LOVING HUSBANDS

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 5:25-32

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5:25)

The husband is to be the head of his wife (v. 23). Yet this is tempered by the chief characteristic of the husband — to love his wife as Christ loved the church. No husband is entitled to say that he is head of his wife unless he first loves his wife the way Christ loves His church. The husband’s leadership is one of love and servanthood.

The husband’s relationship to his wife is to be characterized by Christ’s relationship to His church. First, Christ loves His church unconditionally. He loves His church in spite of her flaws and deficiencies. Second, Christ gave Himself for His church. He sacrificed for her. He gave His life for her. A husband must be willing to make sacrifices for his wife. He is to give himself to her willingly and fully. He is to serve his wife as Christ serves His church.

A husband’s love for his wife is not just theoretical. It is not what one says, but what one does. Actions speak louder than words. The test of a man’s love is his conduct in his home day to day. The Psalmist wrote, “I will walk with integrity of heart within my house” (Psalm 101:2b). This means that a husband follows God’s will and loves his wife in private as he presents himself in public.

I Corinthians 13 describes and defines the Greek word “agape,” which is the word used in our text today — “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing; but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails” (I Corinthians 13:4-8a). This is how a husband is to love his wife.

Christ loved and gave Himself. Love involves action and not just words. A husband is to treat his wife with respect and honor. She is a treasure from God. A husband must never take his wife for granted. She is a good gift from God and she is to be her husband’s best friend.

A husband is to leave and cleave — “Therefore a man should leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh” (v. 31). God’s goal for marriage is oneness — the two shall become one. The unity between a husband and wife is to be protected at all costs.

The passage ends with these words — “However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband” (v. 32).

Lord Jesus, You love Your church and You gave Yourself for her. You have told me to love my wife the way you love the church. Enable me to love my wife unconditionally and sacrificially. Let me love her with words and with actions. Enable me to love her with the love described in I Corinthians 13. Grant me grace to be patient and kind to her. Keep me from being irritable and resentful. Let my love for her never fail.

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SUBMISSIVE WIVES

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 5:22-32

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife even as Christ is head of the church, His body, and is Himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.” (Ephesians 5:22-24)

Needless to say, this is not a popular view today. The idea of wives being submissive to their husbands seems primitive and sexist to some. Nonetheless, the Scripture is clear on the matter — “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.”

The great motive for a wife to be submissive to her husband is that she is doing it unto the Lord. You can see why the wife’s relationship with the Lord is so crucial. She, being filled with the Spirit (v. 18), honors the Lord by being submissive to her husband.

Authority structures are necessary for we live in a sinful, broken world. God established civil government and we are to be submissive to our governing authorities — “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God” (Romans 13:1). God established elders in the church to shepherd and govern the members of the church — “Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight” (I Peter 5:2). God set up the authority structure in the home — “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord” (5:22). “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (6:1).”

Let me be quick to say the idea of submission has been greatly abused by some. In order to clarify, consider these statements. First, submission does not imply that a woman is inferior to a man. The Bible is clear that the woman was created in the image of God in the same way the man was. God clearly says that a husband is to grant honor to his wife as a fellow heir of the grace of life (I Peter 3:7).

Second, submission does not imply that the wife’s views and desires are not important. God intends for husband and wife’s relationship to be interdependent. They are to work together making decisions. Third, submission does not mean submission to injustice and abuse. Fourth, submission does not mean being required to disobey God (Acts 5:29). The wife must always be obedient to the Lord first.

God has placed the husband in the position of leadership and authority in the home. The wife is to respect her husband’s role as head of the family (v. 33). The husband must understand that with authority comes responsibility and accountability. A husband is responsible to lead his wife and family according to God’s instructions. Most importantly, the husband is to love his wife as Christ loves the church. The key is for the husband to pattern his leadership after Christ’s leadership — loving, servant leadership.

Lord Jesus, You are the head of the church. Under Your authority, You have called me to lead my family following Your method of leadership. Enable me to exercise loving, servant leadership to my wife, children, and grandchildren. I know that I am accountable to You to set a godly example before them. I am to lead them according to Your Word. Give me the ability to lead them well.

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MUTUAL SUBMISSION

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 5:15-21

“Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21)

When we are filled with the Holy Spirit (v. 18), we will desire to be humble and submissive toward other people. Our basic problem is that we are born with a sinful, selfish nature. In our passage today, we are told not to be selfish. We must be subject to one another. When we are, we are honoring our Savior.

Verses 15-21 is an introductory paragraph that proceeds instructions about marriage (5:22-33), parenting (6:1-4), and work relationships (6:5-9). The instructions in verse 21 — “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ” — applies to all our relationships. First and foremost, it applies to our relationship with Christ. We must recognize Jesus Christ as Lord before we can be subject to other people. Wives are to be subject to their husbands (v. 22-24). Husbands are to love their wives (v. 25). In I Corinthians 13 we are told that “love does not seek its own.” Children are to obey their parents (6:1). Parents are not to provoke their children to anger (6:4). All of these involve being submissive to one another.

Submission is an attitude of the heart. “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). The more I die to self, the more fully the Lord Jesus is able to live His life in me. We must take ourselves off the throne of our lives and give Jesus His proper place as Lord. When we do this, we will desire to obey Him and will be eager to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

What does the idea of submission mean practically? It means we are not to be thoughtless of each other. We are not to be selfish and self-centered. It means we view ourselves as we are — sinners who have failed God. Yet, God has poured out His grace upon us in Jesus Christ. Therefore, we are to be gracious to others. It means we develop a love and concern for other people. We must be patient and understanding of them.

The real reason for mutual submission is that we do it out of reverence for Christ. Christ submitted Himself to death for our sake. Out of our love, gratitude, and reverence for Him, we are to submit to each other willingly and graciously.

Lord Jesus, You submitted Yourself to Your Father’s will. You gave Yourself for me. Grant me grace to be humble and gracious. Enable me to submit to others out of reverence for You.

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SIGNS OF A SPIRIT FILLED LIFE

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 5:15-21

“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled will the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to the Lord with all your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 5:18-20)

When we are filled with God’s Spirit, we will yield our wills to the will of the Spirit. We are being controlled by the Spirit rather than being controlled by our sinful desires. Being filled with the Spirit is an act of faith in which we trust God in every situation and submit to His will and way.

There are other signs of being filled with the Spirit. First, there are outward expressions of praise — “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” We become bold in our praise. We desire to express our love and admiration for the Lord to others. We will look for opportunities to express to others our thanksgiving and praise to God for who He is and for what He has done for us.

Second, there is inward praise — “making melody to the Lord with all your heart.” We are moved in our inward beings to express our love and admiration to the Lord with all our heart. It is an inward, heartfelt desire to praise God. “As a deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for Thee, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?” (Psalm 42:1,2). We experience a deep inner desire to be in the presence of the Lord and to express praise to him from our hearts.

Third, we experience a deep sense of thanksgiving. We are moved in gratitude for what the Lord has done for us. We give thanks always, and for everything, even the hard, painful things we experience. We know that God works all things for His glory and for our good (Romans 8:28).

When we are filled with God’s Spirit, we will yield to His promptings and desire to conform to His will. We will outwardly express our praise for Him to others. Our hearts will be warmed by His love and presence and we will praise Him from our innermost beings. And we will be thankful no matter what we have to face, for we know that the Spirit will lead us and empower us.

Holy Spirit, thank You for your presence within me. I am moved to praise when I consider all that You have done for me. My heart is warmed by Your love and I am thankful that You live within me and will empower me to face whatever comes my way this day.

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THE SPIRIT FILLED LIFE

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 5:15-21

“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.” (Ephesians 5:18)

Regeneration is the work of God’s Spirit when He implants a new principle of spiritual life in us. At one time we were spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1), but God’s Spirit made us alive (Ephesians 2:4). He caused us to be born again. When the Holy Spirit regenerates us, He comes to live within us — “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?” (I Corinthians 6:19).

While we have the Holy Spirit living in us, we also have a remnant of our sinful nature left, which the Bible calls “the flesh.” A great battle takes place within us — “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do” (Galatians 5:17).

When we are filled with the Spirit, we are yielding our wills to the will of the Spirit. We are being controlled by Him rather than being controlled by our flesh. Our desires, motives, thoughts, and actions are being influenced by the Spirit.

The Spirit is within us and prompts us to live our lives in obedience and submission to God. Therefore, we are not to quench the Spirit — “Do not quench the Spirit” (I Thessalonians 5:19). We quench the Spirit when we fail to yield to His promptings.

How can we be filled with the Spirit? First, we must realize that God’s Spirit resides within us. We are never alone. We must learn how to practice His presence. Second, we must have the desire for the Spirit of God to control our lives. This is an act of obedience when we yield our will to His will. Third, we must set our minds on the spiritual things — “For those who live according to the flesh, set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit” (Romans 8:5).

Being filled with the Spirit is an act of faith in which we trust God in every situation and willingly submit to His will and way.

Spirit of God, fall fresh on me. Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me. Spirit of the living God fall fresh on me.

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THE DAYS ARE EVIL.

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 5:15-21

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17)

Christians in Paul’s day were living in a pagan and immoral society. They were faced with temptations and troubles of all kinds. Unfortunately, we also are living in a similar environment. Thus, we are warned to look carefully how we live our lives in this broken, fallen world. We are to be wise with our choices and actions. Unwise choices always lead to painful consequences.

We are also to make the best use of our time because the days are evil. The phrase, “making the best use of,” translates the Greek word that can mean “redeem” or “purchase.” We are to make a good investment of our time. The verse that comes to mind is Psalm 90:12 — “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” We must make the best use of our days for they are limited — “The years of our life are seventy, or by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble, they are soon gone, and we fly away” (Psalm 90:10). I am not trying to be morbid here. We have to face the reality that in the scheme of things our days are short and we will face times of toil and trouble here on earth.

Then we are told — “Therefore do not be foolish but understand what the will of the Lord is” (v. 17). Foolish people think only of themselves. They act as if there is no God — “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good” (Psalm 14:1). A wise person always seeks to discover the will of the Lord. A wise person knows that the will of the Lord is always right and good. A wise person makes choices that are within the will of the Lord.

As we live our lives in these evil days, we must look carefully how we walk. We must be wise and not be foolish. We are to constantly seek the will of the Lord in all that we do. Doing these things will prevent us from making bad choices and from having to bear the consequences of them.

Lord Jesus, enable me to look carefully how I live my life this day. Help me to be wise and to seek Your will in all that I do. I can be foolish at times. Forgive me when I make foolish choices. Give me the ability to understand what Your will is in everything I do.

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CHILDREN OF LIGHT

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 5:3-14

“For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:8-10)

Paul is contrasting the dark deeds of the flesh with the new life of light that we have in Christ. He spells out the deeds of darkness — immorality, impurity, covetousness, filthiness, foolish talk, and crude joking (vs. 3,4). He says that those who practice such things have no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God (v. 5). Instead they will incur the wrath of God (v. 6). He then warns us — “Therefore do not become partakers with them, for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord” (vs. 7,8).

God rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of His Son (Colossians 1:13). Christ’s kingdom is the kingdom of light. Therefore, we are to walk as children of light, that is, to live as those who have the light of Christ to guide them. The fruit of His light is that which is good and right and true.

God’s children have also been called to expose darkness — “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them” (v. 11). Sin must be exposed. How do we expose sin? “For it is shameful even to speak of the things they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by light, it becomes visible, for anything that comes visible is light” (v. 12). We expose the “unfruitful works of darkness” by living as children of light. People will see the difference when we are living in a godly manner. This is why Jesus said — “You are the light of the world…In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14a,16).

God’s gracious invitation is extended to those who are still walking in darkness — “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (v. 14). Here is the call of the gospel. Repent of your sins and come to Jesus!

Lord Jesus, let Your light shine upon me. Enable me to see the fruits of darkness and resist them. Grant me grace to walk as a child of the light. Let me live my life in such a way that those who are still in darkness can see my good works and give glory to You.

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IMITATORS OF GOD

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 5:1,2

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:1,2)

One’s lifestyle is the outward sign of the inward change that God has wrought in a person’s heart. We are given a tall order here — “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.” How on earth is this possible? The first thing that is necessary is to have a humble reverence before we can even begin to study the concept. We must see our unworthiness before God and be driven to our knees in humility.

“Be imitators of God.” Do you understand what we are being asked to do? We must realize who God is. We live in a day when very few people know what the living God is like. This is why God says, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). We need to stand in awe before Him. We need to see His transcendent holiness and power. Like Isaiah, we need to fall on our faces before Him and say, “Woe is me!”

We must know what God has said about Himself. We must turn to the Scriptures in which God has revealed His attributes and character. We have to know Him if we are going to imitate Him.

Perhaps the best way for us to grasp what God is like is to look at Jesus. Look at His love and concern for little children (Matthew 19:14). See His deep concern for the lost (John 4:4-26). See His compassion for the oppressed, the sick and the needy (Matthew 9:36). Remember His righteous anger at the temple (Matthew 21:13). Be amazed at His forgiveness when He hung upon the cross (Luke 23:34).

The real key to understanding the phrase, “Be imitators of God,” is found in the next verse — “And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” We are to walk in love just as Christ has loved us. Christ’s love for us is unconditional, sacrificial, and unending.

This verse gives us great insight into the work of Jesus. Because Jesus loved us, He gave Himself up for us, as an offering. He voluntarily gave of Himself. He offered Himself as a sacrifice. He paid the price for our sins. He took our place and suffered on on behalf.

Now we are called to imitate Him. We are to love others as He has loved us. We are to be willing to make sacrifices for others. We are to be loving and gracious, and quick to forgive. We are to be imitators of Jesus Christ.

Lord Jesus, when I consider Your love for me and what You did for me, I am driven to my knees in deep humility and gratitude. Because You have done these things for me, You desire for me to imitate You in the way I treat other people. Grant me grace to be an imitator of God. Grant me power to love and to give myself to others.

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NEW SELF RELATIONSHIPS

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 4:29-32

“Let all bitterness and wrath and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31,32)

Earlier in this chapter, a fundamental principle of change was laid out — “To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (vs. 22-24). By God’s grace and power, we have the ability to put off our old self and to put on the new self that God makes possible through Christ.

The old self is corrupt. It is driven by selfishness and self-centeredness. A selfish person easily becomes bitter. He or she gets angry when things don’t go their way. Such people are quick to slander others and to put them down. They do malicious things to others. These are our natural, old self tendencies.

But when we have been transformed by the gospel, we have a new set of desires. We treat others differently. We remember how God treats us and we begin to extend His grace and love to others. God has treated us with kindness and He expects us to do the same with others. God is tenderhearted toward us. He knows how weak we are and how prone to sin we are. God expects us to be understanding and tenderhearted toward others. God has forgiven us of all our sins in Christ. Jesus paid for our sins and the sins of all His people. Thus, we are to be forgiving of others.

Because we are a forgiven people, we must become a forgiving people. Remember the petition we pray in the Lord’s Prayer — “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” This is the only petition in the Lord’s prayer that Jesus further explains. He said, “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others of their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14,15).

The bottom line is that we are to treat others in the same manner that God has treated us — with kindness, with tenderheartedness, and with forgiveness. This is the gospel in action. This is replacing the old self with the new self.

Lord Jesus, grant me grace to be kind to those I encounter today. Enable me to be tenderhearted and to be willing to forgive those who offend me. Thank You that You are kind and tenderhearted toward me. Thank You for paying the price for all my sins so that I can be forgiven of them. By your grace make me a forgiving person.

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GRIEVING THE HOLY SPIRIT

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 4:28-32

“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30)

We must remember that the Holy Spirit is a God and He is a person — the Third Person of the Godhead. The Holy Spirit applies Christ’s redemptive work to us. He regenerates us and sustains us. He works in us so that we can grow in our faith. He provides spiritual fruit (Galatians 5:22,23). He seals us for the day of redemption when Christ returns and we are glorified with Him.

The Holy Spirit is the down payment for all the rich inheritance that has been promised us — “In Him you also when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him , were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:13,14).

Because the Holy Spirit is a person, He can be grieved. When we do anything opposed to the Spirit, we grieve Him. When we do what He forbids, we grieve Him. When we fail to do what He commands, we grieve Him. Look at the immediate context — when we fail to put off the old self and put on the new self (vs. 22-24), we grieve Him. When we speak falsehood (v. 25), we grieve Him. We grieve Him when we fail to speak the truth in love and when we speak falsehood (v. 25). When we allow anger to rule us (v. 26), we grieve Him. We grieve Him when we steal (v. 28). We grieve Him when we hurt others with our words (v. 29). We grieve Him when we are bitter and angry, and when we slander others (v. 31).

Two things happen when we grieve the Holy Spirit. First, His holiness is offended. He is the HOLY Spirit. Sin is an offense against His holiness. Second, His love is wounded. His heart aches when we grieve Him. He who has done so much for us has been made sorrowful by our sinful acts and thoughts.

All of us have grieved the Holy Spirit. How do we deal with the grief we bring upon Him? First, we must become aware of the reality of grieving the Holy Spirit. He is always with us and He knows every thought and action of ours. Second, we must repent. We likewise need to be genuinely sorry for our sins. We must turn away from the things that grieve the Spirit. Third, we must rely upon the strength of the Holy Spirit to do these things. As we trust Him, He will give us the power to resist sin and to glorify Him.

Holy Spirit, forgive me for the many times that I have grieved You by my thoughts and actions. I know that You live in me and You know everything about me. Grant me grace today to honor You in all that I do. Make me sensitive to Your presence and power in my life.

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