Ephesians 5-22-38 (MP3 File for download)
Before we get into this text, I want to remind us all of something very important that I brought out several weeks ago that plays a huge role in our study today. That is this. If you are drawing your identity from any other source than Jesus Christ, you are drawing it from the wrong place. So as I was confessing that I had fallen into that trap with people’s compliments, and critiques of me, I wasn’t saying that they were wrong, or that I didn’t want them, what I was saying was that if I derive any of my worth from those words, I am drinking from the wrong well. Furthermore, it is also important to realize that you do not determine your identity. You are Going to your creator to find your identity.
The second thing that I want to say before we get into this text is this, if you are a Christian, and you want to live your live by the word of God, you need to realize that God’s work in your life is not about you! It involves you for sure, but it is not ultimately about you. It is about the Glory of God. That goes against everything you are told from the time you were born, unless you live in my house. We have a phrase we say to our kids whenever we go somewhere that we want to remind them to be good, we ask them, “who is this about?” and there response is “not me.” I don’t have time to take us all over scripture today, but in order for you to hear the text and apply it properly to your life, you have to get that. It is not about you!
Ok, Lets read the text:
Has your marriage ever been in danger? Do you know anyone whose marriage is in danger? I have a good friend who is a Biblical counselor and he has told me that almost any marriage difficulty that comes into his office can be addressed in this text of scripture. Now, you may be familiar with this text, and may have some opinions about the word submit, but may I remind you once again that the Good News of Jesus Christ is life changing, mindset altering and radical in its implications. The life that we are called to as Christians in the Bible is one that has always been radically different than the world around us. The thought of a person not asserting themselves and deferring to another, is completely against the grain of our culture. The mindset of laying down our own life, dreams, and goals for the good of another person, is completely countercultural in our day. SO, let me remind all of us, that to follow Jesus is to take up a cross, not assert a right, is is to wash feet, not climb a ladder.
First thing, we need to remember where we just came from. He was reminding us how we are to walk as Christians. We talked the last time we were in Ephesians about how we are to be imitators of God, and how that flowed into all areas of our lives. He addressed how we are to deal with the sin that we once walked in, and how we are to treat one another. He just finished saying how we are to address one another in Psalms Hymns and spiritual Songs, and to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Then he says we are to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. He then goes on in our text today and in the next two weeks to unpack three areas where we are to see submission modeled in our daily lives. Our Marriages, our Family, and our Workplace.
Also important to note is that many people will say that Paul is addressing Christians who are in a cultural environment and it was not the norm for The apostles to try and change cultural norms. There are two main responses to that. 1. Paul in his argument for what he is addressing here uses a reference not to the culture, but to Genesis. He is also using a line of comparison that you might say is apples and oranges, by connecting the marriage relationship to the relationship of Christ to the Church. So, at one level, if the cultural norms change, so can that comparison. if Christ=Husband and Church=wife, and the culture now says that Husband=wife, then you must also say that Christ=Church. So, if the husband is no longer head of the wife, than Christ is no longer head of the church. 2. Jesus did come to change cultural norms. In fact Jesus did more to elevate the status of women than you may realize. He included women’s in his ministry, the disciples were financially supported by several women, like Lydia. The biggest thing in my book is the fact that He revealed his resurrection first to women. At that time, a woman’s testimony was not admissible in court, yet it is the testimony of two women at the tomb that is the basis of the resurrection story. And in this text, Paul is crushing the social norms by saying that wives are not property, and that husbands should lay down their lives for them. That is cultural change.
Ok, so, you may be nice and riled up now, but we are only getting started. I thought about presenting all the arguments against male headship in the home, and I am happy to walk through that with anyone who wants to, but we don’t have time for that now. I am simply going to tell you what the text says, and I want you to go and search for yourself and see what the Lord is showing you.
So the big Idea for today is this. God created you for a purpose, and if you are married, or ever will be, your gender has a lot to do with how that plays out in your marriage.
So, 3 main highlights for today:
1. Men and women are equal in worth, but have different roles in marriage. There is no difference in the WORTH of a person based on their gender. All people, male and female are image bearers of God and are equal in their dignity and worth as image bearers of God. Scripture is clear on this. Headship, and submission have nothing to do with value or worth. If ever anyone is devaluing a person’s opinion, value, dignity, or contribution because of their anatomy, they do not understand biblical truth. That however does not mean that there are not separate roles that God has the right to lay out to us as his creation. Functions that are planned out for us and dictated to us by our genetic makeup. Now, if you are struggling with this thought today, let me ask you something. Does your genetic makeup dictate any part of the roles you play in daily life? In case you are wondering, the answer is ABSOLUTELY. Think about this in the world of sports. Are there traits that are out of your hands that dictate how far you can go in sports? Absolutely! Now do those traits say that you are unable to perform those tasks? no, are you too stupid to figure it out, no. Separate roles are not about worth, or ability, they are about two lives that are not about me.
2. Women are to submit to their husbands. Now I know this may be hard to hear from me as a man, but bear with me, I will be much harder on the guys. Paul says here that Wives are to submit to their own husbands. Two things about this. 1. it does not say that you submit to all men, it says to your own husband. There are areas where we are to submit to others who are leading us. in this instance, Paul is marking out for us that in marriage, a wife is to submit to her husband. As to the Lord. Now, this does not mean you need to start calling your husband Lord, nor does it mean that he is a Lord over you. it does put a particular weight on how you are to submit to your husband. The same way that you submit to Jesus is how you are to submit to your husband. 2. Submit in our day has a very different ring to it than it would have had to the Ephesians. In our day of everyone asserting their rights, and freedoms, we tend to equate submission to oppression. That is simply not the case though. This term is a military term that reminds us that in any relationship with a mission, there must be a person on whom final responsibility rests. There is always a chain of command, and when everything hits the fan, and things are in shambles, you cant have two people standing there pointing the finger at one another. That is why there are no co-head coaches, or co-presidents, or the like, because at the end of the day, there must be one person on whom the responsibility for leadership rests. And instead of leaving us to try and figure it out on our own, God lays it out for us. In a marriage, it is the husband. And really ladies, this should give you a little comfort, because when you stand before God and give an account for how you managed your family, it will be your husband who will be answering the questions.
3. Husbands are to Love their wives as Christ loved the church. Ha, you thought submission was bad, listen to what the husbands have to do. We are to love our wives with the same self sacrificing love that Christ displayed on the cross, the same love that does not consider himself, but freely sacrifices time, and energy, and everything he holds dear so that his wife my thrive. and just incase you aren’t sure what that looks like, he also says that husbands should love their wives as they love their own bodies. You know he is talking to guys right? its like he is saying, if you aren’t sure how much Christ loves you. Think about how much you love you, and then turn that fire hose on your wife. Cause admit it guys, your love for yourself can be like a firehose right? we love us some us don’t we? It is easy to love ourselves. We have wonderful communication. We are always asking ourselves what we would like to do, or have. We communicate our dreams and our desires to ourselves very freely. We give deference to ourselves without batting an eye. We surprise ourselves with little trinkets from the store, or maybe big trinkets from the car lot. Well, let me ask this, if you were communicating that well with your wife, and asking her what her dreams are and surprising her with special gifts the same way you do for yourself, do you think your marriage would be better. Do you think if you treated her to a cold beverage and a seat in the recliner when you got home, and asked her what she would like for dinner, than things might be better? Do you think if you sat down in front of her face in the evenings and asked her how she was doing instead of asking her to move her head out of the way of the TV, she might be flourishing more under your leadership?
You see, the problem people have when they read this text is not what the text says, because it is the word of God. The problem with this text is that they read it for the other person. You need to read this text for yourself. if you come away from this text with a list of what your spouse needs to do, you have got this all wrong. And by the way, there is no mention in this text that says, “only if your spouse is doing their role” This is the word for you.
So, I want to give you some homework this afternoon before the big game. If you are married, I want you to sit down together and ask your spouse how you are doing. And give honest feedback. The rule for feedback is usually open with praise, share an area of opportunity, and close with an encouragement. Don’t look for ways to tear down, but look for ways to build up. The more you build your spouse up in their role, the more likely they will step into that role with confidence.
And always remember that if this seems radical in our day and age, you are very right, every bit of this is about living our lives as Children of God, bought by the blood of Jesus, and broken out of the slavery to sin, and given a new purpose to make much of Jesus in all the areas of our lives, including our marriage.