Tonight we are going to talk about marriage
so let’s begin by asking the question how many of you people are married? Raise up your
hand. Ok. That is a great many of you. How many of you are happily married? Raise up
your hand. Very good. How many of you are unhappily married? You better not. Ok. All
in the back interestingly. That probably says something about you. Unhappily married sit
in the back. The happy people, the happily married, they were all towards the front.
Did you notice that? Ok. How many single people do we have out there? Well that’s good.
I am glad to see you here because what I am going to talk about relates to you as well. Our text is Ephesians chapter 5 and the title
of the messages is, “How to Have a Blessed and Successful Marriage.” Ephesians 5. Let’s begin with a word of prayer. Father
marriage is a gift from you. And when the right man or the right woman comes together
led by Your Spirit and they obey what the Bible teaches it can be glorious. But when
they disregard what Your Word teaches it can be disastrous. Lord we have seen so many struggling
marriages. So many failing marriages. Way too many divorces. But we have seen some good
ones too. And we pray we will see more. I pray that we will have the kind of marriage
You want us to have. For those of us that are married and for those of us that are single
that we will find that right man, that right woman, and even more to the point that we
will be that right man or right woman and that we will honor Your Word. So we commit
this time of Bible study to you now. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen. I heard about a husband and wife. They were
celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. So the husband announced to his wife, “Dear
for our 25 years of marital bliss together I am taking you to China.” Oh she was amazed.
“China. I have never been to China. I am so excited you are taking me to China. If
you are going to do something as extravagant as that for my 25th wedding anniversary what
are you going to do for our 50th?” “That is when I will pick you up” he says. Not
so good. By the way I have never told that joke before.
Ok. That is not a recycled joke. But this one is. I heard about a couple that was celebrating
50 years of marriage together. And that is such an unusual occurrence that at their party
a newspaper reporter was sent to interview them to try to find out the secret to the
longevity of their marriage. You know how this one goes. And so the reporter sat down
with the husband and said, “Sir, tell us how it is you have been married for 50 years
to the same woman.” The man said, “Well let me tell you. My wife she is from Texas
and she is a plainspoken woman but it probably goes back to our honeymoon.” And the reporter
says, “Well what happened?” He says, “Well my wife and I decided to honeymoon at the
Grand Canyon. And we were riding those you know pack mules together and we went along
a very narrow little path and I noticed that my wife’s pack mule stumbled a little bit
and she leaned forward and said to that mule, ‘That’s once.’” And he thought that
was kind of weird. He didn’t know her that well. What does that mean? That’s once.
And they went a little bit further and the mule stumbled again and she leaned forward
said into the mule’s ear, “That’s twice.” He says, “Then we went a few feet further.
Again the mule stumbled. She pulled a 357 pistol out of her purse and shot the mule
in the head. Killed him dead right there on the spot.” I said, “That’s outrageous.
You shouldn’t do that to an animal. That is horrible. I can’t believe it. She said,
she looked at me and said, ‘That’s once.’” So they were married ever since then. So we are going to talk about how to have
a marriage God’s way. You really don’t want to have it the world’s way. The world
doesn’t know anything about it. The world largely, and when I say the world, I mean
our culture today, is largely hostile toward the family and everything that it stands for.
I have never known a time when the family is under attack like it is today from those
who want to redefine what it is to those that just simply want to undermine it. So we don’t
want to look to our secular culture for advice on how to have a successful marriage. We want
to look to the Word of God. I mean we look at all of these Hollywood celebrities
that hook up and are married for like eight minutes and then they get divorced. Now let’s
find some credible source here. And of course we have that in the pages of Scripture. The
Bible speaks directly to men and women and tells us how to have a successful marriage. Now I know a little bit about marriage and
a little bit about divorce. I have never been divorced. Thank God for that. My wife has
never considered divorce. Murder yes. Never divorce. But my mom was married and divorced
seven times. And she went through a lot of what you might describe as relationships though
I don’t really think they were. And so I saw how not to do it for many years of my
childhood. And then when I was at the point of getting married I knew that I was going
to make a lifelong commitment that I planned by the grace of God to honor and keep. And
I meant those vows when I said them. You know sometimes people come up to me and
ask me to redo their vows. And I don’t have a problem with that. But I have never felt
a great desire to redo my vows. I haven’t broken them yet. Don’t plan on breaking
them. I think once is good enough. And I meant that when I said that to my wife. And I know
she meant it when she said it to me as well. So what we want to do is find out how God
tells us to do it. You know there are people that talk about infatuation or love at first
sight and it has been said, “Love at first sight is nothing special. It is when two people
have been looking at each other for years that it becomes a miracle.” Well I have
been looking at the same woman for 35 years. And she looks better all the time. You know
our love has only grown stronger. Our love has only grown stronger. The Bible says, “Many
waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it.” I remember the day we got married as though
it were yesterday. My wife was a vision of beauty walking down the aisle. And I looked
like something the cat drug in. I had this gnarly long hair and this big bushy red beard.
And I had the ugliest tuxedo ever made. I didn’t want to get the traditional one so
I got one that I thought was ultra cool and now as I look at those old photos I just think,
“What was I thinking? Oh no.” But my wife could see that underneath all of that hair
was a bald man. And so we have just been thankful to how faithful the Lord has been to both
of us. And we sought to build our marriage on some
of the principles I am going to share with you tonight. This is not an exhaustive message
on the topic. There is much much more that can be said. There will be principles that
I will touch on and you will be thinking, “I need to know more about that” and I
am sorry I can’t cover it all in one fell swoop but we will touch on a number of important
areas. Things that Ephesians 5 specifically teaches about marriage. Before I did in I would like to read you a
letter that came into me this week because I announced I was speaking on marriage and
so a couple named Jim and Liz wrote me this letter. “Let me take you back to April of 1989.”
This is Jim writing. “Liz and I had been married for almost five years but since neither
of us knew the Lord at that time our marriage relationship was not founded on the Word of
God. Our relationship was contentious, verbally abusive, and at times even physically abusive
as well. We were certainly headed for divorce court when the Lord brought a coworker into
our lives. He invited us to come to Harvest on Sunday morning in April of 1989. We were
reluctant to come and I even remember the thought of wanting to turn around and go home
several times as we drove to church. As we sat in the pews off to the right side center
I still remember where we sat and waited for the morning’s message. It felt like I shouldn’t
be there. But that was to change very soon. For when Pastor Greg began his teachings he
had the congregation turn in their Bibles to Ephesians chapter five where he began to
teach about the marriage covenant and the roles of the husband and wife. At that moment
Liz and I both felt that we were the only people in the sanctuary and Pastor Greg was
speaking directly to us. He even looked directly at us several times during the sermon.” People always think I am looking at them.
I am not. Well actually I am looking at you right now sir. And I am going to be looking
at you through. I mean literally looking. Ok. So I am not. Really I don’t but people
think I do. That is just because they have a guilty conscience. No. I am kidding. “But anyway you gave the invitation to accept
Christ. I remember my heart pounding. I knew that very moment God was calling us to his
family. The rest is, as they say, history. Our marriage was healed. It is stronger now
than ever before. And I pray as you teach on this subject of marriage and the family
others will have that same experience.” So you know the Word of God works. That is
all I want to tell you. I know it works. I know it is true. I have seen it work. But
sometimes people don’t like what it says. Sometimes people don’t like what the Bible
teaches about the role of the husband and the wife. But this is the Word of God. And
one thing that I often do with couples when they come to me for counseling. By the way
if the couple ends up with me for counseling that probably means they have tried everything
else. It is one of those, “Well we will talk to Pastor Greg only.” And they are
hanging on a thread. So usually by the time I get to them it is pretty far down the track. But one of the first things I will ask couples
when they come in and sit down for marital counseling is I will ask them if they are
both Christians. They will usually say yes. Then I will ask them do they both believe
the Bible is the Word of God. They will usually say yes immediately. Then I ask them, “Are
you willing to do what the Bible says even if you find it difficult?” And then they
realize I am kind of setting a trap for them. Because I have never found a couple divorcing
yet that were doing what the Bible says. Never. And you know what? I don’t think I ever
will. I think if we do what God says we will not be headed to divorce court. But if we
don’t then we are going to have trouble. So we are going to dig into what the Scripture
has to say as we look here at Ephesians chapter 5. For those of you that are single I would like
to just point out that even if you are single today chances are that you will be married
eventually. Studies show that 9 out of 10 Americans are married at least some point
in their lives. Next to accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord the most important
decision you are going to make is who you are going to spend the rest of your life with.
It is something you want to enter into very carefully and very prayerfully. You don’t
want to rush this. Because I will tell you when life comes to
an end there is only a handful of things that are really going to matter. It is going to
really come down to faith, family, and to a lesser extent your friends. The thing you
are going to think about is your faith. Your relationship or lack thereof with God. And
often when I speak with people who are death’s door their thoughts and their concerns are
about God and their relationship with Him. And that is entire appropriate. And then it
goes to family. And often a recognition that there may have been failures there and shortcomings.
Or you want your family around you. I tell you all those other things that were important
prior to that don’t mean anything at that point. So these are things that we want to
get right. We want to see what God’s Word has to say. Because, as I already touched
on for a moment, divorce is so commonplace. Now it is one thing when break apart out there
in our world. But when we start seeing it happen in the church that really causes me
great distress. When you see it happening among people that profess to be followers
of Jesus who simply disregard what the Word of God says. Most divorces that I see could
be averted. They could be avoided. But they just don’t want to stick with it. And I
will tell you most divorces that I have seen are not biblical. And by the way there are
biblical grounds for divorce. But for most of the divorces I see those are not the grounds
that are being drawn from. It is rather other reasons. They don’t get along anymore or
they are unhappy in the relationship or other things that they will cite. So wedlock should
be a padlock. Ok. So for you singles out there let me just say
to you. Take your time. Don’t rush it. And if you don’t plan on spending the rest of
your life with that person please don’t get married. Just stay single. But if you
are willing to do it God’s way you are in for a great adventure and great blessings
beyond your wildest dreams. All right. Let’s dig in. Ephesians chapter
5. We are going to read verses 1 to 12. Now before we actually get to the topic of marriage
Paul lays some very important groundwork. Ephesians 5:1. “Now therefore be Therefore
be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us
and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor.
But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is
fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which
are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean
person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ
and God. 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 be partakers with them. For
you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for
the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what
is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but
rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by
them in secret.” Now Paul gets down to the nitty-gritty in
this section of Ephesians. He deals with issues and temptations we face even as Christians.
And he starts by telling them that they are to be imitators of God in verse 1. And I love
this phrase. He says, “Be imitators of God as dear children.” Listen. You are not just a child of God. You
are a dear child of God. Do you know how much God loves you? Are you aware of the depth
of His affection toward you? We remember when the Lord was baptized. When Jesus was baptized
by John that the Father said, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”
You know God was very pleased with His Son. God loved and loves His Son the Lord Jesus
Christ. You say, “That’s great. That’s Jesus. That’s not me.” But listen to this.
Jesus said in John 17:22–23, “I have given them the glory You gave Me.” He is speaking
to the Father in the true Lord’s prayer here.” So they may be one as we are, I in
them and You in Me, as they are perfected in the one, that the world may know that You
sent Me and will understand.” Listen to this. “That You them as much as You love
Me.” What? Jesus just said to the Father that God loves me as much as He loves Jesus
Christ. That God loves you as much as He loves the Son of God. If the Lord Himself had not
said it I would never suggest such a thing. But this is what the Bible teaches. You are
a dear child of God. And we need to start living like that. We
don’t behave as children of God so often. But we are. We are adopted into His family
with full rights and privileges. The Bible says that when we become believers in Jesus
we are accepted in the beloved. And that simply means that now God sees you in Christ. He
doesn’t see you for what you were. He sees you for what you are and what He will make
you into. So let that sink in for a moment. You are a deal child. Now as I contemplate that that should affect
me in the way that I live in this world. How should it affect me? Number one. It should cause me to want to
stay away from immorality. Again. It should cause me to want to stay away from immorality.
Verse 3. “Fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named
among you, as is fitting for saints.” Now why would Paul bring up such unsavory things
like this? Well understand these believers were living in Ephesus. Ephesus was the capital
of the Roman province of Asia. It was a busy commercial port. A wealthy and affluent area.
But it was also the headquarters of the cult of the goddess Diana. Immorality was rampant
throughout Ephesus. Thousands of prostitutes working for the temple would comb the streets
of the city looking for potential recruits. Men that they would drag off to the temple
and engage these sexual rites as they offered worship to this false deity. So these Ephesians
believers were godly people living in a godless place. So Paul is just getting down to brass
tacks and saying, “I am going to just spell it out for you guys. As followers of Jesus
you can’t live this way anymore. No more of this. And man if you think they had it bad then
imagine what they would think of our culture today. Need I say that we are a sex obsessed
culture? So Paul tells them what to do and what not to do. Here is an interesting thing.
I want you to notice he says there should not be fornication. And just to break it down
fornication is sex before marriage. There is never any justification for that. Never
any rational for that. Never any special allowance for that. That is always a sin before God.
Fornication. But Paul doesn’t just mention that. He mentions
uncleanness and covetousness and there should not even be a hint of it. That’s very important.
Not just that you should not do it but there should not even be a hint of it. You see we
may not technically do the things that wicked people do but we may watch them do with some
pleasure. In our voyeuristic and twisted world that we are living in today we can follow
the latest antics of the godless. Well they might post it on YouTube. They might even
tweet about it. And we can see a picture of what they are up to. We can see it in real
time. And I have never seen so much interest in the lifestyles of these people like we
see today. And here is what Paul is saying. You are an imitator of God. Not only should
you not do those things. There shouldn’t even be a hint of it in your life. Now he takes it a step further. Number two. Godly people should not only avoid
immorality but they should also avoid obscene talk. Look at verse four. “Neither filthiness,
nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.”
This word filthiness has to do with general obscenity. Talk that is degrading and disgraceful.
Paul also mentions coarse jesting. You know what that is. Coarse jesting is the double
entendre. The sexual innuendo. You know how some people can turn everything into a weird
joke. And you are like, “You are so sick, what is wrong with you?” Everything is,
“Hey ha ha ha.” I mean I don’t even want to put words to that, but you understand
what I am saying. It is like everything is. You are sick. You see everything that way.
But that is sort of how they see the world you know. Through beer goggles you know. And
through sex obsession because they feed their mind and their heart with that sort of thing
so it comes out in the way that they live and the way that they speak. No. It should
not be that way among Christians. It certainly should not be this way among
pastors. But yet a popular trend in some churches today is for pastors to cuss from the pulpit.
“Hey how cool is that. Our pastor cusses. Well he just said this word and that word
the other day and everybody laughed.” That is not cool at all. That is irreverent. And
it is wrong. We used to be that way. We are not that way anymore. If that is what I have
to do to be relevant, then I will be irrelevant. Ok. I don’t think I have to cross that line
and speak that way. And you know
some will say, “Well it’s authentic.” Yeah. It’s authentically wrong. That’s
what it is. You can be authentic without crossing the line. And then there is this trend in some churches
today where they have such an emphasis on sex to attract crowds. So pastors will get
up and say, “We are having this sex challenge and we want you to have.” Now in fairness
they will say, “Have sex every night with your wife for 30 days.” Wow. Ok. And you
know, “I am going to teach on this.” And they will teach through the book of the Song
of Solomon, which is fine, it is a book in the Bible. It is inspired by God. But they
teach it as though it were some kind of a sex manual instead of teaching it in the way
it is presented in Scripture. With respect. With delicacy. With honor. No. It is sort
of playing to the epicurean interest of a twisted culture. And this is all done in the
name of re-envisioning church and re-imagining church. Friends we don’t need re-envision
or re-imagine church. We need to rediscover it the way God gave it to us in the Bible.
The church is fine just as it is. Man I just see this bar getting lowered more and more
and when I think I have seen and heard it all I hear something else. This is not should
be among God’s people. The church needs to be the church. I don’t
apologize for the fact that we come here to worship God. We come to hear the Word of God.
I am not a standup comic though I try to be at times. I am not an emcee. I am not an entertainer.
I am not a motivational speaker. I am not a cultural architect. I am not a pop psychologist.
I am a preacher of the Word of God and I am happy to be one. And that is what I am here
to do. And you are a child of God. You are a dear child of God. And we have serious rain coming down here.
Look at this. How about that. Raindrops keep falling on my head. They keep. Sometimes I
am a standup comic. All right. But not a very good one. Number three. Godly people must not covet.
Verse 5. “Know this, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an
idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” Now what is coveting?
Interesting thing. You can translate the word covet to pant after. Sort of like an animal
you know. Just tongue hanging out. The thirsty. They want something. Maybe it is a prey. Whatever
it is this is the concept that is given. Coveting is to eagerly desire something that belongs
to another. To set the heart on something. Often your neighbor’s wife or husband or
something that is theirs. And we are clearly told in Scripture to not covet. Number four. Godly people are to walk in a
new way. Verse 8—10. “You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as
children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth),
finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.” Now what does this mean? He uses three words.
Goodness, righteousness, and truth. This is how we are to walk. How? In goodness. Better
translation of the word would be generosity. Godly people should be generous people. Not
stingy. Secondly we should be righteous and in its context it speaks of integrity in your
dealings with others. Integrity in your dealings with others. Christians should be godly in
their business dealings. You can’t just say, “Well business is business.” Well
that is sometimes a way of saying, “I will do whatever it takes to get ahead in my particular
line of work.” Well fine. You have your line of work but do it with integrity. Do
your work well. Do it with precision. Do it with honesty. That is how we are to live. And in truth. And that means the absence of
falsehood and deception. Godly people should be honest people. Now he takes it a step further. Number five. Godly people are supposed to
confront sin. Godly people are supposed to confront sin. Verse 11. Have no fellowship
with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.” Woe. This gets tricky
now. Because the watchwords of our day are tolerance, acceptance, understanding. Sometimes
even when I am dealing with a subject in the course of teaching the Bible I will say this
particular teaching is wrong or this idea is incorrect. “Oh you know that is not loving.”
Well yeah it is. It is loving. Because I am looking out for the sheep you see. I am trying
to protect God’s people from getting into something that can hurt them. How is that
not loving? That would be like someone saying you know if your little toddler is in the
backyard and you see a wolf climb over the fence and you get a stick to drive it away.
“Well that is not loving.” Oh it is loving. For the child. I am going kill the wolf. Without
any pang of conscience. I protect the child. And in the same way we have to confront sin
when we see it. In fact as you look around at our culture today if you just speak out
for what is true you are branded as intolerant, puritanical, bigoted, and so forth. But the
Bible says, “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but expose them.”
To expose carries the idea of reproof, correction, punishment, or discipline. It is to confront
sin. So if you have a friend that you know that maybe is a follower of Jesus and you
see them compromising you need to confront them. Now having said that, let me add, do
it with love and wisdom. You know there are some people that are just a little bit too
quick to condemn everything. But then there are some people that never deal with anything. A great model is Nathan the prophet. You know
David had fallen into sin. In fact he had been living in sin for a full year and had
not repented of it. He committed adultery with Bathsheba. And so Nathan waited for the
right time to go to the king. He told him a little story. An illustration that he used.
David took the bait. And Nathan then boldly said, “You are the man.” He could have
lost his life to say that to the king. But the idea is he did speak up. We are to go with humility. We are to go in
love. And we are to speak the truth to people that need to hear it. So this is how we are
to live. This is what God’s Word is telling us. Now listen to verse 13. “All things that
are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore
He says: ‘Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.’
See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time,
because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of
the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with
the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and
making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Verse 21. Underline that. We are going to come back
to it. “Submitting to one another in the fear of God.” Now as we are closing in on Paul’s teachings
to husbands and wives let’s consider the words that precede them. First he tells us
we are to turn on the light. Verse 13. “All things are made manifest by the light; whatever
makes manifest is light.” When you can’t find something you need to turn on the light.
You ever lose something in the dark. Sometimes in the morning when I am getting ready I will
dress in the dark. And then when I get in the dark, “Oh this doesn’t exactly match
now does it.” Light helps. Light exposes things. Light shows things for what they really
are. So shine the light of God’s Word on your life and the way that you live and shine
it on your marriage. Or your singleness. And wake up for your sleep. Number two. Verse 14. “Awake that sleep.”
You can’t sleepwalk through light. Wake up. Take action. Wake up to the reality of
a culture that is hostile to your faith and hostile to the family. And then walk carefully. Number three. Verse
15. “Walk circumspectly.” This word is the basic idea of something that is accurate
and exact. It conveys the idea of looking, examining, investigating something with great
care. Sort of like a contract that you are about to sign. Read the fine print before
you affix your signature to it. It is attention to detail. In the same way if you want to have a successful
marriage read the fine print of what the Word of God says. Don’t say your vows until you
are ready to live by them. A successful marriage is the result of attention to detail. Good
marriages don’t just happen randomly or by accident. They happen because people apply
what the Word of God says. For all practical purposes to be the husband, the wife, the
father, and the mother God wants us to be requires us to acknowledge that we need His
help. So redeem the time he says because the days are evil. Verse 16 means to redeem or
make the most of your time. Get these things sorted out. Get your house in order. As the
prophet said to King Hezekiah, “Get your house in order for you shall die and not live.”
Is your house in order? Is it what God wants it to be? You say, “Well Greg it is hard to be a husband.
It is hard to be a wife. It is hard to be a parent.” I know. God doesn’t ask you
to do anything He doesn’t give you the power to do. That brings us to point number five. “Be
filled with the Holy Spirit.” Now this applies to all sorts of things. Not purely to marriage.
Obviously. But it certainly applies to marriage as well. If you want to be the husband God
wants you to be you need the power of the Holy Spirit.” If you want to be the wife
God wants you to be you need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Verse 18. “Don’t
be drunk with wine, but be filled with the Spirit.” You need this power in your life.
And of course you know that from the original language there are some interesting shades
here found that help us to understand this. For instance the verb in the Greek for be
filled is in the imperative mode meaning that is not a suggesting but it is a command. It
is a command. To fail to do so is to effectively cut off your power supply and render you unable
to be the husband or wife or parent God wants you to be. So God is commanding you to be
filled with the Spirit. Not only for marriage but for everything in life. To live as a Christian
you need to be filled with the Spirit. It is not an option. Number two. The verb in the Greek speaks of
a continuous action. It could better be translated, “Be continuously filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Let me add this may have nothing to do with your emotions. We attach way too much emotional
baggage to the filling of the Spirit. You will even see preachers you know getting ready
to pray for someone. “You are just going to receive that power. Get ready. Get ready.
Be healed.” And they are shaking their head and all that. It doesn’t have to be that
way. Because that is not what it means to be filled. Another way you could translate
the word be filled is be controlled by the Spirit. Be controlled by the Spirit. The idea
is of wind filling a sail. The idea is also of salt permeating meat. Those are ways the
word would be used in common language. And so here is what God is saying. Let the Holy
Spirit fill your sails. Let the Holy Spirit permeate every area of your life. Let the
Holy Spirit control you in all that you say and do. And this is a command. And this is
something you should do over and over again. All right. Now having said all that, let’s
start digging into the roles of the husband and wife. And let’s start with a word that
very few people like to hear. A very unpopular word. The word submission. “Oh submission.
I don’t like to submit.” We don’t do we? But this is a word that is used in the
pages of the Bible. Why are we afraid to submit? “Well I don’t want anyone taking advantage
of me. I have my rights. You know I have a say so here as well.” And so we hear the
verse quoted, and we will come to it in a moment, “Wives, submit to your husbands.”
“Oh I disagree with that you know.” Well hold on now. First of all let’s make sure
we understand what it means. And let’s read the verse that precedes it. Before we are
told that wives should submit to husbands we read verse 21, “Submitting one to another
in the fear of God.” Verse 22. “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the
Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives
be to their own husbands in everything.” Not only are wives to submit to husbands.
But listen. Husbands are to submit to their wives as well. You say, “Now what? What
does that mean” That is what it says. Verse 21. “Submitting to one another in the fear
of God.” Well what does that mean? To submit means to get in order under something. It
is actually sometimes used in a military sense and it means to rank beneath. To rank beneath.
For instance in the military you have different ranks. There are many of them. For instance
you have the first lieutenant. And then you have the colonel. And you have the general
and so forth. You have a chain of command in the military. And you have a chain of command
in life as well. So here is what it is saying. A husband’s submission to his wife does
not mean that he abdicates his responsibility of leadership in the home. But it does mean
that it helps her to bear her burdens. Another way you could translate this verse is, “Supporting
one another in the fear of God.” He gets underneath her to help carry her cares. He
is already ready to meet her needs and sacrifice his own desires. And she is willing to do
the same for him. Here is the idea. You put the needs of your mate above your own. “Well
what about?” Shut up. You do this. Don’t think about that. Don’t read each other’s
mail. Here is your mail. Men, women, do your part. Because immediately, “Well they have
to do and you know.” Yeah. Yeah. They do. Ok. But you. Put the needs of your mate above
your own. If you just went into your marriage saying,
“I want to make this the happiest woman that ever lived or the happiest man that ever
lived, and I am going to make it about them not about me.” Do you know how much that
would change your marriage? But we don’t like that. But listen. We have been told in
the beginning that we are to imitate God and we are to walk in love. And far too often
we make everything about us. How can she/he fulfill me? How can they make me a happier
person? What can you do for me? A successful marriage is not so much about finding the
right person as much as it is about being the right person. There is no perfect person
out there. It is about you changing. Philippians 2:4-6 says, “Don’t think about your own
affairs. Be interested in others too about what they are doing. Your attitude should
be the same that Jesus had. Though He was God He did not demand and cling to His rights
as God.” Another Scripture that undergirds the idea
of mutual submission is 1 Corinthians 7:3-4 and talks about sex. Ok. So I am going to
talk about sex. Are you ready? “The husband should not deprive his wife of sexual intimacy,
which is her right as a married woman. Nor should the wife deprive her husband. The wife
gives authority over her body to the husband, and the husband gives authority over his body
to his wife.” You see the husband no more possesses his wife than she possesses him.
He is not superior. She is not inferior. She is not superior. He is not inferior. They
belong one to another. So Paul is saying, “Look. Her body belongs to you. Your body
belongs to her. So don’t deprive each other sexually unless you have agreed to this kind
of a thing.” The idea is you belong to each other. You are supporting one another. You
are submitting to one another. You are helping one another. The two have become one. In no
way does the Bible teach that man is better than woman. Or even that man is above woman.
As we stand before God we stand on equal ground. Galatians 3:28 says, “In Christ there is
neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female.” We are one in Jesus. But listen now. Though there is no difference
between man and woman in the nature of their salvation or standing with God, there is a
principle of authority in the family. And those who struggle with the concept of the
husband being the head of the home might be helped by considering Paul’s words in 1
Corinthians 11:3. Listen to this. “I want you to know that the head of every man is
Christ, and the head of woman is man.” “Oh I don’t like that.” Hold on. It continues
on and says, “And the head of Christ is God.” What? What does that mean that the
head of Christ is God? The Bible speaks of a Trinity. The Father,
Son, and Holy Spirit. One is not better than the other. They are the same in nature and
essence. And so what we discover in Scripture is that the Son submits to the Father. It
is not because the Son is less than the Father. But even in the Trinity there is the idea
of the Son submitting to the will of the Father. We see this played out beautifully in the
Lord’s life on the earth where He constantly submitted to the Father and called on the
father and prayed to the Father. Yet Jesus Christ Himself was God incarnate. And the
Holy Spirit is God as well. So the relationship structure of Jesus Christ
to God the Father is the same as the marriage relationship. Though the husband and the wife
are equal in their standing before God in order for the family to function in harmony
the woman with no loss of dignity takes a place of submission to the leadership of her
husband. Gods’ divine design intends that her respect, help, and obedience will be matched
by his servant leadership as they submit together to the Lord Jesus Christ and to each other. Now look. Any guy with half a brain knows
that it is a partnership and he doesn’t try to run the home like he is a dictator.
That is not what it means to lead. It is servant leadership. It is to lead as Jesus led. And
we will get into that in just a moment. So you girls don’t think I am picking on you
because the guy’s moment is coming big time. Ok. We just want to understand these roles
here. If a man is having to yell, “I am the head of this home and you do what I tell
you to do” something is wrong. Because if he has true authority he won’t have to resort
to screaming and yelling and pounding walls and things of that nature. They will have
her respect. How is it to be done? How is a woman to submit
to her husband? Here is the motive of submission girls. Verse 22. “Wives, submit to your
own husbands, as to the Lord.” As to the Lord. The manner or the attitude of submission
is to be to the Lord. Wives submit to their husband as an act of submission to Christ
Himself. Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all of your heart
because you are working for the Lord not for men.” Whatever you do, do it for the Lord. I remember years ago we were in Ruth Graham’s
home. And she was such a wonderful woman of God. And so much fun to be with. One of the
most fun-loving people I have ever met. Quick to laugh with a twinkle in her eye. And a
true Bible scholar. A woman that knew the Word of God so well. But she had a sign over
her sink that said, “Divine service done here three times a day.” And I remember
when we went over to Ruth’s house and she made us lunch after we spoke at the Cove.
The Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove. And you know what? Ruth Graham made the food
and Ruth Graham washed the dishes. And I was just so impressed by that. She was just there
doing it herself. Doing it as unto the Lord. And you can do anything as unto the Lord.
You know if you are a gardener you mow that lawn as unto the law. If you work at In-N-Out
Burger you flip those burgers, you make those burgers animal style. Oh I am getting hungry.
Why did I say In-N-Out Burger? Anyway you flip those burgers as unto the Lord. You make
that burger as though Christ Himself was going to eat it. He would get a double-double for
sure. Don’t you think? Yeah. As if Jesus Himself was going to pick that order up. You
write that song as unto the Lord. You do that work as unto the Lord. Whatever work you are
in. It is all to be done as unto the Lord. So wives as you submit don’t just do it
for your husband. Do it as unto the Lord as though Jesus Himself asked that of you. Number two. The model of submission. Verses
22 to 23. “He Himself being the Savior of the body. As the church is subject to Christ,
so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.” The ultimate model of submission is Jesus
Christ in the fact that He gave His life for us. He laid it down. Jesus laid aside His
privileges and rights. Jesus took off His outer garment and got down on His hands and
knees and washed the feet of the disciples. He is your model. He is our model. Now the question sometimes arises well are
there limits to submission. In other words does a Christian wife have to do everything
a Christian husband says no matter what? Some guys would say, “Yeah.” No. No. The Bible
does not teach that. The husbands and wife’s submission should first be to God. But there
can be limits to submission. For instance we are told in Scripture to submit
to the civil authorities. Right. Because we are told in 1 Peter 2:13–14, “Submit yourself
for the Lord’s sake to every authority, whether to the king, or the governors, who
are sent by men to punish those that do wrong and command those to do right.” Now that
means that I should obey the laws of the land. That means that as a Christian I have to pay
taxes. If I think my taxes are too high I need to vote for somebody else next time around.
But for now you have got to pay those taxes. You have to obey those laws. That is the way
our country works. Authority has been instituted by God and we have to respect authority. But
let’s just say that the government passes a law tomorrow that no one can pray to God
anymore. Well we have to obey the civil government. Right. No. Daniel was presented with this
exact quandary when a law was signed into practice that no one could pray to any god.
And he prayed as he always had. There comes a point where the law of God supersedes the
law of man. What if the government passes a law that we can’t preach the gospel anymore?
Do we shut everything down? No. We have to do this. And the apostles were told to no
longer preach by the Roman authorities but they said in Romans 5:29, “We ought to obey
God rather than man.” Ok. So let’s apply this to marriage. Let’s
say that the husband is a nonbeliever. You are the sweet godly Christian wife. And he
is kind of enjoying this thing you know. “Oh so the Bible says submit to me. Well why don’t
you submit to me while we go out drinking tonight. And then submit to me while I ask
you to do this immoral thing right now.” “Oh Ok honey.” No. No. No. You don’t
have to do that. Ok. There is a higher law than your husband at this point. And if your
husband would ask you to do something that is against God’s law then you are not to
submit. But unless it is not against God’s law to the best of your ability submit. Peter tells us that you can win your husband
to the Lord without a word by your godly living. You know sometimes less is more. With men
you are never going to nag them into the kingdom of God. Ok. Can I just tell you this? Nagging
doesn’t work. That is why King Solomon who had a thousand wives said, “Like this drip
of water right here, the drip of a water on a roof are the words of a contentious woman.”
You want to drive your husband crazy, nag him all the time. Here is the secret. Tell
them what you need him to do, but then live it. And live in such a way that he will see
something in you that will cause him to want to change. Live a godly life. And far too
often women feel they have to put the pressure on the husband or try to manipulate the husband.
Or I am going to hold this away to the husband. Then he will convert fast. Or I will do it
this way. No. Listen. Love your husband. Be a godly wife. Show him what it means to be
a follower of Jesus. That is how to do it according to 1 Peter. You say, “Man Greg you have been making
it really tough for girls tonight.” Ok. Guy’s turn. Ready. This is no cakewalk for
anyone. All right. Verse 25. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved
the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the
washing of water by the Word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church,
not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.
So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife
loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just
as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.” Here now for men are four words that can change
your marriage. Are you ready men? Write these down. Four words that can change your marriage.
Curse God and die. Those are from Job’s wife. No. Those are not the words. I am just
kidding. I just want to see if you are listening. That is bad counsel. Here are the four words
that can change your marriage. Here we go. “Husbands love your wives.” I am telling
you right here if men would do this it would change so many things. If men would man up
and do what God calls them to do what a difference it would make. In our world. In the church.
In our culture. You see here is the problem with men is at
their best they are often passive. And at their worst they are dragging everyone down.
There are far too many situations where the man is against the things of the Lord and
he is opposing it and he is a hindrance to the family and it is a tragic thing. But then
when you find a guy who is a Christian a lot of times the best they can be is passive.
“Oh all right you know. I guess we could go to church today, but I would rather watch
the game.” Come on man. Get up and be a man. And lead your wife. And lead your children.
And show them what a man of God looks like. This is the challenge. This is the gauntlet
that Paul is throwing down for men today. Did you know that 90% of the books sold on
the topic of marriage and family are purchased by women? Why? “Well men just intuitively
know these things.” Not. The women are out there buying the books trying to find out
how to be better wives. How to do it God’s way. Guys are flipping the channels here.
Something might come up. I don’t know. Hey how about you being the spiritual leader?
75 to 80% of Christian books in general are bought by women. What is with that? We don’t
need to learn more as men? We don’t need to grow as men? Husbands love your wives. You say, “Well that is not so hard is it?”
Well it is because the word Paul uses for love. He uses agape. As you know there are
different words in the Greek used for love. There is phileo that speaks of brother love.
There is storge that speaks of family love. There is eros that speaks of physical love.
And then there is agape that speaks of sacrificial all-consuming radical love. It is the word
that is used more often than any other in the gospels describing the love that God shows
toward us. “For God so agaped the world He gave His only begotten Son.” Now if you want to read the best definition
of love, go to 1 Corinthians 13. Not now. Read it and everywhere you read the word charity
it is the word agape if you are reading from King James love. Husbands, love your wives. Not just a benign
attitude but affection. It means involvement. Not detachment. It means loving the unlovable.
Even if your wife does things that are unlovable you love her as Christ loves the church. “I
can’t love her.” Well then love your enemies. You are not getting out of this. Ok. There
is just no way out. You need to love your wife as Christ loves the church. “Well she
drives me crazy.” Yeah. Maybe she does. “Well it is so hard. I don’t find her
attractive anymore. I did think she was attractive once but she isn’t anymore.” Well consider the words of this poem. Very
serious. Follow me. If you wanna be happy
For the rest of your life, Never make a pretty woman your wife,
So from my personal point of view, Get an ugly girl to marry you. A pretty woman makes her husband look small
And very often causes his downfall. As soon as he marries her
Then she starts to do The things that will break his heart.
But if you make an ugly woman your wife, You’ll be happy for the rest of your life. So this is good news if your wife is unattractive.
This is a joke. Lighten up. Everyone is like, “Is he really saying that?” It is a joke. If you wanna be happy
For the rest of your life. Remember. That’s a song. It is that song.
That is what I am quoting. No. But here is the thing. I don’t care
if you find her lovable. I don’t even care if you don’t find her attractive anymore.
You need to love her as Christ loves the church. And you need to let her know you love her.
You need to tell her you love her. I heard about a couple that was struggling
so they went into a marriage counselor. After listening to the wife and the husband for
awhile the counselor got up from his chair, came around to the front of his desk, and
asked the wife to stand up. And she stood up and he put her arms around her and he gave
her a good hug. And he said to the husband, “This is what your wife needs every single
day from now on.” So the husband said, “What time do you want me to bring her back tomorrow?” When is the last time you hugged your wife
guys? Without wanting anything else? When is the last time you just told your wife she
is beautiful. You think it. But you don’t say it. “She is beautiful.” Say it. “She
can read my mind.” Actually she can’t. Tell her. Tell her that was a great meal.
Sometimes my wife will make me a great meal. She never makes me a bad meal honestly. That
is why. Yeah. So you know she will make a great meal. “How is it?” I say, “Cathe
my silence is the highest compliment I can pay.” Because I am so consumed in eating
it I can’t stop to even say how good it is. She doesn’t totally buy that, but it
works sometimes. Try it. No. But seriously. You need to verbally communicate
to your wife that you love her, that you appreciate her. And do the things that you need to do.
You say, “Well the romance is gone in our marriage.” Then get back and do what you
did in the beginning. Don’t wait for the surge of emotion. Do it. Here is the problem. “Oh the romance is
gone in the marriage.” And now you are doing those things with what? Some other cute girl
you just met. Or some other cute guy you just met. Maybe you need to get back with your
spouse and do the things you used to do when you first came together. How about going on
a date together? How about doing those simple things like pulling out the chair. And putting
it back in so she can sit in it. No. But seriously though. Don’t wait for the feeling of romance.
Do romantic things. Just do it. If you will do it the romance will come back. The feelings
will come back. But for now you are going to have just tough it out. And if you don’t
feel like it, if you don’t want to do it, if you don’t think she deserves it, none
of that matters. Her are your marching orders from God. “Husbands, love your wives, just
as Christ also loved the church.” We are all commanded to do that. See girls. I told you I had your back. Did
I tell you I was coming back for you? You thought you were lost for a moment. No. Because
we are listening to the Bible. The Bible is very balanced. It nails everybody. It is a
sacrificial life. Verse 25. “Love her as Christ loved the church.” This is the way
we are to love. This is the way we are to do it. You need to, husbands, enter her world. Know
your wife. The Bible says, “Dwell with your wife according to knowledge.” That means
know your wife. And it actually goes on to say, “And if you don’t do this your prayers
will be hindered.” Did you know that? Men your prayers can be hindered because you are
out of alignment with your wife. You have forgotten that she is supposed to be number
one your best friend. Ok. My wife is my best friend. I am not embarrassed
to say that. She is my best friend. She is my closest confidant. She is my most valuable
counselor. A very good cook. But that is who she is to me. And sometimes we forget to spend
time with them. You know she enters your world. You can enter hers. You know my wife and I
are very different people. I don’t like a lot of the things she likes naturally. For
instance my wife she likes to watch cooking shows. Right before we go to sleep. Now this
is a problem. Because I get hungry you see. She is getting ideas. I am getting hungry.
I wasn’t hungry until the show started. My wife when we go out to a restaurant she
likes to order soup as an entrée. That is like a joke to me. Soup is practice. As is
salad. I am just warming up. What’s up? Where is the real food? But you know I enter
her world. She enters my world. It is a partnership walking this road together. Listen husbands. Let me ask you a question.
Let’s say you were walking down the street with your wife and kids. A couple of guys
came toward you with a very threatening look on their face obviously intending to do harm
to your family. What would you do? You would defend them. You would take care of those
guys. You would do what you had to do to save the lives of your wife and children. How about this. Let’s say that your wife
and your baby girl were starving. They had no food whatsoever. Would you try to find
them some food somewhere? “Well of course I would. I am a man.” Ok. How about this? There are husbands today
that have surrendered their roles of spiritual leadership. Their wives and children are being
attacked by Satan while the men stand by idly and do nothing and the families are starving
spiritually and the men do nothing to help them. Ok. You would defend your wife physically
and you take care of her physical needs and feed her. How about doing it spiritually?
How about being a man of God and a leader in the home and realizing that is what God
has called you to do. “Well she is not submitting.” Listen to this. If we would love our wives
as Christ loves the church they would respond as the church responds to Christ. Why do I follow Jesus tonight? Because I am
such a wonderful person and Jesus is so fortunate to get someone like me? No. I follow Jesus
because He won me over. He won me over with His love and with His patience and with His
persistence. And finally I responded to Him. I love Him because He first loved me. You want your wife to blossom. You want her
to bloom. You want her to be the woman of God that she can be. You love her. You value
her. You treasure her. And you watch what happens. Don’t worry about her part. You
concern yourself with this part. Girls. You are still supposed to submit. Ok.
You are not off the hook here. You are still in play. Ok. We both have our parts. Listen.
If we would just stop, as I said earlier, reading each other’s mail. We should be
quoting the verses given to us rather than worrying about the other verses and do what
God has called us to do. You would be amazed at how your marriage could turn around. In closing. Those are the two best words you
have heard me say tonight. It is time to wrap it Greg. Wrap it up. In closing every marriage
is going to come under attack. Every marriage is going to have to weather storms. There
are no exceptions. Jesus concluding His teaching on the Sermon on the Mount talked about two
men that build homes. One built his home on a rock. One built his home on shifting sand.
He says, “Then the storms came and beat upon both homes. The man that was built upon
the sand his home crumbled. The man that was built upon the rock it stood the test.”
He says, “He that hears these sayings of mine and does them, he is like the man who
builds his house on the rock. He that hears these sayings of mind and does not do them,
he is like the man who built his house on the sand.” So here is my question. Are you
build on the rock? Or are you on the rocks? If you are on the rock right now you will
stand the test that will come your way. Our marriage of 35 years, going in to 36 has
weathered the worst storm ever last year with our son going to heaven. It breaks my heart
to look at my wife. She loved him and they had a very close relationship. And it is very
hard for me not only for my own pain but to see the pain that my wife experiences as well.
But I have seen qualities in my wife. I always knew she was a woman of God. But I have seen
qualities that just blow my mind. I mean she would never say this about herself. But I
mean when you talk about a virtuous woman I am telling you she is a virtuous woman.
She is Proverbs 31 right down the line. And I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t mean it.
And that is just. She has been a tremendous example to me. But oh I think if we didn’t
have the Lord. If we didn’t have the Lord how could we deal with this? If we didn’t
have hope of reunion. It is hard still. But our marriage is built on the rock. And you
know what? Our marriage is stronger than it has ever been before. God has given us the
strength. Every marriage will be tested. And it is not
because we are great people. No. No. Because we just built it on the rock and we have sought
to live by these principles. Not perfectly. Oh I would be the first to admit that. It
is always a lot of adjusting you know with this. Oh I am not doing this as well as I
was doing that. You are always working at this. If you let it go it will begin to unravel.
But you have to keep at this. Reading the fine print. Applying yourself. And if you
will do that God will bless your marriage. And you will stand whatever test comes your
way. All right. All you married people stand up
right now. Just married people. I want to pray for you. All right. Take the hand of
your wife. I hope you are with your spouse tonight. If you aren’t Pastor Jeff and Pastor
Brad don’t have wives. You can come hold their hands up here. All right. Take the hand
of your spouse. Now look at her. Look at him. Say I love you. Give them a kiss. Ok. That’s
it. It’s church. Let’s pray. Lord I pray for every marriage represented here now. I
pray You will bless them. I pray Lord that every man in this room will take to heart
what we have read and want to love his wife as You love the church Lord. He can’t do
it on his own. None of us can. He needs the power of the Spirit. So fill him with that
power Lord and help him to love her. Sacrificially. Help him to put her needs above his own. Help
him to be a spiritual leader Lord. A man of God. Lord I pray for every women here. Help
her to appreciate her husband. Value her husband. Not take him for granted. Help her Lord to
submit to his authority. Not undermine it. Help her Lord to undergird and support him
in the calling you have given with all the pressure that he carries Lord. Help her to
be a woman of virtue. And finally I don’t wan tot forget the singles that are sitting.
Would You help every one of them to find the right person? Help them Lord to be patient.
I know it gets hard. I know they feel lonely at times. And sometimes they want to rush
it. But Lord help them to walk in the center of Your will and find that perfect man or
woman You have chosen for them. And then that You would bless them in that special marriage
relationship. Help us all to walk in Your Spirit and live lives that honor You. As imitators
of God. As dear children. We ask all of this now in Jesus’ name. Amen.