Tag Archives: Ephesians

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.

Light is a gift

Ephesians 5:13-14 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible,  for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

It’s no secret that more crime happens in the darkness of night. Those who wish to remain unseen work in the dark. To have light shined upon them would be to expose their deeds. This is true literally, but it’s also very true spiritually.

There’s darkness in our hearts because of sin. Because of our predisposed sinful nature, we move towards that darkness and embrace it; we’re not inclined to move towards the light. That would expose our hidden secrets. It’s painful when the lights get turned on after we’ve been in the dark for a long time.

The light is a gift, though. While it may be the last thing we desire, the light wakes us up. By exposing what’s in the darkness, it frees us to really live. If Christ lives in you, which He does if you’re His follower, then light is something to love, not something to avoid.

So wake up, o sleeper! You’ve been given a new life to live. Let the light shine and work in and through you.

When evil is the norm

Ephesians 5:11-12 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 

When we live in a world that surrounds us with evil and sinful deeds, how can we even recognize what’s right and wrong anymore? When wrong is called right, how can we escape the inevitable pull of the world into the darkness?

We’re called through this passage in God’s Word to not only refuse to take part in the sinful acts of the world, but to expose them. Just like shining a light into a dark room can cause the bugs to scatter, shedding the light of God’s Word on the evil of the day causes a reaction.

We’re not told specifically to call people out in a harsh way, but rather to lovingly shine the light of the gospel on the brokenness of the world we live in.  The grace of God in Jesus Christ should show through our actions as we refuse to embrace the darkness. Those who have their sin exposed should be left wanting to look to God, and we should be ready to tell them about Him (1 Peter 3:15).

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.

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.

Forget about it

Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.

Revenge is never worth it. Holding a grudge does nothing to help anyone. Bitterness is a cancer that eats away at the soul. God wants so much more for your life.

Paul’s letter to the Ephesians deals mostly with unity within the body of believers, so it’s important to note that this refers to forgiving those who are our brothers and sisters in the Lord’s family. When we don’t forgive our own church family we can’t live the lives that God intends for us. The Church can’t function as it’s supposed to when we live with anger and bitterness towards someone.

Forgiveness, though, is a cure for many of the faults within the Church. Letting go of the hurts we hold on to brings healing that can release all of us from the shackles that we find ourselves in. Jesus didn’t die for our forgiveness just so that we can refuse to show the same grace to the people God’s placed around us. Forget about it. Let it go. Love those who have hurt you and pray for them – and yourself.

This is practice for the future

Ephesians 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

Have you ever heard the expression, “you play like you practice?” The idea is that you are only going to perform on game day up to the level that you’ve prepared. It’s often a saying used to relate to sports, but it can apply to business, parenting, marriage, and even walking with Christ. We’re only going to perform when we’re called to a task the way we practiced in the little everyday things.

We’re all called to something by God, but it may be some time before something big is revealed to us. We may have to be faithful in a lot of small things before we actually have something come our way that we see as big. The thing is, to God this all counts. All obedience counts.

We were sealed by the Holy Spirit for a reason. God is conforming us into the image of His Son, and He’s going it one little bit at a time (2 Corinthians 3:18), through the small things we don’t see as significant. Open your eyes to what God is doing around you and through you. Take notice of the small steps of obedience He’s calling you to and follow Him.