The Great Command for the Husband

The Great Command for the Husband

Yesterday I had the privilege to preach on the role and responsibility of the husband in the marriage relationship from Ephesians 5:25.  As we continue to walk through Ephesians together as a church, we looked at the wife in our last sermon in our series and yesterday’s focus was the husband.  This particular verse, although very popular in the heated debate of marriage, is one of terrifying responsibility.  It could be titled—”The Great Command.”

The Great Command

Ephesians 5:25 – Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

In verse 25, we see Paul issue a firm and terrifying command to the husbands in the church at Ephesus.  The word “love” is a present imperative, meaning that this is not an idea that’s up for debate, discussion, or vote.  It’s commanded that all husbands love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.  A few things must be noted grammatically.

  1. In this one verse, we see marriage language.  It points to husbands and wives.
  2. We also see gender specific nouns being used, pointing to the complimentary roles of men and women—husbands and wives.
  3. It must also be noted that Jesus loved the church in Ephesus far differently than He loved the city of Ephesus.  In that same way husbands are called to love their wives.

From the very beginning, the devil has attacked marriage and the institution of family.  That has been one of the most common attacks in the arsenal of the devil.  From the beginning, the devil cast a shadow of doubt on the Word of God, and he thereby divided the first marriage and brought great ruin into the world with misery and death.  From that one sin, the devil successfully attacked the family.  Things have not changed today.

Today, we see divorce culture in the church at basically the same rate as it is outside of the church.  Covenants no longer mean anything to a secular culture.  That’s why the word of man has been diminished to the point that we are forced to sign a pile of papers to borrow any money from a bank.  What a person promises to do no longer is upheld to a level of believability.

The marriage language of Ephesians 5:25 rules out recreational dating, polygamy, and homosexuality.  God’s plan from the beginning of time has been marriage and family.  No matter what our secular culture tries to say or how the words “marriage” and “family” are redefined, God’s dictionary has not changed.  This new wave of family life and marriage law in America brought on by the flamboyant sexual revolution in the wake of the feminist movement from the 1960s has radically affected the institution of family in America in a short number of years.

Add to this the perpetual adolescence trends with delayed parenthood and the society as a whole is starting to feel the pains of change. Only time will tell the whole story, but such radical shifts in the way family operates and functions in a culture will bring about many other changes—and many of those changes will not be positive.

The husband is called to “love” his wife.  This was a backward command to the culture of Ephesus—a city wholly given over to pagan prostitution and false god worship.  To be committed in a very intentional love – one of self-sacrifice and covenant keeping love – was antithetical to the culture of Ephesus.  That’s why Paul wanted the church to be reminded of their responsibility to uphold Christian doctrine through their marriages.

The love mentioned here by Paul is “ἀγαπάω” — to have a warm regard for and interest in another, cherish, have affection for, love and it also means… to practice/express love, prove one’s love. [1]  In other words, this type of love was far different than the sexual love of the Greek culture or the brotherly love of the Greeks.  It was a love based on an intentionality to love rather than feelings or sexual appetite.  To think that this is commanded of all husbands – to love our wives as Christ loved the church – is a sobering thing.

I really appreciate Ray Ortlund Jr and his definition of husband in his commentary on Proverbs. He writes:

 What does the word “husband” mean? We have the related English word “husbandry,” that is, cultivation. And when the word “husband” is used as a verb, it means to cultivate. If you are a husband, here is your job: to cultivate and nurture your wife. Your lifetime impact on your wife should be that her life opens up more and more, and that she is enabled to become all that God wants her to be…Her children rise up, they stand up, and they speak respectfully to their mom. They tell her why they esteem her, whey they admire her as a woman of God. Where did the kids learn that? From dad: “…he praises her” (Proverbs 31:28)…A husband cultivates his wife by setting a high tone of praise in their home. No putdowns. No fault-finding. No insults. Not even neutral silence. But rather bright, positive, life=giving praise. [2]

The Great Example

Ephesians 5:25b – …as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.

When we consider what’s stated next, it’s quite sobering. It’s like standing on the side of the Grand Canyon and being asked to jump across it. It’s like standing on the beach and being asked to swim across it. It’s like standing at the base of Mt. Everest and being asked to climb to the summit.  It’s extremely intimidating.  However, it’s not only intimidating, it’s reassuring at the same time.

From the beginning, we know that we are incapable of fulfilling the “marriage law” of love.  However, we also know that our dependence is on God’s ability to give us strength, wisdom, and a cultivating love for our wives in such a way that honors Him.  We ask for Him to strengthen us in this great task and then look to Christ as our great example.  Just as we come to the sobering and humbling knowledge that we are incapable of living the Christian life on our own, we likewise come to the reality that we are incapable of loving our brides in the same way as Christ loved the church—His bride.

It is our duty to exemplify the gospel through marriage and family.  Headship for men is important, but it cannot be detached from a self-sacrificing, covenant keeping love.  We have different roles as husbands and wives, but each role compliments the other in such a way that honors God’s intention from the beginning.  We must cultivate our wives in a physical and spiritual leadership that honors God.  Anything less demonstrates a low view of Jesus, a love view of salvation, and a low view of Jesus’ relationship with the church.

  1. William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 6.
  2. Raymond C. Ortlund Jr., Proverbs—Wisdom that Works, ed. Kent Hughes, (Wheaton: Crossway, 2012), 150-51.
The Role and Responsibility of the Wife

The Role and Responsibility of the Wife

Yesterday I preached from Ephesians 5:22-24 on the subject of the roles and responsibilities of the wife—as designed by God.  In our previous sermon through Ephesians, I took an overview approach to Ephesians 5:22-33 in order to set the stage for the each section that would be covered in the family section.

In this section, the wife is the focus.  What is a “wife” and why is her role of such great importance in the family?  The first time we see the term “wife” used in Scripture is in Genesis 2:24 where God commands a man to leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife.  God instituted the family and designed it in such a way that it brings honor to Him and organization to our society.  As the Proverb states, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD” (Prov. 18:22).

The Command to Submit

Although submission is an ugly word in our culture, it’s a biblical concept that must be followed.  In fact, if we can’t practice submission in our homes, how will we be able to submit to God, to employers, to rulers of the land, or various other hierarchies?  The word “submit” is carried over from verse 21, and must be taken in the imperative form.  In fact, if you look at Colossians 3, you will see that Paul does intend to communicate to the wife that her role is to submit to her husband.

Submit = “ὑποτάσσω” – A Greek military term meaning to arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader. In non-military use, it was a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden.

Although submission is something that our culture resists at all levels, the Christian—and especially the Christian home—should exemplify what it means to live in submission to God and His commands.  One of the most practical ways that a wife can put her Christianity on display is by being a faithful submissive wife who aligns herself under the leadership of her own husband.  R. C. Sproul has stated:

It is the Lord’s will that the wife be submissive to her husband, and if she wants to honour Christ, then one of the concrete ways she does this is by being in submission to her husband. If a woman is contentious and refuses to follow the leadership of her husband, she is in rebellion, not simply against him, but also against Christ. [1]

The very word “submit” has become a very nasty word in our culture. Employees don’t like to submit to their bosses.  Children don’t like to submit to their parents.  Wives don’t like to submit to their husbands. In a culture filled with anti-authority attitudes, often times that spreads beyond the border of culture and invades the life of the local church.  This type of rebellion has become a normative aspect of what it means to be an American. However, that type of attitude and rebellion is not what it means to be a Christian.  Peter O’Brien writes, “The idea of subordination to authority in general, as well as in the family, is out of favour in a world which prizes permissiveness and freedom.” [2]

Just as Peter and the apostles were to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29) when they were commanded to stop preaching the gospel, so must the wife be in total submission to Christ.  If she is asked to violate God’s Word and live in disobedience to her Savior, she is to refuse to submit to the leadership of her husband in that particular area of her life.  If she is married to an unbeliever, she should remain married to him as long as he will have her as his wife (1 Cor. 7:13-14).  Who knows what her faithful submission will lead to in their marriage?  It could very well lead to her husband’s salvation as he watches the faithfulness of his godly wife.

The Roles Explained

In verses 23-24, Paul explains the roles of the wife and illustrates it by using Christ and the church.  The role of the wife is to be under the authority of her head—her husband.  The word translated “head” is the Greek term, κεφαλή and it is a direct reference to an authoritative position of leadership for the husband.  Our culture has reversed the roles of husband and wife for many years now, and this reversal has given birth to many problems.  Those same cultural problems are visible in the life of the local church as well.

It is God’s will for the husband to be the provider, the worker, and the leader of the home.  Although both the man and his wife are equal intellectually and both are created in the image of God, it is God’s design for the wife to submit to her husband as her leader and for the husband to take the primary responsibility as the breadwinner.  Unfortunately, that is not the way the American dream is achieved, and therefore, a large number of wives leave their homes everyday for corporate America.  In 2015, 69.9 percent of mothers with children under age 18 were in the labor force, representing over a third (34.2 percent) of working women. [3]

With this type of lifestyle, we must ask a serious question—who will raise the children, disciple them for God’s glory, and love their children and their husbands for God’s glory?  If the wives abandon their homes for other jobs, who will perform the work of the wife in the home?  Titus 2:3-5 provides us a helpful look at God’s designed role for the wife:

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, [4] and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, [5] to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

Notice the short phrase, “working at home” in Titus 2:5.  It is God’s will for the wife to make her home the center of her life and labor.  Even the Proverbs 31 woman is pictured as working diligently, but it’s obvious that her labor was centered on the wellbeing of her home and she put her love on display for her family through her labor.  She was not neglecting her family in pursuit of a career.

The Christian family must reject the harsh criticism of the culture regarding the biblical family structure.  The culture laughs at the church, makes fun of God’s children, and suggests that we are all backward people who need to get up to speed with reality.  What voice should we listen to—culture or Christ?

Are you a working mother?  Is it out of necessity to take care of your family or is it out of a desire to live on a certain socioeconomic level?  We live in a fallen world where at times, it’s absolutely necessary for a wife and mother to work outside of the home.  However, that’s not always the case.  If you stayed home and made your home your focus with your children under your care and love put on display in the home, would your family be more healthy?  Would your children be more loved?  Would your love for your husband be more obvious?  Would you have less regrets in the years to come?

These are serious question that must be addressed.  In the end, the eternal souls of your children and your husband matter.  Make the biblical decision for how you structure your family.  If you need to take less vacations, live in a different neighborhood, drive less expensive automobiles, and drop do a lower socioeconomic level in order to obey Christ—it will be worth it.  The biblical family structure is not outdated or outrageous as the radical feminists try to suggest.  The biblical family doesn’t need to be updated to fit into our culture.  God’s plan doesn’t need to be revised, and interestingly enough, it works across the board in all cultures.  Imagine that—a God who designs a family structure that actually works.

If you pay attention to the news and look at our culture you will see teen suicide, a rise in secularism and a pagan worldview, broken homes through divorce, and a massive number of people who are being treated by psychologists through medication for deep rooted depression.  Could any of this be linked to a role reversal and altered family structure?  It would be foolish to make adjustments to God’s design for the family.  Not only will it harm your family, but the church will suffer as well.

How can all of this be carried out?  Paul points to the relationship between Christ and the church as an example.  Look to Christ and the church as an example of faithful submission and faithful headship and as the wife submits fully to God, she will learn to submit to her husband and follow his leadership in the home.

  1. R. C. Sproul, The Purpose of God: Ephesians (Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 1994), 135.
  2. Peter Thomas O’Brien, The Letter to the Ephesians, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1999), 412.
  3. Issue Brief, Women’s Bureau, U.S. Department of Labor, June 2016.


3 Reasons Why Preaching Is Not Casual

3 Reasons Why Preaching Is Not Casual

When you listen to a sermon, do you feel the weight upon the preacher’s shoulders?  Do you recognize that every sermon is designed to leave an indelible mark upon your soul and to shape you by God’s Word?  When you listen to a sermon preached, do you get the idea that the overall aim is to bring glory to God?  Are you captivated by the drama of God’s redemptive story as you see God’s plan and your connection to the story?  If not, perhaps you’ve never heard real preaching.

When J. I. Packer was a 22-year-old student in the years of 1948-1949, he heard Martyn Lloyd-Jones preach each Sunday evening in London. He said that he had “never heard such preaching.” According to Packer, it came to him “with the force of electric shock, bringing to at least one of his listeners more of a sense of God than any other man” he had known. [1]

Preaching Involves a Weighty Responsibility

When Paul charges Timothy to “preach the Word” in his final New Testament letter (2 Tim. 4:1-5), he was not talking about a casual conversational approach to the pulpit.  One glance at Jesus’ preaching, John the Baptist’s preaching, and Paul’s preaching will prove that true biblical preaching is not casual.  John Piper accurately summarizes the work of preaching by stating, “Preaching is God’s appointed means for the conversion of sinners, the awakening of the church, and the preservation of the saints. If preaching fails in its task, the consequences are infinitely terrible.” [2]  In an interview on January 31, 1892, Charles Haddon Spurgeon was asked if he was ever nervous when he preached, and Spurgeon replied:

I tremble like an aspen leaf. And often, in coming down to this pulpit, have I felt my knees knock together – not that I am afraid of any one of my hearers, but I am thinking of that account which I must render to God, whether I speak His Word faithfully or not. On this service may hang the eternal destinies of many.

Every person who enters the sanctuary of the local church and sits down to hear the sermon will spend eternity in heaven or hell.  We must never forget that preaching matters.  Preaching has an impact upon eternal souls—for good or bad.  It is the duty of the preacher to feed the flock of God.  Too many preachers miss opportunities to feed God’s flock because they waste time seeking to entertain or motivate.  Preaching cannot be casual because every preacher should recognize that every person in their congregation will be in eternity in just a short while.  There is a stewardship that comes with preaching.  Time is valuable.  Souls are eternal.  Eternity is forever.  George Whitefield once described the type of preachers that he was praying for God to raise up:

And what manner of men will they be? Men mighty in the Scriptures, their lives dominated by a sense of the greatness, the majesty and holiness of God, and their minds and hearts aglow with the great truths of the doctrines of grace. . . .They will be men who will preach with broken hearts and tear-filled eyes, and upon whose ministries God will grant an extraordinary effusion of the Holy Spirit, and who will witness ‘signs and wonders following’ in the transformation of multitudes of human lives. [3]

Worship Is Not Casual

In many circles, preaching is something that comes after the worship takes place.  Far too many Christians fail to recognize that preaching is worship.  If we consider the goal in worship and how our aim is always the glory of God, how can that pursuit be casual?  How do redeemed sinners pursue God in a mundane manner?  The reason this happens in some circles is because the type of preaching the people are hearing is not bringing them into contact with the true image of God and His glory.  A low view of God leads to a low view of worship.  The result is a posture of worship that’s ultra casual.

One look at the preaching of Ezra in Nehemiah 8, Jesus in His earthly ministry, Peter at Pentecost, or Paul in his apostolic ministry will prove that preaching is not casual.  The Jews listening to John the Baptist didn’t listen casually.  The ground thundered when such men preached.  The problem today is that the ground rarely shakes.  Preaching is not like taking another at-bat as a baseball player.  The risk as a baseball player is personal glory or the team’s glory, but in preaching it’s all about God’s glory.  This should be at the forefront of every preacher’s mind each time he approaches the pulpit.  Preaching is not casual because the glory of God is not casual.  Too many sermons make the glory of God appear to be cheap.  There seems to be no opportunity to behold the glory of God in many sermons.

God’s Drama is not Casual

How many times have you heard people claim that the Bible is boring?  In some circles, people claim that the Bible is not relevant, so they use drama presentations in order to spice things up in their worship services.  Is the drama of God’s redemptive plan boring?  While it’s possible to preach a boring sermon, we must never lose sight of the fact that God’s drama is exhilarating.  If preachers will preach the drama of the text in the way God intended, the drama team will no longer be needed in the weekly worship service.

What would your church say about the worship service next week if the additives were removed and people were expected to look earnestly into God’s Word to reflect upon His glory and witness His drama?  Would true biblical preaching be enough?  Alistair Begg has a noteworthy point that we would do well to consider as he writes:

One of the reasons for the disinterest in expository preaching is surely that so many attempts at it prove lifeless, dull, and even thoroughly boring. I never cease to be amazed by the ingenuity of those who are capable of taking the powerful, life-changing text of Scripture and communicating it with all the passion of someone reading aloud from the Yellow Pages! [4]

The next time you worship with your gathered church—look for the thrill of God’s drama as the preacher unpacks the Word of God before you.  Worship God with a proper and honoring posture.  A true sense of God and His glory will not be a casual experience.

  1. Christopher Catherwood, Five Evangelical Leaders, (Wheaton: Harold Shaw Publishers, 1985), 170.
  2. John Piper, The Supremacy of God in Preaching (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1990), 54.
  3. Jason Meyer, Preaching: A Biblical Theology, (Wheaton: Crossway, 2013), 301.
  4. Alistair Begg, Preaching for God’s Glory, (Wheaton: Crossway, 1999), 22.
A Biblical Portrait of Marriage

A Biblical Portrait of Marriage

Yesterday, I was privileged to preach an overview of Ephesians 5:22-33 in our morning worship service.  Over the next few weeks, I will go back and spend one week on the responsibilities of wives and at least one week on the responsibilities of husbands in marriage.  This text is rich and worthy of our attention as we consider how Christianity is put on display in the covenant of marriage.

The God Ordained Role for the Wife

The idea of biblical submission is antithetical to our modern culture.  That goes for submission to pastors in a local church, submission to the church in forms of accountability, and the idea of a wife being submissive to her husband.  However, that is exactly what God has intended for His people.  Our God is orderly and as we look at creation and the church as a whole, you can see the clear blueprint of orderly design that God has mapped out before the foundation of the world.  For the marriage to work properly, as God designed, there must be specific roles for both the wife and the husband that are different—yet complimentary.

The word “submit” is not actually in the original text of Ephesians 5:22, but it is clearly a carryover from the previous verse.  In Paul’s letter to the church at Colossae, we see the word “submit” clearly connected to the wife’s responsibility to her husband.  So, the point is clearly established in the Word—God intends the wife to place herself under the leadership of her husband.

Submit = “ὑποτάσσω” – “hupotasso {hoop-ot-as’-so}” = “A Greek military term meaning “to arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader.” In non-military use, it was “a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden.”

Anytime you see women who reverse the roles of the wife and the husband, it will breed problems for their marriage and the totality of society.  It happened in the Garden of Eden as Eve reversed her role with Adam and took the lead in making the decision to eat the forbidden fruit.  Although both sinned and clearly violated God’s command—it is clear that Satan was attacking Eve (the weaker vessel) from the beginning.  If anything was unclear at first, Paul makes it abundantly clear by writing in verse 24, “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”

The God Ordained Role for the Husband

When people misunderstand biblical headship, it confuses God’s intention for the servant leadership of his wife.  This is true for the liberal theological minds who malign biblical complementarianism and for confused husband who views himself as a glorified dictator who lords his authority over his wife.  Biblical headship is a servant leadership that leads out of love and genuine care rather than a bullying approach to dictatorship.

In 1943, Dietrich Bonhoffer wrote a wedding sermon from his prison cell for his close friend and his friend’s fiancée. In that sermon, Bonhoffer described headship in the following way:

Now when the husband is called “the head of the wife,” and it goes on to say “as Christ is the head of the church” (Ephesians 5:23), something of the divine splendour is reflected in our earthly relationships, and this reflection we should recognize and honour. The dignity that is here ascribed to the man lies, not in any capacities or qualities of his own, but in the office conferred on him by his marriage. The wife should see her husband clothed in this dignity. But for him it is he who is responsible for his wife, for their marriage, and for their home. On him falls the care and protection of the family; he represents it to the outside world; he is its mainstay and comfort; he is the master of the house, who exhorts, punishes, helps, and comforts, and stands for it before God. [1]

When we consider what Christ did for His bride (the Church) as He suffered humiliation, persecution, and brutal crucifixion—it places the spotlight on the lack of genuine sacrificial love that many men extend to their wives.  When most men refuse to go to Walmart for their wives, is that really sacrificial love?

Headship also involves a sanctifying love.  Just as the bride of Christ is to be pure and without blemish in order to be presented to Him, so she is constantly being washed by the Word—so must every husband engage in the sanctifying love for his own wife.  The question every husband must answer is:  “Is your wife more holy as a direct result of being married to you?”

Marriage was instituted by God and it exists for God and His ultimate glory.  If there was ever a city that violated the marriage covenant, it was Ephesus.  With temple prostitution and false god worship taking place on a daily and weekly basis—Paul points out the fact that for Christianity to be put on display it must be lived out within the framework of the covenant of marriage.  That puts Christ on display to a sin cursed city.

May that same thing be said about the Christians in our cities.  It’s one thing to know about Christianity, but another thing to live out Christianity in the covenant context of marriage.

  1. R. Kent Hughes, Ephesians: The Mystery of the Body of Christ, Preaching the Word (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1990), 184.
The Christian Life Explained

The Christian Life Explained

Yesterday I had the privilege of preaching Ephesians 5:7-21 in our series through the book of Ephesians.  As we consider the life practical outworking of Christian doctrine into everyday life, Paul does a great job, over the course of three chapters, of laying out examples of what Christianity in action looks like.  In this section of verses, we get a glimpse into three areas of the Christian life, all of which are vital.

Christian Life: A Life of Light in a Dark World

Christians are called to a life of light.  As we live in a dark world where people enjoy the sins of the shadows, God has planned for us to shine the light into this world of sin.  Paul explains that we were all darkness, but we are now light in the Lord.  He does a good job of pointing to the past tense life and contrasting it with the present tense reality in Jesus.  We are commanded to be distinct from the world.

Paul goes on to command the church at Ephesus to expose the unfruitful works of darkness.  This work of exposing sin is not a pleasant experience for the Christian, because it will result in being labeled negative, narrow-minded, and various other choice descriptions.  However, it’s obvious that light cannot be hidden.  As we note from Matthew 5:14, as a city on a hillside cannot be hidden in the darkness of night, neither can a Christian be hidden in a world of darkness.  With both life and lips, we are called to expose such sins.

Christian Decisions:  A Call to Wisdom

Life is full of decisions, and we must make sure that we are exercising wisdom from God as opposed to worldly wisdom.  The world’s wisdom will run contrary to God’s wisdom.  Paul points to three specific areas where we must exercise wisdom:

  1. The use of time
  2. Pursuit of God’s Will
  3. The use of wine

In each of these areas, God’s wisdom is necessary.  Time cannot be recycled, God’s will should not be confused with our own fleshly pursuits, and wine can lead to drunkenness which is debauchery.  It’s essential to avoid missing the mark in any of these areas.  Although wine was a common drink in Paul’s day, the mixture of alcohol content was quite different.  Even children would drink wine in Paul’s day, because they would often mix it 20 parts water to 1 part wine.  Paul points out that wisdom is necessary here.

The calling of the Christian is to be led by the Spirit of God.  If we will make the best use of time, pursue God’s will, and avoid abusing wine — we must be under the constant control of the Holy Spirit as opposed to other things.  The idea here in this text is to “be being filled” with the Spirit.  The word in the Greek has in mind a passive process whereby the Spirit is working in the hearts of people who are simply living in submission to His control.  We are called to position ourselves under the control and guidance of God.

Christian Worship: Led by the Spirit of God

As we are led by the Spirit of God, we will have a life of worship that honors Him.  What does this look like in the life of a church?  First, Paul points to the area of singing.  Interestingly enough, we are called to address one another in our singing of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs as we make melody in our hearts.  There is both a horizontal and vertical aspect to singing the gospel.  Both are necessary and vital in the life of the church.  This is an area where congregational music and the importance of it should be clearly seen from the pages of Scripture.

The vocabulary used here should not be chopped up and made too distinct.  It’s difficult to separate the different types of songs that Paul is referring to here, but there are some notable differences.  From Old Testament psalms to more festive arrangements used in worship, but the point is clear – the church was using different styles and different types of songs.  We would be wise to do the same in our day as well.

This Spirit led worship leads us to a spirit of thanksgiving.  We are reminded of our salvation as we sing the gospel.  It causes us to think about how we were once darkness but now we are light in the Lord and this was not our own doing, it was the gift of God so that none of us may boast (Eph. 2:8-9).  It should cause us to be thankful for the Spirit’s power to enable us to live the Christian life.  We will likewise be thankful for the church and the value of such a gift to us as Christians.

Finally, Paul makes a point that we are to live in submission to one another.  This is vital for the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace to be present in the church.  We are not islands.  We are not lone ranger Christians.  We are to be involved in a local, tangible, visible New Testament church as present, visible, and active members.  We are to submit to Christ (John 14:15), to elders (Heb. 13:17), and to the church as a whole.

As you look at your life and examine yourself in contrast to Ephesians 5:7-21, do you see yourself as a true Christian?  Is the fruit of the Spirit evident in your life?  Do you constantly live as a rebel to Godly authority?  Do you resist accountability among the church?


Our Call to Imitate God

Our Call to Imitate God

Yesterday, I had the privilege to preach Ephesians 5:1-7 in our morning worship service.  As we continued through the book of Ephesians, we focused on the first seven verses of chapter five on our calling to imitate God.  What better example could we have to imitate than God?  Although to the church at Corinth (1 Cor. 1:11), Paul said to follow him as he was following Christ, in this letter to the church at Ephesus, he directed them to imitate God.

As we examine ourselves, and it’s necessary to do so, we must make sure that we are not imitators of the world.  We are commanded as Christians to mimic God as children who would mimic their parents.  In other words, we are to exemplify the communicable attributes of God in our daily lives as Christians.  In the preceding chapter, we see the need to forgive and show love toward one another.  We learn to do that by examining God.  If we want to know God and imitate Him, we should spend time studying Christ.

Once again, we see Paul pointing to the danger of following in the footsteps of the culture.  When we consider the culture of Ephesus, its obvious why Paul was concerned.  The entire city was given over to horrible sins of the flesh.  The city of Ephesus was engaged in sexual perversion and idolatry.  Ephesus was located on the coastal region of modern day Turkey. It had four main roads that came from different directions and due to its location – it became known as the “gateway to Asia.”  It has been labeled as “the Vanity Fair of the Ancient World.”

The city of Ephesus was also the home of the Temple of Artemis or the goddess known as Diana. The Temple was filled with a shrine and a bank. The goddess Diana was a multi-breasted idol that was said to have fallen from the heavens. She was worshipped through prostitution along with other idols that were crafted in the city of Ephesus by tradesmen. In fact, we find that the Apostle Paul disrupted their trade through his preaching when he was there – resulting in a city wide riot.  The city was so bad that the philosopher Heraclitus, also known as the weeping philosopher, once said, “No one could live in Ephesus and not weep over its immorality.”

Here, Paul warns the church in Ephesus regarding two specific sins:

  1. Sexual Immorality
  2. Sins of the Tongue

As Paul addresses the sin of sexual immorality, he also covers the subject of covetousness (idolatry) which was closely connected to the sexual practices of the day in Ephesus.  As he addressed the sexual sins, he used two specific Greek words:

  1. Sexual Immorality = πορνεία – This is the Greek term meaning sexual sin, including heterosexual and homosexual sins alike. This term has in mind – fornication, prostitution, and sexual misconduct. The term has in mind lewdness and sexual sin.
  2. Impurity = ἀκαθαρσία – Any substance that is filthy or dirty, a state of moral corruption, immorality, vileness. This word has in mind deeds, words, thoughts, and intents of the heart. Anything that’s filthy and dirty – avoid it.

The point was clear, God expected the church in a sinful city like Ephesus to remain pure.  He then moved on to address the sins of the tongue.  In order to do so, he used three specific Greek terms:

  1. Filthiness = αἰσχρότης – behavior that flouts social and moral standards, shamefulness, obscenity.
  2. Foolish Talk = μωρολογία – Foolish or silly talk. Coming from the word – moros (foolish or stupid – ENGLISH – Moron).
  3. Crude Joking = εὐτραπελία – facetiousness, coarse jesting involving vulgar expressions and indecent content, vulgar speech / talk. A wittiness in telling coarse jokes.

Just as the church should remain pure in sexual practices, the followers of Christ are likewise commanded to remain pure in speech.  In our present culture, the sexual sins and depraved speech patterns often spill over into the church community as well.  This is something that we must continually resist and guard against.  When we see t-shirts that read, “I Love Jesus But I Cuss a Little” — we must remember the words of Paul to the church at Ephesus.  The idea that edgy speech patterns are cool and hip and acceptable among the Christian church is simply not true.  The culture may accept it, but God doesn’t.

Paul calls the church to walk in love and to engage in the practice of thanksgiving.  We should be thankful for the gift of marriage, intimacy within marriage, and speech that can be used to glorify God.  Paul finishes in verses 5-7 with a sobering warning—reminding the church of Ephesus that anyone who practices an unbroken pattern of sexual immorality and depraved speech will have no place in the Kingdom of God.  Instead, the wrath of God will consume them.

What about you?  What about your spiritual life?  Do you imitate God or the world?  Is your Christianity real or counterfeit?