‘Maybe the question of the title got your attention. It sounds like that’s what I was trying to do, but I wasn’t. Instead I jumped into the car and turned it to the 24/7 radio station of the biggest Calvary Chapel in our area of Oregon. The son, who is now the senior pastor, was preaching on worship, a subject that is near and dear to me, as you readers know. In the midst of his talk, he had his crowd turn to Ephesians 5:18-19, which read:
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;
He didn’t break down verse 18 very far, but he related being “sloshed,” a word he used twice to refer to being drunk. He said that alcohol itself was fine, just not being drunk. To start, that belies the grammar of the verse. Look at it. Speaking of the “wine,” Paul said, “wherein is excess.” In other words, in the wine is excess, which is riotousness. The “wine” itself isn’t innocent. This is also how the Bible reads about alcohol or “wine” that can get someone drunk. It must be alcoholic, so in it is excess or riotousness, which are both sinful.
The Calvary Chapel senior pastor then said that there is a kind of singing when someone is sloshed. He compared to drunken revelry, and he said that was a contrast here. One can imagine the pub where a group of men are staggering home off pitch and slurring a popular song, what today is called a drinking song. I know this happens, but is this what Ephesians 5:18 is talking about? No. It really misses the point.
Being drunk is contrasted with being filled with the Spirit. There are at least two points that Paul is making with this contrast and it does relate to worship. One, drunkenness puts alcohol in control of someone. He’s controlled by the alcohol. The Greek words for “filled with” mean “be controlled by.” The believer is commanded to be controlled by the Holy Spirit and not alcohol. The alcohol is related to worship, but someone is never to be controlled by anyone or anything but the Holy Spirit. That means in every area of life, which the next twenty something verses reveal.
The control of alcohol brings excess and riotousness. The control of the Holy Spirit results in something else, what follows in the proceeding verses. Alcohol really does control. Someone can understand that. With that understanding, come to the Holy Spirit and imagine His controlling instead. Alcohol almost totally takes over with limited human control. Holy Spirit control is almost total control with a background of human control. A person is still doing something, but he’s controlled by Someone else as a whole, the Holy Spirit.
The second point of Paul is to relate to the false worship of Ephesus at the temple of Diana that the audience of the church at Ephesus would know. In the base of the pillars were ornately carved grapes. Drunkenness was part of the worship. It would bring a state of ecstasy, which was confused with a kind of divine control. This out of body type of experience of drunkenness gives the impression that someone is out of control, which he is, but that he is under the control of divine power. He isn’t. It’s the alcohol. Paul contrasts the false worship of Ephesus with the true worship of the true God. It isn’t ecstatic, which unfortunately and ironically is the worship of these Calvary Chapels.
The rock music of the the CCM that even originated with the first Jesus’ movement of the first Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, California gave the impression of something spiritual occurring. It wasn’t. It was entirely fleshly, ecstatic, like the drunkenness of the worship of Diana. Fleshly music brings a kind of ecstasy like that produced by alcohol that gives a counterfeit, false experience of spirituality. It might be “a spirit,” but it isn’t the Holy Spirit. It isn’t Holy and it isn’t Spiritual. Spiritual worship does not arise from the flesh, from alcohol, or from rhythm. These churches manipulate their listeners, giving them the wrong understanding of true spirituality. It is a form of idolatry.
There is actually no contrast in the worship of the Calvary Chapels with the world’s temples. They incorporate the ecstatic experience of the world into their so-called “worship.” In so doing, their people develop a false imagination of God. Their worship gives them a false god that does not have the same nature as the One and True God.
The local Calvary Chapel pastor compared drunken singing to the singing of Ephesians 5:19. First, he approved of alcohol as long as someone isn’t “sloshed.” He was saying this in a mocking tone, like he was embarrassed to be preaching about something bad related to alcohol. He was approving of alcohol as long as it didn’t result in drunkenness. In many people’s minds, being “sloshed” is a further level of drunkenness than the mere term drunken or legal drunkenness. This is missing the teaching of the verse and is dangerous to his audience.
The worship of Ephesians 5:19 proceeds from the control of the Holy Spirit. This is not carnal or emotional. It might result in emotions, but it is not emotional. Colossians 3:16 is a parallel passage and it compares Spirit filling to being controlled by the Words of Christ. If someone is controlled by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, the first way that will manifest itself is in true worship.
The participles of Ephesians 5:19 relate to being controlled by the Holy Spirit. You can or will know if someone is saved and then filled with the Spirit, based upon your worship. Worship comes first in this list of manifestations. False worship is controlled by something other than the Holy Spirit. It doesn’t have to be alcohol. It could also be fleshly music that brings a closely related ecstasy to that occurring in the false worship in Ephesus.’https://kentbrandenburg.com/2021/03/31/how-is-alcohol-related-to-worship/