ALIVE | MARRIAGE | Ephesians 5:22-33

January 19, 2020 Speaker: Christopher Rich Series: ALIVE | The Way Unearned | Ephesians

Topic: New Testament Passage: Ephesians 5:22–33

Christopher Rich – January 19, 2020

ALIVE | The Way Unearned | PART XI 

ALIVE MARRIAGE | Ephesians 5:22-33


Introduction | Unearned Relationships 

Good Morning Welcome to Damascus Road where we are Saved by Jesus Work, Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. Today we continue our series walking the through the book of Ephesians called ALIVE: The way Unearned where we see life with God has been given to us.  

In Christ, we have been made alive for a purpose. To live in the way God has created us. Both the rewards of and endurance in this life are by His grace alone so they are by nature unearned. 


Living New - The way unearned is not a way unchanged. Sin needs to be turned from. We are not made alive by repentance, but we are made alive to practice repentance. In Christ, we have been gifted with soft hearts that illuminate our understanding of this new life. Like wore out clothes, our old life does not suit our new life. Parts of our old life will have to be taken off and new ways of being will have to put on. This also means the way unearned is one that also includes submission and sacrifice. Those are two words we don’t like at all, but they are not for us to earn life but because life has been given to us to life a new way. So as verse 15 says we are to “look carefully how we walk” in the context that we have been made Alive by God and that He has prepared “good works” for us for us to “walk in them”. This include pursuing wisdom over foolishness. Understanding and practicing what is the will and design of God for our lives. Not emptying or depressing ourselves to drunken debauchery but rather being filled and empowered with the Holy Spirit who gives us Joy. Joy and patience that plays itself out in relationship where we are addressing each other it says with singing and making melody (joyful harmony with God and people) with attitudes that are not entitled but are grateful to God all leading to dispositions  humility rather than prideful where we don’t seek to dominate one another but rather submit to one another. This is only possible empowered by the Holy Spirit in us not in our ability to change ourselves. Those are big important assumptions. 


We are created for relationships. The way unearned is not intended to be walked alone. We have relationships with friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, etc. Each of these can be important and edifying. However, God has created one earthly relationship that is unique and distinct from all others both in its nature and in what it represents. Marriage has been given by God to men and women to reflect the exclusive, faithful, and pure relationship Christ has with the church. It is not a human invention, but a God given gift. So why do we need these verses on how marriage relationship are to functions, who has what roles and what the purpose of it is? Because our marriages are broken and have sin and selfishness in marriages. Why? Because our marriages are two imperfect people apart from the work of God who are broken and selfish and so when a husband and wife come together sin and selfishness isn’t masked it’s multiplied. At the same time, it is a relationship that is intended to bring great joy and flourishing for the individuals in the marriage, as a couple and the other people around the marriage impacted by a flourish union. So, as much as any area of our lives or any other earthly relationship, if we want to see change in our world, our society, our communities, even in our churches, we have to start with our homes and marriages.  


PART I |ALIVE Wives | Ephesians 5:22-24

Eph 5:22-24 | 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

God has designed roles in marriage which are distinct for the purpose of mutual flourishing. There is a husband and a bride, differnt. Each of these roles are significant but they are not statement of worth or value. 

Person has equality as an image bearer of God, worthy of dignity and honor, and is in unity with others.  

Role is distinct (still equal), specific to a time, place and relationship, for the purpose of mutual flourishing. 

There are husbands and wives. Paul starts with the wives’ role in a marriage is this: A wife’s primary responsibility in marriage is to respect and respond positively to the care and leadership of her husband. In this, she displays the way the church follows Jesus. This is not a lesser or inferior role, but one which is intended to enjoy great honor as a bride is lovingly cherished. But we struggle with the words like “submit” and roles like “head” not because we’ve seen or experienced them or seen them applied to their God intended fullness but because we’ve only known them in the context of a world that has sin and brokenness. So we’ve seen these verses either twisted by selfish and domineering husbands or ignored and rejected by wives uninterested in complementary design and nature of a marriage relationship. So while we struggle or even recoil at these words, roles, or concepts what we’re reacting to is the result of God’s flawed or archaic design but rather humanities perversion and poor application of His intended design and purpose.  


The design, purpose, and roles of Marriage transcends time and culture so while the specific applications of this change with time the underlining principals are timeless.  God has always intended marriage to be an absolutely equal and fundamentally complementary partnership for the purpose of displaying His Glory and for the joy and flourishing of people. In these roles the Husband is the loving sacrificial head of the wife, and the wife is in willful and joyful submission to one she loves and who loves her. This is stated plainly because going back to the order of creation itself. Man created first for a purpose, but inadequate to fulfill the purpose with the necessary presence and participation of an honored and necessary bride.

But sin and rebellion entered. Rebellion from God, His rule and design which did not lead to greater joy but destruction. Submission was not the joyful response to loving and care leadership but subjugation for a lesser sex. According to theologian/professor William Barclay, this is evident in the context of when this letter was written and to whom. Jews at the time had a morning prayer in which men would thank God for not making them a gentile (racism), servant (classism), or a women (sexism) Women had no legal rights is that society. In Greek culture, wives were at home to run the house and raise the “legitimate” children while the men found their “companionship elsewhere”. The Romans weren’t better where the whole climate and culture of marriage was characterized by rampant adultery and a wife was chattel. There were sparse pockets where the pendulum swung toward feminism including Ephesus with the worship of the goddess Diana, but nothing would look like even like an egalitarian culture or current feminism. 


Why submit? Why does the church submit to Christ? So Christ will love us? No because Christ has loved us first. We know we’re loved. The call for wives to submit to their husbands implies they are first pursued and loved, sincerely, securely, self-sacrificially, by trustworthy husbands who deeply desire their flourishing and joy. 

This is what all of our lives with Christ are to look like. It highlights the wives response to her husband as analogous to the church’s response to its savoir. That’s key, while head (role) is mentioned, it is the purpose that is highlighted. Self-sacrificial savior. We have been pursued by Christ. Christ desires both our growth and maturity. Live with Christ is secure! So our submission to His headship in our lives and our church is in the context not as being lorded and invaded over by being loved and secure in our identity as saved people. 


How to receive and respond to this instruction - To submit your husband is a “want to” response, driven by desire (not duty) when and where a husband living in a Christlike way. This is never a call to submit to soul crushing abuse, suffer indifferent abandonment, but rather to receive loving affection. This is impacted by the Gospel. Recognizing your husband is not perfect, infallible, in great need of mercy and grace. So you can and should respect and encourage (especially publicly) and absolutely admonish and appeal when and where appropriate. This doesn’t mean don’t question or push back. Husbands need strong, clearly godly brides and we’ve need them from the beginning. We need our brides (as brides need their husbands) to help serve as mirror and a witness for who we’ve been, who we are, and who we have been called to be.  The call to submit does not mean that it’s ever appropriate to follow down a path that is disobedient to God or doesn’t allow obedience to God. Husbands are not God or your savior, that is Jesus only. Because godly wives are known and loved perfectly by God, they can follow the leadership of imperfect husbands. 


Husbands… should not be cruel towards their wives, or think all things that they please to be permissible and lawful, for their authority should rather be a companionship than a kingship. John Calvin, 16th Century


PART II | ALIVE Husbands | Ephesians 5:25-27

Eph 5:25-27 | 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 


Husbands are called to leadership in marriage not to be a domineering dictator for self-fulfillment, but rather servant leadership characterized by self-sacrifice for his bride. In this, a husband’s energy and leadership are used to protect and provide in ways which foster his bride’s flourishing. This means an alive marriage will be one where the husband is being made to look more and more like Jesus. To see the greatest changes in a marriage they nearly always begin with the greatest changes in the man. Men have a great impact on their marriages in either their action (positive or negative), abuse (emotional/physical), or in their absence. 


A call to Love – Love is the umbrella that covers all other functions and the foundation the marriage is built on.   We need to define love properly. This love is not a soft sentimental, or superficial attraction (phileo) it is a strong, intentional, action oriented, outcome desiring self-sacrificial “agape” love. What does this look like? It looks likes Jesus’ love for His church. It’s active and pursing for the purpose of the church’s salvation and joy. The call to love is also repeated 3x times. (insert joke here) It is the biggest idea in this whole section. 


A call to Sacrifice - Husbands are called to die for their wives like Christ died for us. Christ’s life was one of enduring sacrifice. He left the comforts of heaven not with entitlement but with intentional humility submitting to the Father’s plan. This means a husband’s life is also one of willful and joyful submission. While Christ’s life was daily sacrifice, the greatest example is the cross where Jesus gave His life for ours. 


A call to Purpose - For purpose, her sanctification, not having who she is crushed or removed but working on the spots and blemishes being removed so she can be seen and shine for the women she was always intended to be. The great purpose is the flourishing of your bride from everything that hinders her from being the “her” that God created her to be. In this, a husband’s loving leadership should be the most liberating experience and earthly relationship a bride has with another person. What a glorious purpose! 


A call to discipleship - It is impossible to wash with the water of the word if you you’re not reading it! If you haven’t been washed by it, if you’re not consuming it. You need to pursue a life that cultivates an environment of growth in the Gospel where you know God’s word and are sharing God’s word to others. 

A call to endurance - There is a mission in marriage for the husband, that requires intentionality. Cannot be passive or think that attendance the same as presence. Marriage is mission for men that doesn’t end until death do us part. (to guard and cultivate) That means pursuit and purpose do not end. This purpose of presenting implies need to get to the finish line. Men we fail at this all the time. It’s foolish to say I’d die for my wife when it is so much harder to live day by day moment by moment for another person. It’s not possible. I am the most selfish person in my marriage. (iPhone charger) We need to be reminded how we’re loved. 


A call to Love like Jesus because we’ve been loved by Jesus - Husband need the Gospel…. Men have the responsibility to for this mission but not the ability to carry it out we need the Gospel both in our identity and in power to walk out the good works God has for us.  We have been loved by God. We have sinned, He has pursued us and purchased us. Wives you should not follow or submit to a man who is not under authority of God, or who does not follow or submit to anyone. In the same way, you should not expect to be loved well by someone who does not know how well He is loved. Be patient, kind, gentle, and gracious. 


PART III |ALIVE Marriage | Ephesians 5:28-30

Eph 5:28-30 | 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 


A call to self-care - I love that the ideal is given and so is reality. Here is the ideal, now let’s get real. THIS IS GOING TO BE GOOD FOR YOU! His love of his bride leads to mutual joy.  The self-sacrificial love in marriage (specifically husband to wife) is not a call to self-affliction or even a completely ascetic self-denial. It is actually rooted deeply in a place of self-interest.  It’s is a great aim and example to love you wife like Christ loves the church but we also know that the love of Christ surpasses all understanding so he makes it simple in terms any man can understand. The Golden rule, love as you want love. Gospel version of “Happy wife = Happy Life”. But it’s more. The two are one flesh so you can’t be fully healthy and flourishing if half of your body is suffering. You can function if half of you is floundering. You can’t have life and breath if half of you is drowning. The motivation for care and cultivation is mutual joy. 


A call to nourish and cherish – Wives who are Nourished and cherished lead to husbands being encouraged and respected. If you nourish, you will get nourished. My greatest joy in our marriage is that Tara is constantly pointing me back to Jesus. Men and women need humbly, kind, loving and giving spouses, but we all need Jesus more. She is not your rock you lean on, she’s not made to carry the weight. When I’m freaking out or faithless and Tara is stable and steady, there is only so much she can bear. You are not a rock, you are not Christ, you are one who needs the rock of Jesus Christ. Tara is not my rock, if leaned on her like that It would crush her. I am not Tara’s rock, if she expected that of my I would only disappoint her. All either of us can do is point each other to rest and find refuge on the Rock who is Jesus. Be a needy husband! But not to your wife but to Jesus. Your wife is not your rock and she’s not your mom. A no point is the loving leadership of a husband to crush or neglect their wife but to nourish and cherish. So power and responsibility to protect and provide with authority, not tyranny, you have a God given role to cultivate, not dominate. This will not always be easy or smooth but it will be worth it. 


“While marriage is many things, it is anything but sentimental. Marriage is glorious but hard. It’s a burning joy and strength, and yet it is also blood, sweat, and tears; humbling defeats and exhausting victories.”

– Tim Keller

All marriages need the gospel. This requires humility. We marry people because we’re drawn to them either a version of them we believe they are or one we hope they become. But marriage, becoming one flesh, vulnerability, intimacy exposes how broken and imperfect each of us are. We can usually see it first in the other person, but they see it in us two. So we play a game called, “I know I’m not perfect, I know I’m selfish, but I am a little more perfect, and a little less selfish then they are.” This won’t work. 


“If two spouses EACH say, ‘I’m going to treat my self-centeredness as the main problem in the marriage,’ you have the prospect of a truly great marriage.”- Tim and Kathy Keller, Meaning of Marriage.


So we get it wrong when we think we’re the role of the Holy Spirit or it’s our job to fix or correct the other. But love and submission are two sides the same coin of a selfless love in action towards another which is a firm foundation to marriage. This doesn’t mean we don’t address sin or share what we’re seeing but if we are always starting with “my spouse is the main issue” you won’t have intimacy you’ll have isolation. You won’t have vulnerability, you’ll have violence. There is mutual joy and struggle that leads to growth. 


“Great marriages are measured by how the spouses are able to take joy in each other’s victories. They are also measured by how gently they correct each other’s vices.” – David Brooks, The Second Mountain


There is more to our marriages than simply one another. Our marriages exist by God, primarily to proclaims what is true about God. Namely, how He intentionally loves and cares for His people leading to their Joy.  


PART IV |Mission and Marriage | Ephesians 5:31-33

Eph 5:31-30 | 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.


Marriage is not the Gospel, but our marriages should reflect the Gospel. Your marriage will reflect the Gospel some way or another. Poorly being defined by a works based (what have you done for me lately) mentality that will be exhausting while only leading to expectations unmet, unforgiveness, bitterness and joylessness. It can be casually sentimental love where you are committed as long you have nice feelings towards the other. Or it will be an example of two people loved by God, made alive by God, made one by God through active covenantal, intentional, forgiving, and faith building love creating something new and progressively more beautiful. Where love and respect characterize a complementary relationship. 


The husband sacrifices and serves with a view to enabling his wife to become what God intends her to be.

So the submission and respect he asks of the wife express her response to his love and her desire that he too will become what God intends him to be in his leadership. – John Stott 


An Alive Marriage can only be truly understood when it is seen in light of Jesus’ relationship with His church. Jesus left the comforts of Heaven to pursue His bride the church so His people could be united in communion with Him as one body. Jesus has come to us, He is holding us fast with security, protection, and provision, so we can be free and liberated from the stain and blemish of sin and fear of death as we grow and become the individuals, the couples, the families, and the people God intends for us to be until we are finally presented holy, blameless, in glory forever. So while we wait for that day together we simply Trust Jesus. 

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