Living Carefully as Husband and Wife
Ephesians 5: 15-33
15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
When we studied through Ephesians a couple years ago as a church, this passage of Scripture really stood out to me because of its context. Let’s talk about Ephesians for a moment. As a book it is easily divided into two parts. Part one is all information. And that is chapters 1-3. And the information is about the truth of the gospel and what it has done to both Jews and Gentiles in the first century world. It is focused on how the curse because of sin as it relates to the separation between people and God and people and other people (Jew and Gentile) is resolved.
Beginning with chapter 4 Paul exhorts people to live lives that are worthy of reflecting the nature of Christ’s work for us. In other words, because of Jesus’ great work on our behalf, because of God’s obvious purpose for those who are in Christ, don’t waste your life living as the world does. That path leads to death, instead put off old thinking, old desires, and old priorities and pursue Christ! And Paul speaks in very broad terms highlighting the life giving impact of the gospel. But the gospel only gives life if we receive it! Chapter 4 says: Put off, be renewed, put on… and In our passage today Paul begins to treat more specific subjects. He talks about marriage and then relationships within families and then the work place relationships. He does this to emphasize how to live apart from the curse of Genesis 3. The issues that he addresses are the issues cursed in that Genesis 3 passage, as it relates to what God says to Eve: “Your desire shall be for your husband and he will rule over you.” So this passage is VERY important!! (And then the relationships inside of family and at work.)
- The Gospel Gives Me Power to Live
I include verses 15-20 because the power of the gospel in our lives is the power to have a good life in every respect, including a great marriage!
- Power over the curse of sin
Paul prays in Ephesians 1:
17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit[f] of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
Reconciled to God? Yes.
Reconciled to the relationship God has for my wife? This passage
Reconciled to the relationship God has for my work? Chapter 6
- Knowledge of God’s will
What is God’s will for my marriage? What does God want it to look like?
- Be careful,
- be wise, don’t be foolish,
- understand the will of God.
- Take advantage of every opportunity because the days are evil.
- Be filled with the Holy Spirit. Filled means controlled and empowered!
Present yourselves to God and ask Him to fill you with the Holy Spirit. And then pursue the fruit of the Spirit!!
- Knowledge of God Himself
The knowledge of God is connected to my treatment of my spouse. Each of us will understand more and more about God’s love, service, submission and respect for us as we strive to treat our spouse in these ways because the standard definition for each of these characteristics is how they appear in God.
- The Spirit Empowered Spouse
- Submits out of respect for Jesus
I use the word respect, the Greek word is phobos. It means fear. The idea is that we have a reverential fear of God that acts as a controlling motive in our lives. There is a desire to honor the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf by not wasting it in selfish pursuits.
The word submit is a military term which literally means to rank under someone else. Authority is the issue. Lieutenants submit to Sergeants
Wives are clearly told in more than one place that they are to submit to their husbands. Why? Because of the curse. “your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you.” How can you do this when you don’t trust your husband? You will do it out of respect for Jesus.
Do husbands submit to their wives? They do. And we will see that very clearly in two of the coming attributes of a Spirit empowered spouse.
When we live in submission to one another (the verb submit is not in verse 22, it’s in verse 21) is shows that we are on the same team. We are being suitable helpers! And we are able to allow the other spouse to take the lead in issues. When we submit, we support. It doesn’t meant that we allow someone to lead until we don’t like what they do, it means that we allow someone to lead and we support and help. In every healthy relationship there is real trust and cooperation. This submission must be a back and forth experience. And we will be better off if instead of asking how much I am required to submit and we try and do it as seldom as possible, that we try and out submit the other. If we are on good terms, are communicating and cooperating with each other, then this should not be too difficult.
Finally, God submits. God allows people to go their own way. God is patient with the weaknesses and sinfulness of people, allowing them time and opportunity, which He provides and encourages, to repent!
All of the character qualities found here can be set under the term submit to one another. The goal is to be a cooperative team!
- Loves as Christ loves
John 13: 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
The next time you are in conflict with your spouse (for you passive folks, withdrawing purposely is being in conflict) ask yourself if you are are loving your spouse as Christ loves you!
How does Jesus love the church?
He is patient. He is kind. He always hopes. He doesn’t give up.
And He does this whether those He loves returns the same!
- Serves and gives themselves
This attribute is not stated in the passage, but is implied in the love of Christ and so I wanted to break it out because it is so clearly recommended in Scripture.
Mark 9: 33 They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” 34 But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.
35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”
36 He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!
- Respects the other spouse
33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
We are different. Different personalities, giftedness, intelligence, strengths. We have different hormones, different life experiences, different families and different expectations for what we want out of life. All of these differences create possibilities for conflict. We must respect the person who is different from us. We must learn to move away from irritation and toward appreciation for the differences in our spouse. This is God’s will. God honors the independent personalities of human beings by not overwhelming their wills, but desiring them to love Him freely. He is abounding in steadfast love. His mercies are new every morning. He takes the initiative in relationship because He really desires to have a relationship with you.
So, in thinking about these actions we are to have toward one another,
- Be careful about them
- be wise, don’t be foolish, recognize they are going to take some intentionality!
- understand the will of God. Focus on these areas.
- Take advantage of every opportunity because the days are evil. Do something today!
- Be filled with the Holy Spirit. Ask the Holy Spirit for help and then believe that He will give you the power to do it.