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Section Nine: 5:1-16
Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;
"Be ye therefore" - in light of what I have been saying, be followers of God - not followers of the Devil, of the world or of yourselves, would be the implication. If you are followers of God then you will be acting as such and will be living a morally pure life.
"Be" is an imperative and a present tense - we are told to "BE" followers of God. Not multiple choice, not an option, a command and on top of that with continuing action at all times.
"Follower" can be translated "imitator" as well. We are to look at God in the Word and then we are to imitate Him, not the life we see around us. Imitate His goodness, imitate His love, and imitate all those other attributes that we know He has. All too often, however, we imitate what we see around us in the world, we imitate what we see in the politicians, we imitate what we see in the media - not our object of affection.
A simple, yet so complicated and hard plan of action. It takes the Spirit of God within us to assist us in this effort, but it is an effort that can and should be the norm, not the exception. Today we often lift up a very few as being moral and godly people when it should be every single one of us that are moral and godly.
I must wonder if this mindset of only a few being proper Christians didn’t arise out of the paid pastor. He is paid to be the spiritual leader and that seems to let the rest of us off the hook. He is the moralizer, he is the pure one, he is the witnesser, and he is the one with the perfect family, thus we must be a lesser product and we don’t have to come up to his high standard.
Then add to that the many paid leaders that fall into moral corruption of one sort or another and we can see why the normal Christian doesn’t have high moral standards on his radar screen.
No, it is not the pastor’s fault, just the system that we have adopted and the few that falter in that system. The system is in place because the run of the mill believer doesn’t want to be doing the work of the Lord that he is gifted to do.
"As dear children" indicates we are to follow as children - dear children - obedient and loving children. This is the same word God used of His Son at Christ’s baptism in Matthew 3:17, "And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." This is not only someone that is loved, but someone that is worthy of love. God can love someone, even the lost corrupt sinner, but in this case He loves the one that is worthy of that love.
That should give "follower" a little more emphasis in your mind.
"Children" is a general term for offspring, but can also relate to the strong and intimate bond between any two that have a very close relationship. We are to not only be offspring, but we are to be in a close relationship with Him as we follow Him.
1. We have mentioned that we are to be imitators of God. One of the first things that came to my mind was His holiness. He is holy so if we are to imitate him we must be holy also. In fact the Word mentions this specifically. (1 Peter 1:16 "Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.")
Peter understood this - God is holy so we must also be holy if we are to be an imitator of Him. Not an option, it is fact; to imitate Him we must be holy.
The back side of that is this - if you aren’t holy then you are not imitating Him, nor are you a follower of Him - you may be His child by rebirth, but you are far from where you ought to be in your walk.
God is many other things, and all those things should be part of our life to the best of our ability. Love, compassion, forgiveness, concern, uplifting etc. aren’t just His territory, but ours as well.
As much as I dislike the WWJD jewelry, it carries a grand message - when we have a decision in life, we are to imitate Him - thus if we can figure out what He would do in this situation we can do what is right.
2. In verse two we are told to walk in love. A very needed item of business for the church today. Christ spoke of love to His disciples in John. John 15:12 "This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. 13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you."
We talk of love in the church so often, yet we drive people away because they don’t believe the same one thousand one hundred and fifty-seven doctrines that we believe in. We have the attitude in some of our churches that all must fit into our cookie cutter or they are less than we, or less spiritual.
There must be a general consensus of belief on the major doctrines, but there must be latitude given in the minors lest we isolate ourselves from the brethren. I see this all too often on the internet forums. Many of the forums are restricted to only people of a like denomination. If you happen in unaware and do not believe as they, you will soon find yourself blasted if not completely banned from the area.
I was on one such forum for a time before I became aware that if you didn’t believe totally one of two reformed confessions to which they held that you were not allowed on the board. I had wondered why I kept coming under attack for general statements - I weren’t one o dem!
I have often wondered how it would have been to fellowship in one of the pioneer churches of the west, when people of all shade of belief gathered on Sunday for worship of their mutual God and Father, without the sectarianism of our day. To go knowing that you or your beliefs weren’t going to be attacked and demeaned and that you would be able to call your mind to the Lord rather than to the upset of inner turmoil caused by the one in the pulpit.
We went to visit a church we had never been to before. The pastor started in at the first of his message and spent about fifteen minutes spelling out what the spiritual person would believe, and how the unspiritual person would reject such Biblical and correct doctrines. Some of the items he mentioned were definitely keeper beliefs, but some of them were so far toward the fringe of importance that they should not have been on his agenda. He made it quite clear that anyone that did not follow his entire line of thought was unscriptural, unspiritual and unqualified to be a part of his church. Guess one trip was enough to his church because we knew we would never be spiritual enough to feel comfortable there.
3. Barnes speaks well to the point of the covetous being listed with the perversions of verse three.
"Do we not feel that there is a great difference between a covetous man and a man of impure and licentious life? Why is this? Because
"(1.) it is so common;
"(2.) because it is found among those who make pretensions to refinement and even religion;
"(3.) because it is not so easy to define what is covetousness, as it is to define impurity of life; and
"(4.) because the public conscience is seared, and the mind blinded to the low and groveling character of the sin. Yet is not the view of Paul the right view? Who is a covetous man? A man who, in the pursuit of gold, neglects his soul, his intellect, and his heart. A man who, in this insatiable pursuit, is regardless of justice, truth, charity, faith, prayer, peace, comfort, usefulness, conscience; and who shall say that there is any vice more debasing or degrading than this? The time may come, therefore, when the covetous man will be regarded as deserving the same rank in the public estimation with the most vicious, and when TO COVET will be considered as much opposed to the spirit of the gospel as any of the vices here named. When that time shall come, the world’s conversion will probably be not a distant event."
Is Barnes not correct? Isn’t the one that covets much more acceptable in the church than an adulterer? We would not accept one living in adultery into church membership (well we do when we accept divorced/remarried people into the membership.) - one that is married and seeing someone on the side, but we give no thought to accepting one that is full of greed. Tell me, what is the difference between one that covets a woman that he is not married to and one that covets gain, or gold or things?
It is a matter of perspective. When you put adultery into the proper perspective of being greed, covetous etc. then we see why one that covets is no better than the adulterer - they are indeed the same, they just covet different things and satisfy themselves at the table of their respective desires.
Really, now think about it - someone that wants to have intimate relations with someone not their spouse is the same as one that desires a car like his neighbor’s, or a home entertainment center like the one at the store. Sexual perversion is the same as coveting - realize it and change your life accordingly. No, don’t adopt sexual perversion because it is now a lesser sin, but realize that your greed is as serious as sexual impropriety. They are both despicable in the eyes of God.
We need to consider all forms of sexual wrong-doing, as well as all sorts of covetousness when we are accepting people into our membership. I am not suggesting that we investigate a person’s personal life, but at the same time we maybe ought to be sure we know them before opening our arms of fellowship to them. Take time in the membership process, get to know the person, get to know their lifestyle and get to know their family - what is this person like, are they living the life of a true believer or maybe just that of a professor.
4. Let’s consider the words of Matthew 12:36 in relation to verse four when it says that we are to avoid foolish talking, and jesting. "But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment."
Surely, you have been in fellowship situation that have fit into the foolish talking and the jesting rather in the thanksgiving, rather than that which is edifying, and rather than that which is godly. Years ago we were in a church where one of the major American evangelists was having meetings. The pastor asked us over to his home for dinner after the Sunday meetings. We accepted and when we arrived we found that we were only part of the guest population. The evangelist and his wife and two of the deacons and their wives were also invited.
Being a quiet person, I seldom jump into conversations, but normally just listen and observe. Since I was a lowly Bible college student I didn’t feel that I would have anything too important to add to the conversation. My observation was quite shocking. Here was the pastor of a large church, two of his leadership and a nationally known evangelist sitting around the living room having foolish talk with jesting. Not once in the entire day was the Lord’s name mentioned, except when praying before the meal, nor was anything spiritual brought up.
I mentioned this to my wife on the way home and she told me that her observation of the women’s conversation was the same.
I would challenge you to not be like myself at that point in time - jump in there and try to swing things into the spiritual realm. Not that the conversation will stay there, but at least you will have tried.
I fear the modern believer dwells on the foolish and idle words because God is doing so little in their life that they have nothing spiritual to talk about - no, not that God is idle, but that the believer today keeps God idle in their lives.
5. Barnes draws a number of truths from verse five when it states that some will not be a part of the kingdom. I would like to just quote it and allow you to consider it for yourselves.
"(1.) that heaven will be pure.
"(2.) That it will be a desirable place--for who would wish to live always with the licentious and the impure?
"(3.) It is right to reprove these vices, and to preach against them. Shall we not be allowed to preach against those sins which will certainly exclude men from heaven?
"(4.) A large part of the world is exposed to the wrath of God. What numbers are covetous! What multitudes are licentious! In how many places is licentiousness openly and unblushingly practiced! In how many more places in secret! And in how many more is the heart polluted, while the external conduct is moral; the soul corrupt, while the individual moves in respectable society!
"(5.) What a world of shame will hell be! How dishonourable and disgraceful to be damned for ever, and to linger on in eternal fires, because the man was TOO POLLUTED to be admitted into pure society! Here, perhaps, he moved in fashionable life, and was rich, and honoured, and flattered; there he will be sent down to hell because his whole soul was corrupt, and because God would not suffer heaven to be contaminated by his presence!
"(6.) What a doom awaits the covetous man! He, like the sensualist, is to be excluded from the kingdom of God. And what is to be his doom? Will he have a place apart from the common damned--a golden palace and a bed of down in hell? No. It will be no small part of his aggravation that he will be doomed to spend an eternity with those in comparison with whom on earth, perhaps, he thought himself to be pure as an angel of light.
"(7.) With this multitude of the licentious mad the covetous, will sink to hell all who are not renewed and sanctified. What a prospect for the gay, the fashionable, the moral, the amiable, and the lovely, who have no religion! For all the impenitent and the unbelieving, there is but one home in eternity. Hell is less terrible from its penal fires and its smoke of torment, than from its being made up of the profane, the sensual, and the vile; and its supremest horrors arise from its being the place where shall be gathered all the corrupt and unholy dwellers in a fallen world; all who are so impure that they cannot be admitted into heaven. Why, then, will the refined, the moral, and the amiable not be persuaded to seek the society of a pure heaven? to be prepared for the world where holy beings dwell?"
6. There is a strong case for separation from the sinfulness of the world in these verses. We are to have no part in them, those that do will not be in the kingdom etc. On the other side of this, why in the world would any right living Christian want to be a part of these vile and terrible things when they know they are an offence to God? How can a believer want to associate on a continuing basis with those that live like this? We are to be pure, and to remain pure we must be strong against temptation.
7. Barnes suggests some items that tend to distract us from redeeming the time. I will include those at the end of this point, but now, let us consider how we might redeem the time most appropriately in our own day.
a. Just the making of a livelihood for yourself and your family is a good portion of redeeming the time. This is a good and natural consumer of our time, it is ordained of God and anyone that is doing it is doing the will of God.
b. Taking time for study of the Word and prayer are never a waste of time.
c. Doing good works are always appropriate.
d. Barnes suggests the reading of novels as a waste of time. If it is a thing of relaxation, I would suggest that it might be a good thing; however the wasting of hours and hours on reading novels would be a terrible waste of God’s time for you here on earth.
When I first saw the "Christian Novels" I wondered at the waste of time as well as money on the speculative nature of something that might have been in the life of Bible characters. If God had wanted us to know of these things He would have delivered the Word in a one hundred volume set.
The same is true of any endeavor that takes up a lot of our time for our own pleasure.
e. Spending time with the lost in the thought of witnessing can never be unprofitable for the kingdom.
f. I know I mention the spiritual gifts that are sidelined by the thousands in our churches today, be it intentional sidelining by the church leaders, or the lazy sidelining of believers that don’t want to take the time to do that which the Spirit has gifted them to do. All have a gift or two and all should be using that gift in the benefit and edification of the church body.
g. Raising your family properly will be a grand use of your time. A godly family life when your offspring are small will result in more godly families in the future.
Just as an example, I have often thought that the family my wife and I raised may well have been the primary purpose in our lives. We had three children which resulted in three families with a possibility of nine more families. Now, assuming all involved raise their families correctly God will have produced nine more godly families with children to bring the Gospel to the coming generation as well as the original parents and three families from offspring.
Don’t you just love multiplication? I don’t want to uplift the Mormon Church nor their false doctrine but a man in a small town in Nevada told me that he had carefully watched the Mormon Church in is town over the years. It started out small, but when we were talking it was very large. The man informed me that he did not know of one town person that had joined the church after the church was established by families moving into town. He said the entire growth of the group came from Mormons having families, and if you know their teaching, large families are the better choice.
h. Spending of our money can affect the time we have to offer to God. If we spend unwisely, we will probably work more to make more money to replace what we have spent.
Now, for Barnes comments:
"There are evil influences abroad; allurements and vices that would waste time, and from which we should endeavour to rescue it. There are evil influences tending to waste time
"(1.) in the allurements to pleasure and amusement in every place, and especially in cities;
"(2.) in the temptations to novel-reading, consuming the precious hours of probation to no valuable purpose;
"(3.) in the temptations of ambition, most of the time spent for which is wholly thrown away, for few gain the prize, and when gained, it is all a bauble, not worth the effort;
"(4.) in dissipation--for who can estimate the amount of valuable tune that is worse than thrown away in the places of revelry and dissipation?
"(5.) in wild and visionary plans--temptations to which abound in all lands, and pre-eminently in our own;
"(6.) and in luxurious indulgence--in dressing, and eating, and drinking."
8. Let’s give some thought to the idea that we are to be a light, or a dampening force on sin. In today’s society we are called upon to be Politically correct. Why? No one else is being politically correct about Christians.
Supposedly being politically correct is to assure that you do not say something that will hurt anyone else’s feelings, or put them in a bad light, yet on national television one of the "comedians stated that Christians or other religious people were neurologically impaired and that they could not think - ruff quote - now that does not put people of faith in a good light any way you interpret it, but If I were to call him a religious bigot I would be politically incorrect and viewed by the liberals as an arrogant trouble maker.
So, if we are already being disparaged in the media and often in the work place, why should we worry about being disparaged by being the light that we are supposed to be? We are on the outside of the lost world, so we might as well act like it. We are going to be looked down upon if they know we are a Christian, so we might as well give them reason for looking down upon us - we can make them into honest bigots by being who God wants us to be. Let that light shine, and be salt in their wounds.
9. Constable and others relate this business of not even talking of these terrible deeds of the dark to the thought that if we talk about them we glorify them and uplift them to the level of becoming attractive to others, thus tempting them with those things we are not to be associated with.
James 1:14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death."
Note the progression of this problem - sin - temptation, lust, enticement and finally sin. Paul does not even want us to start this process by talking about these things of darkness lest someone be tempted to consider it.
Example: Pornography is a large problem even in the church today. We need to warn of it, we need to teach of the error of it, but to dwell on it may well induce someone to wonder what it is like and be tempted to take a peek which will probably move the person in deeper to the lust side of sin and all will be lost in that area of the person’s life, just because we "dwelled" on the subject in the church or in fellowship.
On the other hand if we dwell on spiritual things it will move others into digging deeper into the spiritual life rather than the life of evil.
Consider the churches of today, what are they dwelling on. Are they dwelling on spiritual things or are they dwelling on things physical. What is fellowship based on? Is it a getting together to talk of spiritual things or getting together for pizza, bowling and whatever? What is the worship service bringing us to? Are we finding God amongst the self uplifting singers/performers? Are we finding a moving of the spirit from hymns of the faith or finding a tapping foot to the beat of the drum? It used to be "swing and sway with Sammy Kaye" in the world but today it is "whoop and whirl with worship group."
Are the messages stirring the heart or the mind? Are they moving us closer to God, or closer to the preacher’s pet peeve and reaction to it? Are they challenging our complacency in Christian living or moving us into an even more complacent place where we can relax and enjoy Christianity as a lazy man’s religion?
10. We are to be like God, we are to imitate God, we are to be the example that our Father would have us to be. Matthew 5:48"Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."
That is the standard for Christian living. How do you stand up to the standard? When I was in the service we had some electronic equipment that had to be aligned exactly as the standard or it would absolutely not function properly.
To align this equipment we had another piece of equipment that existed only to generate the standard so that we could know what the standard was. We would have to look to the standard and then with the adjustment of various controls and adjustments we were to adjust the first piece of equipment to match the standard set. When we did that the equipment would work properly and we would gain the information that we wanted. We had about ten different pieces of equipment that all had an associated "STANDARD" piece of equipment to align the equipment we used.
The interesting part of the equipment however was that when the above procedure was accomplished on several different units, then I would have to go up to another area of the ship and open up another piece of equipment and align it in a totally different manner. It was aligned so that we could get the broadest range of signals to pass through it. The pattern was not so important but that the pattern was as wide as possible. Through the use of many coils and controls the adjustments were made to make this very wide pattern.
So it is with God and the believer. We must meet the standard set, but this is not the completion, we must then affect the widest range of people that we can if we are to accomplish the task at hand.
Had I aligned the first equipment and left the final piece unaligned, we could not have gained the vital information we needed. Both the matching of the pattern and the widening of the pattern were vital. So with becoming like our Father, we must grow to be like the pattern, but we also must spread that good to as wide a base as possible.
This section of Ephesians should be a starting point for many believers, they ought to evaluate where they are in relation to the standard - God rather than how they measure up to the world.
And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour.
Not only are we to follow Him but we are to "walk in love" - that same self-sacrificing love that Christ walked to the cross in - that love that caused Him to give His life for us and all those in the future that would believe.
Let’s think of this love for a moment.
a. It was given without thought of reciprocation.
b. It was given to very nasty unloving people.
c. It was unconditional love.
d. It was directed love - toward the past and future believer.
e. It was a sufficient love - sufficient to do the job at hand.
f. It was a pure love.
g. It was a love that sought no gain.
h. It was a love that was not sought.
You can take each of these items and relate it to your spouse, to your child, and to that nasty terrible church goer that you tend to avoid on Sunday morning.
Walk seems to be related to our English word "perpetual" - continued walk or course of life. It is a present tense so you need to keep at it all your life, not just through this one terrible person - all terrible persons deserve the same walk on your part.
I don’t know that it matters, but the term translated "God" here is actually a general pronoun rather than the normal "Theos" which is God. Specifically it is a sacrifice offered to God, but it is not only a sweetsmelling savor to God, but to us as well that have benefitted from that sacrifice. It is a sweet fragrance for all that are involved in the sacrifice, both God and the recipients.
But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;
"Fornication" is a general word for anything that is wrong in the sexual area, from adultery to bestiality - some would wonder just why Paul would put this in the Word of God, but he knew the people of his time as well as our time.
These improper sexual activities are in the church today, not as a major problem for the most part but I’d guess you could find all forms of sexual impropriety within the church. We know from the news that we have adultery, homosexuality, and child abuse, so why would anything else be left out of the perversion of some within the church.
Yes, many of these people are not true believers, but then some of them probably are. We know that Christians commit adultery so we can assume the other perversions of Gods’ wonderful gift to a couple - that is one man and one woman, are happening within the church.
The adultery problem in the church is spreading and in need of being stopped, but you hear very few messages concerning personal and marital purity, you don’t hear very many messages telling the congregation that adultery is wrong, and there is little else in a Christian’s life that will counter what they view in the home (Television and videos)- so why should we be surprised if adultery is a problem to believers.
The normal Christian thinks nothing of filling their minds with the sex and violence and terrible gutter language that is on the small screen, so why would they not go to the theater and get their fix directly. I call it a fix, because it can be a habit, to hear and see those things that excite and stir your mind.
I was moved to an outburst of laughter when I heard of a church in the southwest that had a very conservative pastor. The pastor did a series on the pitfalls of the television and called on the membership to give up the evil machine. He, of course needed one in his home to keep up on what is going on in the world, but all others need to get rid of the box.
The response was great and many people committed themselves to a life without the perversion -- of course they didn’t want to loose their investment so they sold their televisions to other church members on the church bulletin board!
Not the methodology that works - church purity comes from ALL getting rid of the problem causers in their lives.
This is the Greek term we gain pornography from - not the normal Christian pass time - well, it shouldn’t be.
The term "uncleaness" is the other side of "porneia" - it is the mental side of an improper life. "Fornication" is the outward physical act of perversion, while "uncleaness" is the term that describes the mental, the lust, and the impurity of thought. It is the uncleaness that normally leads to the fornication.
Paul says this mental/outward activity is not to be mentioned as being proper for the believer. Well, duh would be the normal response, but are we not there today. Not in mainstream churches, but the churches that cater to homosexuals are certainly present in this passage.
Many churches, by their non-responsiveness to adultery in their midst are in essence saying that it is a right and proper activity for the saint. There are churches that know their people are in adultery and they do nothing - fear of law suits in some cases, but normally, just a fear of loosing some membership and bucks.
I worked for a man years ago that asked his church board to step into his wife’s marital affairs and they refused - why, both of the couples entire families were members and they didn’t want to cause problems between the two families.
Add to this the third item Paul mentions, covetousness and you have background for my comments about "bucks" being part of the problem. A church budget must be met, so we must keep those bucks rolling into the plates - don’t upset the masses, they might tighten their grip on the dollars.
Think about the fact that Paul groups greed with sexual perversion - tells you something about greed doesn’t it. Greed is just as much an enemy of the Christian as impure thoughts - both are devoid of any good in the Christian life.
Not ONCE is Paul’s command, not one time should it be mentioned that any of these things be viewed as right and proper Christian living. Think about greed and the church here. Is greed not an integrated part of some of the churches today? Aren’t preachers telling their people that God wants them rich, that God wants to bless their socks off financially? Yes and the poor believers that don’t get rich automatically feel they are failures as God’s children because they aren’t spiritual enough to gain God’s favor and riches.
This is a terrible weight to place on the shoulders of an already down trodden person that is already overly hard on themselves for their seeming failure in life.
God wants us to be content where we are, be it rich or poor or in between. Contentment is the key, not a financial rating to wear to church so others can see.
Even in churches that aren’t preaching the prosperity perversion, the bottom line is often the key to the topics of sermons and lessons. We want to keep that money flowing, so we can step on toes now and then, but don’t you ever do it two Sundays in a row, and don’t you dare increase the pressure on those toes more than to a light touch.
Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.
Paul isn’t done yet. He continues on with a few other items of interest. Don’t allow fornication, lust, or greed to be marked as good, but don’t let filthiness, foolish talking or jesting be garnered as good characteristics for the church.
"Filthiness" would be well described by the fornication and uncleanness, but Paul has something else in mind here or he wouldn’t have mentioned it. Just what he had in mind here is not clear, but if we can consider bestiality under fornication, this filthiness must be along the lines of an overindulgence in any of the items of fornication. I would include here pornography and all that goes with that. Adultery is more of a personal activity, while pornography is the circulation of perversion for the perverts that consume it.
Some would ask what is wrong with pornography. I would leave the full ramifications of it to the psychologists of the world, but off the top, it leads to overt acts against women, it leads to overt acts against children, and I would guess in some cases overt acts against men.
It consumes time and money that should be committed to your spouse if you are married, it saps the time from the work place - if not looking at it, certainly day dreaming about it and gaining it later in the day etc.
It pollutes your mind against normal, healthy sexual relationships with your spouse. It is in essence a form of adultery if it is coming between you and your spouse.
That is enough to warn believers from the problems, but there are tons of further detail that could add weight to what has already been mentioned.
"Foolish talking" is a term that is used only here, so we need to contextualize it a little. Just what does it mean? The idea of jesting seems to be a negative joking, and from the context a jesting about things of a sexual or greedy nature. Joking that tends to make the item more acceptable.
I have heard people talking of some of the homosexual community as being nice, as being funny, as being this or that, well they may be, but they are still homosexual and pushing their "sexual preference" upon our children. This jesting might follow along in relation to some of the television we are seeing that use humor to make homosexuality more palatable to the average person - which includes believers.
The problem at Sodom was not that all were homosexual, but all were accepting of homosexual perversion - they saw it as an alternate lifestyle if you will. There were none speaking out against it. Television is making the sin more and more acceptable, and quite often it is done through humorous sitcoms and talk shows.
Now, back to the "foolish talking" which is centered between filth and humor about filth. We should understand foolish talking as relating to this select area of discussion. Talking foolishly about filth in the context of the church.
Now, I don’t think we should be hateful and divisive in our condemnation of homosexuality, but we do need to take a stand against sin of any shade or stripe. I bring this topic up because brothers in Christ are being brought to court in other lands for speaking out about the homosexual problem.
A group of men were in court in Australia recently for charges relating to hate crimes. We have a move in our own country as well as all across the world to make taking a stand against homosexuality as a hate crime. Now that is not the way they put it but that is the result in the lawyers/judges minds.
The laws talk generally about the fact that you cannot speak out against or negatively about any group. The same laws would make it illegal to speak out against burglars if you want to apply it as they apply it to Christians and their telling people homosexuality is wrong.
So, what specifically is "foolish talking?" I would suggest any conversation that uplifts or makes more acceptable, the filth of pornography, or if you include the context, adultery, homosexuality or any other sexual perversion - remembering that greed is also in this context, thus a lot of prosperity preaching would probably be included.
Do you get a little of the feeling of how disdainful greed is to God, to put it in the middle of such perversion? Then again, is it not true that greed is spiritual adultery? We are told that we cannot serve God and mammon, so serving mammon would be turning against God our Father, Maker, and Christ our Groom. I hope that puts a different ring on your overwhelming desire for a new pair of designer jeans, or that new car, that new stereo, that new Ipod, or that new whatever you are coveting.
It is of interest that three of the words Paul uses in this verse are used only in this verse. "Filthiness, foolish talking and jesting" never appear elsewhere in the Bible. We must assume, since Paul used the terms, that he knew the Ephesian believers would know what he was talking about. I would further assume that these were some terms that described well the life they had before being saved. I see Paul as hitting them between the eyes with these terms - look you know you used to be this way in your past life but no more - that is over - these things have no place in the church.
I have to wonder if these terms and actions weren’t part of the heathen worship in the temple of Diana that some of them may have participated in, or at least knew of in their past life.
To apply that one, it isn’t wrong to confront believers in our day with the practices of the past that they might want to bring with them into the church. Our past life is past and it has no place in the presence of other believers - purity is the key to a proper church life, not the pagan practices of our lost life.
A little direct application might run along the lines of bringing slang and base phrases from the world into church services. I won’t repeat the phrases, but have more than once heard men use worldly base phrases as though they were right and proper language for the pulpit. I had opportunity to explain what one of the phrases meant and where it came from to a pastor that often used it. He looked at me, said "I have never heard that." and proceeded through time to continue using the phrase - thus indicating he did not believe me or that he did not care that he was bringing the baseness of the world into his "ministry."
For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
Now, let’s be very clear on this, Paul is saying none of those listed will have any inheritance in the kingdom of God. It has been made clear so far that the redeemed do have an inheritance, thus any in this list must not be truly redeemed. Some serious implications for the covetous person don’t you think?
Barnes says of this verse, "The object here is, to deter from indulgence in those vices by the solemn assurance that no one who committed them could possibly be saved."
The term "no" is that word we have looked at before. It is used as all, but not all inclusive. As in "all Judea" went to be baptized by John the Baptist, it does not mean that every single one in Judea went out. Thus, the thought is that there may be some redeemed in this list of people but not many. It is the norm that most will not have an inheritance in the Kingdom.
Some might suggest also, that they might be in the kingdom, but just not have an inheritance as in blessings and rewards. In the context of the book I think this would be a dangerous assumption especially if you are a whoremonger, unclean, covetous or an idolater.
It may be that the "idolater" is a modifier of the three - in other words a person that is a whoremonger and an idolater would not have an inheritance etc. The net Bible seems to put application to the text that these wrongs are actually idolatry. "...no person who is immoral, impure, or greedy (such a person is an idolater) has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God."
There is an emphasis on the knowing - it is something that we definitely know. It is a sure thing. None of these will have an inheritance.
"No whoremonger" is that Greek word "pornos" and relates to improper sexual activity. It includes male prostitution or as the lexicon puts it "lust for hire" but also relates to any improper activity. It would be obvious that his mind is set in the world and not on God, thus he would naturally be an idolater - one having other gods before Almighty God. His god would be his appetite for gratification and/or money.
"Nor unclean person" relates to either spiritual or physical filthiness. This person is not of a proper nature before God due to his spiritual condition and lifestyle. Again, an idolater - one that is putting all above God and His desires.
"Nor covetous man" is not only the desire for more, it is also strongly related to the wanting of more that belongs to others. Not only does it cover wanting a new car, but it may well relate to wanting the one in the driveway across the street.
This relates to anything in the physical realm that one might desire; be it vehicles, toys, appliances, houses, cabins, boats, or even persons. It would cover the desire for someone else’s spouse or physical attributes.
"Who is an idolater" is simply the worship of another god. Setting God aside for false gods. The lexicon points out correctly that this is a plague that can come upon a believer, thus we may have some information upon which to make a proper interpretation.
If a Christian can be involved in these, it would seem that the general sense of it is that if anyone has these problems in their lives, then their inheritance is not going to happen, though if they are believers they may have entrance into the eternal state.
They make it in but there will certainly be embarrassment about their life here on earth, and there will probably be sorrow over lost reward.
This seems to be the thought of the text, though one that is in fornication, is unclean, or is covetous might want to take a second look at their position before God, because these are not normal for the believer, and these are counter to the Spirit of God that lives within the Christian. If these are present, one must wonder if He is present.
Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.
I would guess that Paul knew someone was coming to them with these false values of Christianity and he wanted to warn them. Today there are many that are giving false values from the pulpit and from the lectern as well as through the Christian media.
Base your values on the Bible and nothing else. If you can see it clearly expressed in the Word then it is so. If someone has to use tricks of the Greek/Hebrew to show that a verse tells you to do or not to do something seek other passages that would support this line of thought. Beware anything that is not clearly expressed.
The Word is God’s message to us and we don’t need someone with vain words explaining it to us. The pastor is to teach, explain, and encourage acceptance of that which we can plainly read.
Just don’t listen if the speaker’s words are vain or empty as the Greek word implies. Words that have no content, words that sound good but have little meaning. I crack up at some of the language you hear on talk shows, but I crack up further at those that revel in these empty meaningless words.
Gibberish is spouted over the stage and it is accepted as something that soothes the soul when indeed it can do nothing for the soul or the mind.
The term translated "disobedience" is translated this way a couple of other times and it is clearly speaking of lost people. The word is also translated several times "unbelief" which also clearly indicates the lost person that has no belief in God.
The wrath of God is upon the lost and this verse indicates it is due to the vain words of those that teach them. What a terrible responsibility those teachers have for what they have done.
It might be suggested that this verse shows the previous verses are speaking of the lost, but this is not necessarily true. It can also speak to the believer that is living incorrectly. Paul is just saying that it is these things - that long list of sins - that bring the wrath of God down upon the unbelievers. The point being, avoid these things, they are for the ungodly and never for the believer.
To the point of application, you might want to remind those believers that are tied up in ungodly acts that these things are what bring judgment upon the lost, and that they should not be involved in such things.
Some suggest we should not use negatives when giving the gospel - why would be my question? Why would we not use the negative to show how positive Christ is? If we were to speak of only the salvation, they would not know what they are deciding against.
If you saw a house on fire would you run through the house yelling about how nice the weather is outside, or would you be yelling "FIRE?"
Paul used negatives via the moving of the Spirit, so I would think we would be in good stead to do the same. Tell those people you witness to about hell and judgment - it is coming and they can avoid it. Fear isn’t the prime reason for accepting Christ but it surely doesn’t hurt. Hell and judgment are certainly to be feared.
I fear the church has been duped into much sin because of the vain words from the pulpits of America. How else could we have the same divorce rate as the world? How else could we have the same teen problems as the world? How else could we have the same family problems as the world? We have been sold a bill of goods - that by the way requires responsibility on our part because we bought the goods as well. Both messenger and recipient are responsible and both will be held accountable in the end.
Be not ye therefore partakers with them.
Simple statement, they can preach their vain tales, but you don’t have to listen, you don’t have to believe, you don’t have to be sucked into their lies.
Recently a man in Southern Oregon was on the internet trying to talk women into committing suicide with him on Valentine’s Day. He invited many to his place where he had a large beam upon which he thought they all could die together.
Thankfully no one decided to become partakers with him in his madness, indeed the police found out about the plot and arrested him before he could commit the act - if indeed, he would have taken that final step.
It is simple, if you take in false teaching, you are responsible. You can point the finger at the false teacher, but it is you that are responsible before God for your belief system.
We once knew a man that held to a very conservative view of divorce and remarriage. He taught that view quite extensively to his congregation. That is until he found a girl friend, then he began teaching that divorce was all right and that God would bless a remarriage.
From what we heard the congregation accepted this "new" teaching because they accepted the divorced and remarried pastor. They became partakers in his sin and disbelief.
For ye were sometimes darkness, but now [are ye] light in the Lord: walk as children of light:
"Sometimes" is rather misleading here since the lost condition is not a sometime sort of thing; it is a permanent condition until Christ makes a change. It is possible that Paul is speaking of their post salvation condition, and if that is the case sometime would be acceptable. The term is translated "in times past" and that translation more than it is translated sometimes, but it would be the context that would tell which was appropriate.
Whether "sometimes," or "in times past" the result of salvation is a NOW condition of light rather than darkness. Light is our condition and we ought to walk like it rather than blending into the crowd as so many believers do.
I recently saw a Barna report that over three million believers in America are unchurched. I would suggest there are three million people that can’t find a Biblical church to attend, but that would be negative so I won’t. The interpretation of the church leadership that was asked about it was that this is diminishing the witnessing of the church and that it is a detriment to the church.
I might suggest, that the assumption that all non-churched believers are non-practicing Christians is about as arrogant an assumption as I have heard in years. Why would that assumption be made - especially in light of the fact that most "churched" believers don’t witness.
If I were a church leader I would question what the problem might be as to why the people are unchurched. Is it the church, is it the way we do church, is it the lack of teaching, is it the lack of fellowship, or is it the lack of spirituality in the leadership - I can find a number of possibilities that do not relate to the unchurched peoples lives at all.
Darkness is the lack of light or the ignorance of divine/spiritual requirements and personal duty. This looks forward to the associated ungodliness and immoral living as well as hell, according to the lexicon I have - darkness leads to eternity in hell and light leads to eternity with God.
We mentioned using hell and judgment in our witnessing. What a passage to point out the differences that our choice will make.
"Walk" relates to progression, to making one’s way, or as one of the lexicon’s meanings which I really like "to make due use of opportunities." I really like that - making full use of Godly opportunities of life as well as making due use of all opportunities for witness, for ministry and for assisting others.
That is the life we ought to desire, it is the life that God desires for us, and it is the life we ought to desire for our spouses and children.
"Light" is of interest to us. We are in the light when we walk in the daytime or in our home when the lights are on. We live in a high crime neighborhood and have had problems with car break in, grapffiti etc. so I have enveloped our home/property in light. We have three lights on the house, one on the garage and then two motion detecting spotlights around the car.
Now, in the day time the house is in the light, but at night it emits light. It lights up our yard, and the yards surrounding. This is the idea of this Greek term from which we gain our term phosphorous. (phos) "Light" means light emitting, thus we are not to be walking in light but we are to be walking lights. We should be broadcasting light everywhere we go and always be lighting up those around us.
Take a few hours to contemplate that in relation to your everyday life. Who have you enlightened, who have you illuminated of late? Are you walking in the light of others, or are you phosphorous and showing off others via your light?
As with our home, light deters wrong, it makes everything quite visible so others don’t want to show themselves for what they really are. Your light will in fact limit sin at times. If people know you do not like nasty stories, they will not come to you with them - usually - rather depends on where they are in the darkness :-)
We had a salesman years ago that loved dirty stories and every week he would come to the shop and tell the same story to everyone. The first time he told me one I just stared at him. He found out quickly that his stories had no place within my ear’s space. After that one time, he always came to me with a "clean" story after he had made the rounds with the dirt.
We need to be dampers of sin, not enablers. We need to extinguish, not fan the flame.
9 (For the fruit of the Spirit [is] in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)
The "fruit of the Spirit" is mentioned elsewhere in the Bible, but here it is characterized in generality, where as in Galatians, it is characterized in some specifics. "Fruit" relates to the product of a plant. The plant grows and works toward the natural end of producing fruit. The term is used of one’s offspring or child. We, as humans, grow and mature and children are the natural product of that process, unless something interrupts that process.
The Spirit of God is living within us to the natural extent that we would produce fruit. Notice "fruit" is not listed as being the one and only fruit there is to some preachers - soul winning. It is anything that produces goodness, righteousness and truth. In Galatians five we see a more specific listing, 5:22-23 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law."
The fruit of the Spirit may include soul winning, but it does not exclude everything else but soul winning. All our good works are a result of the Spirit’s work within us and this is all fruit or progeny of the Spirit.
What is good, righteous and truth - a tall order for the Christian in this century of the church. What a challenge to the churches in our day that use The Simpsons, television shows Harry Potter and the like in Sunday school to liven up the class. Sure there may be some little truth hidden away in those shows, but to watch the rest of the garbage that is its wrapper is not feeding your mind with what is good - we think on things that are in our minds, thus if you watch these shows and others on television that is what you are thinking about rather than the good, the righteous, and the truth.
I would guess that you could find some small truth in a pornography film, but to get at it you would have to watch a lot of filth. I would not doubt that some Sunday school teacher somewhere will adapt porn to their lessons if they are using the Simpsons and Potter.
We aren’t adapting the world’s ways any more in the church; we are the world in many aspects. I would guess that is some ways we are worse than the world. I can’t imagine any lost person using The Simpsons to attempt to teach moral truth, though we do.
Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.
"Proving" is used of scrutinizing metals, to see if they are pure. It is the checking, studying, and examining of a thing to see if it is genuine. "Acceptable" is also translated "well pleasing" thus we might say that we are to determine carefully what is well pleasing to the Lord.
When you are out in the world and that temptation comes along, instead of jumping right in, why don’t you take a moment or two and "PROVE" to yourself that it is well pleasing to the Lord.
If someone offered to sell you a three hundred-dollar gold coin for fifty dollars, wouldn’t you make sure that the gold coin was indeed gold, and that it was indeed worth three hundred dollars? Why, when you find the world offering you riches at a low low price, do you so willingly succumb to the world’s effort to side track you from what is acceptable to God?
We settle for what the world has to offer because we have been sold a bill of goods - the media, the advertisers and our own lust and greed have us ready to buy that which will make us happy, rather than examine those things to be sure that God is pleased with them. The only thing we are proving in our lifestyles is that the Devil has control of our minds and desires. Well, one other thing it proves - that we are not interested in pleasing God.
The context of finding that which pleases God is in the context of the fruit of the Spirit. May well relate, do ya think?
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove [them].
Fellowship or participation with is the thought - don’t have a part in the unfruitful works of darkness. "Unfruitful" is the negative of the fruit of the Spirit we saw a few verses back. In this case rather than the progeny of someone, it is the lack of a progeny or barren.
My wife grows violets now and then, and she has little success in growing them where we live right now. She seldom can get one of them to bloom; they are unfruitful or barren of that which they naturally produce. The problem is that they are too often in the darkness, or they are lacking light.
Why in the world would a believer get involved in works that produce no fruit, especially when it is works of darkness - REMEMBER we are the light emitters, why would we cloud that light by involving ourselves with darkness? Yes, indeed we would shed light, but why would we shed light in a place that despises the light, rejects the light and works against the light?
It is of note also, that the text says "have NO" fellowship, not have a little fellowship, or dabble in fellowship or whatever rationalization might come along - "have NO fellowship" is the standard set by God and that is the standard we will be expected to meet.
We aren’t to have a part in these works, but on the other hand we are to reprove them - we are to make the truth known, we are to expose these works of darkness for what they are. When you see a work of darkness, be sure to have your say, be sure to convey clearly the wrongness of that work, and be sure to stand against darkness when you see it. Don’t allow it to go unchallenged.
In today’s work place this may be hard; indeed it may be a little dangerous for your job. My wife works for a governmental entity and in the course of her normal Christian life in the work place; she has been accused of being religious. This is an accusation she has denied by clarifying that she has a relationship with Christ.
The point is that because she says no to some things of the world and speaks her mind on the wrongs of the world, she is "religious" and as such someone to be avoided and marked so others aren’t contaminated.
In years past employers wanted believers in their workplace so that they could trust those that worked for them, but today the honest forthright person is the one to be black balled, the one to be avoided, and the one you seek to get rid of. Yes, persecution is coming to the church and we had better prepare our children for it lest they be caught unawares.
For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.
"It is a shame even to speak of those things" - kind of relates to the television and movies and concerts of our day doesn’t it. Yet, believers are caught up in the goings on of the world rather than concentrating on the Master’s business.
The "in secret" doesn’t really relate today because the lost are doing everything that used to be in the secret out in the open on television and the big screen. The lost have no concept of secret or privacy; they just do their thing wherever and whenever they feel like it.
I am told that you cannot go to a public park in San Francisco with any thought of not seeing overt indecency.
Yet, we have, as mentioned, people using some of the world’s trash in Sunday school classes because there is a little tad of spiritual truth in the show. There is a little spiritual truth if they include a cross in pornography, but it should never be in the Sunday school classroom, nor in the Christian home.
I was on a Christian web forum and someone asked for prayer for his porn problem, it was from a pastor. The shocker was that there were a number of other pastors that posted with the same problem and another bunch of recovering porn viewers. The church is sick and we have the Great Physician, but he is standing on the outside wondering what has gone wrong.
Nothing in being a porn viewer relates to "blameless" in the qualifications for elder in my book, nor does it relate well to some of the other qualifications. Some would say, well it is only sin, that it is the same as a lie, well in one aspect you would be correct - it is only sin, but on the other hand, many porn viewers become perverted in other perversion that is against other people - not to mention that they are supporting the porn industry and they are hindering their relationship to their wife.
In my opinion any pastor or church leader that is into porn out to set himself aside as totally unqualified for the position. What’s more, they ought not be allowed back into leadership until they have gone through a proper program, and proven themselves free of their addiction for quite some time.
DON’T EVEN TALK OF THE WORKS OF DARKNESS. Not that we shouldn’t preach against them, but to discuss them and rediscuss them in gatherings is not right.
But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.
This relates back to verse eleven where we are to reprove the works of darkness. The verbs in this verse are passive, thus the action is not from you specifically but as a result of the light. We have discussed this before, that we are light emitters, and that light can bring change to those around us. Our being light will reveal the works of darkness and thus they will be reproved.
I get the feeling from the construction here that our being light is all that is needed, we don’t have to speak out all the time - the fact that we are there and standing with God, will; see to it that the sin will be manifested and rebuked for what it is.
The problem is that our light is often so well disguised that sin can be sitting next to us and no one would know. In fact many lost are in our churches and because believers are so much like the world we can’t tell the lost from the saved.
When living in a small town there was a very strict holiness church that believed in sinless perfection. The people stood out like a sore thumb in the community. They had doctrinal problems, and they had their own sin problems, but they appeared as fairly holy people and in a world of sinners they were easy to pick out from a crowd.
We, all as believers, should be distinguishable from the crowd without a lot of digging and scrapping and wondering about our spiritual condition. We are the light of the world and we need to be known for the same.
I hadn’t realized that Paul had a direct knowledge of the church in our day, but he must have to say what he does in the following verse.
Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.
Years ago I was traveling along the interstate through Nebraska very late at night. I finally stopped at a rest area for a little nap. It was totally dark when I dropped off to sleep, and the next thing I knew I had awakened to a brightness that was near blinding. The sun was just above the horizon and deep red and orange shining directly into the car and when I turned to see the sun it was near blinding.
As I drove on down the interstate watching the colors develop I wondered at the brightness and the beauty of a simple sunrise. Christ will give us the light that we need to view our way through life.
A call to the lost or a call to dead saints? The context is strictly saints and how they should live, though he uses the lost as a bad example. This seems to be dead or sleeping saints - wake up and come alive is the call to the saint of God.
Note should be taken that there is a calling to the senses of the saint - it is something that we must do and then He will give light. We must take that first step to walk with Him and then He will respond to our action.
We are light according to previous verses, but here we are given light. What is in view here?
The lexicon suggests that He will give us light for life - He will light our way along the path of life, be they good times or bad times - His light can guide us through anything that comes along.
The word translated "give" and the word light is actually one word. Christ gives light - it is kind of the nature of things. We need to wake up and enjoy that light in our lives.
Barnes agrees that this relates to the church though, he suggests others relate it to the lost.
There seems to be much controversy as to who said this. Some suggest a couple of Old Testament passages, though the passages have little to do with this verse. Barnes suggests that it may have been from some book that was popular in the area at the time that we do not have now. It could also have been a saying from the Lord or one of the disciples.
See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
The term "fool" and the term "wise" are the same Greek word except that the term translated "fool" has a prefix - one letter away from wise is the fool. "Wise" is the thought of learned or cultivated - someone that has some smarts and knows how to use them correctly. "Fool" is the opposite of wise.
Do not live your life as a fool, but as one that walks perfectly, exactly, or accurately. The obvious is that the fool walks through life imperfectly, sloppily and inaccurately. If your life is a mess, you might want to consider how you walk spiritually.
To expand on walking circumspectly, how can you consider a life of cheating or a life full of lies to be "circumspect?" How can you consider a life of sin to be a life that is "circumspect?" How can you run a business life that is a shambles and call it "circumspect?"
The believer has received so much from the master, but we often give so little back to Him. We are called to walk honorably - how are you doing today?
Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
The reason for our circumspect walk is that we are to redeem the time left. The days are evil - well duuhhh might be the thought of one living in this century. You don’t have to be a brilliant person to know that the days are evil. Paul was speaking of his time - he thought his days were evil! My what he would say if he could experience downtown any city in this country today.
Evil is at every turn of the corner, at many song listened to, and most conversations overheard. Today I went to the neighbor’s home to retrieve a tree saw he had borrowed. While he went to the back of the house to get it I stood on the walk outside and was showered with some of the most filthy language I’ve heard in a long time. This coming from a living room where two small children were playing.
Yes, evil abounds, but we are here to be light in this evil generation and we had better get to work soon. We are to confront the wickedness of our generation and do what we can for the Lord that will direct our path.
I believe that you could sit down and write down every wickedness, and every type of evil that you can think of, call in your friends and have them add all they could to the list, and then watch television and find other items to list. The media is filling our minds and the minds of our families with the trash of the world and we allow it.
As you watch the news reports you must wonder if the world can get any more evil, and then they report something new that you would have to list.
Redeem - buy back the time is an interesting concept. The word implies that we can purchase something, in this case time. How can we purchase back time? How can we redeem the time?
I suspect this relates to what we have mentioned before in this study - being the light that we ought to be and by being light, we are driving back the darkness to some small extent. We can, and should be fighting and confronting evil to the point that it is stopped or at least slowed in its progress in the world.
The Holy Spirit is mentioned as "convicting of sin" and this would be a part of that - He, through us can convict the world of sin and slow the wicked effects of the world. I must admit if we don’t get busy in the process we are going to be steam rolled by evil. (John 16:8 "And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:"
On the good side of this, how wonderful is it that the Spirit and the Father want us involved in the massive work of hindering the progress of sin. We aren’t called on to overcome sin, we aren’t called on to eliminate sin from the world, but we are called to take a stand against it every chance we get. We are privileged to speak for Him, to act for Him and walk with Him - all for His glory and not our own.
It has been a pet theory of mine that each dispensation ends when mankind is totally against God and He moves onto some other method of governing. This is fairly clear in the Word. When Adam and Eve sinned, all mankind was against God even if there were only two. At Babel all had joined in against God. At the end of Noah’s economy all but Noah’s family had turned against God. At the end of Promise all but Moses was seemingly against God - even his own people were making an idol. At the end of the Law all mankind was against God including His people. God had left the temple due to their sin and corruption. It seems to me that the world is nearing a time when all of mankind is nearing the same point. We have areas of the world where there are Christians living for Him, but those areas seem to be on the decline.
One is left to wonder if Christ’s return is near. Might He soon return to set up that last glorious economy when He will rule mankind Himself.
Section Ten: 5:17-33
Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord [is].
If you want to be wise, understand the will of God. Period - nothing to question - fact, if you want to be wise, you would want to understand the will of God.
Now, the context is sin and the lost and the fact that believers are not to be like the lost, and he wants us to understand the will of God - would seem that not sinning and not living like a lost person is the specific will of God - that isn’t hard to understand, yet believers strain and groan to know the will of God.
A young couple a few years ago related that they felt God was leading them to live together (Not married in case you did not catch my drift). Now, I don’t know what god they were praying to but it certainly isn’t the God of the Bible. Others declare that it is God’s will for all believers to be rich. Guess they would teach that any poor person cannot be a child of God.
"Unwise" can mean stupid or foolish. Not the term a Christian should wish to find himself being called. It can also be translated without intelligence. This is the contrast to knowing the will of the Lord, thus it behooves the believer to seek the will of God early on in their life.
Why, would a believer end up on the unwise end of this verse? By following what they want rather than what God wants. By consciously stepping into sin. By rejecting the life of a believer in any way.
Guess, God’s way or the highway is the way of things for the person as they relate to God. Matthew 7:13 may relate, "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide [is] the gate, and broad [is] the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:" The way to ungodliness is an easy one, but the way to godliness is narrow. Matthew 7:14 may relate also "Because strait [is] the gate, and narrow [is] the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."
We might also relate this to the church - a wise church leadership will conclude that a wise move would be to lead their church into purity and righteousness rather than concentrating on the music and all the other peripherals that seem to be dividing the church today.
1. In verse nineteen we are told to speak to one another. I have noticed from time to time that the Roman church has things within its tradition/practices that are really based in Scripture. This is one of those items. The antiphonal chants that were so popular in years gone by were the application of this phrase.
I suspect that we have missed out on some of the greatness of the worship that we could have had by rejecting, out of hand, all of the Roman system. I suspect that the Roman Catholic gains much more from their worship service than many Protestants. The design of the cathedrals was in part to draw ones attention to God, something we tend to miss in our church structures.
They also treat their meeting place with God as a meeting place with God rather than a gym for the kids to run and scream in. Yes, it is just a building, but it is also where we are supposed to meet God as a congregation.
When I was growing up in a "Christian" church the one important item I remember is that when I entered the sanctuary my mouth was shut and you could feel the quiet. Not many of us can find a quiet place before the Lord anymore in our society. I find that no matter how secluded I find myself there is always some distraction or person wanting attention.
May we as believers seek to find ways to corporately meet with God without drawing attention away from Him to ourselves.
2. Verse twenty mentions giving thanks for all things. This often is related to all that God does, and then we list some of those things, but one must wonder if we shouldn’t be thankful for those things which we have no knowledge of - the things God and His angels do for us when we are totally unaware.
Years ago we were supposed to leave for a visit of our parents over Christmas. I left work, got into the car and it would not run. It would start but then immediately die. I found if I pumped the gas it would run so off I went on the twenty mile drive home. I stopped at a gas station and they changed the fuel filter and it seemed to work so off I went but within blocks I was back to pumping like mad to keep the car moving down the road. When I arrived home I was very frustrated, we were running late and still had a very long trip ahead of us.
I tore into the car and pulled the carburetor top off. I looked into the bowl and found a piece of rag floating near the bottom. I pulled it out, reassembled the carb and started the car - it ran fine so we loaded the kids and off to the grandparents we went.
As we neared the exit from one interstate to another we were shocked to see a gas tanker truck overturned and in blazes. My first thought was, what if the car hadn’t given trouble? Would we have been in that flaming mess? Then I started to think of all the things that had happened. We had owned the car a couple of years and had never had any trouble with it. Why that evening would that piece of rag that had been floating around for months, decide to plug up the fuel line to the engine?
My conclusion was that God had been at work that evening, not only to maybe save our lives, but to make me a little more patient as well as help me realize that He is busy behind the scenes of my life. There are myriads of things going on that we never know about and we should certainly be thankful to the Lord for these unknowns as well as the knowns.
3. Do you get the idea that all of us, no matter what our age or what our position is to submit to someone. The child to the parent, the wife to the husband, the husband to God. It is what is called in the Armed Forces, chain of command.
The chain of command in the service is very important. All are required to adhere strictly to that chain of command. The lowly seaman answers to the third class petty, officer and he to the second class petty officer and he to the first class petty officer and on up the ranks to the top officer in the command. Then that officer is under officers in the higher up command.
The structure is there to serve a purpose. The top dog, or in this case the president of the United States, does not need to know that Seaman Derickson needs to go to sick bay for two aspirins, but the man over him does need to know where he is.
We as human beings need to know the structure that is over us so that we can relate properly to those above us. The child needs to know what is required of him in the family as does the wife. The husband in turn must answer to God for what has gone on in that family that has been raised under his headship.
We need to know that this sort of structure is probably going to be with us in every area of life for most of our lives. There are times when teachers are over us, there are times when police are over us, there are times when bosses are over us, and most importantly, all the time God is over us.
We must learn to respond properly to any and all of these situations in a proper manner so that we can honor Christ in our lives.
4. Barnes mentions of the eighteenth verse where Paul contrasts drunkeness with worship, "It is not improbable that in this verse there is an allusion to the orgies of Bacchus, or to the festivals celebrated in honour of that heathen god. He was "the god of wine," and, during those festivals, men and women regarded it as an acceptable act of worship to become intoxicated, and with wild songs and cries to run through streets, and fields, and vineyards. To these things the apostle opposes psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, as much more appropriate modes of devotion, and would have the Christian worship stand out in strong contrast with the wild and dissolute habits of the heathen. Plato says, that while those abominable ceremonies in the worship of Bacchus continued, it was difficult to find in all Attica a single sober man."
I could recount many occasions in my younger life that would illustrate the drunken stupor one can attain when drinking to excess. These accounts would not be pretty coming from one that was supposed to be a Christian. I will not tell of these times, except to say that there was utterly no mindful control after a certain point in the drinking. It was no longer my mind that was in control, but the alcohol that was calling the shots - pun intended.
This is not the type of actions that the believer is to be involved in. We, on the other hand, are to be controlled by the Spirit, but we are also to be ministering to one another. This is totally difficult when one is drunk. Usually, the drunk is being helped along by others that can assist him along in his stupor.
The obvious differences between these two states of man are that one is out of control the other is in control. The one is controlled by his drink; the other is controlled by his God. The one is tearing himself down; the other is building others up. Rather obvious where we should be in life.
The obvious application of this text is what we call worship today. I watched a Spanish charismatic song time on television recently. They had the usual song leader belting out the song while his backup was flailing their hands in the air and adding to the volume. It was of note that the leaders on the platform did not know the words to the song, and they were just standing around talking to one another.
I fathom not the significance of this near chaos. What are we attempting to do in our worship services? People put a lot of time into these times of song and pictures and big screens and projectors, but are we really bringing the man and woman in the pew to a point where their thoughts are on the Lord and how wonderful He is? Are we really worshiping in this church situation?
I suggest that we spend our time, not on setting up projectors, pictures, videos, and noise but that we spend our time planning our entire worship service around one central thought that will move the worshiper along from start to finish to think of their God and contemplate what He has done for them in their lives.
I’m not saying that this can’t be done with contemporary music, but I seldom see it being done in the churches. Most are bringing attention to the equipment, the process and the people involved in setting it up. As to those that do the singin, I guess it just seems all that hair swingin, rear wiggling, and thigh slappin is drawin tention tu de performer not the creator.
One last comment on current modes of worship. Drunkenness leads to lack of inhibitions, control and normal action of the person. Sound like some modern worship? The Spirit does not lead to drunkenness, nor to chaos. Those that worship in all shades of shedding themselves of self control are giving over to what they deem spiritual, and most would agree, it just depends on the source of that "spiritualness" whether it be the Spirit or Satan.
5. The early verse mentions us singing etc. Maybe some principles would be of interest. Barnes makes note that the Psalms are to be used, because they were in Biblical times, however I think they should be limited to the same principles as other music.
These principles relate to both the Psalms and other music you might want to use.
a. Draws attention to God rather than our own body - to beat, lyrics, and feeling.
b. Is clearly doctrinally correct for this dispensation. I have mentioned the congregation belting out the words to a Psalm that relates in no way to this dispensation.
c. Lyrics that center on God and His Word and the resulting work of God in our lives.
d. Brings one’s thoughts to God rather than dinner, dancing, and the like.
e. Purposeful. Something that will keep the worshipers attention on the subject of the mornings worship.
f. Appropriate to the purpose at hand. Just because you like the world’s music it is not necessary to bring it into the church. Barnes makes the point that because the world’s music is often related to the things of the world, and pagan music was related to idolatry, that Christian music should of necessity be different from that realm of paganism. Christian music should not be patterned after the world’s music to draw people in; it should be patterned after God and spiritual things.
We have churches attempting to reach the world with the world’s things. We have people using Harry Potter books to draw people in; some are using "Mature" rated video games to draw people into churches so they can witness to them. Not only is it wrong to be using "Mature" games, but in the old days they called that sort of thing bushwhackin - drawing in with something pleasant to hit them over the head to rob them. Churches have no intention of robbing, but certainly they are using worldly items for inappropriate purposes - that of tricking people in so they can be witnessed to.
g. Music that is acceptable to most of the congregation. We have pastors pushing contemporary music onto congregations that feel it is wrong. The "pastor, being the superior intellect, knows what is best for the church syndrome" in action.
A friend in a church in the Midwest told me that the pastor and deacons put together a music policy and set up the usual trappings for contemporary music and started it without even announcing it to the congregation, much less asking for congregational input. There were a number of upset members that asked for a meeting to discuss the issue. The meeting was composed of the pastor telling them the policy was in and that if they didn’t like it leaving was the option.
Splitting a church to get your own way doesn’t seem like the Christian thing to do, yet there seems to be that mind set in our country right now. Contemporary music is named quite appropriately, Contemp-t, for all that disagree with it; contempt seems to be the response to opposition. Rather impressive if you think of it in light of all the love and unity that the contemporary music talks about.
6. In verse twenty we are told to give thanks for all things. Some commentaries include in "all things" "all men" which is quite fitting. All men, not just the ones you agree with. It crossed my mind if the pastor and deacons mentioned just previously had prayed for those that were in disagreement - honestly prayed for them - and vice versa, if something couldn’t have been worked out rather than running the founding members of the church off like so many unwanted sheep.
"All men" includes those you disagree with, those you dislike, and those you might despise. If we are praying for them the disagreement may not have such a sharp edge and you might begin to like them rather than hate them.
If you seek God honestly for someone, there is little room for negative feelings, but if you dwell on the negative feelings that you have, further negativity is sure to come along.
This thought of prayer for all men is reiterated in 1 Timothy 2:1 "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, [and] giving of thanks, be made for all men;" Not much clearer can the case be made.
I have been considering all the bumper stickers and magnet signs I see on cars in our fair city. They constantly are asking for God to bless America or the USA. I would like to make a sticker that would state, "God HAS blessed America but now we are kicking Him out of our classrooms, our court rooms, our public lives and our personal lives - GO FIGURE!"
As we pray for mankind, we will realize more and more just how much man has to be thankful for - God has blessed man in spite of all of his sin and failings - God is more than bountiful to man and He should surely be thanked for it.
7. I would like to include a lengthy quote from Barnes that might choke some in the women’s movement so be forewarned and do not read if you don’t like to swallow - if this were a film it might be rated Sexist. I include it to give the women of our time something to consider and contemplate.
"While Christianity designed to elevate the character of the wife, and to make her a fit companion of an intelligent and pious husband, it did not intend to destroy all subordination and authority. Man, by the fact that he was first created; that the woman was taken from him; that he is better qualified for ruling than she is, is evidently designed to be at the head of the little community that constitutes a family. In many other things woman may be his equal; in loveliness, and grace, and beauty, and tenderness, and gentleness, she is far his superior; but these are not the qualities adapted for government. Their place is in another sphere; and there, man should be as cautious about invading her prerogative, or abridging her liberty, as she should be about invading the prerogative that belongs to him. In every family there should be a head--some one who is to be looked up to as the counselor and the ruler; someone to whom all should be subordinate. God has given that prerogative to man; and no family prospers where that arrangement is violated. Within proper metes and limits, therefore, it is the duty of the wife to obey, or to submit herself to her husband. Those limits are such as the following:
"1. In domestic arrangements, the husband is to be regarded as the head of the family; and he has a right to direct as to the style of living, the expenses of the family, the clothing, etc.
"2. In regard to the laws which are to regulate the family, he is the head. It is his to say what is to be done; in what way the children are to employ themselves, and to give directions in regard to their education, etc.
"3. In business matters, the wife is to submit to the husband. She may counsel with him, if he chooses; but the affairs of business and property are under his control, and must be left at his disposal.
"4. In everything, except that which relates to conscience and religion, he has authority. But there his authority ceases. He has no right to require her to commit an act of dishonesty, to connive at wrong-doing, to visit a place of amusement which her conscience tells her is wrong, nor has he a right to interfere with the proper discharge of her religious duties. He has no right to forbid her to go to church at the proper and usual time, or to make a profession of religion when she pleases. He has no right to forbid her endeavouring to exercise a religious influence over her children, or to endeavour to lead them to God. She is bound to obey God, rather than any man, and when even a husband interferes in such cases, and attempts to control her, he steps beyond his proper bounds, and invades the prerogative of God, and his authority ceases to be binding. It ought to be said, however, that in order to justify her acting independently in such a case, the following things are proper:
"(1.) It should be really a case of conscience--a case where the Lord has plainly required her to do what she proposes to do--and not a mere matter of whim, fancy, or caprice.
"(2.) When a husband makes opposition to the course which a wife wishes to pursue in religious duties, it should lead her to re-examine the matter, to pray much over it, and to see whether she cannot, with a good conscience, comply with his wishes.
"(3.) If she is convinced that she is right, she should still endeavour to see whether it is not possible to win him to her views, and to persuade him to accord with her, see 1 Peter 3:1. It is possible that, if she does right, he may be persuaded to do right also.
"(4.) If she is constrained, however, to differ from him, it should be with mildness and gentleness. There should be no reproach, and no contention. She should simply state her reasons, and leave the event to God.
"(5.) She should, after this, be a better wife, and put forth more and more effort to make her husband and family happy. She should show that the effect of her religion has been to make her love her husband and children more; to make her more and more attentive to her domestic duties, and more and more kind in affliction. By a life of pure religion, she should aim to secure what she could not by her entreaties--his consent that she should live as she thinks she ought to, and walk to heaven in the path in which she believes that her Lord calls her. While, however, it is to be conceded that the husband has authority over the wife, and a right to command in all cases that do not pertain to the conscience, it should be remarked,
"(1.) that his command should be reasonable and proper.
"(2.) He has no right to require anything wrong, or contrary to the will of God.
"(3.) WHERE COMMANDS BEGIN in this relation, HAPPINESS USUALLY ENDS; and the moment a husband requires a wife to do anything, it is usually a signal of departing or departed affection and peace. When there are proper feelings in both parties in this relation, there will be no occasion either to command or to obey. There should be such mutual love and confidence, that the known wish of the husband should be a law to the wife; and that the known desires of the wife should be the rule which he would approve. A perfect government is that where the known wish of the lawgiver is a sufficient rule to the subject. Such is the government of heaven; and a family on earth should approximate as nearly as possible to that.
"As unto the Lord. As you would to the Lord, because the Lord requires it, and has given to the husband this authority."
8. I would like to set some examples relating to the wife fearing or honoring the husband. These are for the most part derived from Barnes Notes.
a. Barnes suggests that she should never MAKE him command her or reprimand her. If she knows his wish she should never do anything against that wish unless for Biblical/conscience sake. If she knows that he does not want the family involved with cards, she should never use cards unknown to him or known to him. She should respect the wishes.
If he desires that the family have a certain discipline policy toward the children then that is the policy she should follow.
If there is a desired music/television viewing standard then it should be met whether he is there or not.
She should never choose to challenge these things before the family, and only with respect of giving an opinion in private.
For the wife to force the husband to command or reprimand will cause serious disharmony to the relationship and home.
b. The Biblical marriage relationship should set the standard for the world, yet the church has allowed the world’s standard to become the example for the church. When I was growing up my folks had a woman that they coffeed with now and then. She was a divorcee and they were taking a chance with their social standing in the community by associating with her. She was nearly an outcast of society in Mid Nebraska in the fifties.
My how the standards have shifted. The world started divorcing and remarrying and the church wanted the same so off they went to follow the world. This is not the Biblical example that Paul desires.
c. The woman’s relationship to her husband is the Biblical standard. Avoid that standard and substitute your own and you will not have the blessing of God. Ramifications will certainly come to those that set aside God’s standard.
d. Barnes makes the following point and I will just quote him so that those that find it aggravating can attach him rather than the messenger. "Wives should manifest such a character as to be worthy of love. They owe this to their husbands. They demand the confidence and affection of man; and they should show that they are worthy of that confidence and affection. It is not possible to love that which is unlovely, nor to force affection where it is undeserved; and, as a wife expects that a husband will love her more than he does any other earthly being, it is but right that she should evince such a spirit as shall make that proper. A wife may easily alienate the affections of her partner in life. If she is irritable and fault-finding; if none of his ways please her; if she takes no interest in his plans, and in what he does; if she forsakes her home when she should be there, and seeks happiness abroad; or, if at home, she never greets him with a smile; if she is wasteful of his earnings, and extravagant in her habits, it will be impossible to prevent the effects of such a course of life on his mind. And when a wife perceives the slightest evidence of alienated affection in her husband, she should inquire at once whether she has not given occasion for it, and exhibited such a spirit as tended inevitably to produce such a result."
I will close this point with a counter point that Barnes does not suggest. There is a great responsibility upon the husband as well to not become the dictator that seems to lurk within the hearts of all of us. He must first set the Biblical Christ like example and then He can expect the proper responses of the wife. NOW, this is not to say that the wife does not have to do her part if he doesn’t do his. It is the wife’s responsibility to do right. It is the husband’s responsibility to do right. As both do right the harmony of the home will increase.
A wife doing what is right might well bring an erring husband to doing right when he naturally responds to her Christ like being and behavior.
9. Wiersbe makes the proper point that when we are saved and baptized into the body of Christ we become part of the body, while when we are filled with the Spirit we give our body to Him. This is why the charismatic errs in their definition of the baptism of the Spirit - they relate the baptism as the Spirit coming over and controlling the body and they also call this the being full of the spirit. The two are different things - one occurring only at salvation to make us part of the church and the other as an ongoing action of the Spirit’s control so that we act like we are part of the church.
Constable points out that the being filled is a present tense, something we are to be doing all the time, but that it is a passive thing thus we just allow it to occur and He will do the rest.
Now, if this be true, then perfection of the saints is quite easy and should be fairly common. The only way that the filling relationship can change is for us to take control or allow sin to break that control. Our mind and our desires are the only thing between us and a perfect spiritual life. That is simplistic, but that is the teaching of the Word of God.
Those that suggest there is a struggle between two natures hide the simplicity of God’s plan for our lives. Those that suggest this struggle cause so much misery and guilt in people’s lives. When they sin they, because of this teaching of a struggle, see their failure as just that - total failure in the spiritual life, when in fact it was only a rotten choice of the mind. They see their failure and failing to struggle and fight to the win as the fact that they have totally failed and lost the battle only to have to face the same struggle and fight again later that day when they fall into sin again.
Not a battle, not a fight, not a struggle, but a decision of the mind to say, "Okay, Lord, I’m taking over, you aren’t doing it right - I’ll handle this." First, this is sin, second it is against God’s will and in the final analysis it is about as arrogant an act as man can be involved in. ALMIGHTY GOD IS CONTROLLING YOUR LIFE AND YOU TAKE CONTROL - is that not arrogant? Is that not plain foolish? Yet, we all do it way to often in our own lives.
10. The idea of a submissive wife is always a problem to women. I think we have covered it fairly well thus far except for one point that I would like to mention. Most women that work are in submissive relationships to others at work and they get along fine with those over them - their superiors by power, by authority, and by corporate command, yet when they get home they so often fail to merely submit to their husband who is given his position from the highest authority, that has the most power of any in the universe, and the one that has the ability to command.
Why can a woman submit to corporate authority so easily and yet go home and raise cane with the one she supposedly loves, the one that she has supposedly committed her life to and the one that almighty God has given the most appropriate of relationships to - so many women fail in the lesser of the relationship areas of life - why? First of all it is a personal choice to reject the husband as her head, second it is a personal choice to continue rejecting him as head, and thirdly it is a personal choice to reject God’s best for her life as well as for her marriage.
Some possible principles - since I am not a wife, the wives of America will have to evaluate the validity of these suggestions.
a. When you get home, take a deep breath, realize that you are a believer, that you are married, that you love this man, that you are to be in a place of submission and make a conscious decision to maintain that role as part of your ongoing spiritual life before God.
b. Work on your marriage relationship. Continue with your husband as you began - it isn’t just his responsibility to maintain the romance, to maintain the respect, to maintain the loving environment. Show your love, your commitment, and your joy by keeping a proper house, by keeping a proper attitude, and by keeping yourself spiritual.
Now, men, there is a lot of information here for you as well so continue reading - this is a mutual relationship not a one sided one.
c. Know your husband and work towards his satisfaction, know where he is spiritually, where he is emotionally and minister to him as you can.
d. If you have had a bad day at work, see to it that you don’t give your husband a bad evening to get back at the corporation - it won’t work, you will just alienate your husband. Realize that your tension is from work and not from your husband. Hopefully he will listen to your frustration and be a solace rather than a reactor to your poor responses to him.
e. Be a Christian wife, not a corporate meany.
f. Constable suggests that the wife should attempt to complete her husband. The two are to merge their lives into one. He likens it to the three legged race where the couple has their legs tied together and they must function as one to win the race. She should attempt to complete her husband so that they might finish their walk with God on a sound footing rather than two people trying to go their own way while one of their legs is tied to one of their mates.
He suggests that the word support is a good synonym for submit. I would not go that far and am not sure this sort of redefinition isn’t why we have some problems in the church. True, supporting the husband is part of submission, but support has no concept of submission, thus should not be seen as a synonym.
This seems to me to be a watering down of the concept of submit. It is a military term signifying the placing of oneself under the authority of the commander. This is not the idea of supporting. It is a voluntary submission to another’s authority, while that act will result in the support of the commander by the soldier, but the submission is an act of the will prior to the support.
11. Constable suggests that part of submission is not nagging. He describes nagging as being nibbled to death by a duck. He also suggests that part of submission to the husband is an "attitude of entrusting oneself to God."
I would like to consider this for a moment. Isn’t this the key to all submission? We can submit to any authority if we realize that submission is actually submission to the will of God in your life. The wife must first be in a proper relationship to the Lord, and then the submission to the husband will not only be easier but it will feel much more appropriate. She will know that she is in the place that God wants her to be rather than in a foreign area of conflict while not submitted.
This principle works whether you are a wife, or a husband that submits to his employer, or a child that submits to the parent. All submission relates to our proper relationship to God - find your submission to Him and then all other submissions will seem natural - well maybe not natural, but they will seem easier to follow. Not sure anyone really finds submission "natural" though that should be our goal in life - to handle all relationships in a Godly manner.
12. There are those that would have the equality of spouses within the marriage. The wife has equal rights would be the thought of the matter. To this teaching one must wonder how the teachers then discuss the comparison to the church and its head Christ. Are the members equal to the head, not so, heaven forbid.
Submission of the wife has nothing to do with standing before God, it only sets an organizational model within the family that will allow for smooth administration of the family and it also sets the spiritually needed headship of the man over the woman.
Before God both the man and woman are equal in value and in all ways that might exist, yet in the family there is the distinction that God has drawn between the two.
The important item to remember within the relationship is that each has a responsibility before God and that each will be held accountable for that responsibility, not the responsibility of the other.
Example: If the wife seeks to usurp the authority of the man and succeeds and runs a very well ordered family all her days, will she be rewarded for her efforts - that is God’s decision, but I would doubt it. Will she be held responsible for not submitting? Very definitely. It is the wife’s choice to make. It is likewise the husband’s choice to make whether he is going to assume the leadership role given him or not.
Constable relates an interesting and true point that women might appreciate, while men might wince at the point. Eve ate of the fruit first, but you will note that God went to the man to find out what the couple had done. This is the outworking of that principle which Paul is trying to get across here.
If the family goes incorrectly, the husband will stand in front of God for it, not the wife. This should give the woman a little easier thought on the area of submission. If she is submissive she will have no time before the Lord concerning the family result, however if she assumes the role of head she may well answer as head.
13. Now then, I won’t belabor the point but in the American context of "What is a family?" we have those that tell us two males or two females are just as much a family as one male and one female. Biblically we can clearly say this is not true. Paul speaks of one of each in this passage and nothing else.
This principle of wife submit, and husband be the head is impossible in the homosexual relationship which is not a family in the Biblical context. Not in the social context of the world either I might add. If they want to do what they do, if they want to have all the rights of the married - that is their business, but calling themselves a family is Biblically incorrect and in my mind in light of social history, ignorant. They may want to redefine the concept of family, but they cannot say that they are equal to the historical/Biblical family, they are quite different.
14. I might suggest that anyone wandering about whether the wife can work outside the home, the answer in my mind is yes. The yes is somewhat qualified in that she still is to submit to her husband, this is not negotiable. The last chapter of Proverbs is clear on the subject of a woman working outside the home - it is a Biblical concept, but she is also clearly the keeper at home as well (Proverbs 31:10 ff).
15. As to the husbands love for his wife, Constable points out that this is the self-sacrificing love not the brotherly love that some might think. It is a love that is deep, and committed, and total. It is love that will move the husband to give his all for his wife. Constable also makes a very profound statement that bears repeating. "Love requires an attitude of unconditional acceptance of an imperfect person not based on her performance but on her intrinsic worth as God’s gift to her husband."
Often the husband evaluates the wife on her imperfections as well as her performance in the home, yet the evaluation should be related to her love and submission to him. This acceptance does not, however, remove his responsibility to assist in perfecting her spiritually by teaching her, suggesting lifestyle changes etc. to the wife so that she comes more to conformity with the Word of God.
16. One last comment relating to the marriage and the comparison to Christ and His church. If the marriage relationship is easily broken by marriage, then also the church can easily divorce Christ - not so, how can the body divorce the head and continue to exist? Impossible. The whole thought of Christian divorce is so ludicrous that it is appalling.
Those within the church that feel divorce is okay must really struggle or must really turn a blind eye to this passage and all of its implications.
The marriage is not only an act, a commitment and a union, but it is the joining of two into one - that is the final process - one, not two and definitely not two separate from the other. This "one" is the same as the concept of Christ being the head of the body, the church - it is one total being, with Christ as the head. How ignorant to say the husband and wife that are one can be separated and continue on as if nothing happened - the body cannot exist without the head.
The idea of divorce is so far from the concept of marriage that one must wonder how anyone could make that jump. Kind of like the "Bible Diet Bar" I heard about this weekend. How do you relate the Bible with a diet bar - the two are so different, so separate, such opposing concepts, that one must wonder what kind of brain could relate the two together to make a buck. The buck is the key rather than logic.
17. We have mentioned divorce a time or two, and I would like to further make the point. We need to read two verses together.
Genesis 2:24"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh."
Matthew 19:4-10 "And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, 5And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? 6Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. 7They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? 8He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. 9And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. 10His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry."
Note carefully the disciple’s reaction to the "BIBLICAL" concept of divorce - it’s better not to get married! They knew this thing called marriage was for life! They knew that you had better be ready for the full brunt of that truth before getting married.
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
Now, to that age old question as to whether the wine of the Bible was mind impairing. Many declare unequivocally that it was not, but this verse tends to make them out to be fools in their statements.
Our pastor asked us over for dinner one Sunday. His grandmother and brother’s family were there as well. The topic of the alcoholic nature of wine in the Bible came up and the brothers were discussing it. I was sitting next to their grandmother, a friend of ours, and she started in to explain to them that they were really wrong on this one, that her Lord would not make booze, nor drink it.
She turned to me and glared asking, "Do you think the Lord turned water into alcohol?" and before my answer was formed in my mind she slapped my arm quite sharply and exhorted me "Well, yours might but mine wouldn’t!" Friends we remained and as grandma she was still loved.
Don’t be drunk or controlled by wine but be filled or controlled by the Spirit. The two are contrasted thus the control seems to be the thought of filled. "Filled" relates to completeness of a thing. In a cup of water it relates to that complete filling to the point just before the surface tension that allows the water to pile up above the rim of the cup breaks and allows the water to drain down the side.
Combine the thought of being pure, with the thought of being totally controlled by the Spirit should be an awesome duo for your mind to muddle around in. This is God’s desire and nothing less is the standard of living for the saint.
The obvious application is that saints should not be out boozing it up, but in the other end of the passage, we should never be controlled by anything but the Spirit - not anger, not lust, not desire, not work, not toys, not homes, not any material thing and certainly not any other person or philosophy.
Our life focus should be on maintaining a pure heart and committing ourselves to following the Spirit to the works that He would have us involved with. A side application of this might be that if you are living the best life you can and if you are seeking the Lord’s leading in your life, then you can be assured that you are squarely planted in the place/ministry/job situation that He wants you in.
There is no need for you to be squirming and straining to get on to the next phase, just be used where you are.
I visit a "pastors" board on the internet and one of the recent questions was "When should I start to think about moving on?" The man had been in his present pastorate less than two years and was already looking for an excuse to move on. The sad part wasn’t only that he was ready to move, but several of the answers seemed to support his beginning to look. They seemed to feel that the average pastor only remaining in a church for eighteen months was a good thing.
I would suggest you don’t even know your congregation yet at eighteen months, so how can you think you have done all you can do there? We are called to train and disciple. Christ even took three years to train His disciples, so why should a pastor think he can do it in a lesser time?
Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
Ah, the catch all proof text for any sort of carrying on that you want to have in your worship services. I’ve heard this used to back up most anything in the service. It mentions "speaking" and "singing" and that is the length to which the passage will stretch.
There is no way you can imagine Paul had in mind the lengths to which this "singing" has been taken - to include rock bands, punk bands and heavy metal all of which are a bit far fetched.
Note the context of the verse is not chaos; it is being filled with the Spirit - controlled by the Spirit - and being thankful. It seems to be related to the opposite of drunken.
Pastors seem to think they are in power to do as they wish, as they deem it necessary to do to pastor the church. We were visiting what we knew to be a very conservative church that had called a new pastor a few months before. During the message, he told the congregation that he wanted drums on the stage during worship services, but that he knew that they would not accept it, but further he mentioned that they should be forewarned because there would be drums on the stage in the future.
How arrogant does it get? I know what is best for you, I will dictate what and how we will worship God. I am in charge. So much for the redefining of congregational form of government.
We have a number of items that ought to be included in our times together. Indeed, this is not specific to the worship service, but any gathering of the saints.
"Psalms" is a transliteration of the word "psalmos" which can relate to strumming of strings or pious songs. This would relate to the Psalms of the Old Testament collected into the book by that name.
"Hymns" also is a transliteration of the word "humnos" and is a song sung to conquerors as they enter their new city, or a sacred song.
"Spiritual songs" are odes or songs that relate to the spiritual, more specifically to the Spirit - songs that bring one to think of God and those things spiritual. Again, the context of this verse is "being controlled by the Spirit" not being drunk to excess. These descriptions are key to properly understanding the words used in this verse.
Gill takes the position, and he may be correct that all three speak of Biblical information. The Psalms being the book of Psalms, and hymns being another word for the Psalms. He mentions the hymn that Christ sang with the apostles after the last supper. (Matthew 26:30 "And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.")
"Singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord." This seems to be an internal item that the individual is responsible for, not the "worship leader" not the pastor or anyone else - the individual doing something internally. This does not allow for outbursts of pleasure, nor outbursts of anything else - internal. I might interject once more the previous context mentions don’t be drunk with wine - and I would suggest that acting like you are drunk with wine is not an acceptable item either.
a. This verse is within the context of the entire Bible, thus it must be understood within the context of other verses that relate to worship. It is not the sum and substance of our teaching on worship of the Lord. Indeed, many of the passages on worship in the Bible relate to personal actions and also the worship is often done in a prone position, not standing and dancing around.
A couple of items - standing for the entire song service - why? Old people have trouble doing this and you alienate them from their worship by requiring it. Secondly, some state that we must rise for the reading of the Scripture - to show our honor of the Bible. Uhhhhhhh, does that mean I must stand to read my Bible at home? Does that mean I must get out of my car and stand beside it to read my Bible? Does that mean I must stand in the break room while I read my Bible? Does that not mean that every time the pastor reads a reference as part of his message that we should have stood?
Please, we need to think about the things we say and do and be sure that they are logical. I am sure these pastors want to honor the Bible, they just don’t think about what they do and say. Do I not want to stand to read the Bible in the worship service? That isn’t the point. I don’t mind standing for the reading of the Word, in fact I rather like it, but to say it is something we do every time we read it - to honor the Word - is inconsistent with reality.
Now, to what this singing relates to. Does it relate to punk rock in the worship service? Not in my mind. Does it relate to hard rock in the worship service? Not in my mind. Does it relate to the myriad of contemporary songs in the worship service? Not in my mind.
If contemporary songs are chosen for their God honoring values, as well as their theological correctness, I don’t mind them being in the service, but the repetitive, near mantra like so-called chorus that remind one of children’s tunes have no place in the worship service. This is God, he understands more that two or three words at a time and we certainly don’t have to repeat those same words to him three dozen times for Him to get it.
We went to a church one Sunday and the congregation of about three hundred was belting out the projected "songs" while standing. When I realized they were pleading with God not to take His Holy Spirit from them I almost laughed out loud. Here is a well taught congregation that knows the Spirit is within for all time, yet they are pleading with God not to take Him away from them. How ludicrous is that? Not one protested the singing of this tripe and the next time around, the verse was sung with even more gusto.
Guess they wanted to be sure God got the message that they didn’t want Him to do what He can’t do, and they really meant it.
Inappropriate to use a psalm in the worship service, never - just don’t use inappropriate Psalms in the worship service. In short - think!
It would be suggested that the contemporary music fad is beginning to find the supporters diminishing somewhat. I have seen indication that some have been rethinking their participation in such things.
I have always questioned why the fundamentalist that holds the charismatic movement as false teachers would want to help finance their movement by buying their music, licenses and the like. Further, why would a fundamentalist want to invite their false doctrine into his church to start indoctrinating his congregation? But then logic escapes many of us from time to time.
Paul mentioned some other characteristics of worship when he wrote to the Colossians. Colossians 3:16"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord."
Let the Word dwell richly - teaching - admonishing - there is more to worship than warm fuzzy feeling songs that allow your mind to wander from the one you are to be concentrating on.
Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
Giving thanks always rather seems to be an indication that our thanksgiving is to be a normal part of our lives. This includes when we are down, when we are poor, when we are rich, when we are sick and when we are healthy. I didn’t say that it was an easy task, but it is the normal life of the believer. We can do this because we know that all that we go through is meant to allow us to honor God in every conceivable way. It is, of course our choice, we don’t have to be thankful, but that is the standard that God wishes us to follow.
For all things - everything, every situation, every opportunity should be an occasion for thanksgiving, not to our own accomplishments, but to God through the name of Christ.
This is, by the way, a good proof text for the way many pray when they close "In Jesus Name." Or "In Christ’s name we pray." We should give acknowledgment that we have access to the Father and opportunity to pray only because of Christ’s work on our behalf.
By way of application, we need to understand this even when we have bad news - there is always something to be thankful for. This morning I received word that a friend has an aggressive, serious form of cancer and is undergoing therapy. It is a sad thing for anyone to have to go through this and it is a sad time for the spouse as well, yet we can be thankful that the medical community has advanced so far in their procedures to allow us to reach the ages some of us are reaching with such good health. We can be thankful that there are therapies that can helps with some of these terrible illnesses. We can be thankful for the support of friends and relatives, especially in this age when dozens of people can be informed of the need of prayer in a moment through email. (Note: As I am editing this work a few months later, we have had news that the cancer is in remission and the friend is doing very well. :-)
Again, it is not always an easy task, but it is a task that God would approve of in His children.
Specifically, in this context we might understand that the thanksgiving is for our walk in godliness, and the fact that we have fellow believers to surround and support us.
I recently heard of a church where some of the youth had gotten into sinful difficulties. The pastor/leadership had worked with them and they were asked to go before the church to confess their sin. The sin had evidently had an impact on the church as a whole, thus the church needed to be apprised of the outcome. These youth might not see the grandness of going through this, but they can be thankful for the leaders that were willing to assist them through their error to a conclusion that would be satisfactory for the church. They should also be thankful for their parents and fellow church members that were willing to stand by them and accept them and to support them in their coming lives within the church.
In the every day work-a-day world we can be thankful for the job that we have, for the opportunity to use it to God’s glory by doing an excellent job at the place of employment. We can be thankful for the everyday contacts we have with people that we might be able to witness to.
Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
This thought of submission is not an exclusive thought with Paul. Peter mentions it as well. 1 Peter 5:5"Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble."
Most older manuscripts show this as "fear of Christ." The American Standard Version, Darby and the Net Bible show the fear of Christ, while Young and the King James use "fear of God."
This relates directly to the youth just mentioned. They had the option of going their own way, but they submitted to the wisdom and spiritual leadership of their elders to find completion in their problems. Their own way might have resulted in even more problems because they would probably not have gone before the Lord for correction and forgiveness.
Not that we are scared of retribution, though that is a possibility in some cases, but submit knowing that God loves us and that He requires of us a righteous life.
This is not to say that there are to be people over others in a domineering way, but that all submit to all others as we walk through our lives and we do it with a righteous understanding of God and the ramifications of walking our own way rather than God’s.
When someone is not attending church, many go directly to a passage that relates to not assembling together, but I think this verse is much more to the point. If you aren’t in church, you cannot submit to one another. This requires presence in an assembly.
In those times when I have been outside of church due to speaking often, or to looking for a church to attend, this is one of the things I miss - having others for support and others to watch and hold me accountable to the Lord and His Word. Sometimes believers can wonder from what is right and correct when not surrounded by other believers.
Of interest is the fact that the submitting that we are to do is a passive verb which would indicate that our submission comes from some outside stimulation. The context is speaking, singing, and praying, thus it would seem that as we do these things in the local assembly we will naturally come under the submission to others that is desired. As we hear Godly sermons/lessons, as we worship God and as we commit ourselves together to prayer, we just naturally commit ourselves to a serving relationship with others in the assembly.
Now, this doesn’t speak well for the unsubmissive wife, church member or child that is in a church. This would indicate that the church ministry to those non-submitting people is either deficient or the people are not committing themselves to the ministry of the Word and the Lord.
Is it any wonder church life is so important? Is it any wonder that the leaders are going to be held responsible for their actions and ministry? Is it any wonder we ought to listen when we are in church instead of watching the birds in the tree outside the window, or counting the ceiling tiles above, or commenting to others about Mrs. Jones ugly hat?
Paul goes on to expand this thought of submitting to one another to show what he is getting at.
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
Wives submit - submit comes from a combination of two words "sub" meaning below, and "mit" meaning clenched hand ---- JOKE!
This is the outworking of part of the curse mentioned in Genesis. Genesis 3:16"Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee."
I might mention that the word desire is also used in Genesis 4:7 "If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee [shall be] his desire, and thou shalt rule over him." You will see that the desire has the context of ruling over - sound like the natural side of womanhood? I suspect that this is part of that curse that was thrust upon the woman - submittal in light of a strong desire to dominate.
Do it to your husband as unto the Lord. If you submit to your husband you submit to Christ, if you don’t you don’t. Simple. If you aren’t submitting to your husband you are not a godly woman - simple as that.
This is the same term used in the previous verse for "submit." It has the thought of being under or under the control of another; to submit or obey, to order in ranks as in military usage.
This is not a call of the husband to dictatorship, it is a call to lead, and it is a call to be the head of the house.
Oh, how many times I’ve heard women say; well he won’t be the head so somebody has to be, so God told me to take over - NOT! God tells you to submit, not take over.
Note, it is submit to your OWN husband. Not to someone else’s husband but to your own. There are women that take the word of a pastor to be superior to their own husband in terms of life, of living etc. The husband is the head of the house and the leader. He is the one to be followed. If the woman thinks the preacher is so great have the husband consider his words and talk it over with the wife. The husband is the spiritual leader of the house as well as mental, emotional and physical leader.
Now, guys if that doesn’t get your worry juices flowing I don’t know what will - you have a tremendous responsibility in a marriage and you’d better be doing it - AND getting it right.
If every Christian woman would hold to this doctrine there would be no more cases of adultery in the church. Think on that one folks. Adultery is the breaking of some of the most basic of teachings, yet Christian men and women continue to do it anyway. There is no way that a woman can commit adultery while submitting to their own husband.
"Unto the Lord" relates to that daily commitment to walk with Him. To walk with Him you must walk with your husband properly. A heavy responsibility in this liberated society we call America. This teaching flies in the face of just about everything that girls/young women are taught today, especially if they are in public schools. They are taught that they are individuals and that they make their own way doing what they want to do.
The media is teaching our families that the man is the dunderhead that can do nothing correctly, and that the woman knows it all. If men were the dunces they are portrayed to be, why are they more prevalent in the work place, why are they filling the Home Depots across the country. Men are intelligent capable beings that can do most anything they set their minds to - even though they are depicted in so many commercials as unable to do anything correctly, and certainly nothing which takes any intelligence. It seems if it can’t be done with a gun or bomb the man of today can’t do it according to the media.
Christian’s get your lifestyle information from God, not the humanism taught in the school system, or the media.
So, why is the wife to be subject to the husband? Glad you asked - Paul has the answer to that in the next verse.
For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
We need to see another statement of the apostle when he wrote to the Corinthians. 1 Corinthians 11:3"But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God."
Simple explanation, the husband is the head of the wife. This is the idea of the head controls the body and the body is subject to the head. I’m told that in the old days when they cut off a person’s head for a crime, that the brain continues to function for a few short seconds after the head is separated from the body. Now, the head may continue to function for a few moments, but that body can’t just up and decide to go fishing after its head is removed - it just won’t!
To illustrate this Paul mentions that Christ is the head of the church - this same relationship exists within the marriage, or at least should exist.
He goes further and explains that the church is subject to Christ and so the wives should be subject to their own husbands - not in just the small things but in all things.
Now if churches and couples really worked this way in life, we would have a completely different church and there would be drastically less divorce in our churches. Consider this ladies and gentlemen, we have this responsibility before God and we will be held accountable for it.
Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so [let] the wives [be] to their own husbands in every thing.
In case you don’t know it, we are in the middle of a very important passage relating to marriage - a passage that is little taught to our youth and our church.
You might note again that Paul mentions "OWN" husband for the second time. One must wonder what was going on at Ephesus that needed this emphasis. Were the wives in error in the way they related to their husbands? Were the husbands erring in how they related to their wives? I would assume one of these would be the case. Indeed, true Biblical marriage was probably far from the concept of their day.
We might take a moment or two and consider how all this headship and submission work out in a marriage. First of all I don’t know that there is any hard and fast way to accomplish this in a relationship and that the relationship may change drastically over the years. Marriages change and people change, so the submission/headship may also change.
I’m sure that in some cases in old age the man might be unable to take the headship as he should and the wife may have to take on more responsibility, but as long as the husband is able, he should be the head.
It seems to work well if the wife is asked to give her opinion on things, such as money, future, home etc. There should be a discussion and then the husband would make the final decision. Personally, I have found that if my wife has reservations about something that there ultimately is good reason to think seriously about the final decision.
The wife can be a valuable resource of opinion, knowledge and wisdom. She is not totally ignorant because she is submissive; she is a part of the union and should be given her say.
I might note that any headship/submission discussion take place after both parties read Proverbs 31:10 which has a lot of information for the husband to understand about a submissive wife.
I would like to take the next few verses as a unit. They paint a very interesting picture. Many expositors go to great lengths to show how giving, and self depriving a good husband should be to uplift their wives onto a pedestal with all the goodies and toys that they could ever want.
I don’t get that picture at all. I don’t see that the man is to do these things to uplift his wife, nor to make her feel better about herself, nor to give her a good self image, nor to do any of these usual items.
Let’s read: 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
Husbands do it as Christ did it for the church. Husbands, give of yourself to the max for your wife. Why? That she might be a sanctified and pure child of God. The text tells of the great lengths Christ went to assure a glorious church without spot, wrinkle etc. Holy without blemish.
So, husbands love your wives enough to assure that they are the godly, holy women that they ought to be. Not for yourself, but for your Father in Heaven.
This does not preclude our doing in the physical realm for our wives, and helping them, and encouraging them, but this passage is clearly looking to the SPIRITUAL nurture that a husband should give to that one he has committed his life to. This includes finding a good church to attend, this includes listening to every sermon and lesson to assure that it is correct and taking steps to point out any deficiencies that might have been present.
This includes guiding the television viewing, the book reading, the magazine reading, and the spare time associations she might form with other women.
This includes helping her to understand the Word as you live your lives together.
This includes spending time with her to know what she is thinking and experiencing in life. It is helping her understand how to handle life’s situations as they come along.
It will include taking a lot of time to assure that she becomes the woman that she can and should be for God. It might include encouraging her to participate in ministries that she is excited about. She is gifted by the Spirit so should be involved in some sort of ministry within the church.
AND - all this is to be done in a proper manner that is not irritating, nor abrasive, nor dictatorial. It is to be done in humility and meekness, as the Lord did all of His work on our behalf. It probably will also be costly for the husband, not in dollars and cents, but in time, effort, thought, and emotion.
It is to be a giving of the husband for the woman’s godly state.
Now, that we have taken care of the marriage relationship we need to look at the passage again and pick out the characteristics of the Church that we are given here.
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
The church is to be all of the following things, because it is the desire of Christ. He died on the cross that the church might exist in this condition. I shudder to consider whether the church really exists in this condition today, for I fear it does not - probably in some churches and in some countries, but I doubt many in America would measure to this standard.
"Sanctified" is the process by which something is made into something else - holy. It is a related word to the word normally translated saint. He wants us holy, and He has done the work on the cross so that we can become holy and He wants to make the church holy.
A man I know that is a pastor found that his son and the son’s fianc顨ad made some very poor adult decisions and had sinned. The pastor counseled them and they went before the church to confess their sin. What a testimony to others that might have been contemplating that same sin. This church’s leaders seek to hold people accountable and to help maintain the church purity.
"Cleansed" relates to the action of cleaning something. Washing the dishes would come under this classification, or in our case cleaning up our lives - making them clean.
The young couple mentioned above took this step before the Lord, by confessing and seeking forgiveness.
Now we have a point that gives some a little difficulty. Washing to many automatically relates to baptism, thus we see that baptism washes away our sin - NOT. Let’s look at this a little closer.
"Washed by water by the word" is specifically tied to the Word, not the water. The word translated "word" means the content of something said. It is that message, that information conveyed by the spoken word. It is an understandable message.
Young translates this verse as follows: " that he might sanctify it, having cleansed [it] with the bathing of the water in the saying," This follows other translations and indicates that the water is in the saying or in the words, thus indicating the saying is doing the action, and the water is the medium within the word that the word uses.
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown declare that the outward rite of baptism cleanses the church. "He speaks of baptism according to its high ideal and design, as if the inward grace accompanied the outward rite; hence he asserts of outward baptism whatever is involved in a believing appropriation of the divine truths it symbolizes, and says that Christ, by baptism, has purified the Church
Now, I would suggest another alternative theory. Baptism is the ordinance that brings the person into the church in most churches. If you are baptized, you are automatically members of that church. Baptism was such in the book of Acts as well. The two were closely related.
Could this passage not relate to the fact that by baptism the church is purified? Note that the context is the church, not the individual, thus the requirement of baptism for church membership automatically purifies the church - not that unsaved don’t get in unaware - but generally speaking if a church requires believer baptism, the church will naturally be pure.
"To be presented" to Himself. This is a one time event not an ongoing process of people being purified by the waters of baptism, but rather a one time presentation that He has or will make to Himself. The two choices would be at the cross/resurrection when He took possession of the Old Testament saints and set into motion the church, or at some future date yet to be revealed when all is done and the church is completed.
There is no indication as to the time of this event in the text, but I would suggest that it is yet future because the church is yet to be completed. It would seem most logical that the church would be complete at the presentation.
"Glorious" or something that is full of glory, something Christ can be proud of throughout all eternity.
"Without spot" is the goal, pure, no sin, nothing sullied, or clean as a whistle.
"Without wrinkle" is an old term that Paul used, he did not have the knowledge that we have, of wrinkle free materials - wash and wear, if you like the term. The church is to be without any of these moral hindrances, it is to be pure and ready for service without any encumbrance from the world.
"Without any such thing" or nothing is to be keeping us from what God wants us to be as an assembly or as an individual. Sin detracts from all that we can be, we ought to seek to avoid sin at every opportunity, or if we stumble we should seek immediate forgiveness so that the sin holds us back from the work of the Lord.
"Holy" is related to the word translated saints. Pure people of God.
"Without blemish" is very similar to holy in that both indicate without sin, or holy. The difference however is that holy relates to our acts or lack thereof, while "without blemish" is speaking of how others view us. We are to be without blame, without fault or with no blemish.
Barnes takes a slightly different tack after he uses the common thought of the husband giving his all for the wife and her physical enjoyment, and relates the whole to the salvation of the wife. I might point out that the unequally yoked concept would negate his thoughts, but if a husband finds his wife to be lost then Barnes note is appropriate.
"And gave himself for it. Gave himself to die to redeem it. The meaning here is, that husbands are to imitate the Redeemer in this respect. As he gave himself to suffer on the cross to save the church, so we are to be willing to deny ourselves and to bear toil and trial, that we may promote the happiness of the wife. It is the duty of the husband to toil for her support; to provide for her wants; to deny himself of rest and ease, if necessary, in order to attend on her in sickness; to go before her in danger; to defend her if she is in peril; and to be ready to die to save her. Why should he not be? If they are shipwrecked, and there is a single plank on which safety can be secured, should he not be willing to place her on that, and see her safe at all hazards to himself? But there may be more implied in this than that a man is to toil, and even to lay down his life for the welfare of his wife. Christ laid down his life to save the church; and a husband should feel that it should be one great object of his life to promote the salvation of his wife. He is bound so to live as not to interfere with her salvation, but so as to promote it in every way possible. He is to furnish her all the facilities that she may need, to enable her to attend on the worship of God; and to throw no obstacles in her way. He is to set her the example; to counsel her if she needs counsel; and to make the path of salvation as easy for her as possible. If a husband has the spirit and self-denial of the Saviour, he will regard no sacrifice too great if he may promote the salvation of his family."
See also Ephesians 1:4"According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:" and Colossians 1:22"In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:"
Paul isn’t done with the husbands yet for he continues.
So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
This is two separate statements. We, husbands, ought to love our wives as our own bodies - that is one statement and if we love our wife we will love ourselves. I have always been taught the verse as a unit, as relating to one idea - love wife as you love your body.
It almost seems to me that the second statement may be external to the first statement as well as the next verse.
We "OUGHT" to love our wife as our own body. Doesn’t say we have to ---- well, that is most likely implied in the statement :-) The next question is how does a husband love his own body, so that we can know how he is to love his wife?
I am not sure that I can say I have ever loved my body in the sense that the world uses this phrase. I have always been a little less than exercised, and there has never been anything for me to be pleased with much less in love with - so what is meant here? Are we to exercise till we can like what we see in the mirror? Are we all to be running around looking like male models?
The term used here is the normal term for body or the flesh of a man so there is little help there. In that not all men naturally love their bodies, and since one that does love their body as the world uses this terminology, would be vain and proud, then we must find some other concept in this verse to relate to.
I would suggest that this love relates to the general taking care of ones body, that care that keeps one’s self from injury. The wearing of gloves to avoid blisters the wearing of safety glasses to protect the eyes, etc. The love of continuing on with a body that is whole and generally useful as opposed to one that is limited and maimed.
In this aspect we should love our wife by taking as good care of her as we can. Protecting her from danger to the best of our ability, keeping her fed, clothed and protected from the elements. No, I am not suggesting that we are required to house her in a $250, 000 home with three cars to protect her feet from blisters, but the basics of life would be the minimum that we should attempt to provide.
Does that mean that the man in Africa that has no money nor food that can’t feed his wife is unspiritual, no - he is doing all that he can.
In general we should love or care for our wife as well as we care for ourselves. This requires that we provide the best that we can and not spend that which we have upon our own enjoyment and pleasure.
Secondly, there seems a bit of a promise here. If we love our wife we will love ourselves. If we care for her properly we will be at peace with what we have done. Many are the men that have regretted deeply the poor care that they have shown their families. It is a deep guilt about setting themselves over their family.
If we care for the wife properly, we will find satisfaction in ourselves and in how we have lived our lives.
This might run along the line that Barnes takes it, in that the husband is to make his wife as comfortable as he is - that same care for her as for him - they are one rather than two since they are joined in marriage thus he should take care of her as himself.
One minor point that we might take note of while we are speaking of marriage. On one of the internet boards where I read the question arose as to the churches "BIBLICAL" place in marriage, or should the church perform marriage ceremonies. I replied that there is no Bible text to show that we are unless it is where Christ was at the wedding and turned water into wine. I suggested that if this were a Biblical basis for churches doing weddings then it was also a passage for drinking in the church.
One defender of the faith suggested a few passages relating to marriage, but that had nothing to do with the church being involved in that marriage. He and his comments were correctly dismissed as not relevant. The line of thought was that God instituted marriage and spoke much about it in His Word, but that the church is not commanded to be involved. Indeed, much of the marriage of the Old Testament was simply a person to person commitment and a joining of the two intimately.
Should the church perform ceremonies? Not by the command of God, but if they want to I don’t see anything in Scripture to forbid it, however because of the church involvement does not mean there is any special blessing, nor certainly no grace extended to the union.
For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
I think this verse adds weight to my suggestion. A man naturally seeks to nourish himself, and seeks to take care of himself, so they should nourish and care for the wife. The illustration of the Lord continues; He has done everything possible to take care of his bride, the church - the prime example of how the husband should love his wife.
Speaking in these terms makes it very hard to understand how a Christian man could seek to divorce his wife. How can you possibly misconstrue the truth of divorce into something good and profitable for the wife? Divorce tears her up completely - this IS NOT the love, the care, or the cherishing that this passage speaks of - no man can read this passage and suggest that divorce is ever acceptable. Nor, does this passage allow for the myriad of other things husbands put their wives through in our day. Having a mistress, gambling, drinking, going out with the boys and all that is not a proper loving of the wife.
For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
As the Lord cherishes and cares for the church, which we men are an integrated part of, we should care for our wives so that they are as healthy as we within the body of Christ. Seems to complete that thought that the man is to see to the spiritual upbringing and nourishment of his own wife.
This may have some relation to what Adam said in Genesis 2:23 "And Adam said, This [is] now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man."
The relationship is as one - divorce has no place in the Christian man’s mind.
Barnes goes on to describe the relationship between the believer and Christ - a relationship I am not sure most modern Christians could agree with. "The Scriptures make use of language which is stronger than that employed to describe any other connexion; and there is no union of affection so powerful as that which binds the Christian to the Saviour. So strong is it, that he is willing for it to forsake father, mother, and home; to leave his country, and to abandon his possessions; to go to distant lands, and dwell among barbarians, to make the Redeemer known; or to go to the cross or the stake from simple love to the Saviour. Account for it as men may, there has been manifested on earth nowhere else so strong an attachment as that which binds the Christian to the cross. It is stronger love than that which a man has for his own flesh and bones; for it makes him willing that his flesh should be consumed by fire, or his bones broken on the wheel, rather than deny him. Can the infidel account for this strength of attachment on any other principle than that it has a Divine origin?"
For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
If, indeed, the man loves his wife properly, they are one flesh - they are both cared for, they are both healthy parts of the church.
We won’t go into all the implications of one flesh, but let it suffice, if the two become one, they can’t become two. If you graft two trees together, you cannot ungraft them without doing serious damage. Divorce does not fit into this statement of Scripture. The two become one - period.
I recently saw a medical program that spoke of a convict that had donated his body to science. When he was dead, his body was frozen. Now, if you are squeamish or don’t like a little gore, please skip the rest of this paragraph. After being frozen, his body was cut crosswise into thin slices. These slices were then scanned into a computer and computer people then reconstructed his body in digital format so that the different systems of the body, the bones, the muscles, the flesh etc. could be examined separately or with other systems in place. Any given level of the body could be studied in great detail.
The result of the show was that the human body is one of nature’s greatest machines. We won’t go into the discussion whether it was evolved from muck or created by God. I will home that this item of thought has been settled in your mind - settled in such a way that you know humankind came from a direct creative act of God. The television show recognized the super complexity of this thing we call a body, and the complex interactions between the different systems.
This verse points out that the wife is to be an integrated system with the man, not just an added appendage to do his bidding.
Many are the men that fail to understand this concept. They are the men that command the wife, they are the men that set forth duties, jobs, and responsibilities - usually those things they don’t want to do.
This integration seems to dismiss the concept that some have of marriage where the man speaks and the wife acts. It seems more of an integrated system where both are working toward the same goal with the man as the head. Both are working toward the correct raising of the family with the husband guiding the entire process. Both are working toward the good home for protection, with both assisting in all aspects with the husband as the guidance of the activities.
I might add that in the human body the head directs things, but the hands and other limbs give signals and input back to the head so that the head can make proper judgments and commands for activity. For example if the head tells the hand to pick up an item, the hand as it nears the item may sense heat and warn the brain that there may be danger, thus the brain will issue command to test for danger. You might say that the hand, at times, will slap the head to get its attention - no wives, don’t try it, this is only a symbolic way of speaking :-) but husbands consider the input that your wife gives, it may be very good information that you need for a proper decision.
This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
I think this is Paul speaking of the fact that he is teaching two truths at the same time, and showing that both are quite similar in nature. The next verse adds to this clarification. He is speaking of Christ and the church and he is speaking of the man and his wife.
The mystery relates only to the church and Christ relationship and should not be extended to the husband wife relationship. There is little mystery there. Barnes mentions that many seem to go wild with the allegorizations of the husband wife relationship due to this verse. He also mentions that there is nothing in the passage to indicate the Roman, or "Papist" as he calls it, doctrine that marriage is a sacrament and a means of grace.
Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife [see] that she reverence [her] husband.
It is of note that the husband is to love the wife, but the text does not tell the wife to love the man. She is to submit and she is to reverence him and that is where Scripture stops. It is of note in Titus 2:4 that this distinction is mentioned. The older women are to teach the younger women to love their husbands. "That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,"
I might submit that if you want to teach a woman to love her husband teach her to submit to him and to reverence him. It would seem that the love will follow. How else, might the young woman be taught to learn to love her husband? I might mention this love is not the goofy, fuzzy love of today, it is the true love that should be in every marriage.
a. Seeing what he really is within. Understanding how he feels, how he loves, how he functions day to day.
b. Listening to him, taking an interest in him, and being one flesh.
c. Supporting him in his desire to care for you, to cherish you. It is hard to cherish one that is always in his face about something that he hasn’t done, or that he should have done. I am appalled at the attitude of some women in our day.
I have seen many women on television making fun of the presents their husbands have purchased for them. Example, a new appliance. The man sees it as something that will make life nicer for his wife, but she derides it as extra work and not appropriate when she was expecting jewelry or perfume.
A gift is usually something the giver has thought out and has decided on as something they really want to do for the other and to see the other deride you for his choice leads to less cherish.
d. Understand and enjoy this relationship that God has set forth for the marriage. The husband is charged with the care and nurture of the wife, so there is much to be gained by the wife if she allows her spouse to do so.
For further on the wife, see Peter’s comments. 1 Peter 3:1 "Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; 2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. 3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; 4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. 5 For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:" Note that he mentions the "own husband" idea as well.
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Derickson, Stanley. "Commentary on Ephesians 5". "Derickson's Notes on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 22 / Ordinary 27