The pathway of righteousness is not always obvious, especially during these present evil times. This passage points out that the era in which we live continues to be filled with temptations to behave contrary to the will of God and against established propriety. Vigilance in discerning His will is absolutely necessarily to make the best of these evil times (v.16). Not that the times have changed, the tempter is continuously busy misleading people from the paths of righteousness.
Too often, the tempter misleads by complicating what has been plainly stated in the Bible for our righteous instruction. For example, God told Adam not to eat of the fruit from the forbidden tree in the middle of the garden. But Satan complicated God’s simple instruction when he said to Eve, “For God knows…” (cf. Genesis 3:5). We must trust what God reveals in His word and resist the temptation to dig too deep, complicating His word. Sin is complicated, resulting in foolishness and death. “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29). When we complicate what God has revealed, by reading into His word what was not intended for us, we are made to be foolish (v.17).
Moses pointed out that God has been our dwelling from everlasting to everlasting, and entreated Him to “teach us to number our days” (Psalm 90:12). As well, other Psalmist’s have indicated that God’s word purifies our ways and illuminates the right paths (cf. Psalm 119:9, 105). God is not playing hide-and- seek with His righteous instruction, but is plainly leading us in the pathway of righteousness for His name sake because our righteousness glorifies Him. We Christians redeem our time in these evil days by taking full advantage of our limited opportunities to do good. This is why He gave us His Spirit.
The negative admonition and the positive command of verse 18 plainly states the correct course of action for Christians. In essence, we are to stop being controlled by wine which ruins one’s judgment and leads to increased foolishness (as it relates to sensual gratification) and (by contrast) we are to be continually controlled by God’s Spirit which increases self-control along with the other elements of fruitful righteous (cf. Galatians 5:22-23). The present imperative (Gk: plērousthe) translated “filled” does not describe a onetime “filling” but a regular pattern of life. Thus, the lifestyle of the Christian is to be one controlled by God’s Spirit and characterized by obedience to His word.
Such a Spirit-filled lifestyle produced the right response in the midst of the evil times referenced above (see also 4:25-32). The Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs that pour out of the believer do not happen because they are commanded. They are the product of the Spirit’s transforming work in those who diligently work at obeying God’s word and applying His revealed righteous instructions. When we reflect on the swift progress God accomplishes in our lives we cannot help but to thank God for Jesus, who after ascending back to Heaven sent His Spirit to continually lead us in alł righteousness. This is our reason to be thankful in all things!