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A Plan for Your Family: God's vs. the World's, Part 1

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
March 12, 2024 4:00 am

A Plan for Your Family: God's vs. the World's, Part 1

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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The solution to the conflict in marriage is spiritual. Where you have a Spirit-filled person in the home, you have hope. Ever try to pick a fight with a Spirit-controlled person? Ever try to pick a fight with somebody who's thankful for everything, even the conflict?

Very difficult. Conflict goes where the Holy Spirit dominates. Welcome to Grace to You with John MacArthur.

I'm your host, Phil Johnson. Winston Churchill said that it's around the family that the most dominating virtues of human society are created and strengthened and maintained. He's right. Churchill touches on an important biblical principle. The family is the fundamental unit in society, and God is the designer of the family. God knows how families work best. So how can you make sure your family is working the way God designed?

Find out today as John MacArthur continues his classic study called The Fulfilled Family. So take your Bible if you're able, turn to Ephesians chapter 5, and follow along with John as he begins today's lesson. Now for us to get a grip on what God says about the family, we really find ourselves best served by looking at Ephesians chapter 5. Now in this wonderful epistle that we are familiar with, the epistle of Ephesians, as Paul begins to launch into this subject, he starts, at least for us, in verse 18 with a very key premise.

And let's begin there. He says, And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit. That really is the key that unlocks all the rest. A right kind of marriage relationship and a right kind of family relationship is built on a redeemed life, empowered and energized by the Holy Spirit in obedience to the Word of God. Now look at verses 19 and 20, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord. Let me tell you something. Where the Spirit of God controls a life, where there is a life devoted to the Word of God and obedience to the Word of God, there is praise.

That's the first thing. Verse 20 adds, Always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to God even the Father. I'll tell you what, it's very hard to argue with somebody who's thankful for everything. Now out of those things flows yet another element, verse 21. And be supple subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

It doesn't mean you're afraid of Christ. It just says be subject to one another. Now look here, we're not talking about who this...this isn't talking about wives to their husbands. This isn't talking about children to their parents.

It's talking about everybody. But this is the groundwork, folks. This is what makes meaningful marriages. It's a spiritual issue here. It's not a matter of cleverness. It's not a matter of ideas. It's not a matter of scheduling events. It's not a matter of buying her gifts or whatever, or reverse buying him gifts, or cooking his favorite meal. Those are nice little things to do. But with two people who live according to the standards that we've just read, it wouldn't matter whether you did those or didn't do them.

That's not the stuff that makes for lifelong joy in a relationship. Submission does, though, and we're talking here about a generic kind of submission without regard for any specific relationship within the context of a family. The word submit, by the way, is very graphic, hupatasso. It means to rank under. It's a military term. We're called on to place ourselves under each other. Here is what makes for meaningful relationships. Someone controlled by the Spirit of God, obedient to the Word of God, filled with joy and praise and thanksgiving to God for every single thing in their life, and eager to submit their will to everybody else.

That's what we're after here. We're called on to place ourselves under each other. This principle is dominant in Scripture, by the way, expressing the idea of humility, expressing the idea of meekness that is so basic to Christian character. Now, unless you think this is a sort of a wandering verse here that just got dropped in, it's all over the New Testament. 1 Corinthians 16, 16, submit yourselves to everyone. Hebrews 13, 17, submit yourselves to the leaders of the church. 1 Peter 2, 15, 2, 13, rather, submit yourselves to the laws of the land. 1 Peter 5, 5, submit yourselves to those older than you are. James 4, 7, submit yourselves to God.

And here, submit yourselves to each other. This is the idea of humility. Families, meaningful marriages, which are so essential to society and its preservation, listen, which are so essential to real fulfillment in life, are only possible where you have unselfish attitudes, where personal desires are constantly sacrificed for others. And if that's not happening, there cannot be meaningful relationships. You cannot have the collision of two independently selfish individuals and build a relationship.

It is a battle of people struggling to humble themselves. That's essential. That's the key to all relationships, to be spirit-filled, to be speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, to be saying thanks, and to be submissive. That's those four things. That's the foundation.

That is where you have to start this whole thing. This whole idea of submission, I want to address a little further. Look at 1 Corinthians chapter 11, and we'll get into this a little more when we talk about husbands.

Somebody at this point might misunderstand and say, well, wait a minute. If everybody is submitting, nobody's in charge, and I just want to defer to that query for a moment. God has designed authority into a family, and in 1 Corinthians 11 verse 3, Paul says, I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ. We aren't saying that there's no authority in the family there is. There is authority at the father level, and there is authority over children at the parent level.

We understand that. We're not talking about the responsibility of leadership. We're not talking about the responsibility of caring and protecting, which is what that authority is. We're not talking about the authority of teaching them and raising them and nurturing them in the Lord when it comes to children. What we are talking about here is this kind of mutual submission that says, though I may be your leader and your protector and your provider, your longings and your heart desires and your needs compel me more than my own.

That's what creates the balance that is necessary. I don't...I'm not abdicating my responsibility as a husband to lead, preserve, protect, care for my wife. I'm not advocating my responsibility as a father to provide for my children, to protect my children, to give them direction and leadership and discipline and build self-control into them. But I do that...I do that with the passion of my heart being the recognition that this best serves their needs.

And whatever other needs they would have, I would eagerly desire to meet to the sacrifice of my own if my heart is right and I'm speaking not as anyone would. And the perfect picture of that right there in verse 3 is that Christ is the head of every man and God is the head of Christ. Is God superior to Christ? No. Is God of a different essence than Christ? No. Are God and Christ one?

Yes. It simply means that in the economy of redemption, Christ submitted Himself to the purposes and plan and power of the Father. In every sense, He was equal and yet submissive.

And the Father was completely sensitive to the heart of the Son. Christ totally and willingly submitted to the needs of man, submitted Himself to the purposes of the Father, came and committed really what was the greatest act of unselfish love ever, dying on a cross to satisfy the Father and to satisfy us. He was Lord over mankind. He was the sovereign who submitted. He was the King who became a servant.

He was the rich man who became poor. He was the sinless one who bore sin. He was the author of life who accepted death. He was God dying for man.

That's the heart attitude. There's no question that He's the head of man and yet He's the servant of man. The picture there in verse 3 is a marvelous one. He was equal with God and yet He submitted to God. He was over man and yet He submitted to man and to the need of man. He stooped to meet man at the deepest point of his need. On both counts, we see the illustration of the submissiveness of Jesus to the Father's will, to the need of man.

Even through great anguish and drops of blood, He said, Not My will, but Thine be done. You remember that the Scripture says, Be kindly affectionate one to another with brotherly love, the book of Romans, in honor, preferring one another. That's the idea.

That's the idea. Before we can talk about the role of the wife or the role of the husband or the role of the parents or the role of the children, we have to talk about the role of everybody. With Christ, you have equality with God and yet submission. And in all of our relationships, there will be a spiritual equality, there will be spiritual authority, and there will still be a spirit of submission. And I'll tell you, if you don't start with this, there's not much hope.

In fact, there's not any. Oh, I suppose you can grit your teeth and decide to stay together for the sake of whatever. But apart from this kind of pattern laid out in Ephesians chapter 5, marriage and family becomes an incredibly difficult struggle, very unfulfilling. It becomes a battle for individual rights. It becomes a terrible conflict. We hear all the time about how oppressive men are, how insensitive they are, how chauvinistic they are, how abusive and uncaring they are. And on the other hand, we hear so often about women being overbearing, seeking freedoms and the exercise of their own will and their own purposes and not wanting to submit to their husbands.

And why is this? Well, it's because of sin. And maybe we can go back to the beginning and get a glimpse of this. Turn back in your Bible to the third chapter of Genesis.

I want to share with you what may well be an interpretation of Genesis 3 worthy of consideration. I cannot be dogmatic and say it is absolutely unequivocally accurate. There are some who would take issue with any effort to be dogmatic in this regard, but it is at least an interesting possibility in understanding where the conflict comes from. We know, of course, it comes from selfishness. It comes from personal pride and personal sin. That's what makes relationships difficult, certainly in the family.

But there may be another element to this conflict of very great interest. And if we look at Genesis chapter 3, let me call you to Genesis 3, verse 13. And the Lord said to the woman, What is this you've done? And the woman said, The serpent deceived me and I ate. And the Lord God said to the serpent, Because you have done this, cursed are you more than all cattle and more than every beast of the field, on your belly shall you go and dust shall you eat all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. He shall bruise you on the head and you shall bruise him on the heel, that being the curse of Satan. But now the woman, verse 16, to the woman He said, here's the penalty you're going to pay and this is for all womankind. To the woman He said, I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth.

In pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband and he shall rule over you. The curse, obviously, that came upon the human race as a result of the fall in Eden altered significantly and dramatically the original design of God. Before sin there was perfect union. There was no conflict.

Adam and Eve got along perfectly. And sin was introduced and sin brought with it chaos and conflict. Now there were several features to this curse. There was a separation between man and God as a result of sin and man, you remember, was thrown out of the garden and intimate and free and full communion with God was ended. There was also a separation between man and nature. No longer would nature yield all of its bounty to man without any effort on his part.

Now he had to go out and by the sweat of his brow he had to till the soil and work very hard to make the world yield to him what once it gave him so freely. Separation between man and God, separation between man and nature, and finally separation between man and woman. And the key part of the curse for us at the end of verse 16, your desire shall be for your husband and he shall rule over you. It is very possible that that one statement answers the question why there is such conflict between men and women.

Why? Looking first to the husband, it says at the end of verse 16, he shall rule over you. And the word rule means reign. It's a word of sovereignty. So the curse said the man as a result of the curse is going to dominate you and as a result of the curse you are going to desire him.

What does that mean? Does it mean that she will desire him physically and sexually? I don't think that's a curse.

I don't think that that was a curse before the fall. It was already true that she had a desire for him and he had desire for her physically. It is the highest form of love's fulfillment in terms of physical pleasure. It is not that she would desire him as protector, as the one who would care for her and support her and cover her. That too already existed. From the very beginning, she was designed to compliment him, but he was the one responsible to care for her.

That already existed. She was the weaker vessel and that is a delight to the woman to have such care and protection before the fall. So it has to be something other than a sexual desire.

It has to be something other than a desire to be cared for, protected. It is also true that the curse could not be physical or emotional desire because not all women desire that. But all are cursed. All women are cursed. But not all women desire their husbands physically.

Not all women desire the emotional love and protection and care of their husbands. This has to be something, something that touches all women, just as it is something that touches all men. First, the woman was cursed with pain in childbearing, right at the very life-giving point, the very...really the very high point of womanhood, to bring life into the world, she is cursed. But additionally, she is cursed with this desire for her husband.

What is it? What does it mean? Well, the only other time that word desire is used, it is used over in chapter 4. And we learn something when we find how a specific word is used in a given context. It's the only other time it's used in the whole book of Genesis. In fact, the only time in the whole Pentateuch, the first five books. And you'll notice in chapter 4 how it's used in verse 7, middle of the verse. Sin is crouching at the door and its desire, exactly the same word, is for you.

But you must master it. The construction here in the Hebrew is exactly parallel. It is an exact parallel construction using the very same word. What's it talking about? It's talking about Cain. You remember Cain? Cain offered a sacrifice that God did not accept because it was not what God had asked.

Men out of anger, you remember, he killed his brother. And it says here, the word comes to Cain, the Lord says to Cain, Sin is crouching at the door, Cain, and its desire is for you, but you must rule over it. Now what did sin want to do to Cain? It wanted to crush him. It wanted to dominate him.

It wanted to take over his mind and his action. Sin wanted to rule him. Sin wanted to force him to do certain things. Sin wanted to control him.

And that, I think, that is the parallel to what you have in verse 16. When it says, Your desire shall be for your husband, it is the same construction, the same term as the desire that sin has to control you. Part of the curse is the woman no longer willingly, eagerly welcomes submission, but there is something in her that wants to control the man. She wants to usurp authority over her husband.

That's precisely what Eve did originally, right? She should have gone to her husband, sought his wisdom, went tempted. Satan knew that. Satan isolated her. Satan deceived her. She acted independently out from under the loving submission that should have been a part of her commitment to her husband and led the whole human race into sin. As she had done in the original sin when listening to Satan and never consulting Adam, she exercised authority over the man, took things into her own hands, and that was, in essence, the curse. And since that time, the sin of a woman, the innate depravity in women seeks to control.

Man, then, is left with a curse as well. He seeks to dominate. Why is there always a women's liberation movement? And if not a movement, it's still there in the heart of a woman, of women. And why is there a male chauvinism and has been and always will be? Because that's how the depravity of the human heart reveals itself in women seeking to rule and men desiring to suppress. And therein is one very possible explanation for the intensity and the ubiquitous character, that means all the time everywhere, of conflict in marriage. A woman by the fall in her fallenness is not willing to submit but desires to control. To exert her individualism, man by the fall wants to stay king of the cotton, and his rule can be oppressive and insensitive. Thus, the battle of the sexes began with the fall in Genesis chapter 3. And children who come into the family just enter into the ring during the boxing match, not a good place for children to be. So there is male chauvinism in the world, and you can find it in cultures throughout human history.

There is women's liberation in the world, and the same thing, you can find it throughout history as each one expresses the effect of the curse, everyone selfishly fighting for his or her own turf. And the question then comes, how can a marriage survive this kind of conflict? How can a marriage work, and how can children find any peace in this kind of environment? And even the more important question, how can it be ended? How can it be ended? We've already answered that question by two people who have come to know Christ, whose lives have been transformed, who are characterized by being Spirit-filled, joyful, thankful, and submissive to one another.

And that is a spiritual transformation. In other eras, in other cultures, marriages have done better than in our contemporary world. Not too many years ago or so, people stayed together. That was the standard way of conduct.

That was what society expected out of people, and that's what happened. That does not mean that there was any less conflict. Because of fallenness, there will be conflict. The solution to the conflict in marriage is spiritual, and it starts with letting the Holy Spirit control your life, letting the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, obeying the Spirit of God as reveals His will through the Word of God.

Only the power of the Holy Spirit can reverse the curse in a home. Where you have a Spirit-filled person in the home, you have hope. Ever try to pick a fight with a Spirit-controlled person? Ever try to pick a fight with a totally joyful person that just has rising joy in their heart? Ever try to pick a fight with somebody who's thankful for everything, even the conflict? Ever try to pick a fight with somebody who's totally submissive? Very difficult.

Where that exists, there's hope. It's a spiritual issue. Conflict goes where the Holy Spirit dominates. You're listening to John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary. The lesson you heard today is part of Grace2U's most in-demand series titled, The Fulfilled Family. Well, John, the biggest reason we're airing this study now is because of how it dovetails with the subject of your latest book. It took longer than expected to complete, but this book is finally here, and I know you want to encourage people to read it, not just because you wrote it, but because the content is so timely and important. Well, yeah, Phil, you're talking about the latest book, The War on Children, and you're right. It's been percolating in my mind for the last couple of years.

Its message is as powerful as anything I've ever written. As you said, it is timely because there is literally an unabashed, all-out war on the young, on children, starting really before you even conceive them by depreciating being parents, you know, buy a dog and forget children. And then if you do decide to have the procreative act and you don't like the results, you kill the baby in the womb.

If the baby survives that, the culture is going to make life very difficult. Broken homes, divorce, rampant sin, whatever tears the family to shreds. If they survive that, the public school system will get them, or the entertainment system will get them, or media will get them. And the assaults are directed at children.

So it's an all-out war, and I think we need to understand that, so that's why I wrote the book. Society is not only sort of, I guess, passively a corrupting influence. It is actively a corrupting influence. It is on purpose brainwashing children, spreading lies designed to wipe out biblical spirituality, morality, and in so doing, devastate the foundations of society and culture. Christian parents can't go along with the flow of the culture. They need help. They need to redouble their commitment to wise, never-let-your-guard-down biblical parenting. And The War on Children is a book I believe you must read.

You must have it. It not only looks at the issues around you, but it gives you solutions. The subject is critical. The dangers are eternal, and the approach and the structure of these attacks is very insidious and very effective. Ten chapters in the book, including The Attack on Conception, The Attack on the Family, The Attack on Life, Whose Children Are They Anyway, and many other chapters.

About 220 pages. It's available now for the first time ever, The War on Children. You can order it from Grace to You. Thanks, John, and friend, this book will help you strategize and arm yourself for the fight that is coming to your family.

Really, the fight that's already here. Learn how to protect and raise your children in a way that pleases the Lord. To order The War on Children, contact us today. You can call us here at 855-GRACE, or you can order The War on Children online at

The War on Children costs $15, and shipping is free. Again, to order, call 855-GRACE or shop online at Also remember, there are thousands of free resources available at, including the Grace to You blog. At the blog, look for the series of articles titled Family Matters.

For a helpful supplement to the lesson you heard today, again, the title is simply Family Matters. And at the website, also remember, you can download all of John's sermons, that's more than 3,600 messages, free of charge in MP3 and transcript format. You can also read daily devotionals from John. You can follow along with the daily readings from the MacArthur Daily Bible. All of that is on our website, the address there one more time, Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson. Thanks for joining us today and be back tomorrow as John shows you how to make and how to keep your home a place of peace and harmony. It's part of John's current study, The Fulfilled Family. Join us then for another half hour of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace to You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-12 07:27:01 / 2024-03-12 07:36:57 / 10

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