14 April 2008

Verse by verse through Ephesians (5:22-5:33)

Ephesians 5:21-33

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.


What was the first sin? Before you say, “When Adam ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil,” think again. The action of eating that fruit was only the result of Adam’s sin. The real sin Adam committed was in deciding who he was going to submit to. He had a choice: he could either heed the warning he had from God, or he could submit to his own fleshly desires. I think we all know which path he took.

One of the most glaring problems in the church today is the issue of submission. Not just our submission to God as God, and Jesus as Lord (although there are many cases of that), there are other areas of our lives where we need to understand that we need to submit to someone in a position of authority. In matters pertaining to the local body, teachers and elders are to submit to the pastor. We are all to submit to the word of God. At the end of the previous passage, we saw that we are to submit to one another in the fear of God. How far does this subject of submission reach into our lives? Some people will tell you that it’s not important to God how we act at work. They will say that when kids rebel against their parents we should just let them, because they’re just “kids being kids.” But this is the same lie that Satan first asked Eve so long ago: “Hath God surely said?”

So, what does God have to say about submission? Who are we to submit to? And why? Why did the Southern Baptist Convention get so vilified in the press a few years back when they stood on the word of God and announced that according to Scripture, a wife is to submit to her husband? I’m sure you remember this. There were all kinds of cartoons (caricatures, really) portraying Southern Baptists as backwards-thinking Neanderthals clubbing their women over the head and chaining them—pregnant—to the stove. This is why it is best if we do not look to the world to tell us how to interpret the Bible. Because fallen man does not know how to understand the things of God—nor do they want to—until they are regenerated by the Holy Spirit.

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. How should a wife submit to her husband? As if she was submitting to the Lord Himself. Why? Because she is not to rule over a household. But why? Because that role was given to the man. Because this is the natural order of things. In 1st Corinthians 11:8-9, the apostle Paul tells us, 8 For man is not from woman, but woman from man. 9 Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man. In the order of creation, man came first. You can find it in Genesis 1-2. I don’t think we need to necessarily go back and give a history of creation. We do, however, need to go back and revisit something God said to Eve at the Fall. Genesis 3:16To the woman He said: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children; your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” See where God told her, “Your desire shall be for your husband.” He was not saying that she would desire her husband. He was warning her that her desire would be her husband’s position as head of the family. John MacArthur, in the notes of his study Bible, points out that the Hebrew in this verse is constructed identically in Genesis 4:7 when God tells Cain that sin’s desire should be for him, but he should rule over it.

This is also a disease that has found its way into pulpits. We have women today who are more than happy to disobey the clear commands of Scripture and take it upon themselves to usurp the authority that has been given to the man. This is sad enough. But what makes it even worse is there are many men who are all too happy to throw God’s word out the window and sit under the authority of a woman. Which is why what many people call the church is no longer the church. because when the church decides to compromise on one jot or tittle of God’s word, it is not long until the rest of the house comes crashing down. Which is why we have such absolute messes in the once-mighty Methodist Church. I dare say that if John and Charles and Francis were to come back today, they would weep over what was once a stronghold of truth and holiness. That even the lust-filled Henry VIII would be at least a little upset that the church he founded so he could get a divorce (The Church of England) has now fallen under the wheels of the homosexual agenda, and is being led by a man who knows not much more than Henry himself.

For the husband is head of the wife… What do we see today? What has happened to this country ever since the Gloria Steinem’s and Betty Freidan’s started telling women that what they had was not good enough, that they should be free and independent of what they consider to be the shackles of marriage. And this is by no means an exhaustive treatment of the issue, but it is easy to see that once the domino of wives submitting to their husbands falls, so many other disasters follow. For example, look at some of today’s ills. Divorce—through the roof. Teen pregnancy—through the roof. Teen drug use—through the roof. Abortion—through the roof. Adultery, mental health issues, childhood obesity—all through the roof. Why? Because women sought to be husbands. Because women were enticed by the fruit of the tree, and by the voice of Satan telling them, “Thou shalt not surely die!” And now, many families can't get by if the wife doesn’t work. So now mothers don’t have enough time for their children. Instead of the family sitting down to an evening meal, they grab something from McDonald’s. Husbands and wives don’t have time to spend with each other. The desire of the wife is for the husband. Wives have forgotten how to submit to their husbands.

…as also Christ is head of the church… It is amazing the difference one little word can make. What is the first word in this phrase? “As.” In the same way. Just like. And so also. “As”. Paul is not simply stating that Christ is the head of the church. although he is, of course, telling us this. And rightly so. For Christ is indeed the head of the church. He is the one to whom we are to submit ourselves. And if we are not rightly submitting to one another, then we are not fully submitting to Him. But let’s look at what else this verse is saying. It says that just like Christ is the head—the Master, the Lord—over the church, that the husband is head—master, lord—over the wife. Boy, that ain't a popular sentiment today, now, is it? A husband is lord over his wife? Yet this is the exact sentiment Peter expresses in 1st Peter 3. We could spend a couple weeks laying these passages (Ephesians 5, 1st Peter 3) side by side. But I think we will have enough here to teach us properly.

Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. In how many things? In every thing! So does that mean that a wife who knows the Lord should submit to even an unsaved husband? Yes. In his letter, Peter tells us that whether or not the husband has submitted to Christ, she is to submit to her husband. 1st Peter 3:1-41 In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2 as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. 3 Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; 4 but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. How does a Christian wife glorify God in her house? By berating and cajoling her unbelieving husband? Or by showing him kindness and love and respect? Ask Lee Strobel. One of the finest Christian apologists today. He and his wife were devout atheists when she got saved. After which she set out to be the wife Paul and Peter describe. When Lee set out to demolish her faith, what happened? He too found out that Christ is real, and began a brand new journey.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her… Husbands, don’t think you're off the hook. In fact, if anything, you have more responsibility on your shoulders than do the wives. For you are to love her as Christ loved His church! How much did He love His church? He gave His life for it. So, does this mean that if your wife’s life is in danger, that you are to sacrifice your own life in trying to save her? Hmmm. Now that I think about it that is a pretty dumb question. That is exactly what you are to do! Guys, cast your eyes back a couple verses. Just as Christ is head of the church. Was Christ willing to die for His bride? Was He willing to go to any lengths to save her? Was He willing to suffer pain, humiliation, rejection, and drinking in the cup of God’s wrath in order to save His bride from eternal destruction? To present her as a spotless bride before God? So what makes you think you're any different? God doesn’t care how much you and your wife argue. He doesn’t care if she burns your dinner. He really doesn’t give a rip if she cooks at all. Your duty is to protect her, to lead her, and—if necessary—to lay down your life in defense of her. You are to be the head of your house AS Christ is the Head of His church. And you are to be her savior AS Christ is the Savior of His bride. Period.

…that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word… The protection you are to offer her is not just physical. You are to lead her in paths of righteousness. You are to lead her in the teaching of God’s Word. You are to set her apart—not only to yourself, but to God Himself—by cleansing her. This is a command. In fact, this entire verse is a command. All the verses are in the imperative mood. You're probably sick of me saying this. But it’s important that we understand this. See, as husbands, it is our duty to show that we are more than just big, strong, tough guys. We are to understand that our wives are delicate, that they are easily moved by emotion (sorry ladies!). Again, a sentiment quite often frowned upon these days, but spoken of clearly by Peter. 1st Peter 3:7Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered. Have you considered that? That your prayers may be hindered by how you treat your wife? Or have you forgotten that the two of you are one flesh?

So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. Do you hate yourself? I didn’t think so. Then what is the second great commandment? “Love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 22:39). Is your wife not your neighbor? Should you not love her as you love yourself? Or do you love yourself more? No, you love yourself. You nourish it, you cherish it. You eat, you fill your stomach. You make sure you stay alive. And should you not treat your wife likewise? See, for all those people who thought the SBC was dragging humanity back to the Stone Age by declaring that wives should submit to their husbands—if they had only kept reading they would have found that husbands bear so much more responsibility in the marriage. They are to lay down their lives, they are to lead righteously, they are to sanctify and separate their wives from the world. they are to lead them in righteousness, and they are to love their wives as they love their own flesh whether they want to or not!

So the big games on this weekend? Big deal. You're gonna have to miss it. Get over it. So you wanted to go somewhere with your buddies, but your wife needs you to do something at the house instead. Stay home. Take care of your household. So you have to miss the big hunting or fishing trip. Get over it. If you love your wife, then you love yourself. If you don’t love your wife… Well, I think you get the picture.

For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. Do not miss this my friends! We are ONE with Christ. Are we part of His physical body? Are we sitting on the throne with Him? Well, let’s look at what it says. We are of His flesh and of His bones. And no, this does not give evidence of the heresy of transubstantiation. I’m sure there are some who have tried to make that leap. Who was created first, Adam, or Eve? Adam, of course. How was Eve created? From Adam. It was no accident that Adam declared “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh” (Genesis 2:23). Keeping this in mind, who existed first? Christ, or His church? Paul does more than just lay these two truths side by side. He reveals to us that these truths are interwoven, inextricable one from the other. For if the woman was formed from the man, so also was the church formed from the Christ. We are from Him, and of Him. We are one with Him, inseparable from Him.

“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” Christ left His throne in glory, to come to earth, to give Himself for His church, to sanctify and wash her with His blood, to go and prepare a place for her. For He has made His bride one with Himself. And yet look at what we call the church. Many of her members are shameful. Many of her members are committing spiritual adultery. And yet Paul warns us in 1st Corinthians 6:15 (KJV)ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. But walk into your local “Christian” book store. Look at all the books promoting heresies you find them selling. Oneness Pentecostalism, the Emergent Movement, the Prosperity “Gospel.” All of these damnable heresies are being sold to members of the body of Christ and are being drunk down with no discernment for the truth.

But it should not be so! We are one with our Master, our Lord—our Husband, the Bridegroom who is preparing a place for us so we can be with Him forever! In fact, He has given us the gift of knowing what is true and what is not! He left so the Father could send the Comforter, the Helper, the Holy Spirit. Besides, did Paul not also tell us to let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5)? And in another place, but we have the mind of Christ (1st Corinthians 2:15)? We are joined to Christ. We are of His flesh, of His bones, having one mind (Romans 12:16; 2nd Corinthians 13:11).

This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. This is a mystery, especially today. We’re all supposed to be consumed with climbing the ladder of success. Women are encouraged to kill their children in the name of success and ambition. Men are encouraged to have mistresses and expensive things in the name of personal enjoyment—and when their wives get too old, or they just aren't pretty enough, they need to get more than a mistress. They need to get a divorce so they can marry that mistress and be with her all the time. Women are told they are worthless after their looks start to decline, and are told they need to have dead poison injected into their skin. Just who are we married to? Who is our Bridegroom? Is He of this world? NO! So why do we act like He is?

If wives would start loving their husbands the way they should—submitting to them in the fear of the LORD—and if husbands would love their wives the way they're supposed to—loving them, giving up their lives for them—then the church would not be going through the hateful bickering and unbiblical arguing it is going through these days. Because—believe it or not—our happiness and personal fulfillment is not at the top of our Bridegrooms list of priorities. But He should be at the top of ours.

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