Vol. 2 - No. 3
Contrasting The Spiritual With The Sensual
by Vaughn D. Shofner
When the apostle Paul admonished the saints at Ephesus, “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be 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” (Ephesians 5:15-18), he was informing them that acceptable worship and service to God were not to be controlled by just any influence, but by spiritual influence.
This admits that acceptable worship and service to God are controlled by influence that is not within our own being, and this influence is not to be the appearances of this world nor the physical perceptions which have only temporary power, but is to come from the eternal Spirit. He then makes an applicable use of the principle to singing: “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (vs. 19).
By contextual fairness there is evidently a lesson of contrasting principles between being drunk with wine and being filled with the Spirit. Just as “fools” is the exact opposite of “wise” in “walk not as fools, but as wise,” and “unwise” is the exact opposite of “understanding” in “be not unwise, but understanding “ so, “drunk with wine” is an influence in direct contrast with being “filled with the Spirit.” The propriety of this contrast lies in the controlling influence produced in each case. The similarity of principles is recognizable only because that in each there is a controlling influence which is not innately common to humanity.
On the day of the Pentecost of Acts 2, when the influence of the Holy Spirit overwhelmed the apostles, the effects caused unbelieving mockers to charge, “These men are full of new wine” (Acts 2:13). They were influenced into the ecstasy of an existence which was outside the realm of their native abilities. The doubters knew their abilities of the natural consideration, therefore, it was no mere play of words when Paul in like manner called upon the knowledge of the Ephesians and wrote, “Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess, but be filled with the Spirut.”
It is incontestably true that both wine and the Spirit influences the emotions and composure of humanity. Wine influences the natural emotions and composure of human beings through the fleshly part. The Spirit influences the natural emotions and composure of humanity through the spiritual makeup. It is a misfortune that human
beings ignore the orderly laws of their emotions and composure and attempt to consolidate the sensual with the spiritual. Humanity, generally speaking, thinks that simply and only emotional excitement, regardless of the cause, produces spiritual welfare. For example, countless religionists accept a doctrine that eliminates any kind of work of mind and body in receiving salvation, and claim that it is the result of the personal entrance of the Holy Spirit. It is a supernaturally influenced state of faith which grants salvation without works of any kind.
Our word “faith” comes from a Latin word “fides” which signifies trust, and the Greek verb “peitho” which signifies to persuade; that is, in faith we are persuaded to trust the experience of personal witnesses and other credible information that is intelligible, but not produced within our own natural makeup. It is the result of convincing education. At the resurrection of Lazarus, “Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed in him” (John 11:45). Witnesses beheld the works of Jesus, believed, and we have their record as convincing information. Also, “Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me (after the resurrection), thou hast believed: blessed are those who have not seen and have believed” (John 20:29). Seeing supplies credible information as a source of faith. The greatest source of religious faith today “cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). Then faith that saves does not originate within us, nor is it the results of our works exclusively, but it is obtained in the exercise of our abilities, learning and accepting as true and being converted by God's revealed Scriptures. From this aspect faith is a work.
Logically, since the state of mind which reposes with confidence in the existence of God and the undeniable testimony of his revelation is subjective faith, and countless religionists declare that is all that is needed to be saved; and since many people claim this salvation by faith is produced by the supernatural operation of the Holy Spirit, then salvation is by inspiration. By this doctrine, since “inspiration,” “theopneustos,” means divinely breathed into, and salvation requires the supernatural afflatus of Deity, the great commission should read, “He that is inspired and is baptized shall be saved; but he that is not inspired shall be damned” (Mark 16:16).
The principle of substituting the sensual for the spiritual, such as demanding and claiming the personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit in order to be saved, is the reason for most of the false doctrines of religion. The “crossroads operation” of today's religion is a case of substituting the sensual for the spiritual. This false doctrine demands the complete physical participation in all ceremonies in order to control the mind by sensual influences. It has the tenet of physical partnership in social association and as “prayer partners,” so-called, simply to substitute the sensual for the spiritual and to cause submission to sensual emotions as though they were denoting spiritual welfare. The “Moonies,” “Krishnas,” “Jones Cult” and all religious communes depend heavily upon this means of controlling the minds of the subjects. These cults unite the religious and the social as a means of influencing people to accept the sensual as spiritual. They use the “touch system” to destroy the distinction between the sensual and the spiritual. They know love only as “phileo,” spontaneous, emotional attraction, and freely substitute it for the love of command, “agape.”
These victims of unfortunate attempts to produce the cause by the effect influence and bring to ruin the minds of themselves and all who submit to their sensuality. That which is produced in the intelligence ennobles the whole human being, but that which is produced solely by the flesh degrades and sensualizes the soul!
“Wine” of our text is but a specimen of a class of stimulants. “Drunkenness,” and especially religious drunkenness, may come from anything wherein there is excess. The apostle's description of the demonstration of the fullness of the Spirit is, “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.”
Gentle reader, in God's laboratory all things that heal the heart and extol the glories of the Lord are simple and pure. At night man fills his pleasure parlors with the splendor of soft, seductive lights and the sound of sweet music which fever and fire the heart, but at the same time the quiet stars of God silently steal forth shedding the profoundest sense of calm. If we want the vision of a calmer and simpler beauty to cool the flame of our fast moving and excited lives, we must be filled with the Spirit, simple and natural and within the limits of our abilities to glean from his gift of revelation; we need the feelings which the convincing information arouses, yea, the fullness of the Spirit which will never drive us to emotionally irrational behavior!