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God’s Laboratories

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
February 21, 2023 9:00 am

God’s Laboratories

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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February 21, 2023 9:00 am

In this message, as part of the “Love Incorruptible” series, Pastor J.D. walks us through Ephesians 5, a passage that stirs up a lot of confusion about submission, and helps us see that God uses the relationships in marriage, family, and work as laboratories to help us grow in spiritual maturity.


Today on Summit Life with JD Greer. A lot of men are on autopilot when it comes to their family. Guys, if you show the same initiative in your job that you show in your family, you get fired in a week.

And this is your most important assignment. Spiritual headship is not license to do whatever you want to do. Spiritual headship is empowerment to do what you ought to do. Welcome to Summit Life with pastor, author, and theologian JD Greer.

I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. OK, time for a little self-evaluation as we start the program today. If your spiritual progress were based on how well you lived out the Bible's instruction at home, how would you be doing? I think it's probably safe to say that we'd all come up quite a bit short of the standard, right? Well, today, Pastor JD Greer walks us through a passage that stirs up a lot of confusion specifically about the topic of submission, and he will help us see that God uses the relationships in marriage, family, and work as laboratories to help us grow in spiritual maturity.

Wondering how all that works? Well, you have come to the right place. Let's join Pastor JD in Ephesians chapter five.

Ephesians chapter five. It's the principles of karate. As a kid, it was inspiring. It was awesome. For what it's worth, I went back and watched it a few months ago with my kids. It's not nearly as awesome as I remember it. In fact, how being in the crane position does not signal to your opponent exactly what you were about to do.

I'm not really sure, but it was awesome when I was a kid. And one of the most captivating parts of the story was how Mr. Miyagi, who was the mentor, how he taught Daniel how to fight. Now, a lot of you have seen the movie, but if not, basically, Daniel shows up at his house, and Mr. Miyagi gives him a series of chores. Remember this? Yeah.

It is to wash the car and then sand the floor and then paint the fence. And after about a month, he's just sick of it. He's like, you got me doing your housework.

But then in the kind of the big revelation moment, Mr. Miyagi shows him that in learning to do these mundane tasks, he's actually learned all the skills that he needs in order to become a great fighter. Well, I share that because in many ways, Ephesians chapter five, that's what Paul is showing you God has set up the world like. He set up the world in essentially the same way. Paul is gonna take three very common relationships in our lives, three relationships that you'll probably at some point be involved in. Those three very ordinary relationships are marriage, family, and work. And he shows us that these very ordinary relationships are like the laboratories in which God teaches us the character skills that are gonna make us more like himself. In each of these three relationships, we're gonna learn one very important quality, a quality that defines Jesus himself, and that quality is submission. Paul opens up this section with that concept. It kind of starts in verse 21. Submitting to one another, he says, in the fear of Christ. Now, technically, this is the last phrase of the last sentence of the previous section, but Paul uses that as his kind of bridge into discussion of these three relationships. He said you're going to submit to one another, all of you, out in the fear of Christ, out of respect for Christ or as a way of serving Christ. Submitting to one another out of respect for Christ in which we're gonna learn to be like Jesus.

This is really important caveat as we get started here. The fact that we submit to others in relationships like these does not make us inferior to the person to whom we're submitting. In the same way that when somebody else is submitting to us in one of these relationships, it doesn't make us superior to them.

In another one of his letters, Paul makes this very clear. Paul says in Christ, in Christ, there's really neither Jew nor Greek. There's neither slave nor free. There is no male or female.

You could insert right there all these other relationships that we just discussed. There's no husband or wife. In Christ, there's no parent or child. In Christ, there is no employer or employee. We're all one in Christ Jesus. We're all equal in nature. There is no hierarchy in Christ.

But that doesn't mean that for a time in our lives, we play some of these various roles. Even Jesus himself, Paul said, learned to play the role of submission. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul explains that though Jesus was himself, God in his nature, and of course then equal with God, he still submitted his will to the will of the Father. The writer of the book of Hebrews says that by doing this, Jesus learned submission.

God learned to submit to God. We had on our staff a guy. He was part-time, but he was also a part-time police officer. So on our staff, he was part of our counseling team. He was a part-time counselor here and pastoral counseling and a part-time police officer. It was great because he understood that really fine line between when somebody needed compassion and when they needed to be arrested.

He kind of got that. So it was good to have him around. But sometimes he would spend a few hours here in the office while he was on his way to doing something else.

He would come in his police uniform in his police car, which was always interesting because when he would show up and walk into the office, I'm the head of the staff because I'm the lead pastor, so he would submit to me. He's kind of under my authority. But the moment that we walked out and got in our cars and got on the road, then I submitted to him because he was the authority. So who was superior to whom? Well, the question is simply depends on what role that we are playing.

Well, that's what Paul is trying to get at here. It has nothing to do with superiority or inferiority. We're all one in Christ Jesus.

There's no hierarchy. It's got to do with roles that we play at various points in our lives that God uses like a laboratory to teach us to be more like Jesus. All right, you got this? All right, so let's look at the very first laboratory, verse 22. Mowage, mowage, verse 22. Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. There it is, ladies, your favorite verse, right? You're like, when's he going to get to that one?

I'm so excited about that one. I know you got like a pillow at home with this cross stitched on it. So here it is. I talked about it. Because the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church.

He is the savior of the body now as the church submits to Christ. So also wives are to submit to their husbands in everything, just so you can never accuse me of soft peddling any part of the Bible. We'll just go ahead and make sure you saw that last phrase, in everything.

Yes, it is. Listen, I realize when I say that, that some of you ladies, your head is about to explode right now because you got all kinds of questions and maybe you've seen this distorted. You've seen this used for abuse.

You've seen it abused and twisted. I understand that. Okay, I'm married to a wonderful, very competent woman who is very high spirited. And yes, I get all of that. So just hang on with me if you will.

Let's get through this and then I'll come back and we'll talk about some of those questions. Verse 25, husbands, he says, you love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word. He did this, that's an important phrase we'll come back to. He did this to present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and blameless. In the same way, you see, husbands are to love their wives like they're loving their own bodies. You know, the one who loves his wife loves himself because when you make something part of your body, when you take care of it, you're taking care of you.

Nobody ever hates his own flesh but provides it and cares for it, just as Christ does for the church since we're actually members of his body. Verse 31, for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two will become one new body. This mystery is profound, but see, I'm telling you that God gave us the marriage relationship as a way of teaching us about Christ and the church, Christ's relationship to his people.

So let's start with the husband. Get this, the husband submits to his wife. Remember, that's kind of the heading, submit to one another out of the fear of Christ. The husband submits to his wife by loving her and leading her like Christ loved and led the church. In teaching this, Paul is going to draw all the way back from the creation narratives of Genesis 2.

Throughout Ephesians 5, he's going to quote Genesis 2 a number of different times. We go back to Genesis 2 and what we see is that God assigned the man at least four ways that he was to have a Christ-like leadership role in the home. He was, first of all, if you're jotting these down, number one, he was to provide for her. Before God created the woman, he had the man working in the garden with a job. It was only after the man had a job and after he was providing for himself that God brought him a wife.

A quick little application here, ladies, if he can't hold down a job, if he's 28 years old and still uses his mom and dad's credit card, I'd stay away from him. That's free. That's just from Uncle JD.

Thank you very much. Second, he was to lead the way spiritually. He was supposed to lead the way spiritually. When Eve was brought to Adam, he already had a relationship with God. He was already walking with God. He was already obeying the commands of God. He was tasked with relaying to her the commands of God and to lead her in obeying them by example. Men, you were supposed to be the spiritual leaders in your home. Did you see that phrase?

I pointed it out a minute ago. Wash her with water by the word. You're like, what does that mean? That means that you lead in the application of Scripture to your family. I know that's going to overwhelm some of you guys. I get this image of me leading a Bible study for my wife. She knows more about the Bible than I do. She's smarter than I am. I know that. She knows that. God knows that.

It's going to be embarrassing. Yes, we all know that. We know that she's smarter than you. But all it means is that you lead the way in applying Scripture. You lead the way in leading your family to obey it. I'll give you real quick.

Here's one little experiment that you can do if you're overwhelmed by this. You go home tonight. When you get home tonight, you just look at your wife and you say, hey baby, how can I pray for you?

Okay? And then let her come up with some things. And then you write those things down because you're going to pray for them. And then you remember one thing from my sermon. Just one.

Just one from it. And then you pray those things over her. And then you pray the application point of that Scripture and pray it over her. And when you say, amen, guys, I'm telling you, you're all going to look up and she's going to be crying. And you're going to be leading and you're going to feel awesome. You're going to feel awesome to be like, I just became a spiritual leader. And you're going to write me a thank you note and I'm ready to receive it. Okay? This is Summit Life with Pastor J.D.

Greer. We'll be right back with the rest of today's teaching in just a moment. But I wanted to share a little bit more about our featured resource this month. I encourage anyone who loves the local church to study the book of Ephesians. Ephesians is a book that excites us about all that we have in Christ. It transforms our view of the church and thrills us as we see our part in God's amazing plan. And it challenges us about our day to day lives as members of the body of Christ. And this month we are offering you an eight session study guide that will take you or a group through the whole letter of Ephesians explaining and applying it personally. Do you need to embrace your local church body to a greater extent? Maybe build deeper relationships or become more involved in discipleship? Why don't you reach out today in support of this ministry and we'll send you this study right away.

Give us a call at 866-335-5220 or give your gift online by visiting Watching her with the word also means you become the primary mouthpiece that declares God's feelings about her to her. Namely that she's valued, that she's cherished, that she's precious in God's sight, that she's got a bright future because of the promises of God in her. Husband, let me ask you to consider something. What if your wife's identity was built solely on your compliments and encouragements that you gave to her? How balanced would her emotional life be?

How healthy would her self-understanding be? I'll give you another little experiment that you can do just because I'm feeling generous today to you husbands, okay? You need to get your Bible out and I want you to make a list. Just go through Ephesians 5, 1 Corinthians 13, Proverbs 31, and Galatians 5 and list out all the characteristics that you see in those passages of Christ-likeness because that's what those are.

And then for the next two, three weeks, every time you see one in your wife, you just call it out on her. And you just say, I see Jesus in you and I see him working in you and you just pray for her and you affirm those in your wife and it's going to be awesome. You're going to be a leader. Thirdly, he takes the lead in romance. So he leads in provision, he leads spiritually.

Thirdly, he leads in romance. Did you know the first recorded human words in the Bible, the first ones are in Genesis 2 of Adam composing a love poem about his wife. He was to be the one taking the initiative in romancing his wife, which means men, you should be the one budgeting for and planning and suggesting and pulling off the date nights. I thought some woman out there would give me an amen. My wife yelled amen so loud in the first service.

I just embarrassed the heck out of me. So it means you ought to be the one taking the initiative in these kinds of romance. You ought to be the one on the other side figuring out when the relationship is in trouble and you need some counseling. I'm not a marriage counselor, but I tell you, it's almost always the opposite way. We have a woman dragging in a guy saying we're in deep trouble.

It's your responsibility, husband, your responsibility to understand the relationship enough to know when you need help. Finally, he was to lead. We see in Genesis 2 in sacrifice. In verse 31, Paul is going to reference God's instructions to the man to leave his previous life and to cleave to his wife to become one with her. And Paul is going to compare that to Jesus' relationship with us when he left his heavenly home and he came and united himself to us and offered his life up for us. And Paul says in the same way, you're going to lay down your life for your spouse. Laying down your life doesn't simply mean being willing to die for her. Laying down your life means daily putting her needs above yours and using whatever power or leadership position you have to serve her. It means, husbands, that in decisions, I give Veronica's needs and preferences more weight than I do my own. Guys, what that means is that if I am serving Veronica like Christ served the church, that means in 94.8% of the places where we disagree, we're going to end up doing what she wants because most decisions are not spiritual leadership decisions. They're just preferences. And my preferences and my needs should always be second to hers.

So to borrow from C.S. Lewis here, men, yes, in the marriage relationship, you wear a crown, but that crown that you wear is primarily made of thorns. It's one that you wear like Jesus wore. That's how I submit to my wife. I use my leadership to serve her. Now, before we move on to the wife, let me point out that in one sense, humanity's fall happened because of a failure of men to lead in this way. I've pointed this out before, but read Genesis 2 and 3 through the lens of men and leading or not leading. It says that, you know, Genesis 3 opens up with the woman in a conversation with a snake who is Satan. And Satan convinces the woman to try the forbidden fruit. And then it says that she gave it to her husband who was there with her. Now, I've pointed out that in Hebrew, the word with her means that he was standing like right next to her, not that he was off somewhere else in the garden doing man stuff, grilling and killing and that kind of stuff. He was standing right there with her. Now, he knew the commands of God. He knew that God had said, the day that you eat of it, you will surely die, which means that he's standing right there watching this thing go down. And so when his wife takes the bite of this, what is this dirtbag thinking? Well, she's going to drop dead.

If so, I'll know that's a bad idea. So not only is he failing to lead spiritually, he's also failing to lead in sacrifice and protection, right? The way the conversation should have gone down is Genesis 3 opens up with the snake, you know, making his way over to the woman and all of a sudden there'd be an Adam like, what are you talking to my wife? You can't talk to my wife.

We're not going to mess around with that tree. We obey God, right? And this is what we're doing. That's what should have happened is not what happened. And because of that, there was everything began to come unraveled. In one sense, the original sin was not a sin of commission as much as it was a sin of omission.

He failed to lead, which means that he omitted where he was and that led to the destruction of the human race. In the same way, just like humanity fell because men didn't lead like Christ, I would suggest to you that when men in this church or any church reassume their leadership role, that's when we're going to see the transformation of society and our churches. You know, studies pretty consistently show that if a child is the first one to get saved in a family, if a child's the first one to get saved in the family, there is a three and a half percent chance that everybody else in the family will get saved.

That's pretty low. If the mother is the first one to get saved in a family, there's a 17% chance that everybody else in the family will get saved. If a father is the first one to get saved in a family, there is a 93% chance that everybody else in the family will get saved.

Men, listen to this. Your families are going to be most impacted are gonna be most impacted when you are the one leading in family devotion, when you're the ones that are setting the priorities, when you're the ones taking the lead in discipline, when you're the one that is responsible to keep the family schedule on track. I mean, as it stands now, you know this, a lot of men are on autopilot when it comes to their family. They come home and they're like, well, I'm done with my leadership, now it's my wife's turn. I just say, guys, if you show the same initiative in your job that you show in your family, you get fired in a week.

And this is your most important assignment. Listen, we got a lot of men who lead in this church and thank God for that, but we need more of them. Because you got a lot of men that are sitting back just like Adam in the garden watching sports center, letting their wife lead in everything. God came down to Adam and Eve after the sin and the question to me is very haunting. He says to Adam, where are you? In other words, where were you? Where were you, Adam? Where were you when it was time to lead, you weren't there.

It wasn't that you were bad, you were just disengaged. We need men to be the spiritual leaders in the homes because it would transform families, churches, societies. Did you know, I saw the study recently, the International Mission Board, in the hard places, the really difficult mission places, female applicants outnumber male applicants, seven to one. Now, thank God for women of faith and courage who are stepping up and saying, we are ready to be used.

But man, I'm just gonna tell you, they should not be the ones leading out in the hard areas. The world will be restored when men take that Christ-like leadership role. Amen, ladies, amen, amen, all right. Now to the wife, he says, wife, you reflect Jesus and how you submit to that leadership. Like I showed you twice in this passage, she is told, submit to your husbands in everything.

So what does that mean? Well, first, let me point out what it doesn't mean. It doesn't mean the dominance of the man as if she exists as a serf in his house to cater to his whims because like I showed you, the husband is told first to lay down his life for her. Nor does it mean, ladies, that you ever allow yourself to be put in a situation where you might be harmed. Verse 22, and it says, submit to him as to the Lord, submit to him as a way of serving God, not submitting to him as if he were God. That means that if your husband was ever telling you to do something that would make you disobey the Lord or his leadership ever put you or your family in physical harm's way, it means you need to get out of there.

You need to come see us and you need to let us help you. You need to get some counseling. That concept doesn't mean that all women everywhere should submit to all men everywhere as if women cannot lead in the workplace or in government. Paul is only talking about the marriage relationship here. Finally, guys, let me also point out to you that this verse is actually not addressed to you, it's addressed to her.

Which means that you can't use it as a tool to wield over your wife. That's her verse, not yours. D. Martin Lloyd-Jones, a British pastor says, it's hers to obey, it's not yours to demand. If she's not doing it, the only thing you can do, other than maybe leaving your Bible open to Ephesians 5 and strategic places around the house, the only thing you can do is to try to be the kind of leader that it would be a joy to submit to. And then just, you play your role and then trust God with her playing hers. What it does mean, ladies, is that you allow him the space to steer the family.

I love how Kathy Keller, who is the wife of Tim Keller, she explains it. She says, it means that it matters of disagreement. I yield to Tim the deciding vote.

I get a vote and he gets a vote and then he gets the deciding vote. And she tells the story of their decision about whether or not to move to New York City so that they could plant the Redeemer Presbyterian Church. And she said, after praying about it for about a month, he felt like the answer was yes, and I felt like the answer was no. She said, we came to a point where we had to make a decision because to not make a decision would be functionally to make one against. And she said, so he conceded. He said, okay, sweetheart, okay, Kathy, if you don't wanna go, then we won't go.

And Kathy said, I responded back to him, oh, no, you don't. You are not putting this on me. God put this responsibility on you and you gotta bear the responsibility for this decision and you gotta bear the burden if it's a wrong decision. Spiritual leadership means he has the burden of responsibility.

It's supposed to be good news. You are relieved of the burden of being accountable for a bad decision. It's like Tony Evans, the African-American pastor preacher always says, spiritual headship is God telling a woman to duck so he can punch the man.

He bears the burden of the deciding vote. Guys, I've told you this, spiritual headship is not license to do whatever you wanna do. Spiritual headship is empowerment to do what you oughta do. But wives, that means that you don't only follow him when you agree with him or feel like he's making the right decision. That's not submission, that's agreement. A lot of times a woman would come back from a conference and she'd be like, oh, my husband's not a spiritual leader.

What do I do with that? They wonder, what does that mean for how I follow him? Well, notice the verse doesn't say submit when he is a sufficiently spiritual enough leader in your eyes. If your husband is not a spiritual leader, your submission to him in this way can help call him up into that kind of leadership. Challenging teaching from God's word. You'd expect nothing less from us here at Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. This month, we are offering our listeners an eight-part Bible study called Ephesians, Your Place in God's Plan. It's from our friends at The Good Book Company. And J.D., what do you hope that listeners will ultimately take away from this Bible study? Well, as I hope you're picking up, Paul's message to the Ephesians and to us is this, God's eternal plan is bigger than Caesar's plan, it's bigger than your plan, and that ultimately the most important thing that is happening in your life is what God is doing in it. How does a believer respond to what is sometimes feels like very discouraging news? How do we respond with the hope of the gospel? That's what the book of Ephesians is about. We've got a Bible study that we're gonna offer you this month to go along with the messages here on Summit Life and that Bible study is called Your Place in God's Plan that will help you connect some of these incredible gospel truths in Ephesians to situations and moments that you're gonna experience day to day. Thanks, J.D. We'd love to get you a copy of Your Place in God's Plan today and it comes with our thanks when you donate to support this program. Summit Life is kept on the radio and online by listeners like you. So when you tune in, you've got another listener to thank for the message and you can extend that gift to someone else by doing your part to keep this program going.

Give today and remember to ask for your copy of the Ephesians study book. Call 866-335-5220 or you can donate and request this resource online at I'm Molly Vidovitch. Listen again tomorrow as we conclude our message on God's laboratories of marriage, family, and work here on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-21 11:05:43 / 2023-02-21 11:17:57 / 12

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