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Life in the body of Christ: A key to successful relationships
Ephesians 5:21-6:9

Last week Roman spoke to us about unity in the Body of Christ. We are to pursue unity. To experience unity we must be patient with each other, we need to learn to love and forgive one another, we need to collectively serve Christ together- using the gifts He has given us, we must pursue holiness in all areas of our lives- also asking "What is it that pleases the LORD?"

This morning we are going to build on last weeks lesson by taking a look at Ephesians 5:21-6:9.

In this portion of God's Word the following relationships are addressed: A wife in relationship to her husband, a husband in relationship to his wife, children as it regards how they relate to their parents, fathers in regard to the raising of their children, slaves in regard to their masters, masters in regard to how they treat their slaves.

Tying the entire lesson together are the words of Ephesians 5:21. Ephesians 5:21 says; "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ"

This is to be the governing and general attitude we are to have as it regards relationships***

We are to be others focused. We are to be servant leaders who do all things with Christ in mind. It is not just for own interests that we are to act, we are to consider the interests of those around us. For their to be unity in the body of Christ, for the church to shine as the light of God in this world, we must be seen to be serving each other and modeling the proper function of relationships- in marriage, as it regards children, in the workplace, and in regards to those who rule over us.

Colossians 3:17 says; "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him"

READ TEXT -note structure: 5:21;22-33; 6:1-4; 5-9

I. GOD'S PATTERN FOR MARRIAGE

Given the state of marriage in our culture, it is fitting for us to look once again at the Scriptures that we might have a Biblical view of what marriage is and how it is to work

Some of the basics of marriage

1. Biblical marriage involves one woman and one man coming together in marriage as virgins
2. Marriage is supposed to be for life (a few exceptions exist- i.e marital unfaithfulness, abandonment). Yes we know it doesn't always work out this way.
3. Marriage is not for everyone- for singleness is praised in the Scripture
4. Marriage is God's sanctioned place for having children. In getting married one is prepared to have children (if they are able) for the Scriptures command that we be fruitful and multiply
5. Maintaining ones marriage takes prayer, work, effort, commitment, patience, and we must learn to fight fair.
6. One of the goals we are to have in marriage is to grow in our relationship with Christ. One of God's goals for all us is that we might be fitted and prepared for Heaven. Marriage is a great place to grow in godly character- for it is a stretching experience teaching us servanthood, patience, forgiveness, love, compassion generosity. It is a great place to take away our selfishness. IN GETTING MARRIED AS A CHRISTIAN YOU ARE COMMITTING TO SERVING CHRIST TOGETHER
7. As singleness is great for a variety of reasons. Marriage is great! Not only is it God's ordained place for sexual expression but it also provides us with a companion and a help mate.
8. If you don't want to answer to someone for your words, thoughts, decisions, actions, or intentions don't get married- for marriage necessitates mutual accountability. Marriage and independence don't go together.***
9. Marriage is inextricably bound up in the relationship of the Church with Christ. We can't talk about marriage unless with talk about the relationship of Jesus with His church
10. For marriage to "work" as God intended the husband and the wife have different roles that they need to attend to

A deeper focus on points 9 and 10- noting once again that both the man and the woman are to be servants of each other

I. Marriage is inextricably bound up in the relationship of the Church with Christ

The pattern for marriage is found in the church and her relationship to Jesus

How so?

a. A wife in relation to husband is representative of the church in relationship to Christ. This is embedded in the phrase "For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which is the Savior"

b. The husband in relation to his wife is a type for Christ in His relationship to the Church. This is embedded in the call "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless."

This is as v.32 says; "A profound mystery".

The fact that the wife is symbolically akin to the church in relationship to Christ and the husband is akin to Christ in relationship to the church is what makes marriage sacred.

-These truths form the basis for why a Christian marrying a Christian is so vital.
-These truths underscore why Biblical marriage is between a man and woman alone.
-These truths show why marriage is meant to last a lifetime.

While being instructed as to our roles and responsibilities in marriage (which we will consider in a moment), Ephesians 5:22-33 treats us to a majestic view of Jesus

Note the picture of Christ...

-Jesus is the head of the Church
-Jesus is the Savior of the Church
-Jesus loves us, he showed it by shedding his blood on the cross for us. He shows his love for us by caring for us and providing for us
-In Christ we have been cleansed of our sin, we have been and are being made holy
-Jesus is fitting us for heaven. We are here depicted as the radiant bride of Christ- without stain, wrinkle, or blemish- but holy and blameless
-We are in Christ and one with Him

Our response: submission to Christ, the worship of Christ, our seeking to please Christ, our loving of Christ

II. FOR MARRIAGE TO 'WORK' AS GOD INTENDED THE HUSBAND AND WIFE HAVE DIFFERENT ROLES TO ATTEND TO

If the goal is to have a marriage that reflects Christ's relationship with the Church then we need to attend to how God says a marriage is to operate. We need to attend to the roles that God has set out for us in marriage

Note:

a. Having different roles does not imply inequality. We are equal in Christ.
b. The pattern for roles in relationship in equality is ultimately found in the Triune Godhead

There is one true God who exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This a mystery that we believe by faith.

Though the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one and equal, the Father sent the Son and the Holy Spirit. Jesus, the Son willingly obeyed the Father. The Holy Spirit is Himself sent by Christ.

These truths ought to lay to rest whether role in marriage makes one lessor or greater


The role of the husband in marriage- to be as Christ to his wife

a. Since the husband represents Christ he is commanded to LOVE his wife in the same way that Christ loves and loved the church.

To love in such a fashion is to give all sacrificially, joyfully, and willingly. It is a call to die to self. It is a call to serve. It is a call to forgive, to patience, to kindness.

In marriage it may also be helpful to have a regular conversations (for we all need reminding) as to how the other person needs and wants to be loved.

b. As Christ to his wife the husband has a responsibility of setting a spiritual example of Christlikeness, leading his wife to Christ.

In fact, both husband and wife are to look out for each other spiritually, helping each other to live the Christian life, helping to keep the other from sin.

c. As Christ to his wife and as he is able, a husband has a responsibility to feed and care and provide for his wife and family. As Christ provides for us/his church. As Christ cares for us, as Christ loves us, so is a man to love his wife.

Side note: This does not mean that wife can't work or that a man has to be the primary "bread winner". This is pressing the point to far. The point is: Husbands are to be caring, kind, loving, meeting the needs of their wife and providing as they are able


The role of the wife in marriage- to be as the church to Christ

a. In v.22-24, based on the pattern of the church in relationship to Christ, a wife is instructed to submit to her husband as the church submits to Christ

What this command doesn't mean

It doesn't mean being a doormat. It doesn't mean that a wife should not have a say in how decisions are made. It doesn't mean one is a slave

What it means

Submission is first of all about an attitude- such being a willingness of the heart to serve and put the other first

In response to a husband, who should be acting as Christ to her, a wife is to say yes to his godly leadership.

A Christian wife is ultimately to have this attitude- "Though I may disagree I will let my husband have the final say. No matter how it turns out I will respect my husband and if things go sideways I will not denigrate him or throw his mistakes in his face. I want my husband to look good. I will do what I can- and the man is to have this same attitude- to serve him and make him happy."

All too often in marriage conflict is about getting our own way. I want...., they want... and when we decide to go ahead with our wants despite the other person's objection, well then BOOM, things get ugly.

In marriage a husband and a wife are to share a mutual attitude of being each other's servants- this is what the mutual submission of v.21 is all about** This attitude, held in common- where each person says "I want to serve the other" this will make for a better marriage.


A couple more thoughts as it regards marriage

1. Getting on the "same page" is critical to a healthy marriage v.31

In Ephesians 5:31 Genesis 2:24 is quoted as it regards marriage "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh"

To be "one flesh" is a lifetime call in marriage

-Sex is the easy part as it regards being one flesh. Sex is to be regular, consensual, and the other focused.
-In marriage we need to get on the same page as it regards our finances (holding all things in common) There should never be any talk about "my money" from any marriage partner. In marriage their is no "I" it is "We and Our"
-In marriage we need to get on the same page as it regards parenting, vacations, life goals, how we will look after our parents, our involvement in the LORD's work
-Getting on the same page is not a one time conversation either- for at each stage of life their are unique challenges as it regards being one.
-Getting on the same page requires a lot of prayer (husbands and wives are to pray for each other), patience, the Word as our guide, a listening ear, love, a willingness to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ, the ability to see the other persons perspective, a willingness to put aside our desires to get and have our way- for most conflict in life is about us getting our way

2. Biblical marriage is the foundation to a healthy and strong society

Children are best served when they have a mom and dad who are striving together to follow and serve Christ. (YES THERE ARE GREAT SINGLE MOMS AND DADS OUT THERE)

When husbands and wives stick together with the pleasing of Christ as their goal - rather than hopping from one relationship to another- both end up mentally and physically happier and healthier. The net effect: A stronger city. A stronger country. A healthier populace.

When a man and woman decide to live for Christ in their marriage recognizing that they are living out something sacred- something that reflects the relationship of Christ and His church- that is a testimony to others, that is a witness, that is a platform for presenting Christ to others.

There is good fruit produced when men and women decide to live as God's says to live

CONCLUSION

While I meant to cover the subjects of children obeying their parents, fathers not exasperating their children but rather, bringing up their children in the ways of the LORD, our relationship to our employers (which is the nearest equivalent of slaves to masters), and a bosses relationship to his employees (which is the nearest equivalent of masters to slaves in today's culture) we've run out of time.

I meant to cover off these other topics because they all flow from v.21 which says "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ". Every relationship has to do with Christ. Everything we do has do with Christ and our having the mind and attitude of Christ.