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A Spirit-Filled Household

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew
The Truth Network Radio
February 26, 2024 1:00 am

A Spirit-Filled Household

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew

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February 26, 2024 1:00 am

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We've been journeying through the last three chapters of Paul's letter to the Ephesians, and tonight we begin a look at a large section of this letter that deals with living the Christian life as members of households, members of families. This section begins in verse 22 of chapter 5, goes all the way through verse 9 of chapter 6. The previous section, where he tells us to walk wisely, not as fools, concludes with a kind of a summary statement that serves as a transitional verse. Verse 21 points us to and sets the tone for this coming section on the family, the household.

It says, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Reverence for Christ, or as the King James Version puts it, fear of God. It's true that we see the Father as loving and kind and tender-hearted toward his children, but we must ever be mindful of the fact that we serve a God who is holy and all-knowing and all-powerful and one to be held in fear and reverence. We tend to avoid thoughts of what we've been spared when God has delivered us from the wrath that we truly deserve. We need to be reminded of what we've been spared from by God's grace. I recently read a book on humility, and there was just a very pointed reminder in that book that goes like this, continually keep in mind that all who despise God will burn in hell for their sins and that eternal life is prepared for those who fear him. Maybe a continual sense of fear of God and reverence of God is not the ultimate goal in our thoughts, but it is a good starting point. Proverbs tells us that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. We need to always keep in mind the fact that he is other.

We had a friend who used to say in his messages, he would say, there is a God and you're not him. We are other, different, separate from God and we need to keep this always before us. This entire section of Paul's letter began back in chapter 5 verse 15 with this command, walk not as unwise, but as wise. Do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And so as we begin to look at Paul's instruction regarding Spirit-filled living in the home, he speaks to us first of all, he speaks to the wives.

I don't know why God did it that way, but he does. He speaks to the wives first and then to the husbands. And it's always hard to start with saying to your wives, submit to your husbands. But that's where God starts in his Word and so that's what we'll do tonight.

So let me begin by asking you ladies some questions and by the way, as I say these things tonight, this doesn't just apply to ladies. Most of what I'm going to say is applicable to all of us, but let's begin with some questions. So ladies, do you want to be women of great faith, living in a way that is proper and fitting in the Lord, defending God's Word so that it not be blasphemed, holy women who are precious in God's sight? Of course, I'm sure all of you would say, yes, that's what I want to be.

That's the kind of person I want to be. But each of those questions of course is grounded in one of the statements in Scripture in the New Testament that associates a single, a particular mindset or attitude with each of these characteristics. And it has to do with how we relate to others in our homes and in the church and in the world around us. It's rooted ultimately in our attitude toward God and toward his Word. You know, if we truly reverence God, we will hear and obey what he has to say. Whenever my thoughts, my actions, my attitudes are different from the Word of God, I have to change.

I have to change my thoughts, my behavior, my point of view. In tonight's passage, Paul begins his instruction regarding the way that we as Spirit-filled believers are to relate to each other in our homes with what he's telling us what the ideal family looks like, what a truly Spirit-filled home looks like. And so to put it in the context of what Paul has to say, let's go back and begin reading at chapter 5 and begin reading at verse 15. So if you would stand with me in honor of God's Word and let's read this passage from Ephesians chapter 5. We'll begin reading at verse 15.

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery. But be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord. 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. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

Let's pray. Father God, you created us and blessed us by revealing your commands to us, to show us how to live. You warned us of the consequence of disobedience. You created us male and female to live together in unity and harmony, each complementing the other and having assigned functions that you have given. And Lord, when we look at marriages and families today, we see disunity and friction and cross purposes. But your word holds before us the divine ideal of the Spirit-filled household, a picture to the world of the relationship between Christ and his church, his bride.

So Holy Spirit, be our guide, our teacher as we consider these wonderful instructions regarding our homes. Open our eyes to see. Open our minds to understand. Open our hearts to obey your truth. We ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.

You may be seated. Submission. It's not a word we like to hear. We just by nature do not want to be told what to do. We want to make our own decisions, and we've been like that since the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve didn't want God to tell them what was good and evil, but they wanted to decide for themselves.

They wanted to have that kind of knowledge for themselves. But submission to authority is a fundamental principle of God's order in all of creation. What is this matter of submission? In the New Testament, there's a compound Greek word that is used that literally means to put under.

To be submissive, to be submitted is to subject yourself, to put yourself under, to subdue yourself to someone over you. And it always includes this idea of relationship to authority. One of the rules of hermeneutics is that we interpret scripture by scripture. It is scripture that interprets scripture. And so one of the ways that we come to understand these passages by looking at cross-references, parallel passages that treat the same idea. And so as we look at some of the uses of this word throughout the New Testament, we find what it means in different contexts.

And this helps us understand the meaning of the word. This word is used in Christ's submission to his earthly parents. When Jesus went back home with them and he put himself under their authority, it is used of the demons being submissive to the commands of the disciples when Christ sent them out and gave them authority over the demons. It's used to speak of our submission to God's law and to the law of the governing authorities. The same word is used to speak of the submission of all things to Christ. God has put everything under his feet. It is used to speak of the submission of the church to Christ and of servants to masters.

I think really our problem is not that we don't understand what the word means. It is that we don't like what it requires of us to live it out. Submission to authority is a universal principle of God's created order and he uses this as a means of doing good to us and of conforming us to his ways. Let me just remind you of a couple of biblical illustrations or examples of how this principle has worked out. You remember the story of the centurion who came to Jesus and pleaded for his servant who was sick. He asked Jesus to come and heal him or to heal this servant. Jesus agreed, heard his plea and agreed to go and the centurion said, you don't have to come. I'm a man under authority.

I have people under me. I tell this man go and he goes and that one come and he comes. You just speak the word. And Jesus' response to that is amazing. He said, when Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, truly I tell you with no one in Israel have I found such faith. One who understands authority and submission has discovered an aspect of faith that a few people comprehend. Jesus said, this is amazing.

I haven't seen this in all Israel, this understanding of authority. Another thing that we need to always remember is that God uses authority in our lives regardless of the character, personality, intentions of the people in authority over us. You remember in John chapter 11, the religious rulers were faced with the fact that Jesus had raised a man from the dead and they were plotting to kill Jesus and get rid of him, get him out of the way. And in John chapter 11, verse 49, we're told Caiaphas, who was a high priest that year, said to them, you know nothing at all, nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.

And this is the key. He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. Because of his position as high priest, and he wasn't even legitimate with the high priest, high priest was supposed to serve until he died, but Rome had put in this rotation system so they wouldn't have too much power.

Annas was still alive, Caiaphas now is high priest this year, but because of his position as the priest of God's people, he speaks prophecy about the death of our Lord. So we understand that this matter of submission to those in authority over us is a principle God has put in place as a part of his created order that is for our good and for his glory, and he works in spite of the evil intention of men, in spite of our fallen nature and our bad character, God has put this in place for our good. That's what it is, but why should we be motivated to live it out then?

What is the motivation? Well, here in this passage we're looking at tonight in verse 22, Paul says, wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord. Our submission to earthly authority is grounded in the fact that we are under a higher authority. We are doing what we do as to the Lord.

He talks about this in many different ways, when he gets to talking to the servants later on he's going to talk about not serving as pleasing men, but as servants of Christ we do these things. And so we submit to those that are in authority over us because we are under the authority of Christ and we're related to him as our Lord. One writer has put it this way, we will only submit to others when Christ has made us subject to himself, and then we will submit to one another because he insists that we do so. If we are in a right relationship with the Lord, we will submit to those in authority over us as we should according to his command and his instruction to us. So submission in marriage, another motivation for us is that this relationship is a picture to the world around us of the relationship between Christ and his bride, the church.

It's a witness to the world. And so our submission to Christ as Lord and our desire to proclaim the gospel should motivate us to submit to those in authority over us as we should. Well in this particular passage Paul is talking to the wives about their submission to their husbands. Wives, submit to your own husbands he says in verse 22 and then verse 24 he puts this qualifier in there, in everything. Submission to authority is a universal principle that God has put in place in his creation.

It's an attitude of heart and mind toward God and toward those that he has put over us. So I would say that this principle is universal in attitude but not necessarily in obedience. Just because we are to have this attitude of submission to those in authority over us does not mean that we obey them in everything. We are to be submissive in everything but not necessarily always obedient. We all know examples of this in scripture of the apostles in Acts chapter 4 where they were hauled in by the authorities and told not to preach any longer in the name of Jesus. And their response was, when they charged them Peter and John answered, whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God you must judge. For we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard. So we are submissive in everything, recognizing that those that are in authority are there by God's design and God's ordination. And we have that mindset, that attitude of submission to authority in every area of life, but we are not obedient when we are required to violate God's law in order to be obedient to those in authority. So how do we live this out?

How do we apply this? I read this past week an old Puritan writer, William Gouge, and he proposed three character qualities that are necessary if we are going to live like this. And I think this is very good. So I'm going to just use these three ideas as we consider this. The first thing he says that is necessary if we are going to live this principle out in our lives and in our homes in particular. First thing is humility. Humility keeps us from thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought to think. Paul, in writing to the church at Rome, he said, for by grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think. And we all know the passage in Philippians.

We are in chapter 2. He says that in humility we are to count others as more significant than ourselves. Of course the opposite of this humility is pride. Pride makes us think that we don't need to be subject to those that are in authority over us. It puffs us up and makes us feel like we should rule ourselves rather than submit to someone that we know is not as capable as we are. I've known this temptation in my own life of sitting under a conductor and I just knew that I was better at it than he was.

But I had to submit to his direction. God has a way of bringing us down. Scripture warns us that pride goes before a fall, doesn't it? That haughty spirit before destruction and God has often humbled me when I succumb to the temptation of pride. I mentioned earlier the little book on humility. One of the assignments in that little book, this writer would give the information and then at the end he would give a little homework assignment and one of them was let someone less competent than you tell you what to do.

There was another one one day that said find an opportunity today to clean a toilet. You know we need reminders of how desperately dependent we are and humility is a necessary quality for godless submission to those in authority over us. A second quality is a matter of sincerity. The grace that we are inside what we appear to be outside, that inner self, that inner being is what is shown and manifest outwardly. Only the Lord sees our heart and truly knows what our motivation is and you know a wife in submitting to her husband can give the outward appearance of a submissive spirit while having nothing but disdain for a husband in her heart. We need the constant awareness that we live before the face of God.

The Ligonier Ministries, the little magazine table talk, they speak of the quorum deo, before the face of God. That's how we live and that should motivate us to submit ourselves in sincerity with a true heart. Another quality that is necessary if we're going to be in submission to authority as we should is cheerfulness.

This is something that's evident on the outside. It makes our submission pleasing to others as well as to God. We as parents want this in our children, don't we? We want the obedience of our children to be done with, as sometimes was said, we want them to obey with a happy heart. You know our children can obey sometimes with such obvious displeasure that it makes the obedience far less than pleasing because of the attitude that is evident. One Puritan preacher put it like this, some wives will indeed be subject to their husbands and obey, but with such frowning and sour countenance, with such pouting and murmuring that they grieve their husbands more in the manner than they can be pleased with the thing that they do.

He gave an illustration, I don't know if any of you have ever milked a cow, but he said, it's like a cursed cow that gives an abundant quantity of milk and then kicks the bucket over. We need to do this matter of submission with a happy heart. And when we really understand and know that this is something that God has ordered and ordained and what he is accomplishing in us through this, we should be able to do this with a happy, cheerful spirit.

So humility and sincerity and cheerfulness. Well, there are a lot of challenges to living like this, especially when you are living with a husband, a man. We are different creatures, aren't we ladies? We think differently, we act differently, there is just a lot about us that is not perfect like you are. We are difficult. In fact, one of the great theologians, Jonathan Edwards, his wife wrote about life with a difficult man. We are a challenge to be with at times.

And yet, when we start offering excuses, they just don't hold water, do they? Well, my husband just doesn't understand me. My husband doesn't love me like Christ loves the church.

My husband is not even a believer. Well, Scripture speaks to all of that, doesn't it? And the commands that are given to us are not given qualifiers. You submit to this authority if this authority is loving and kind and tender hearted. In fact, you go over to Peter and you read there about servants being submissive to their masters and we are commanded to be submissive even to those that are harsh and cruel to us. And so, you know, we are to be in this position of authority, of submission to authority, not because of the character and nature and actions of the one in authority, but because we are under Christ's authority.

We do it as to the Lord. Before we conclude by looking at the rewards of submissive spirit, let me just say a word to the husbands. Next time we get together in this, we are going to look at verse 25 and following and we will have direct word to the husbands. But let me just say to you, men, tonight's admonition is not given to you, it is given to the wife. Paul doesn't say, husband, be the head of your wife.

He tells the wives to be in submission to the husband as the head. But we are not to lord it over our wives. In fact, Jesus speaks very clearly about that, that we are not to be like the Gentiles, those others, he says, who lord it over those under them.

We are never to have that kind of attitude. In fact, Jesus says that the one who is to be greatest among you is to be one who serves all. And so we've got more to come on that, men, when we look at this again next time and get verse 25 and following. But let me finish up by considering some of the promised rewards for those who obey God's command of submission. First of all, God himself promises a reward for humility. In James chapter 4 verse 10, we read, humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you. This same idea is in 1 Peter 5, 5, clothe yourselves all of you with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

God himself rewards us with exaltation and grace when we live in humility and submission. And so, ladies, God will honor you, but so will your spouse and your children. Proverbs 31 speaks of the fact that the woman who is virtuous and right in her living children rise up and call her blessed and her husband also and he praises her. Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. And that's where we started in that verse 21 he says we're to be in this submissive relationship as expression of our reverence to Christ, our fear of God. So God exalts and gives grace and family honors and praises and one who lives like this.

But the best of all, it seems to me, is in 1 Peter chapter 3 verse 4. The woman who is truly submissive out of reverence for Christ, whose heart and whose behavior manifest a sincere humility, the woman who rests in the truth that God's way is always best. Such a woman is one who is adorned not with outward things like braving the hair and putting on the face and the clothes and all that. Peter says this woman is adorned with the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit which in God's sight is very precious.

Very precious. You want to be a woman who is precious in the sight of God? Obey his word. Live in the submissive spirit, quietness and gentleness and rest in the fact that God is God and his way is best.

Let's pray. Father, there are many instructions for us in your word that we call hard sayings because they go against the grain. They are opposed to our flesh and we don't like to acknowledge that our flesh is at enmity with you.

It is hostile to you and to your ways. And yet, Father, having been regenerated by your spirit and having come to see the light, we know in our heads that your way is best even when we don't feel like it. Father, we pray for grace to submit ourselves first to you but also then to those that you put in our lives who have authority over us and who direct us and guide us. Lord, grant that we would live in submission to you and express that in our submission to those that you have placed in authority here in this earthly journey. We ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-25 20:17:07 / 2024-02-25 20:26:42 / 10

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