Spirit Filled Marriages
We have been in the book of Ephesians for a few weeks now and covered a variety of topics, going from the first three chapters and the great promises we have in Christ. Chapter 4 started a barrage of commands that fill out what it means to believe. This there is a transition to the Spirit filled life and what it looks like in the realm of marriage and husbands and wives. The gospel of Christ is to affect every part of our lives, especially our closest relationships in marriage.
Longest sustained teaching in the NT concerning the relationships between wives and husbands. Some of what we read may be surprising. It may seem offensive. It may seem hard. But I also hope that you see the beauty of marriage and how the gospel shapes marriage.
I think this passage is also extremely illuminating. The key to marriage is a spirit filled that life that empowers you to love the other as we are loved in gospel
V16 be filled
V21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their 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 Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:21-33 ESV)
I want to look at four points from this passage that show us what a spirit filled marriage looks like. This helps us see how to honor God in marriage
- Sacrificial Love:
Everybody wants to be loved and to love someone else. But typically they want to love others when it is convenient for them to do so. Marriage does not allow us to pick and choose when we love the other. We have to love when the kids wake up at night, when the other is sick, when the business meeting runs late, when we don’t get what we want, and more. That is why the example of Christ’s sacrificial love as a pattern for marriage is so crucial and life giving.
First addresses the women. Women “submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” This word submit is used of a soldier in the military serving his commander. Some have tried to explain that this word doesn’t really mean submit. I think it does as in
And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church
Eph 1:22 ESV).
Some have also said this is an old custom that has faded away. But at no point does Paul seem to suggest this is a temporal nature. I think it means submit. I think it is meant for all times. I also think it is going to make more sense when we see what husbands are called to do. So we will come back to this.
Think this goes back to creation where man was all alone and unable to accomplish the task of subduing the world by himself. So God made a suitable help. Woman was his complement.
“The woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved.”
A couple comments on this topic. Marriage takes sacrifice and you can see where a wife may be called to submit to her husband. In verse “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Eph 5:21 ESV). We all have parts of life we need to submit to others. Marriage, the office, the neighborhood.
To own husbands, wives. Not men and women in general. It is the exclusive nature of a marriage. Unique way of relating, supporting, loving. Treat spouses different from everyone else. The closeness of the relationship demands.
The word is be submissive, is in the passive tense. This indicates
“the willing character of the church’s submission to Christ and the free voluntary nature of the wife’s subordination to her husband.” PT O’brien.
Her response is not conditioned on the love of the husband or on his perfection.
As is fitting in the Lord. Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. (Col 3:18 NIV). Why would it say as is fitting in the Lord. It’s not unqualified submission. SCriptures commands Christians to obey authorities, but there are times when authorities do the wrong thing and Christians are called to do the right thing.
Obey God first. Always. If husband asks you to do something wrong then dont do it. Be strong enough to do what is right. Abigail (1 Samuel 25)
Second to the men. Husbands are called to sacrificially love their wives. Here it calls husbands to be head of their wife and their family. That is a biblical teaching.
Headship means: the position, office, or dignity of a head. Kephale: of persons, designating first or superior rank head. Like the commander in chief so husbands are to lead their wives and families.
If headship is overseeing people then what is biblical headship. Well biblical headship is qualified here. We are told what it looks like. It looks like Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.
“Headship is divine calling of a husband to take primary responsibility for Chrsitlike servant leadership, protection and provision in the home.” John Piper
It looks like sacrificing for the good of the other. Not there barking out commands to ensure your greatest comfort, and that you tv dinner gets delivered to your chair in the living room. No it is taking responsibility to care for the other. This is what biblical leadership is. It is what Christ did.
Whether headship or submission, in marriage each is called to a life of radical sacrifice. If I can give you any advice about marriage it is go into it ready to sacrifice and serve the other. Husbands lead in serving the other. If your marriage has grown cold I bet your commitment sacrifice your own desires has become too great. Husbands are to lay down their lives for their spouse.
The husband is told to know his wife like his own body. “In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. Guys right now you know what your body needs, You know what you want for lunch. You know when you would like to take a nap. You know those things. Do you know your wife?
Guys frustrated because their wives won't follow them. Why won’t she. Have no idea why she wont. Well if you have no idea why she won’t follow you then you probably haven’t done a good job of making plans that she is in faith for. HOw can you lead someone spiritually if you don’t even know their needs. How is she doing? Do you know her joys, her hurts, her frustrations, her longings. Then do your job!
Want to know what it looks like to love you wife. Is it a picture of an all inclusive resort getting a back massage. Is it having someone to be at your beck and call. Loving your spouse looks like Jesus taking up a cross, walking to Golgath with others shouting, and being nailed to the wooden beams.
The wife is to respect her husband.
It is not about you and your wants. True life is found in sacrifice and service. If you want to ruin a relationship make it about you. Talk about yourself all the time. Only be aware of your needs. Insist the other do what you want. Ignore their concerns
Leads with the word of God. It is not your standard that is ultimate. How are you doing leading your wife and family in the word of God. Are you talking about it, praying over it?
While the willingness of the husband to give up life for his wife is implied, it is often more difficult to continue daily to love in little ways when there is irritation or imagine irritation.”
I ll gladly lay down my life for you when armageddon comes, but I can’t take another second of you chewing your ice cream in front of me.
Filled with Spirit: As you look at these roles, I think it is important to remember what the primary command is here. It goes back to being filled with the spirit (v18). addressing one another in psalms, making music to the Lord in your heart, giving thanks always, submitting to one another. These are the fruit of a spirit filled life. If you are not singing the solution is not for me to come up and start yelling at her to sing. I think its the same thing. You do need to fill the weight of God calling you husbands to lead your family. Of wives to support the husbands leadership.
If car is empty of gas you need to know where to fill up.
Mission and purpose go together hand in hand. An organization without a purpose is destined to die. A life without purpose is destined to flounder. Marriages without greater purpose will drift to nothingness.
Husbands are to present their wives to the Lord holy and blameless. v27. Without a stain or a wrinkle. Think about a bride on her wedding day. The dress worn for the first time. Gleaming white. NO stains. No spots. The maid of honor is there to ensure the dress is perfect the whole time. If the bride turns or moves and the train of the dress is crumpled in the least someone is there to fix it. Everything is done to have it spotless, glorious. That is how we should live with one another to present the other to God. This is the purpose of marriage.
Radiant (endoxa). Splendor, majesty, glory. Emphesis here is on the inward quality.
The model for wives following their husbands is the way the church looks to Christ (v22). Our identity is so incorporated into what Christ has done for us that it re all our relationships, even our marriage.
Your marriage is not about you and your standard, but God’s standard, and just as your purpose in life is to make Christ known so also is your marriage. How are you and your spouse partnering together in the mission God has given you. Are you using your resources, time, talents, treasure to tell others about him.
Marriage reflects the gospel. It is a testimony to what Christ has done for us. This is the glorious nature of the gospel. Its a testimony of what we have in Christ. The world should see the love we have for one another. How much more in marriage. But what does our coldness to one another, our indifference say of the love of Christ. Where is the joy, the passion, the warmth, the love of Christ demonstrated. A love that led him to give his life for the church.
31 "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh."
When Amanda and I first got married we were part of a church that really emphasized the roles of husbands and wives, perhaps too much. We really had to wrestle with things as we didnt feel that we fit in with their expectations. I was really trying to lead. She was trying to follow. And it was our first year of marriage so we were learning how to work together. It was not always pretty. I felt our emphasis was “let me lead.” Her support. I am grateful for that teaching because it lead us to greater unity.
If you are going to be in a deep, committed relationship to another you are going to have to make sacrifices. The two become one. The two checking accounts become one. The two calendars become one.
“God instituted marriage for the human family (2:24). Marriage may be defined as a God-ordained, blessed, permanent, one-flesh, covenant relationship between a man and a woman. The permanence of the relationship is implied in the word “united” (2:24; cf. Mal. 2:14, 16; Matt. 19:6–9; Mark 10:6–9; 1 Cor. 7:39). The close unity between man and woman is demonstrated in the one-flesh relationship of 2:24. That was a unified physical, emotional, and spiritual relationship between male and female.”
“We sleep in separate rooms, we have dinner apart, we take separate vacations - we're doing everything we can to keep our marriage together.” Rodney Dangerfield
SAd to say but that is how many try to address weaknesses in marraige.
Priority. Leaving all. A man will leave his mother and father and be united to his wife. The relationship of a husband and wife supersedes the relationship of a person to their parents.
If you are not loving your spouse you are not loving yourself. Nourish and cherish. When demand their spouse do something they want to do; their actions demonstrate a lack of love.
Sacrifice, a lot is made today about how do you know if you marry the right person. People underestimate commitment to another person. You are going to mess up in life and marriage. There are going to be times work or the new addition on the house or the kids pull you away from your spouse. You will disappoint and hurt the other. But voicing your commitment to the other often means more than anything else. Saying, “I’m sorry and you mean more to me that …” I ll give it up. I ll leave it behind. If its just me and you then that is just fine with me. The biggest part of loving somebody is continuing to be there physically, mentally, and emotionally.
You are loved by Christ not because of how great your attitude, your actions, your achievement, but because you have trusted in him and are following him sincerely, not perfectly but sincerely. You have left other things because of what he has done for you. When you sin and mess up you find forgiveness because you confess your sins. You own up to mistakes. You don’t ignore and you cast yourself on for mercy. When you realize the gospel provides that for you then you have discovered a key to loving others. When you mess up you go to them and confess your sins. You say you are sorry and ask for forgiveness. You own it. And in doing that you cast yourself on them for mercy. Your forsake other paths of love and stay with them.
“The reason that marriage is so painful and yet wonderful is because it is a reflection of the gospel, which is painful and wonderful at once. The gospel is this: we are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared to believe, yet at the same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared to hope.” Tim Keller
A beautiful picture of the power of the gospel. Each spouse owning their unique call to lay down their life for the other. That is what makes marriages work. It is what makes them awesome.
How to get back on track. Repentance and commitment. Hard resets.
Gospel we are made pure and blameless. Shows the power of confession in our relationship with God. It is equally powerful in relationships with others.
Gospel teaches us to let go of the things in the world. We all have to do that. If we are not willing to let go of the things in the world for Jesus, then we probably are not going to let them go for our spouse.
You need regular maintenance in your marriage, or in any meaningful relationship. What is your regular maintenance? Let me give you an idea, since a lot of your arguments may be over a lack.
What is one thing I can do or not do for you this week that would communicate my care and support? That demonstrates humility. It demonstrates you dont assume you know everything they want or need. It communicates you care for them more than yourself. It communicates a desire to change. It communicates