i.e. God-ward) and horizontally (i.e. people-ward). Have you noticed that the cross is both vertical and horizontal? Sometimes we need to fight hard to keep our relationships intact.
Relationships are designed as coverings. In the tabernacle of Moses, there were multiple coverings, not just one and that is still God’s pattern. For example, a husband covers his wife, the wife covers her husband; parents cover the children, and the children also cover the parents, etc. Any opening in our vital relationships leaves an opening for the devil to come in to steal, kill and destroy. For instance, the Bible says that where there is strife every evil work is present. (James 3:16) Also, we shouldn’t let the sun go down on our anger, so as not to give Satan a foothold! (Eph. 4:26, 27)
God bless you.
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Rev. Funke Ewuosho