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Friday, August 10, 2018

Ephesians 5:25-33 (Lesson 29)


Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)

Established November 2008                                                 Published Weekly on Friday AM

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  (1Timothy 2:3-4)

Ephesians (5:25-33)                                                               (Lesson 29)

Welcome to HBS.

Last week Paul explained God’s design for the family and the role of the believing wife.  I mentioned the joining of a man and a woman in marriage is actually the union of two sinners, saved by faith (alone) in Paul’s gospel (Romans 2:16; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).  So, people should not be surprised when they experience disagreements, disappointments, and disputes in their marriage.

Ladies, you’re not always going to see Christ Jesus in your husband; that’s a given.
But instead of criticizing him and giving him the silent treatment, remember what the Apostle Peter said:  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, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.  Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; 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 (1 Peter 3).

Even if your husband is disobedient to God’s expressed will, you are to win him without a word by your chaste and respectful behavior and your encouraging prayers.

I continue to point out, it’s all about keeping the Main Thing the Main thing as you walk worthy of the calling with which you have been called.  Paul has taught these folks in Ephesus (and us) the Lord is the head of the church thus we are to submit to His one-directional authority, in all things.  This new life we have in Christ Jesus is not about us, it about bringing glory and honor to God, which is your reasonable act of service (Romans 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 6:20).

For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light (Colossians 1:9-12).

He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.  For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven (Colossians 1:18-20).

Therefore what is the Church’s proper response to God’s expressed will?  The answer:  Amen (So be it).  Your Word is truth!”  This is more than just knowing about God and His Son and understanding Pauline (church) doctrine, we’re to live out our lives according to the God’s expressed will 24/7/365:

He made known to us the (what) mystery of His will, according to His kind intention (Deuteronomy 29:29) which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration (dispensation – KJV) suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, in the heavens and things on the earth (Ephesians 1:9-10; Proverbs 1:5, 25:2; Colossians 1:27).

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Marriage is like Christ and the Church

I opened this lesson talking about repentance because our Apostle Paul has been stressing the need for change (changing one’s mind) in order to walk worthy (or their present sanctification) since the start of chapter 4.  Continuing with that thought, at 5:22 thru 6:9 he shows the Ephesian saints three areas where their faith is to be lived out:  their marriages, their homes, and in the workplace, in the fear of Christ.  Paul’s not saying the Ephesians (and us) are to live in fear of God.  He’s saying they are to recognize the authority of God with awe and reverence (in Hebrew – this word is Yare, meaning:  to fear, be afraid, or to revere) along with complete submission to His expressed will:  Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:28-29). 

In short, considering all Jesus Christ had accomplished for the saints in Ephesus (through His sacrificial death - Colossians 1:13-14), a reasonable response would be to live out the one faith (4:4-6) relying on the Holy Spirit’s power to walk obediently in all His commands.  After all, if Believers aren’t being transformed by God’s revealed will in their homes, there’s a good chance they won’t positively affect those they meet outside the home (2 Corinthians 5:11-21).  Evidently this church was not making a positive impression on their pagan counterparts, thus these instructions are to bring about change.

So now we’ll pick up where we left off last week.  Here Paul’s teaching the believing husbands how they are to walk blamelessly in marriage.  Clearly the husbands needed to hear this message about changing their thinking re: their role in the marriage relationship. 

Husbands love your wives, (how) just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her (Why), so that He (God) might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the (one true) church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy (set apart) and blameless.  So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies.  He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.  FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH (Genesis 2:24).  This (what) mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.  Nevertheless, each individual (member) among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband (Ephesians 5:25-33).

First, let’s remember Paul’s subject is the marriage walk, in love and this is more about glorifying God in what Believers do and say than it is about them.  Remember Paul’s statement none of this is possible unless the Believer renews his or her mind, (changes the way they think) while being controlled by the Holy Spirit (5:18).  This is in keeping with what Paul said in verse 5:17:  So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.  

Previously we learned God commanded the wives to be subject to their husband’s headship (authority).  Here, God said the husband’s chief responsibility in the marriage relationship is to love his wife, as Christ also loved the church.  Paul mentions this three different times in this section of scripture. 

Love her as Christ loved the church (5:25)

Cherish her as you would cherish your own body (5:28)

Love her as you love yourself (5:33)

According to God’s plan for a successful marriage, if the husbands fulfill their chief responsibility in marriage, the wives will fulfill theirs.   Think about it.  What woman wouldn’t want a husband’s love that truly mimics Christ’s love for His church?  Of course, if she does not respond lovingly to your Christlike love, there is something terribly wrong and this must be addressed. 

Husbands love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her (5:25) – Note Paul did not say husbands control your wives, treating them as subordinates.  The flesh isn’t supposed to be driving this bus (in control), remember?  If you’re Spirit-filled, He’s in control (Galatians 5:16-17).  And if the Spirit of God is in control and you’re dependent on God’s Word Paul said you’re worthy walk will be recognized by the fruit of the Spirit, and the first item on this list is sacrificial love, followed by:  joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control 

For “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh (our old man) with its passions and desires.  If we live by the Spirit, let us also (do what) walk (controlled) by the Spirit (Galatians 5:24-25).

Then there’s this comment from Paul “…and gave Himself up for her.  The Lord Jesus Christ willingly laid down His life for the church.  There is no greater expression of love than this, which is why certain writers of scripture comment on it (John 15:13; Romans 5:8).  But here’s the thing, do husbands really love their wives in this manner.  Not so much.  The best a man can say is, “I’m trying.”  Of course, wives know their husbands are very trying.  Even though this book says all true Believers are perfected in Christ Jesus (Colossians 2:10), and this is how God sees us, husbands and wives should know on this side of glory we’re not going to see this.  Thorns, thistles, and strife are representative of all corruption in this world through Adam’s disobedience (Genesis 3:16-19).    

According to the eternal purpose of God, Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it to which Paul adds:  so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy (set apart to God) and blameless. 

Here Paul gives the purpose or goal of Christ’s love for the church in three distinct clauses:  1) so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 2) that He might present to Himself the church (ekklesia) in all her glory, 3) that she would be holy and blameless…

The Koine Greek word for sanctify is Hagiazo (hag-ee-ad’-zo), Verb, Strong’s Greek #37, meaning:  separation of the Believer from evil; or to set apart for God’s purposes.  There are three types of sanctification in scripture.  First, there is past sanctification, which happens the very moment you believe the gospel.  This is the state of holiness imputed to the saints (Believers), in Christ:  To the church (ekklesia) of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified (past tense) in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours (1 Corinthians 1:2; Romans 6:11, 14, 16:17-18). 

Then there’s present sanctification.  Some people refer to this a progressive sanctification, but either or, this takes a life-time to achieve.  As we gain more knowledge of God and His Son, we grow in grace.  We are steadily readjusting our thinking re: what God said and becoming like Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18).  Paul’s talking about a process of daily spiritual renewal:  and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him (and her) – Colossians 3:10).  Our Apostle Paul stated he had not yet reached perfection, but he “pressed on” to attain the goal of becoming like Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18; Philippians 3:12).  

The third and final stage is future sanctification.  When a Believer dies, their spirit goes to be with God in heaven (2 Corinthians 5:6-8).  Now, it’s a biblical fact that no unclean thing can be in God’s presence (Revelation 21:27), so the Believer is perfected at that point.  The whole person, our body, soul, and spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23) will be fully complete when the Lord Jesus Christ returns at the Rapture.  This is when Believers will receive glorified bodies (Philippians 3:21; 1 Corinthians 15:39-49).

So, in practical language, sanctifying your wife means the husband must erect a protective fence around your love for your wife.  God wants His church to be all it can be, given the present circumstances, and husbands are to see that their wives become all she can be, in Christ Jesus.  This means you only have eyes for her; flirtation with other women is prohibited.  This includes friendships with other women at work or elsewhere that don’t include your wife.  They are a bad idea because although they may seem harmless to you your wife may hold the opposite view.   Point blank:  anything that might interfere with your marriage is to be avoided. 

The husband’s love for his wife should parallel the love Jesus Christ has for His church.
That is a standard impossible to attain unless you are walking closely with the Spirit of God.  You’re not going to get there on your own power, in other words.  Husbands love your wives not because she’s the most attractive woman you’ve ever met, she does great things for you, or because she’s an intelligent partner.  As wonderful as those things are, the chief reason you’re to love her exclusively is because God has placed this command in your heart. 

Of course, everyone is a bit unlovable now and again, but this is where Paul’s statement “and gave Himself up for her” comes into play.  Men, it’s not about what you view as being right or wrong.  From time to time you’ll have to swallow your pride in order to make those necessary sacrifices.  Remember the words of Paul:  “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each one of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).

having cleansed her (how) by the washing of water with the word – at the last supper Jesus began to wash His disciples feet in the upper room (John 13:1-17).  Peter objected when the Lord came to him saying, “Never shall You wash my feet!”  Jesus responded saying, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”  To which Peter answered, “Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.”  Jesus then explained the true meaning of being washed saying, “He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” 

Our salvation is once and done, we do not need to be saved often.  However the life long process of present sanctification is one of washing from the stain of sin experienced as we go about walking in this world.  Peter and the rest of the apostles were saved; they belonged to Christ, but Judas was not counted amongst them.  All of our sins were taken away by Jesus sacrificial act.  But we all, including our wives, need the continual washing of water with the Word of God.  Husbands, you are the spiritual leader in the home.  Should your wife be an unbeliever the daily washing of water with the word, along with your Christlikeness in all things pertaining to the one faith, may just be the ticket that draw her away from the world and towards Jesus Christ:  This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  (1Timothy 2:3-4)

… that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy (set apart to God) and blameless.  

Holiness does not mean perfect; it means separate, set apart for God’s purpose, and husbands have a role to play in this.  As the spiritual leader in the home, husbands are to lead their wives to church, in personal Bible study, and in prayer (not just before meals).   The husband’s spiritual walk is to mimic Christ’s (5:1); again this isn’t possible unless you are allowing the Holy Spirit to control your thinking, your actions and your words (4:25-32). 

Ephesians 5:28-30

So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies.  He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.

I understand some people are not satisfied with their body.  Our culture promotes beauty and not ordinary.  The multi-billion dollar cosmetic industry testifies to this truth.  I’m not saying, a person should not paint the barn door every now and again, but to be obsessed by beauty and those things that beautify without tending to the needs of their spirit and soul is a bit foolish.  Given that, I don’t know of anyone who truly hates their bodies they just desire it to be better than it presently is.  So, Paul’s said nourish and cherish the marriage relationship just as Christ also does the church. 

Paul again brings in the example of Jesus Christ at the end of verses 29-30.  He cares for His church because we are members of His body.  A husband is to care for his wife because she is a part of him – united as one, now flesh of my flesh.  I’m not sure why Paul repeats this quote from Genesis 2:24 again in verse 31:   FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. 

He does say, “This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and His church.”  So, this probably has something to do with his statement in verses 28-29:  Love their own wives as their own bodies.  He who loves his own wife loves himself; cherish her as Christ also does the church.

Paul’s third command to love your wife is found in verse 33.  He must know men seldom pay attention, so he repeats husbands love your wives the third time:  Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.”

The arguments here are basically the same.  Everyone loves themselves.  One of the more foolish things being promoted by psychologists and our society is the notion about the importance of self-esteem – the idea that for you to accomplish something you have to feel good about yourself.  In reality the term as used by modern society is nothing more than another word for sinful pride.  Certainly there is importance in developing confidence in order to reach certain goals, but that confidence does not have to be in you.  It could be in someone else.  As true Believers, our confidence needs to be in God that He is able to accomplish His will through us – as feeble and failing as we may be.

There is no lack and has never been a lack of self-esteem in the human race - “Pride goes before the fall.”  Instead it is just the opposite.  Humans are by nature self-centered and proud.  We love ourselves.  The Bible uses that fact as a prod to get us to understand we need to love others.  The general command given by Jesus in several different passages is we are to love our neighbor as ourselves.  Here Paul applies that directly to every husband.  You are to love your wife as you do yourself.

(To be continued)

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