Ephesians 5 33 verses in this chapter
V1 Be therefore imitators of God, as beloved children.
Christian people, who love their God, will seek to be like Him. Like a child loves their father, who provides for them, helps them, plays with them, bears with them… so God our Father is so loving towards us and such a perfect father, that we try always to be like He is. If we love God, then we will want the things that He wants, and turn away from anything that takes us away from Him. What we adore in Him, we will want for ourselves and be prepared to make sacrifices to get that quality.
We mirror his loving nature, His sacrificial kindness, His patience, mercy and grace toward everyone, even those who don’t deserve it. When we fail, it causes us pain, and so we seek forgiveness through repentance. All that we do or say, we would wish it to be a reflection of God’s character.
This follows on from the fact that we know Him. I will not love God or seek to be like Him, if I don’t actually know who He is. The Christian has personal faith and a personal knowledge of God. This means that we can appreciate His ways. As we seek to be like God we will want to do and learn His ways and Words. We must learn His ways from the Word of God and train ourselves to be Godlike in mind, body, heart and soul. This means rejection of selfish self, in all its forms. To love others, we must love God first.
So as we seek to love, let us emulate our father in heaven, who gave all he had to save us and bring us to know Him.
V2 Walk in love, even as Christ also loved us and gave himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling fragrance.
The life of the Christian is marked by the love of Christ in them. The love of Christ took Him to the sacrifice of the cross, where He died for His people and gave up His life for those who hated Him. So, we also must emulate this attitude and show sacrificial love toward others. What Jesus did was beautiful to God and a delightful offering, because it showed the love of God in all its glory. This loving way of thinking is the way of God because it is the way of peace.
When God’s children live in this way, it pleases Him and bring glory to Him name. Our lives are to be fragrant sacrifices to God, just as our Saviour Jesus’ life was.
As we read God’s word and learn His ways, we will want to walk worthy of Him, be like Him. We will progressively walk in love and in that kind of selflessness that gives freely to the needy. Surely we were most needy, and deserving of eternal punishment, but God provided a way of escape for us, through Jesus. This attitude should be the mark of our lives and people should see it.
The people of this world will not understand it, and will ridicule the Christian for such weakness. But the weakness of the Christian only goes to show the power of God in their lives. He will not let them be destroyed.
“…But we preach Christ crucified; a stumbling block to Jews, and foolishness to Greeks, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.
Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” 1 Corinthians 1:23-25
Also the wisdom of God is foolishness to this world. We must not be intimidated, but trust Him in all circumstances and walk in love.
“For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are dying, but to us who are saved it is the power of God.” 1Corinthians 1:18
Everything about the gospel is opposite to the human approach. We can believe it because it is incredulous to us. Why should an all-powerful being stoop so low for those who hate Him anyway? It can only be begun to be understood when we experience the saving grace of God.
“For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.” Philippians 3:18-19
Those who persist with this view, are taken over by their own lusts and appetites. They only think about this world and how they are doing in it. Paul weeps for them.
“Jesus wept.” John 11:35
Jesus shed tears for those who sorrowed in unbelief. We many think we are happy and contented with our lot, but He sees otherwise. He sees people blind in their sins and persisting with them. He knows the outcome and He weeps for our race. How blessed to have a weeping Saviour, and a weeping evangelist.! Let us weep for others who are placed around us and may it lead us to works of salvation, even as Paul did.
V3 But sexual immorality, and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be mentioned among you, as becomes saints;
God’s people must keep themselves pure, in thought, word and deed. When we meet together we are the redeemed and purified body of Christ, and all our speaking and acting should be as His would be. God’s people are to keep themselves free from worldly taint. This is a difficult command in the days in which we live.
“Pure religion and undefiled before our God and Father is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” James 1:27
As we follow God’s way we build our strength against temptations and unwanted thoughts.
Nothing sexually immoral or impure or any form of greed must be harboured or seen. Our lives must be for the praise of His glory, and our faith is not a free reign for godlessness. If we find ourselves in a greedy frame of mind, or have impure thoughts coming into our minds, we must fight them away. It is hard at first, but God gives strength to us as we seek to honour Him in our thoughts.
This is a key skill that Christians have to learn, as most temptations start off as a series of thought processes. We must learn to stop the treadmill at the first thought. Temptation can be stopped by the power of the Spirit. We can dismiss Satan and his firey darts at the first stroke.
It is observed that Christian society tends to focus on the sexual immorality part of this verse, but the other gross sins of impurity of lifestyle and greed, are here along with sexual sins. Many sins actually stem from greed of one kind or another, and the overwhelming temptations of covetousness can sweep over our lives in many different forms. We must learn temperance and sound judgment as we decide about what is suitable or not. As we learn the Word of God, we build moral muscles to stand against our own bad desires and self-justifications.
“The fear of Yahweh is to hate evil. I hate pride, arrogance, the evil way, and the perverse mouth. Counsel and sound knowledge are mine. I have understanding and power.” Proverbs 8:13+14
These spiritual gifts are not our own, but we can have them and learn them, by asking God.
“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach; and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, without any doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven by the wind and tossed.” James 1:5
When we read the standard of purity that God requires, we know we cannot attain it. But God feely offers us power in the Holy Spirit, and the glorious gifts of wisdom and true judgment. All we have to do is ask.
As God’s people we must seek to model ourselves on His character, and observe and do the deeds of kindness that Christ did. As we study His life and the Word of God, so we will become increasingly like Him, as we copy His example.
V4 nor filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not appropriate, but rather giving of thanks.
How we speak is really important, as it is a reflection of what goes on in our minds. We should have nothing to do with obscenity, gossip or sexual jokes that pollute minds and give credence to immoral behaviour. We should not be talking about things that hurt or damage people, or cause others to think about impure thoughts.
Christians should not joke in a godless way, nor should we be rude or fleshly orientated. This kind of mindset has no place in God’s kingdom. We are easily contaminated and easily infected with language and thought processes that take us away from our communion with God.
In these days the portals of human filth continually spew out degrading images and ideas. The choices for the Christian, in entertainment and viewing on any screen, (whatever size!) is very small. Some have become used to the rottenness that prevails and don’t notice the level of perversion, aggression, violence, deviance, greed, bad language that infiltrates our minds daily. Christians are becoming less and less, sensitive to evil. We think it’s not evil, just a bit bad. Even our language has been turned on its head to mean the opposite expression. This will all affect the church of Christ. How can we be godly and so accepting of the very things that God calls evil?
We are to be given over to a thanksgiving and a joyful life, centered on what God has done. We will have to guard against this corrupting mindset, and be careful about what we let into our eyes and ears, and make straight paths for our feet.
“Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23
V5 Know this for sure, that no sexually immoral person, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and God.
A person who has no qualms about speaking and being rude and immoral, has no place in God’s kingdom. To be acting and speaking this way, and keeping no guard or control on our eyes and ears and lips, shows a person with no regard for God at all. The Apostle says this person is an idolater and is worshipping the culture and social atmosphere of this life, rather than being concerned about the qualities that God looks for in a person.
We do not have to even do immoral or greedy deeds to be immoral or greedy. We just have to regard them as something worthwhile, and “enjoy” jokes and imbibing too much of this world’s pleasures, for our enjoyment. We carry on with these indulgences, even when we know we shouldn’t. This labels us as not part of God’s kingdom.
Whatever we put before God is an idol. Spending our time and effort in getting the things of this life, is idolatry. Hoarding earthly accomplishments and pursuing a life to achieve as much as we can, is a life lived for the here and now. The grasping love of what we can physically get, or emotionally enjoy, or the feeling of self-worth that so many seek, will ultimately betray us.
God requires holiness in our inner selves, if we are to be part of the everlasting kingdom in the heavenly city. It is a place we will not enjoy, if we do not have tastes for God and His works and ways.
V6 Let no one deceive you with empty words. For because of these things, the wrath of God comes on the children of disobedience.
There are plenty of notable people in the “Christian” circuit who preach a “friendly” gospel. They try to make the difficult act of repentance, “easier.” Some will even say that God will never punish anyone, because He is a loving and gracious God. They speak in a way to make sins seem like less, and the Christian life as no different from a godless life. These are deceivers. They are speaking lies.
A look into the Word of God, and we can clearly see that these thing are not so. God is Love, but the mirror side of that love, is hatred of sin. Sin ruins and destroys and God hates it with a perfect hatred. Sin will never get into the Kingdom, nor will the sinner who doesn’t repent.
The Apostle is here, speaking of wrath. Gods’ wrath will be poured out on all those who do not believe. There is judgment and eternal punishment, for those outside the kingdom. This is why we must seek out the message from God and believe it. We must put out trust in the only Saviour.
You cannot believe everything you hear. Listening to a comforting message about God not being the judge, is folly. The gospel is hard for us to hear, we don’t want it, but it is the message that will save us from destruction, if we repent and believe.
If you are not a Christian, you will not be particularly attracted to Jesus, because His way is difficult, narrow and often lonely. However, it is the way to love and peace. Those He loves will never be forsaken. We must not continue in the way of disobedience and find ourselves eternally lost.
“Enter in by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter in by it. How narrow is the gate, and restricted is the way that leads to life! Few are those who find it.” Matthew 7:13+14
If we do not obey God, and accept His offer of mercy and grace, there remains no other salvation for us. No one else is able, or willing to do this for us. The only alternative for us is the wrath of God. This is something we need to be very serious about. There is no joking here.
The Apostle Luke states about Jesus Christ…
“There is salvation in none other, for neither is there any other name under heaven, that is given among men, by which we must be saved!” Acts 4:12
There is no other Saviour or way to God. All who purport to be so, are false. The writer to the Hebrews leaves us in no doubt about the seriousness of missing the salvation of God.
“For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and a fierceness of fire which will devour the adversaries. A man who disregards Moses’ law dies without compassion on the word of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will he be judged worthy of, who has trodden under foot the Son of God, and has counted the blood of the covenant with which he was sanctified an unholy thing, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance belongs to me,” says the Lord, “I will repay.” Again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Hebrews 10:26-31
The wrath of God is real. Do not be fooled into thinking otherwise.
V7 Therefore don’t be partakers with them.
Anyone who lives an unguarded and godless lifestyle, are not to be close partners with us in any endeavor. This directive does not say we are not to be friendly with those who don’t believe. It says we shouldn’t have close ties with unbelievers, such as business partners, marriage partners, activities that mean we spend long amounts to time in ungodly social settings. It is too easy to get pulled away from the Way of Christ. As we walk this world as Christians, we are still human and we still have to fight with sin in our own lives.
If something we do is pulling us away from Christ and a life of purity, we have to let it go. This is part of the sacrifice we make to devote ourselves to the work of God. No Christian is exempt. This is not just for Christian workers, or ministers of churches. It is for everyone who calls on the name of Jesus.
We have the Holy Spirit living within, and the spiritual armour of God to protect us. We use the power given to us by the Holy Spirit and so that we can fight against ungodliness, but still we must make straight paths for our feet.
If we dabble in sinful settings, it won’t be long until we experience the power of temptation and its destructive influence on our lives. It will take us ways for all that is good and convince us that it is the way of happiness and success. We are so weak. Keep away from sin. If you find yourself working or serving God in dark places, then your times with God alone will be crucial. Don’t be hoodwinked into thinking you can handle it.
V8 For you were once darkness, but are now light in the Lord. Walk as children of light,
The Christian was once a child of the darkness. We were slaves to sin and held captive by the devil at his will. We followed the way of this world, and our own fulfillment was our prime concern.
But all has changed. Now, the forgiven person is light in Christ. We are not just children of the light, but we are light, radiating and beaming light in this dark world. If you become a Christian, others will notice. You will be so different and your change to goodness and peace will be obvious to all around you.
So, as the Christian walks in this world, so we live our lives as Children of Light. The light is the light of God. In Him is light and without Him there is no light. This world is darkness without the gleaming truth of God and the holiness he givens to those who believe. We need to shine. The gifts that God has given to you, you must use, share, develop. Let every part of our lives radiate the light of our risen Lord Jesus. There should be no gloominess, but only joy and peace and love.
“For when they are saying, “Peace and safety,” then sudden destruction will come on them, like birth pains on a pregnant woman; and they will in no way escape. But you, brothers, aren’t in darkness, that the day should overtake you like a thief. You are all children of light, and children of the day. We don’t belong to the night, nor to darkness, so then let’s not sleep, as the rest do, but let’s watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep in the night, and those who are drunk are drunk in the night. But let us, since we belong to the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and, for a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God didn’t appoint us to wrath, but to the obtaining of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” n 1 Thessalonians 5:3-8
Paul, who wrote this letter to the Thessalonians, leaves us no doubt as to our standing in Christ and our standing in this world.
If you are not different, you are not light. Even in “Christian” settings, our light must shine. We get our light from fellowship with God and a daily walk that leads us nearer and nearer to Him. This will make us increasingly like Him.
V9 for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth,
This phrase tells us what that light looks like. It is all goodness, and all righteousness and all truth. Working this out in our lives is difficult, and we need to spend time in the Word of God to learn goodness, righteousness and truth… without the revelation of God in our minds and hearts, we will never find these gifts.
Goodness is to be like God or our Saviour Jesus. This is a life long desire and learning process that requires much self-searching and examination. We are not good, but we are good at covering up the fact that we are not good.! As we look at God in the pages of Scripture, we see a person who is so unlike ourselves. He is the opposite of us. As we see Him more clearly, so we strive to adapt our lives to please Him and not ourselves. This is painful. It will also affect our relationships in the world, as you realize its sinfulness and godless mindset.
Righteousness. Who of us really desires this? To walk uprightly in this world, is a place of derision. You will not fit in to many situations, and as you observe the lifestyles around you, it causes pain. But this can motivate you to desire to reach out to those who are lost. This is what Jesus came to do. When we realize the danger people live in, we are driven to help them see their lost state. We want them to be righteous also. Righteousness works for the ultimate good of other people. It makes sacrifices and conforms itself to God.
God requires us to be righteous. Jesus came to make the sacrifice of Himself, so we could be righteous. He can make us righteous, or morally upright before a holy God. The Holy Spirit works in the life of the Christian believer, so that we can bear the fruit of righteousness in our lives. There is no righteousness apart for the work of God in a person’s life.
“As it is written, “There is no one righteous; no, not one. There is no one who understands. There is no one who seeks after God. They have all turned aside. They have together become unprofitable. There is no one who does good, no, not, so much as one.” Romans 3:10-12
“…for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus;” Romans 3:23-24
God graciously gives us His righteousness and makes us worthy. We fight to do all righteousness in our lives for God.
Truth. This is found only in the Holy Scriptures. The scriptures are the truth of God. We are taught who God is, what God does, and authoritative truth about how we should live our lives.
As we read and study this precious Word of God, it becomes a part of our being, our psyche and our souls. We feed on its deep and wise insight. It will make us as wise as a serpent, and yet as gentle as a dove. The Lord is good and He teaches us good things, and gives wisdom to whoever asks for it. The basis of our lives is of crucial importance. We must build on the truth of God and the foundations of the words that will last forever. If we find the truth, we find Jesus, and he will lead us into all truth.
If we deliberately turn away from the truth, and live ungodly lives, we are rejecting the truth.
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known of God is revealed in them, for God revealed it to them. For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse.” Romans 1:18-20
Many complain that the Bible is an indecipherable book. They excuse themselves from understanding it and reject the obvious display of truth, even in the created world. We take the folly of worldly doctrine and use it as our excuse for not believing. We refuse to take responsibility for our own unbelief and even blame God for not being obvious!
God is not mocked. Yet he still keeps mercy’s door open. He waits for us to come to our senses.
“Come now, and let us reason together,” says Yahweh: “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured with the sword; for the mouth of Yahweh has spoken it.” Isaiah 1:18
Truth is not unreasonable, but we see it only by Faith.
V10 proving what is well pleasing to the Lord.
The light of God searches us out. It shows us our rottenness, and shows us the glory of the Lord, in the person of Jesus Christ. It is our responsibility to seek the Lord. It is our delight to find out what pleases Him, so that we can live for Him with greater holiness and joy.
Christians should be the happiest people in the world when they find out the delight of living in His presence. They are content to live in His shadow. His shadow is everlasting light. He has no changeableness or any kind or suggestion of turning around, or becoming any less than He already is.
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, nor turning shadow.” James 1:17
The Lord never improves or declines, since He is the Perfect One. His likeness is what we seek. What pleases Him, will make us glad.
“We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose. For whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. Whom he predestined, those he also called. Whom he called, those he also justified. Whom he justified, those he also glorified.” Romans 8:28-30
“But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord, the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18
As we find out what pleases the Lord, may we think upon His glory and find ourselves being transformed into His image. As we meditate on Him and with His delight ever growing in our hearts, may we be transformed again and again in the power of the Spirit.
V11 Have no fellowship with the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but rather even reprove them.
The Christians walks in the light. Why would we turn again to the unfruitful works of darkness? There is no attraction for us there. As we discover the light and walk in it, so the ways of this world’s darkness, is not the place where we will go. Our tastes change and we seek the light rather than the murky shame of sin.
The Christian is a bright and shining light in a dark world. As we walk through our lives, we show up the sin for what it really is. We expose the ways of Satan, and show the glorious fact, that we don’t have to follow in his footsteps. We show how the world gives us no fruit, or any good thing, but takes our time and gifts and wastes them. We may not have the outward trappings of worldly success, but we have obvious peace and joy.
This is how we expose evil and falsehood. It is not by calling people out and denouncing people and humiliating them is in the eyes of others. If that is to happen, it is God’s prerogative and not ours. God knows the end of a thing from the beginning, and we do not.
Let us expose the shameful deeds and philosophies by the power of the Spirit living in us. Let is show the power of Christ in love and glorious joy, not dull compliance to a set of rules! As we follow Christ, others will see it and we will be able to talk about it to them.
Evil ways will not last, and we must not give in to fear.
Show the Lord in all His glory. It is in you.
V12 For it is a shame even to speak of the things, which are done by them in secret.
We do not call people out or discuss sinful ways. The power of our lives and the love that we show to all others, is the purpose and the service of our lives. To reflect the character of God through Christ is our aim as we live in a sinful world.
There are things that shouldn’t be talked about. There are many unprofitable, and sinful things that shouldn’t enter our minds. In this period of history in which we live, the most dreadful acts of savagery, evil, violence and depravity are trotted out in the media and forced into our homes, through television and all the plethora of media outlets that abound. Just listening and watching the news each day, opens our thinking to grossly evil things, and we are hardened to the horror of it all and accept it as “just he way it is.”
The scripture here is clear. The Christian refuses to entertain or talk about the wicked, and what they do. The Christian seeks to keep their mind clean and clear and deliberately pushes out the unprofitable works of darkness.
There are always those who find a satisfaction in rehearsing gossip and ungodly behaviour, but it should not be found among God’s people. This is not naivety, but recognizing we are sinful people and weak in all ways. We are to guard our hearts as the very spring of our lives.
“Put away from yourself a perverse mouth. Put corrupt lips far from you.
Let your eyes look straight ahead. Fix your gaze directly before you.
Make the path of your feet level. Let all of your ways be established.
Don’t turn to the right hand nor to the left. Remove your foot from evil.” Proverbs 4:23-30
What about speaking of those with sinful lifestyles? It is easy to portray groups of people as more evil than others, and we are poor judges. Our efforts in reaching out are better examples of the love of Christ. Calling people down just shows us up as prejudiced and our unconcern for the individual.
When we speak in public, even in the prayer meeting, we need to be careful how we speak about people and examine our own motivations for what we say.
V13 But all things, when they are reproved, are revealed by the light, for everything that reveals is light.
The light of God will expose all sin and degradation and show it up for what it is. This does not happen every day, or even often. The great revealing will be on the day when Jesus returns for His people and the whole world will be judged for its rejection of God and the disposition to accept all that is unholy. It will be a terrible day, when the sins of all unrepentant people will be seen for what they are. All secrets will be revealed and all sins will require an answer to the Judge of all.
When that mighty searchlight beams into sinful souls, it will burn the darkness away and our works will be tested to see if they are fit for eternity.
“For no one can lay any other foundation than that which has been laid, which is Jesus Christ. But if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or stubble; each man’s work will be revealed. For the Day will declare it, because it is revealed in fire; and the fire itself will test what sort of work each man’s work is. If any man’s work remains which he built on it, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned, he will suffer loss, but he himself will be saved, but as through fire.” 1 Corinthians 3:11-15
In the realm of this life, the light of Christ in the lives of believers, will show up the darkness in lives lived without God. The Christians may not be welcome in many places, as the light in their lives is not wanted.
In the life of the unbeliever, the light of God shines in and enlightens the person to see their need of Christ as Saviour and Lord. The light brings light to those who believe.
V14 “Therefore he says, “Awake, you who sleep, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
All light, even in our physical world, makes things visible. This is also the case in the spiritual realm. God’s holy light enlightens the believer to understand and see the deep things of God. When God illuminates a life, the sin is shown and the person can face it and repent and believe. God’s illumination is a great blessing, as it leads the sinner to repent and have faith that saves.
The scripture says we must wake up! All who slumber and sleep, wake up! Come soul, rise from the dead. You people who are spiritually asleep and dead, waken up! Take up this spiritual life when the light of Christ shines on you. He will show Himself to you and how you should live for Him.
This is our wake up call! If we stay in slumber and refuse to waken up, we will miss the shining light of Christ. Who knows if he will shine on you again. You may sleep the sleep of death, and find yourself in the place without light forever. This need not be. When you hear His voice, do not harden your heart. Wake up and seek the spiritual life that will lead you to Christ.
This is also directed at the Christian believer. We can find ourselves doubting God and reacting to troubles in an ungodly and faithless way. When God sends His comfort through the Spirit, we must accept Him. If we refuse the comfort, in will be taken away. Our hearts become hardened towards the spiritual truths that are a comfort to our souls, and so that comfort is not powerful in our lives.
“…for he is our God. We are the people of his pasture, and the sheep in his care. Today, oh that you would hear his voice! Don’t harden your heart, as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the wilderness”, (Meribah and Massah were places of testing.) Psalm 95:7-8
V15 Therefore watch carefully how you walk, not as unwise, but as wise,
Paul admonishes caution at this point. When the light shows you truth and faith, be very careful about how you live. If you are to live in the light of Christ, you must reject folly- all folly of this world, and the folly bound up in our own hearts. We are required to turn completely away from folly, the world and sin. The Christian life is not permission to do whatever you think or feel, though some think it is.
We are set free to live rightly and serve God in a way acceptable to Him.
“See that you don’t refuse him who speaks. For if they didn’t escape when they refused him who warned on the Earth, how much more will we not escape who turn away from him who warns from heaven,..Therefore, receiving a Kingdom that can’t be shaken, let us have grace, through which we serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:25, 28-29
We must live as wise people, not in the wisdom of this world, which is folly towards God.
“Let no one deceive himself. If anyone thinks that he is wise among you in this world, let him become a fool, that he may become wise.
For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He has taken the wise in their craftiness.” And again, “The Lord knows the reasoning of the wise, that it is worthless.” Therefore let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come. All are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” 1 Corinthians 3:18-23
The light of God in our hearts and minds, should make the difference to us, and we have the power to turn and live lives of wisdom to God. The Christian cannot be careless. The pathway can be lonely and painful, but our delight is in the Lord. We seek wisdom every day and the fullness of the Holy Spirit to walk this world rightly and make it home to heaven.
V16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil
What ever situation we might find ourselves in, or whatever our life opportunities, we must make the most of them and not waste our skills and circumstances that God has put in our way. All must be used and all our effort made to serve the Lord and spread the Word.
We live in days of distraction and unholy pursuits and too many are putting effort into things that will not last.
We are to work and witness for God, and bring people to a true faith life in Christ. The days we live in, and all days Christians have lived in, are judged “evil” by God, so we must not waste the time, money or our opportunities to spread the good news and build the kingdom of God. If we do not have this mindset, then we lack spiritual insight and love for those who perish.
Despite the evil and lack of opportunity we might have, there are still opportunities God gives us. We must learn to look at people and situations with eyes that see their need and a thinking mind that can see situations that can be used to spread the gospel. It is a creative mindset. We all have resources of some kind, and openings with family, friends and neighbours. We can think of ways to reach out to them, and conversations we could have to befriend people and earn their respect and trust to talk about deeper things.
Unfortunately we don’t want to spend the time and effort to reach out. We are happier with impersonal efforts that we can take or leave. Inviting someone to church is easier than having to take the responsibility of speaking to them directly. Leaving a gospel booklet on the bus is easier than learning how to relate and share words with people. Some share words, but not the words of life.! It is a skill to learn, and is only learned by doing and practicing. It happens quicker when we put ourselves in the places where we will have to speak. If we learn to take opportunities we will find our confidence growing and we get better at adapting our words to help other people.
We are redeeming our own time. The time we have spent wasting it. God know us and is kind to us. He opens the doors for us to serve and learn. Take the opportunities and serve Him with a true heart in ways that will bear fruit for eternity.
V17 Therefore don’t be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
This is a wonderful conclusion. If we live in such days, and we have wisdom and love, then we can have understanding to know what the Lord’s will is. If we listen to what God is telling us through the Apostle Paul, then we know the will of the Lord. His will is that we live uprightly, live godly Christian lives, and use every opportunity to serve Him and witness for Him. This is a wise life. This is a life that loves God.
If we reject foolishness in our own heart and life, and we are walking in that light of Christ, then we will not make foolish decisions, or follow a sinful path. We will follow the light carefully and diligently, and the will of God will be shown to all who follow like this.
As the true hearted Christian walks with God, so they will rebuff the world and sin, and dedicate their lives to God and to serving Him. The will of God is not a concealed direction, but for all who can rightly divide the Word of truth, and obey it. We can understand God’s will. He reveals it to His children and they obey Him. It is not about an organization directing people for it’s own ends, but about people having a living relationship with God.
Those who live in the light of God’s will are wise.
V18 Don’t be drunken with wine, in which is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,
God, here, addresses an issue that dogs the lives of so many people, and Christians too. The physical has a strong hold on us all. We love the provisions of God, some of those bring us cheer and gladness. However, they also bring difficulties, and are hard to control. Self-control is a difficult thing for us and we easily fall into sinful practices. Alcoholic drinks are such. Alcohol is a dangerous substance, because it is easy to get, socially acceptable and brings us enjoyment. The scripture does not ban such things, but we must have strong self-control as we imbibe drinks like this.
Getting drunk is a big issue for the Christian, because it causes us to loose our minds, and makes us slaves to its effects. We can easily find ourselves drinking alcohol to get the effect, and so that we don’t need to think clearly about what is in hand. We lose some semblance of self-control. We loose the ability to make the best decisions, and altogether things become relaxed and mellow. We loose our urgency and safe-mindedness.
God tells us to look for the greater experience. We are to look for the fuller life and to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Gods’ Spirit is a limitless power and He can do things far above what we would ever imagine. We will not know this blessing, if we settle for the mellow physical experiences of this world. We are to be filled with the Spirit of God… why would we need a lesser experience or play with physical pleasures?
This principle is applied to all other physical or earthly enjoyments we have been given. The idea of abstinence is not popular in our modern western culture. Everyone has the right to do everything, and the idea of stopping yourself from indulging in pleasures is not amenable to us. The idea of setting pleasure aside to focus on non-earthly activities, is labeled as “legalistic.” This is a pity as Christians lose the blessing of offering time, resources and effort to the Lord. It doesn’t have to be public, in fact, it is better if it is not. Pride follows us all, and the quiet offering of prayers, silence or forfeit of an enjoyment, is a demonstration of our devotion to our Lord.
Any pleasure can take a hold of us, and can become a big problem. The warning signs of dependency should be noticed. The growing love of a dear activity, should warn us of trouble if we don’t address the causes of our need for it. The drive that takes us to places and activities that feed our need and habits must be watched and turned away from.
The filling of the Spirit is quite different than the earthly counterparts.
“For God didn’t give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7
The weakness of the flesh is put to flight. The Christian has power over it and themselves. The over-riding power in the Christian is love. This leads to the ability to control appetites, desires, the thoughts in the mind, and the manner of lifestyle. This is a life controlled by the Holy Spirit and a will that is yielded to Him.
To be filled with this Spirit is going to make the Christian more dissatisfied with the world and more in tune with God. The obedience to the Father is total and repentance and faith shines brightly. God has taken over. To be full of God is to be like Him. God will be close to this person, and be able to teach them and lift them into His service for good.
This is how we must pray. “Lord fill me with your Spirit.”
V19 speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs; singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
As Christians are filled with the Holy Spirit, so there is an outward expression. The filling of the Spirit effects our speaking and musical expressions, as we praise God and worship Him, individually and together. Our whole lives are that expression, and it is seen by others in our heartfelt words, deeds and songs.
These songs include the Psalms in the Scriptures, hymns that Christians write and songs from the Spirit. We sing and make music in our hearts, continually to the Father as part of our rejoicing always. The songs are sung inwardly in our personal devotion to our Saviour, Jesus, and when we meet together they are outwardly heard. As we sing these songs, we encourage each other and lift each other’s spirits to the Lord. At all times our hearts should be full of praise and worship as we love and serve God.
Even in times of trouble and gloom, we can lift our souls to God. We don’t have to stay in the dark moment. We can acknowledge it and repent of whatever is troubling us, and rejoice always.
“Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus toward you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
These expressions of love for God are expressed differently in different cultures and times. God rejoices in the diversity of our outpourings of love. He made us all differently, and He loves our personal sacrifices of praise to Him. As we continually seek this filling of the Spirit, so we become more joyful and rich towards God.
V20 giving thanks always concerning all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to God, even the Father;
Our praising comes from hearts of love and gratitude. The Christian’s demeanor is thankfulness, and we constantly thank God for what He has done for us. All things work together for the good of those who love God, so we learn to rejoice in all circumstances and in all situations, pleasant or painful.
“But let all those who take refuge in you rejoice, Let them always shout for joy, because you defend them. Let them also who love your name be joyful in you.
For you will bless the righteous. Yahweh, you will surround him with favor as with a shield. For the Chief Musician; on stringed instruments, upon the eight-stringed lyre.” Psalm 5:11-12
Every Christian has the blessings of God and spiritual insight, because of what Christ has done for us personally. We rejoice because of Him. We have eternal life because He sacrificed His own life for us, on the cross. We cry out in love that He rose from the dead and ever lives to pray and petition for us, before God. One day we will be with Him forever and our sins will finally be gone and heaven will be ours.
As we read the Scriptures, we are constantly reminded of what is our inheritance, and what we have been rescued from. This makes us glad, and we hold onto those great and precious promises, which can never fail. We give thanks in the name of Jesus, who has redeemed us from the curse and brought us life.
V21 subjecting yourselves to one another in the fear of Christ.
Every Christians should have the attitude of submission. We regard others better than ourselves, and humble ourselves to serve people and seek their well-being. The family of God should be different from every other gathering of people. There should be no pecking orders, social standing or class system. Every Christian should have this humble mind-set and seek to be like Christ in all we do and say. As we see Christ in each other, so it reminds us of the humble life of our Saviour and Lord, and this must be our life also.
As we bow our knees to the Lord Jesus, so we bow to each other, and serve and support each other. Having regard and respect for each other and living that way before a sinful world, will show us as very different people, with a very different philosophy of life. There is no room for pride in the life or thoughts of the Christian, and there must be a constant seeking to cast it away from us.
Our submission is based on the submission of Christ to the will of God and His total obedience to the Father. This is also the way that we walk with God.
We also need to consider the setting that we join ourselves to. Not every “church” is the same. There is error, ungodliness and abusive practices abounding in Western cultures. We have a real dilemma today when Christians consider where they should base themselves in Christians fellowship. I have no direct answer, because I don’t know every church, but God will guide His people. We need wisdom in these days, more then any other.
V22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
Paul here mentions wives specifically. Wives are to submit to husbands and hold them in regard. The previous verse 21 says that husbands are to submit to wives, as we submit to each other in Christ. We are all working for the same purpose and none of us should forget that we needed the extreme washing for our sins through the shed blood of Christ.
“For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s farming, God’s building.” 1 Corinthians 3:9
Submission is very difficult. Neither men nor women like it. It seems to say we are to be totally under the rule of husbands, and have no right to a life, or to thoughts of our own as women. This is not what is meant.
The Lord Jesus Christ submitted Himself to the Father in all circumstances, as also the Holy Spirit. This is the perfect pattern, but we are not God. We are not yet holy. We still gravitate towards sinful attitudes toward each other, and pride is a real driving force for us as people.
Holiness for every Christian is the goal, and we must all seek it daily. It is a daily denying of self, and preferring the other person. Putting down sections of society is not holy, and denying people the opportunity to use God-given abilities, is not fair. This is not God’s way. God’s way is that we should all emulate Jesus in the way He took the form of a servant and took upon Himself our sin. He paid the awful price for it, and bought for Himself a huge un-numbered throng of forgiven and redeemed people. Women understand sacrifice and service in practice, more than men, and more obviously display the fruit of the Spirit.
God is teaching women to be a mirror image of Him. He knows what they are like, and how they gravitate towards love and care. He knows they will serve the Lord Jesus in the power of the Spirit.
There are no perfect people, and we are all taught by the same Spirit to regard others above ourselves, and this is also the case in marriage as well.
Wives are given by God to help husbands. This does not make them less. Wives are not second-class material, or servants, dependants who have to be supported, or below everyone else. It can often seem that this is the case. God is not pleased with the way His women are regarded and put upon and “used.” Men often read these Scriptures with a view to getting women to do what they are told. Men rule the roost, and women can never use their gifts is in leadership.
In the institution that is currently “church” there is ample room for hierarchies to be set up, in this male-lead setting. Men take the lead and are seen to lead in all circumstances. If you are a single woman, you can have opportunities that the married ones are denied. Married women are “under” husbands, and therefore have no say, or any intellectual influence. So we have a three-tiered system of worth. There is often very little of the mutual submission that is taught in this passage.
Women live their lives in fear of not getting a husband to validate their person. Women are taught, often subliminally, that they will only be happy in marriage. The Apostle Paul had quite a lot to say about this issue. We will not discuss it here.
Married women are taught to acquiesce in all circumstances and not to object to anything. If they should think for themselves, they must be quiet. Women just fit in with the culture, and act as a kind of home help to husbands and children, and the church activities. They have to work hard to get time and opportunity to develop their own cognitive skills and do other activities outside the home. Unfortunately, they will have greater and wider opportunities in the secular social setting.
Men will strive and combat each other to get where they want. Women, generally, operate in a more gracious sphere, and will just acquiesce to the men rather than cause a fuss. The whole blessing of the ministry of women, is therefore shut down, and the culture becomes one-sided. Church looses relevance for many people. Young women are side-lined and find they must seek growth and relevance in the secular life, and too many are lost to faith, and lost to crucial and effective Christian work.
Submission to a husband, does not mean submission to all men. Husbands are to love their wives, so all is done in love for each other. Again, in “church” society, we have this idea that everyone follows the men, and women just go along with it all. We all submit to Christ, and to each other, as we see the Holy Spirit living in our redeemed lives. We should be attracted to each other, as we see our God portrayed in human lives around us. We are spiritual people, and should earnestly seek better gifts than are used in the organizations of this fallen world.
Is it not a blind, or worldly view that some people are better than others? Yet, God says I am to regard others better than myself.
“…doing nothing through rivalry or through conceit, but in humility, each counting others better than himself; each of you not just looking to his own things, but each of you also to the things of others.
Have this in your mind, which was also in Christ Jesus,..” Philippians 2:3-5
There is precious little of this in the way many Christian organisations are structured. We hang on to the idea that it has always been this way – at least , that we can remember, and therefore that is the “right” way.
We think that submission is that one side is always being put down, or one side having the moratorium over all decisions, opinions and views. This is taken from the marriage model, and applied universally through the whole “Christian social system.” The idea that there is only make leadership, feeds a stereotype and propagates endless unfairness. The idea that women have been in leadership in the Scripture, is hidden and explained away.
Both partners in a marriage relationship should be active in the relationship… No one can opt out, or take the “soft option” of being in the background. It is too easy to negate personal responsibility and let the other person, take it all.
Marriage is difficult, and without the Spirit of God in each person, it will go wrong, and great difficulties will develop. We need the Lord Jesus every day and to see His attitude to His Father and the Holy Spirit.
Men need women. They need to be taught by women and to look at their example as they live their lives as Christ did. Church work, ministry, leadership, discussion, all need the input of women, not a token gesture, but men and women recognizing each others skills and gifts and putting each other forward.
The intellectual life of the church also needs women. Study and writing by women are crucial to the psyche of the church of Jesus. There are so few, mainly because of historical, secular attitudes to educating women. This has to be addressed in our time and organizations still need to work against the reluctance to give women opportunity to study or be taken seriously. God will raise up women in a godly fashion, who will contribute and widen the understanding of all Christians. It may not be in the confines of the organization of “church”
V23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the assembly, being himself the savior of the body.
The husband in a marriage relationship should be acting towards His wife like Christ acts towards His people. He does not lord it over them, but serves them continually. He shares His love, His power, and His glory with them. Christian husbands should be like this towards their wives. It is a living relationship, and a complete sharing of everything. Jesus died for His people. They are a part of Him, in an amazing eternal way that can never be broken.
The Lord Jesus died for His people, when they were still in sin and often still act like they are “dead” towards Him. He gave up everything to make them is own. Nothing will ever separate God’s people from Christ. Husbands should model themselves on this person- to be like Christ and act towards wives, as the exalted people of God.
The idea of Christian headship, is not related to status, or social position, and we as sinful people find this very difficult to live out in our own lives. It goes contrary to our worldly desires to be on top of the pile, and to have kudos and influence over what goes on in our sphere of living. This is not like Christ. In God’s structure, we go down in status in this world, to be great in His kingdom.
Unfortunately this verse is used to further beat up women who are regarded as “too forward.” Women who are able and equipped to lead and have ideas about any number of things, are seen as “trouble-makers.” If only they would just be quiet and let the men do the job.! In marriage they are labeled as “wearing the trousers” which is a euphemism for being aggressive and strident.
The woman we are presented with in Proverbs 31, is someone so magnificent and capable and full of ability. She loves her family, because she loves her God. She practices a holy life-style, because she wished to be like the Lord her God. He husband does not have to worry about anything because she shoulders her responsibility and makes wise decisions. It is worth reading and meditating on this portion from Proverbs 31…
“Who can find a worthy woman? For her price is far above rubies.
The heart of her husband trusts in her. He shall have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.
She seeks wool and flax, and works eagerly with her hands.
She is like the merchant ships. She brings her bread from afar.
She rises also while it is yet night, gives food to her household, and portions for her servant girls.
She considers a field, and buys it. With the fruit of her hands, she plants a vineyard.
She arms her waist with strength, and makes her arms strong.
She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp doesn’t go out by night.
She lays her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle.
She opens her arms to the poor; yes, she extends her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of the snow for her household; for all her household are clothed with scarlet.
She makes for herself carpets of tapestry. Her clothing is fine linen and purple.
Her husband is respected in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land.”
This woman described here would make quite a statement in her life lived out for God. This is a godly woman, who is meeting all her responsibilities and reaching out to others as well. The many skills she possesses are used to full effect in her family, business, management of home and work, and a compassionate heart from God. She is an amazing role model and a hard pattern to follow. Nevertheless, her life is here portrayed and God tells us that all things are possible with Him. God expects great things from His precious daughters.
A wise husband would give everything to have this woman in his family and as his partner and wife. The sacrificial aspect of the husband is very great and is likened to Christ’s sacrifice for His people, who are also His body. Christ died for us from such a deep love, a love that took Him to the cross. This is how husbands are to love their wives, so that they will be joint heirs with them and be totally part of the same body.
We must be very careful when we choose the person we will marry. It is easy to marry in haste and have poor judgment in choosing the person we spend the rest of our lives with.
Unfortunately when we are young we look at outward qualities and can be heavily influenced by the world or “christian culture.” We needed mothers and fathers who will teach their young people wisdom and discernment, so that they can be wise when they make life-changing decisions. Parents need to pray for their children, that they will make good choices. To spend life with a godly person, brings two lives that combine together and two people who are walking in the same direction towards godliness and the heavenly home. A marriage goes through many stresses and changes. Submission is crucial if both partners are going to stay the course.
V24 But as the assembly is subject to Christ, so let the wives also be to their own husbands in everything.
The people of God submit to Christ because of who He is and what He has done for them. This theme is central in our Christian lives and determines how we walk with God day by day. We should find it easy to submit to Christ, because we have a daily walk with Him that is real and heartfelt and joyful. Our Saviour Jesus is reliable, and we can obey Him and submit to Him, readily and immediately.
It is different in dealing with fallen husbands and wives. We should be like Christ but we are not. We do not draw near to Him, and we do not know Him sufficiently to walk that closely with Him. This should not be. In these pampered days of pleasure and self-seeking, we do not feel our need of Him as people once did. This needs to be addressed. It is impossible to find anyone who perfectly follows Christ, and each of us is no exception. We need to help each other and keep each other working and walking on the heavenly way.
Husbands and wives need to look out for each other, and support each other as we serve the Lord. Lives should be intertwined and both parties serving the Lord with full hearts. We become too comfortable and our lives become mediocre very quickly. We should have checks to help each other walk more closely with God, and that is not a one-way direction. Husbands need to look out for wives and wives need to look out for husbands.
As a wife, if things are going wrong, you must have the ability to speak to your husband and to talk together to sort problems out. Too often, submission means the wife just acquiesce at all times, and can never speak up or challenge a wrong path. As a Christian we also have access to God, which is our daily privilege. Bringing problems to God is a powerful way to have grace to help in times of need. The power of a Christian woman praying can change everything. When we are unable to practically do anything, we come to God who gives generously to all who ask. God listens to His daughters, and their love for Him is often very evident, as they know His power to work for them.
We submit to each other, as we follow Christ and live godly and holy lives for His glory. We are not sheep, or automatons, who just go along with everything. We are instructed to test the spirits to see if they are from God, and that is not just the role of the husband. A husband should be able to trust in his wife, and have full confidence in her. Her judgment can be trusted and she is wise in the ways of the Lord.
In the church or Christian setting, all men are not in charge of all women, and this is not well understood. This is more than iterating a form of words, but requires direct action to break the lack of regard for women in church. Both women and men must work together to put this situation right and encourage women to use all their intellectual and spiritual skills, for the benefit of the whole church.
In the perfect kingdom there will be no trouble about submission, for we shall all be perfect, but until then we must walk together, check each other, teach each other, submit to each other. God gives women spiritual abilities and men are wise when they see that, and listen and perhaps even submit to them.! The hierarchy model only promotes pride and selfish ambition in the hearts of ambitious men.
None of us should succumb to fear and forget God.
V25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the assembly and gave himself up for it;
The sacrificial love of Christ is mirrored in the marriage relationship. It is an undying love that gave up all, including life itself for the other. It is a totally unselfish love that puts the needs of the other before its own wishes or needs. Christ gave His life for His people, the Church, and paid the price for her redemption and release from sin, so that none of them would ever have to suffer for their sins. This is a supernatural love that transcends time and place, and shows the love of God to a dying world.
Marriage is a picture to the unbelieving world, how a relationship with God should be. It shows the love of Christ for His people and the love of His people to Him. We cannot accurately mirror Christ, since we still struggle with sin, temptation and doubt. But there should be the mark of the sacrificial relationship in the marriage bond of two Christian people.
There is no competition here. There is no using the partner for selfish ends. There is a desire for the well-being and personal growth of the other. It is a love that puts itself second and values the personal development of the other party. It is not one sided. It is two working together as one to bring peace and joy to the marriage relationship and the wider family circle. Children growing up in a family that honours Christ, should see strong parential role models that they can relate to and become.
This verse focuses on the husband, and this is necessary, since pride and self-seeking are the natural realm of the human heart. Some want the name of a marriage, but not the reality. Marriage is a complete life-changing situation, and should bring great spiritual blessing to the family, as well as the temporal ones.
26 that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word,
Christ made the church holy. The marriage relationship is holy to the Lord, and should be to us as well. Jesus cleanses His people, not only through His death and resurrection, but also as we are washed and cleansed by His holy Word. As we come into relationship with that Word, the person of Christ, so we are cleansed by His blood from all sin, and its attending guilt. As we walk with God, so we are perpetually cleansed through the study of the Word and the application of it to our lives each day.
The marriage relationship shows this deep truth about Christ and His people. We should be pure in all our relationships and reflect the beauty of the Lord. God will keep His people pure and we must actively seek that purity.
“How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
By living according to your word. Iseek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands.” Psalm 119:9+10
The marriage relationship should be devoted to this. If we are not devoted to God, we will not manage to be devoted to each other.
We are made holy, and we are cleansed through the Word as we walk with God. We gain a heart of righteousness and our faith grows, as we live out the truths of the Word of God in our lives. This is the living Word. This is the path of holiness to the Lord. Without this personal holiness, no one will see the Lord.
As we daily cleanse our bodies from the dirt and grime of life, so we wash our souls in the truth of God and live every day as a holy day to God. Without this spiritual washing, no one can be saved, or enter the eternal kingdom.
V27 that he might present the assembly to himself gloriously, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without defect.
This is the end product of our lives of holiness. Perfection will come but in this life we seek it and strive to enter in. At the final moment in history, when all the people of God are gathered in, and every one of them is redeemed to God, through Christ alone, they will every one enter into the kingdom. The sight will be resplendent. Every Christian will finally receive the immortality promised by God, and will shed every vestige of sin. They will finally be holy, as the Lord Himself is holy. This is the desire of every true heart that belongs to Christ.
The Church of God will be radiant in glory. There will be no hint of the sin that so easily besets us, no mistake of unfinished work, nothing that would detract from the Saviour Jesus. We will be Holy. This is a monumental statement. Those once dead in sin, are now made perfect, as God is perfect. There will be no cause for blame or accusation, for they are all swallowed up in the victory of the cross. We will understand and know, even as we are personally known by God. There will be such harmony and knitting together of relationship as never before. Personal and profound difficulties will be gone forever. This is the image of God and His people that we should see in marriage.
As these two redeemed people walk in faith and love, they are a foretaste of that great day. We are still sinful and need daily repentance, but we have the power to reject sin and do what is right and good. We can walk the Christian pathway with another person, and bear testimony to them of the grace of God. This should be the beauty of marriage- two walking together, agreeing and becoming progressively holy in their walk with their Lord.
V28Even so, husbands also ought to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
This glory is the image of that great day, when all relationships will be made new, and all sins, guilt and blame will be finally exiled to where they belong. We should love each other, as in marriage the two lives have become one, and to not love your wife or husband, is a self-destructive mind-frame. A healthy person loves themselves to the extent of caring for their bodies, and looking after their health in mind and spirit as well. To be careless of ourselves, and our families, is not a godly attitude. To make your family a sacrifice for the work of God, is not honouring to God. If our families are in disarray, God is not glorified.
To love your wife is to love yourself, since each of you is involved in the relationship and joined in spirit. If men don’t love their wives, then they don’t love themselves, and will become unhealthy and unbalanced. To love your wife, is to love her like yourself and to treat her as Christ does His people. This is a difficult commandment for anyone, and should cause us to examine ourselves and our attitude. A healthy marriage is one of sacrifice and regard for the other person. The husband is highlighted as the chief partner, who needs to seek this. He is to look at Christ and show that sacrificial love that took Jesus to the cross and gave up His life for us.
This is a healthy marriage. The same spirit of selflessness applies to wives. She also seeks the well-being of the other half of herself, and so the two persons in the relationship can thrive together, love each other and be useful.
V29 For no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourishes and cherishes it, even as the Lord also does the assembly;
People love their bodies, except when they are not well in thoughts and feelings. A healthy person does not hate themselves, or how they are or how they look. We care for ourselves by eating and drinking, sleeping and keeping healthy and clean. When we become unable to look after ourselves and do not value who we are. We are not in a good place, but need help to recover our normal view of ourselves as people.
Normally, we keep ourselves in a good state, both in body and mind. This is how Christ keeps the people in His church, or body. He knows their needs and He meets their needs. He does not neglects us, or treat us as we deserve. His eternal forgiveness blesses us with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places, and He give such peace and joy. Christians knows they belong to Him, and have deep gratitude to their Lord for what He has done.
As a person would feed their body, so Christ feeds us in the study of the Word and in the service of His kingdom. As we would wash ourselves to keep clean and to keep micro-organisms at bay, so Christ has washed our souls and daily washes us from the sin that so easily infests us. The washing of His blood sacrifice makes a person eternally clean and will bring each person in His kingdom to glory and total holiness.
The link with marriage shows us that a husband or wife, who do not love each other in this close bond, are showing that they don’t love themselves. The closeness of the bond between Jesus and the Christian is similar – So also the bond between Christ and His eternal church. This shows how important it is that our relationships as Christians, demonstrate what it means to be a Christian.
V30 because we are members of his body, of his flesh and bones.
Christ Jesus does these amazing things for all those who belong to Him. We are members because of what He did for us. Not because of any good we have done. He has made us members – not of a social club or sport club.. but members of His body – parts of His body. He has chosen us and designated us to be part of His body, a glorious body, and we each play our part for the sake of the whole.
We are the very flesh and bones of Christ.! We can never be extricated from the body. We cannot be transplanted. It is totally amazing to think that people such as us can ever have such a close part of Christ. He gave His flesh and blood, so that we could be part of His flesh and blood. This should make our minds reel at such kindness and condescension. The glorious privilege of the Christian believer is beyond human thought or idea.
We are all members. No one is preferred. No one is exalted above others. Jesus Himself is the head of that body, and we as parts of it are resurrected from the sinful deadness of the world, and made alive to Him.
Each member is nurtured by Christ and kept by His power. So also should we nurture and uphold each other before the throne of God in prayer. All members work together, and support and value each other before God and a watching world. This also is a demonstration of the marriage relationship. It is clear that marriage cannot survive without the grace of God, as we do not survive as Christians in this world, without that same grace.
V31 For this cause a man will leave his father and mother, and will be joined to his wife. Then the two will become one flesh.
In marriage, each party leaves the family home and sets up a new home together. They leave mothers and fathers, and come together as a new and vibrant partnership for the glory of God. So also the Christians leaves the familiar surroundings of the world and its ways, and joins Christ. We stick to Christ, cleave to Him, and become one with Him. This is the power of marriage and the power of Christian conversion.
Marriage is a spiritual state, and not just a contract between two people for their convenience. It is a living breathing picture of the grace of God, and what happens when we believe in Christ. When Christ died for sin, the just requirements of the holy law of God were met and paid for. So sinful people could enjoy forgiveness and a new life with Him. This is a picture of the new life set up in marriage of two sinful people made able to walk with each other and walk with God.
But there was more. Christ died for His people. Individuals – chosen before the world was even made, and set apart for salvation. The grace of God is personal. When Jesus died on the cross, it was for individual people, not a faceless mass of humans, without distinction. The Lord Jesus knew ever soul He was redeeming to Himself, and who He was going to raise up to walk with Him. The natural relationships we have in this world fade away and we stick closely to Jesus as our Saviour and Lord.
As we choose who we marry, so He chose us and gave us His life, that we might be His body and forever part of Him.
V32 This mystery is great, but I speak concerning Christ and of the assembly
The use of the marriage analogy seems to break down. The immensity of what Christ did on the cross and the absolute power He showed in raising Himself from the dead, is beyond any narrative we could think of. The mystery of the life, death and resurrection of the Son of God incarnate, is beyond our reach. We bow our knees and worship Him who did it all and paid it all for us. There is no other suitable response. There is no analogy that can illustrate the enormity of this demonstration of love.
Similarly the picture of Christ and the church is so much greater and wider and perfect than any human dilemma. It is a holy vision and an idea far beyond the thought of human kind. The idea that such sinful beings could be lifted and glorified in such a way, is beyond the realms of our mercy or kindness. Love is of God and we can see that so clearly in this passage and verse.
Marriage is only a watery reflection of that great relationship between Christ and His people. We are sinful, and make so many errors and have so many faulty attitudes. How could we ever reflect the power of that act of the salvation of God?
The one great relationship is between us as individuals, and our personal Lord Jesus. This should be our most earnest search, to live for Him and become like Him.
The huge relationship that’s stretches over time is the building of the Church of Christ. It includes all of God’s people from every tribe and tongue is the kingdom of God come in glory. Our personal relationship with Jesus will give way to this demonstration of glory, when Christ returns and that great church will go home to glory forever. This is relationship. Perfect, powerful and overflowing with joy.
V33 Nevertheless each of you must also love his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
Paul the Apostle comes back to earth again. The attempt to cover and explain the profound mystery is so futile, that he leaves it with the individual Christian to commune with the Holy Spirit to try to draw near to this great truth.
The reality is, we show God to each other and the world outside. Husbands and wives must relate with love and dignity toward each other, so that the beauty of Jesus Christ might be seen. Husbands are to love their wives like Christ loves His people. The wife is not instructed to love her husband, but to respect him.
This is where the marriage analogy breaks down. Christ loves His people, and His people love Him. Their love for Him is dependant on His love for them. But they love the one who has done so much for them and has released them from their chains of sin and slavery to this world. In the marriage the wife shows respect for her husband, but seemingly no need for love. Human marriages are very difficult relationships, and there can be so many problems. God knows this, so He presents the marriage as less than the greater relationship of being in the family of God – being a child of the everlasting kingdom – being a member of the very body of Jesus Christ…
Our marriages do fail and there are times of difficulty in the relationship, but we overcome by the power of the Spirit and the realization that we are still sinful and need forgiveness. To maintain order and decorum, Paul states this attitude for marriage. It will not be so in the eternal kingdom. Even in this world, we seek love and openness in our marriages, that reflect this coming eternal state of being.
The relationship of Christ and His people is kept by Him, and the all powerful God and Saviour Jesus. The love of Christ never fails, and the relationship with His people is perfect because He keeps it. In a human marriage this can never be, as we are yet struggling with sin and our pride. Hence the spiritual analogy breaks down.
In our individual lives we seek Christ, and as we do so, it will impact on or relationships and bring us closer to God and each other. This is a two way situation.
As women it can seem like we are always on the back foot. We are portrayed as the inactive and subservient person, who must just “obey” blindly. The husband makes all the decisions and the wife has no input or right to say anything. It is easy for men to fall into the idea that they are in total control, as God is. It is easy for women to hide behind the curtain of silence. Women can opt out of their responsibilities and just let someone else carry the burden. This is unfair to men.
In this life, the statement in this verse is all we can expect. We still live in a fallen world.
But our relationship with Christ is our source of joy, power and love. Without this relationship, we will fail at all relationships. And in a glorious way, to walk with a marriage partner in the joy of the Lord, is a way that we can see and experience that deep and mysterious relationship between Jesus and His people.
This involves total commitment and active seeking and walking with God by both parties. We walk with Him by faith and in the power of the Spirit – Men and women.