Category Archives: Identity

Love like a man

Ephesians 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,  that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,  so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

Continuing with the idea that marriage is intended to depict an earthly example of Jesus Christ’s relationship to His Church, the role of the husband is a heavy one. Men are called to love their brides as Christ loves the people of God.

Many of us gloss this over and simply boil it down to an instruction to “love your wife” without grasping the depth of the statement. Husbands, love your wives, AS CHRIST LOVED THE CHURCH AND GAVE HIMSELF UP FOR HER. How far are you willing to go in putting your wife before yourself, men? Have you given your life for her? This isn’t just a literal laying down of one’s physical life for another, it’s also a laying down of one’s own desires for the sake of another. If you’re keeping score at home, that means husbands AND wives are called to submission.

Furthermore, husbands bear the weight of responsibility for their wives’ spiritual state. Just as Christ overlooks the well-being of His bride, that she might be presented without spot or blemish, so too are husbands to look after their wives and assist in any area where they may need to grow. Husbands are to lead their wives in spiritual matters and failure to do so is disobedience.

 

Wives and husbands, Christ and the Church

Ephesians 5:22-24 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

Of all passages in the Bible, this one ranks among the top in its controversy quotient. Many read what Paul wrote to the Ephesians and see something sexist or misogynistic, but it’s anything but. We have to read it in its larger context though.

The problem with so much of our biblical interpretation is that we see a verse, pulled out of its context, and we try to interpret it on its own. This always leads to misunderstanding of the real idea. Such is the case in Ephesians.

The main focus of Paul is not that women should submit to men, or that men should rule over women, but that Jesus Christ is head of the Church. Marriage is an earthly picture of a heavenly concept. In it, men and women (in their sinful, broken way) depict the relationship that Jesus has to His bride, the Church. That’s all of us, by the way, the family of God who are called by His name.

Jesus is powerful and has unlimited authority, but He is also submissive to the Father. In a marriage relationship, both authority and submission are supposed to be present to show that relationship between Him and us. Both qualities exist in Christ and neither of them is inferior or superior to the other.

God’s Word points out both here and in other places that it’s not a husband’s role to lord his authority over his wife, nor is woman commanded to submit to all men. Submission doesn’t mean a wife has no opinion or that she is inferior to her husband. On the contrary, submission quite often means the wife (who is her husband’s equal) carries the great responsibility of being his confidant and greatest advisor. Just as a husband should physically protect his wife, a wife’s submission to her husband protects him as well. It’s the completion of a relationship – two halves equaling a whole.

Use your time wisely

Ephesians 5:15-16 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 

There’s a lot of talk in the Bible about wisdom, a lot of direction on how to walk as someone who is wise. It’s pretty clear that God is for us being wise, but not just in our own understanding. He wants us to pursue His ways and His wisdom.

With only so many hours in the day, our schedules can fill up pretty quickly. If we’re not careful, they’ll be full of things that aren’t all that important. The entertainment we cram into our day, the selfish ambitions we seek after, those are all time wasters when we could be moving into the will of God.

He’s doing what He’s doing, with or without us, but the wise person knows to jump on the wave and go with God’s flow. It’s a foolish person who intentionally rejects the will of God to go after some temporary thing to be had on this earth.

Be careful how you use your time. God’s given you 24 hours in a day to live out the life He’s called you to. He’s given you an instruction book, a Helper, and a family to aid you in doing it all. Make the right choice: be who you were created to be.

How to be a light

Ephesians 5:8-10 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.

Before we’re rescued from our sin, before we put of faith in Jesus to forgive us, we pretty much do whatever we want, yet we’re slaves to our sin, unable to actually make choices that will please God. Once we’ve been saved we’re given God’s help to know what pleases Him. The problem is that sometimes we try to walk back into the darkness instead of remaining in the light.

Many a Christian has asked how far they’re able to go with this or that before it becomes a sin. That’s not how following Jesus works though! It’s not about finding the line and figuring out how much can be done before it’s wrong. It’s about trying to learn what pleases God and doing that. Is that how you live your life?

The Apostle Paul urges us to walk as children of the light, which is what we are once we’ve been adopted into the family of God. We’re not in darkness anymore, we’re not slaves to sin. Make no mistake, we will still sin, but we’re not captive to the sinful heart anymore. When we make choices to cross the line, it’s on us. It’s not because we didn’t know better and it’s not because we couldn’t help it. It’s because we chose the darkness.

We have been given the greatest gift to help us live as God wants us to live. He dwells in the hearts of believers, giving us His guidance and assurance. It’s amazing when you think of just how much God wants us to succeed in following Him. He’s rooting for us to win!

Don’t believe everything you hear

Ephesians 5:6-7 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them

People will say anything if it means making a sale in today’s economy. There are literally thousands of claims made everyday for products that will not hold up to them. The worst part is, the people trying to get you to buy them know very well they won’t deliver and they don’t care as long as you buy.

That sounds so shady, doesn’t it? We imagine that only the most sinister of characters would ever do such a thing to another person, but in reality many deceive themselves before deceiving others. When you’ve talked yourself into thinking that it’s justifiable to scam someone else then it seems to be no big deal.

Then there are people in our lives who talk us into the little things, those little compromises here and there that seem like they aren’t sins because we’ve defined them as something other than acts against God. This passage from Ephesians says that to believe someone’s lies is to become partners with them.

Now look back at verse 5 and recognize that Paul was still talking about sexual immorality here in verses 6 and 7. The world lies to us about what is acceptable sexually and believing that sin is ok is to become partners with the sexually immoral. They use empty words and so often we believe them. “This particular act isn’t actually sex,” “God never said this was wrong,” “It depends on what your definition of “is” is.”

Let’s stop believing the lies by fine-tuning our ability to recognize the truth. We do that through learning God’s voice through His Word. To know Him is to recognize an impostor with ease.

Don’t make an idol of sex

Ephesians 5:5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

It seems impossible today to escape from the constant deluge of sexual content streaming into our homes, our workplaces, even our schools. Everyone is exposed to sexually immoral media everyday and it’s sold as a completely natural thing to embrace.

God has a different idea about sex, however. He calls certain things good and other things wrong and immoral. It’s not always about what’s good and what’s bad though. Even a good thing can be a bad thing when it takes the place of God. When we think about sex too much, talk about sex too much, and seek after sex too much, we make it an idol.

Isn’t it interesting that this passage in Ephesians talks about both sexual immorality and idolatry as if they were one and the same? We can idolize many things: wealth, career, respect, fashion, but all too often the thing we place above all others is sex. It was the same in the Apostle Paul’s day and nothing has changed. Anything we prioritize more than God is an idol and He calls us to put it away and look to Him first and foremost.

Joking aside, let’s give thanks

Ephesians 5:4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.

Have you ever been around someone who said or did something that just seemed really out of place for who they are or what they are? For instance, a Catholic nun smoking a cigar while drinking a shot of whisky would seem different from what’s expected.

Followers of Jesus are held to a higher standard of conduct when it comes to things that come out of our mouths. Filthy talk, dirty jokes, or crudeness are just out of place among believers. Sometimes we’ll have to be in situations around other people who conduct themselves in such a way, especially if we hope to lead them to Christ, but we need not get in on the dirty jokes.

It’s so tempting, though, to join in when people are having a good time and making inappropriate comments; isn’t it? The choice we end up having to make in such situations is to be what God has called us to be rather than being popular among the people making the jokes. It can be a tough move to make, but it’s always worth it to obey the Lord.

There are several reasons to keep our talk clean, and we won’t go into all of them, but one is that we have so much to be thankful for that we have better ways to spend our time than wallowing in filth. Instead of making crude jokes, give thanks to God. Instead of bringing others down, life them up. The family of God in Jesus Christ is set apart. Our words (or lack thereof) should make that apparent.

Leave behind sexual immorality

Ephesians 5:3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 

Sex sells, so so the saying goes. Everywhere we look there is some sexual temptation being thrown in our faces. We, as Christ followers shouldn’t give in though; right?  Right? See, that’s just it. Many who name themselves among God’s people have bought into the lie that sexual sin isn’t so bad. The truth is — it kills.

Today in the American Church we’ve glossed over sexual immorality as though it’s just part of life, not really a sin. Sins are things like murder and cheating on your taxes. Sex is just sex, no matter who it’s with or whether it’s in a marital relationship or not. It’s a lie and we’ve bought it, hook, line, and sinker.

We even convince ourselves that Jesus never talked about sexual immorality or that the Bible never condemns certain things. Who are we fooling? It’s all right there in black and white. Sexual immorality is sin and it’s not to be part of the lives of believers. This is one thing that we must absolutely be free from because it kills our relationship with the Lord. It comes between us because, when you boil it down, sexual immorality is idolatry; it’s putting something else before God.

This isn’t intended to beat you down. If you find yourself in the midst of sexual sin the last thing you need is condemnation. The truth is that Jesus paid the price to win victory over your sin and even over your temptation to sin. You don’t have to feel condemnation and you don’t have to struggle against this sin. You just have to claim the victory that’s already yours in Jesus Christ.

Love like God loves

Ephesians 5:1-2  Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

There are many difficult mandates given in the Bible, none more impossible than the command to be imitators of God. How could fallen, sinful human beings possibly imitate a holy, perfect God?

This may seem like a setup for failure, but that’s far from the truth. God knows very well that we can’t be perfect and He’s only asking us to pursue following His commands with His help, not on our own. Anything He’s asked us to do is something He’s equipped us to do.

It’s interesting how important the theme of love is in God’s Word. So many of the laws and rules boil down to loving the Lord and loving other people. It would seem that there is no better way to imitate God than to love. Maybe there’s not even anything God wants us to do more than He wants us to love. To do so is a “fragrant offering and sacrifice” to Him.

We don’t try to be like God in order to gain favor with Him, we follow in His footsteps because we already have favor with Him as His adopted children. We don’t love Him and other people because we want to earn our place with Him, we love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19) and we’re responding to that epic love in the only way we can. We won’t do it perfectly like only He can, but we’ll be honoring Him by doing it.

We owe it to each other to forgive

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

If I asked you why Jesus had to die on the cross you would likely mention forgiveness. It’s true, the only way we can obtain God’s forgiveness is through a relationships with Jesus Christ. He paid for all of our sins, past, present, and future. But still we hold on to grudges against the people that have caused us harm.

How can we accept the forgiveness offered to us for every single bad things we’ve ever done and will ever do without being willing to show the same grace to people who do us wrong? Haven’t we done worse to God and yet been granted a pardon?

How arrogant we are when we hold onto the grace of God for ourselves and don’t pass it along to others. May we have eyes to see how wrong it is for us to do such a thing, how much it goes against God’s will for us. Who do you need to forgive right now? Have they really done something so much worse to you than you have done to the Creator who not only forgives you but does so through the sacrifice of His own Son? We owe it to each other to forgive, just as God in Christ forgave us.