Shall we turn now in our Bibles to Ephesians, chapter 5.
Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children (5:1);
Now, the therefore immediately points you back, back to the last verse of chapter 4 where we are exhorted to be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven us. Paul's topic here is God's forgiveness as our example of forgiveness. “Be ye followers of God,” or follow the example that God has established for us in forgiveness.
Really the Bible does have the keys to good mental health. A very important thing for mental health is a forgiving spirit. If you are holding bitterness or animosity in your heart towards someone else, that bitterness is going to do you a lot more harm than it is them. It can just eat at you. The Bible constantly is emphasizing the importance of our forgiving and being forgiving. Just to have a forgiving spirit. When Jesus was giving to the disciples the model prayer, incorporated into that prayer was “and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Asking for forgiveness, but also acknowledging the fact that I have received forgiveness or I must myself be forgiving. Forgive us and help me to be forgiving as we forgive others. There was only one petition of that prayer that Jesus emphasized at the close of the prayer, and that was the petition on forgiveness, He said, "For if you will not forgive men their trespasses against you, neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses."
Jesus taught so much on forgiveness, Peter one day felt he was getting the lesson and was looking for some extra strokes. He said, "Lord, how often should I forgive a brother the same offense? Seven times?" I am certain that Peter felt that he was really growing in grace in that he could conceive of forgiving a man the same offense seven times. Imagine his chagrin when Jesus answered him, "No, Peter. Seventy times seven." Four hundred and ninety?
The Lord, I am certain, was demonstrating to Peter that forgiveness is not a matter of mathematics. Before you get to the four hundred and ninety, you would have forgotten the count. And you would just go on forgiving. It isn't a matter of mathematics; it is a matter of the spirit. God wants us to have a forgiving spirit. Yes, you have been wronged. Yes, you have a right to be angry. Yes, you have a right to be upset over this whole situation. Go ahead, eat yourself up, or forgive and be freed from that.
“Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ's sake, hath forgiven us. Be ye therefore, followers of God, as dear children.” So you see how it ties to the previous verse in the previous chapter. God is the example for us in forgiveness; we are to be followers of God who has forgiven us.
And walk in love (5:2),
Now, as we’ve pointed out in the first three chapters of Ephesians, Paul has dealt with the spiritual blessings wherewith God has blessed us in Christ in heavenly places. Having seated us together in Christ, made us heirs together with Him. And having spent three chapters telling you all that God has done for you, and all that God has promised to do for you, and all that God is planning to do for you, having thoroughly rehearsed the resources that God has made available to you, he finally starts to talk to you about your walk. Now unfortunately, we don't follow that same example in our preaching today. But we start immediately preaching to people how they ought to walk, how they ought to act, how they ought to respond.
But the Bible doesn't do that until it lays first the foundation of God's love, God's grace, God's goodness, God's blessings, God’s provisions, and now walk in love, because you have been so loved of God, so blessed of God, so taught of God to love.
Walk in love, as Christ also has loved us (5:2),
So forgiveness, God is the example. We are to forgive as God has forgiven us. Be ye followers of God. In walking in love, Jesus is our example, who loved us,
and gave himself for us (5:2)
So that self-sacrificing love, that giving love. He has given Himself for us as
an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savor (5:2).
Now, in the beginning now to list some of the unloving things whereby men often relate to each other, it is interesting that he puts at the top of an unloving thing, fornication. We see how Satan has so deceived and distorted things, because the world equates fornication with love. In fact, they use the term “let's make love” when they are referring to the act of fornication quite often, calling it love making. But here in the Scripture it is the prime example of something that is lacking in love. That is, lacking in true love. A person who in entices someone else into the act of fornication is not really considering the other person, but only considering themselves and their own desire for some kind of fulfillment, emotional, sexual or otherwise.
They are not really considering the other person that they are leading them into a damning sin. Into one of those works of the flesh which Paul tells us that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. So it is a very unloving thing to lead a person into an action that is so destructive to that person’s spiritual walk in life, which is total disobedience to the commands of God. So it is not really loving and considering the other person. It is a very unloving act and it is only Satan's deception and lies that would cause a person to even think of that as an act of love. It is an act of lust. But true love is not really involved. If you really loved the person, you would be considerate of their conscience, of their feelings. You would not want to place them under that guilt that they would feel afterwards, that shame and all that they would experience as the result of the relationship.
It is interesting that Paul would place that at the top of the list of an unloving act. Walk in love. The second is
Which, of course, is a sexual uncleanness or impurity.
Of course, that is at the heart of unloving actions. Self-love, covetous, but that isn't a real love or consideration for others.
let them not once be named among you (5:3),
You are the children of God. Walk in love, not in these unloving ways.
Neither filthiness, nor [really] foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient (5:4):
Really, he is referring here to dirty jokes. It should never, never be done by a child of God, the passing on of a dirty story, because what you are doing is planting filth in that other person's mind, filth that they will not be able to get rid of. It is tragic, but I can remember dirty jokes that were told me when I was just a little kid. That filth was planted into my mind and I cannot get rid of it. It still lingers there. Oh, I don't think on it all of the time, thank God, but you know how the dumb mind works. Every once in a while one of those dirty little ditties that I learned as a kid, some kind of a sight, sound, word will trigger a DNA molecule and it will pop that thing out of the file, flash it across my brain. And I think, “Oh God help me, that filth is still there.”
But what a shame to plant filth in someone else's mind like that. Filth that they can't get rid of, permanent stains. That is not loving, not loving at all. Rather than that kind of stuff,
we should be giving thanks (5:4),
Plant stuff in their minds that will edify, that will bless, that will be good, that will build them up.
For this you know (5:5),
Now I hope you know it.
no whoremonger, nor unclean person [sexually impure], nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God (5:5).
Paul says, "Now you know this." The tragedy is that a lot of people don't know that. They think that they can get by with these things. They think that somehow God will smile at these things or God will excuse these things or pass over these things. But God is a righteous judge, and everything will be called into account that is not covered by the blood of Jesus Christ.
Let no man deceive you (5:6)
And unfortunately, so many men have deceived in these areas, but let them not
deceive you with vain words (5:6):
As they get into their speculations and as they get into their rationale and into their philosophies,
for because of these things comes the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience (5:6).
In the early church they had a heresy that was known as Gnosticism. According to the Gnostic heresy, basically everything that was material was evil. The material world was not really created by God. God in the beginning sent forth emanations, and one of the emanations got so far from God that it wasn't related to God anymore, and this emanation created the material universe and thus, the whole material universe is just given over to evil. It’s just evil and you can't do anything about it. Only the spiritual is pure.
Therefore, they taught that Jesus was not in a real body of flesh, He was actually a phantom, just an appearance. When He would walk along the beach, there wouldn't be any footprints. They created all of these fanciful stories to deny that Jesus had come in a body, and so that is why John, to counteract this Gnostic heresy, said, "If any man denies that Jesus Christ came in the flesh, he is the antichrist."
Now, going along with this teaching that the material is all evil, they said, "Inasmuch as the material is given over to evil, it doesn't matter what you do with your body because it is all wiped out anyhow. It is just all evil. It is part of the material things, which is totally evil, so it doesn't count. God doesn't really count. It is what is in your spirit that counts. So you can go ahead and commit fornication and go ahead and do all of these things. It really doesn't matter, because you see, that is all a part of the material body and God is so disassociated with the material world that anything done in the material world doesn't really count in the spiritual realm." That was the teaching of the Gnostic’s, and so Paul was saying, "Don't let any man deceive you with vain words." If you get into the Gnostic heresy there was a lot of rationale and plausibilities and all. But they were deceiving people with their vain words and telling them you can do what you want in your body, it really doesn't matter. It isn't wrong because the body is material and it is all going to be done away with. It is what is spiritual that only counts with God.
Don't be partakers with them (5:7).
Actually, he said, "Don't you realize that these are the very things that are going to bring the wrath of God on man?" These are the things for which God is going to judge the world. If you are guilty of doing these things then you will be judged with a guilty world.
You were one time in darkness, but now you are light in the Lord (5:8);
Actually, “you were one time darkness,” not, “in darkness,” you were darkness. Now you are not in the light, you are the light. One time your life was darkness, now your life is light if Christ is dwelling in you.
(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them (5:9-11).
When Paul was writing to the Corinthians, he said, "What fellowship has light with darkness?" Now think about that for a moment. Light and darkness are mutually exclusive. They cannot coexist. When you turn on a light the darkness goes. But they don't coexist. They are not one. They are separate, mutually exclusive entities. So spiritually you cannot walk in darkness and walk in light. If a man says that he has fellowship with God, who is light, and he is walking in darkness, he lies; he is not telling the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light then we do have fellowship with God as the blood of Jesus Christ His Son is continually cleansing us from all sin. So again, don't be deceived. If you are walking in darkness then you cannot have fellowship with God. So have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
Now, we are to take more than just a passive attitude towards darkness. When someone comes and starts to tell a dirty story and it is obvious from the look in their eye and the sinister smile that it is going to be one of the dirty ones, stop them, reprove them, don't just listen and then smile politely and chuckle. Say, “That is filthy.” There are some men whose minds are like racehorses; they run best on a dirt track. Don't let them pour out their filth on you. Don't have any fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, reprove them, speak up, tell them that that is wrong, you don't appreciate it. That way you will keep them from coming back with more filth later.
For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret (5:12).
A lot of times they want to come along and tell you the weekend that they just had and all of their exploits and all, and it is a shame to talk about those things.
But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light (5:13).
Jesus said, "I didn't come into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Me might be saved. He that believeth is not condemned but he that believeth not is condemned already, inasmuch as he has not believed on the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, light came into the world, but they would not come to the light because their deeds were evil. And if they would come into the light their deeds would be manifested” (John 3:17-20). So they will not come to Christ because of their evil deeds. Christ is the light and they don't want to come into that light because it will reveal the truth about them. They love to stay in the darkness. They stay away from the light.
Wherefore he said, Awake thou that sleepest, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light (5:14).
To those who are sleeping in darkness, the call of the gospel. Arise from that death, that spiritual death, and Jesus Christ will give you spiritual life.
See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise (5:15),
So here we are told walk in love, in verse 8, walk as children of light, and here, walk circumspectly.
Redeeming the time, because the days are evil (5:16).
How much time is wasted even by the most careful planner. In a sense, I consider all time that is not spent in spiritual development of some kind is really, in a sense, wasted time. I am not saying that I feel that a person should never do anything for just recreational purposes, I think you have to. But I think that even our recreation can be centered around a spiritual base. I think that God gave us all things to really enjoy. I think that God gave us the surf to enjoy. I believe that God gave us the mountains to enjoy, the rivers, the streams. How can you have dominion over the fish of the sea if you don't get a hook and go after them? But you know, when I am engaged in these recreational activities, when I am sitting out there waiting for a set to come, my heart is in the things of the Spirit. I look at the ocean, I look at the surf, I look at the beauty of God's creation and I am just there in fellowship with the Lord. In fact, I think that I enjoy it probably a lot more than a lot of those people because of the fact that I do have such neat times of fellowship with the Lord while I am there.
I like what Jim Elliot said concerning his going out for the wrestling team at Wheaton College when he won the national AAU championship in his weight division. He wrote home to his parents in Washington and said, "You will probably hear of certain honors that I have received recently in wrestling, the National AAU Championship, but I want you to know that it wasn't for this purpose that I went out for wrestling. My purpose in wrestling was to develop a stronger more coordinated body that I might offer to God for Him to use in whatever way He might see fit.” The motive behind physical fitness. Do I want to walk down the street and have everybody say, “Wow, look at that build.” Or am I seeking to give to God a more qualified instrument for Him to do His work through? Makes a big difference.
Redeeming the time, we waste so much.
Wherefore be not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is (5:17).
So many people are confused as far as God's will for their lives. The purpose and the plan of God for their life. They go on just sort of continuing wasting time. Still doing their own things, never really seeking God, never really searching for the will of God for their lives. God, why did You put me here? What do You have in mind for me? What work is it, Lord, that You want me to accomplish for You? Why have You placed me on this planet? God placed each of us here with a purpose.
Paul the apostle in writing to the Philippians said, "I have not yet apprehended that for which I was apprehended by Jesus Christ." In other words, when the Lord stopped me on the road to Damascus, He had a definite plan for my life. I have not yet accomplished that for which God has planned for me. But I am on my way. I forget those things which are behind and I am pressing towards those things which are before. Reaching for, pressing towards the mark.
Now that should be the story of every one of us. Pressing towards the purpose of God and fulfillment of that purpose of God and plan of God for my life. Redeeming the time, knowing what God wants me to do and being about my Father's business.
Be not drunk with wine, in which is excess; but be filled with the Spirit (5:18);
And in the Greek it is present perfect tense, which would indicate a continual filling of the Spirit. “Be ye being filled,” but that isn't good English grammar. But that is Greek. We don't have a present perfect tense in English as such.
Now these are two interesting things that he would couple together, and relate. Here is a man staggering down the straight, he has had too much wine, and Paul would equate that to a man being filled with the Spirit. Now they seem like opposite things.
Be not drunk with wine, where in is excess; but be filled with the Spirit (5:18);
They are closer than a person would expect on the surface. What is a person searching for who turns to wine? The man who turns to alcohol, what is he seeking? What is he searching for? There is an emptiness deep inside. I am trying to find something that will fill that void in my life. I am reaching out for something that will satisfy; I am looking, I am searching. Some people search in alcohol to find a peace, a contentment, a relaxation or whatever. What does a person experience who is filled with the Spirit? A peace, a relaxation, a contentment, a fulfillment. The one man is looking in the wrong place; he is looking in a place where he will never discover it. The other man has come to the answer, being filled with the Spirit, that void, spiritual void in my life is now complete and full and I am no longer searching and seeking after something to satisfy. I am satisfied through my relationship with God in the Spirit. Rather than being entirely separate things, there is a real tie-in behind the injunction, “be not drunk with wine wherein is excess, but be ye continually filled with the Spirit.”
Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord (5:19);
When you sing for recreation, what do you sing about? When you are just unconsciously sort of humming a tune, what is it all about? I love to observe my grandchildren, when they are not aware even that Grandpa is watching and listening. I like to watch them at play. I like to watch their inventiveness and the interest that they take in different things. Oh, how I love it as they are going around the yard, riding the tricycle or engaged in some activity and they are singing about Jesus, singing about the Lord. I think, “Oh, how beautiful, how beautiful.”
That should be true of all of us. Singing psalms, hymns, spiritual songs, making melody in your heart to the Lord, that it just be a part of the subconscious. I do it when I am not even aware of doing it. That will be the case if that is the kind of music you are listening to, but if you are listening to some of these other stations all of the time, who knows what you will be whistling about.
Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (5:20);
Giving thanks, always for all things. That's impossible to do unless I realize that all things are working together for good to those who love God. If I don't have that confidence, then I can't give thanks for all things. I can't give thanks for all things if I don't fully believe that God loves me supremely, and that God is wiser than I. So that those things that God has allowed to come into my life, He has a wise plan and purpose, motivated by love, which caused Him to allow them to come to me. Thus, I can give thanks for all things, but if I don't realize that, I can't. Because some things that happen to me on the surface look to be so adverse and so horrible that I’m prone to really cry out to God against these things. But if I know that God is in control of my life, that nothing can happen to me except the Father allow it to happen and that the Father loves me supremely so that all things that happen, happen for His purpose because He loves me, I love Him, and He has called me according to His purposes, then I can give thanks even for those things that I do not understand yet what the purpose is. That takes faith.
Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God (5:21).
He has been talking about a lot of fleshly characteristics, covetousness and these other things. The characteristic of the flesh is actually selfishness or self-centeredness from which comes the covetousness and all these other things, the greed. All of it comes and stems from my self-centeredness and my selfishness. I want my way; I want people to yield to my desires. I want people to play by my rules. I want them to yield to me. But here we are told that we are to submit one to another, yielding to each other. Now, the insistence on our own way is what brings all of the strife and all of the problems.
I remember when I was a kid there used to be along the highway these Burma Shave signs. I am not going to ask you how many remember that because I wouldn't date you back to my tintype, flash powder days. I remember as a kid reading one of those signs along the road between Los Angeles and Ventura up in the area of Thousand Oaks, when Gobles Lion Farm used to be out that way and that old dirigible they were building along side of the road. The sign said, "Famous last words, of lights that shine, if he doesn't dim his, I won't dim mine." I won't yield first, I won't give in; you have got to yield to me. That is the basis of so much striving and so much fighting. How much strife could be avoided if we would just submit to one another in love; yield the point.
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife (5:22-23),
The word head meaning authority there.
even as Christ is [the authority or] the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be subject to their own husbands in every thing (5:23-24).
This is the one rule for marriage that God has given to the wife, only one. It should be simple enough for her to keep the one rule. Why would you suppose that God would make such a rule? Because God understands men. God knows that in man there is that male macho image. That somehow a man needs to feel that he is in control, that he is able, that he can handle the situation, that he is boss. I mean, that is just a part of the male ego. God, understanding the male ego and man's needs, gave to the wife the one rule by which her husband can feel that he is really the man of the house and in control and thus be very compatible and loving towards her.
So he gave the women one simple rule, which, if she would follow, would make her husband a very responsible, loving person, easy to get along with. God gave one rule to the husbands, just one. God knows we are prone to forget, so just one rule for each.
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it (5:25);
Now, why would God command the husbands to love their wives so totally and supremely? Because God understands women. God understands the needs in women, and He understands that one of the greatest needs that a woman has is to feel the security that she is loved supremely by her husband. That there is no one else that can attract his eye, or attract his attention, that she is queen, and that she is loved supremely. She needs that. So God commanded the husbands to fulfill that need in the woman so that she could feel the security of her husband’s love, knowing I am number one in his life.
All marital problems stem out of the disobedience of these two rules. There are only two rules for a happy marriage; one for the husband, one for the wife. But marriages get in trouble because these rules are broken, and when they are broken they begin to compound. When the husband fails to show his wife that kind of love that Christ had for the church, and she begins to feel insecure, and, “I don't know if he really loves me or not,” she then feels the necessity of beginning to protect herself, because, “I don't know if he is going to protect me or not.” She begins to challenge the decisions that he makes. “Are you sure you are doing the right thing?” But as she begins to challenge the decisions that he makes, that upsets him because that means he is not the boss and supreme. “You ought to know…” And so as she begins to challenge his decision-making processes, he begins to feel that he is being challenged and, “I must now show that I am boss by becoming tough and hard and cold and unresponsive.” As he becomes tough and unresponsive, she gets all the more insecure, so she challenges him all the more. You know, “I don't know if this character really loves me or not. I don't think what he is planning to do is that smart. If we lose everything he is probably going to walk out himself, because I am not really assured that he really loves me,” and so she is challenging, but this challenging has a reverse affect upon him, causing him to become cold and aloof and, “I will show you I am boss.” So the marriage is torn apart.
On the other hand, as the wife is submitting unto him and to his decisions, “Honey, I will just leave that with you, you are the one that takes care of that. I am just trusting you.” He gets the feeling, “Oh, this precious little doll. I don't know if I am doing right or not, but oh boy, she trusts me and all right.” And he begins to feel that, “Oh, you are a sweetheart, come here, Honey.” And he hugs her and, “You are just a doll, and I love you, Angel.” And he feels the freedom of expressing and showing his love to her. The more he expresses and shows that love to her, the more secure she feels. She doesn't feel that she has to challenge his decisions. “That was a dumb move, we will lose everything, but I still have him and he loves me, and after all, we can get by. We have love.” She feels that security of love and thus she feels the freedom of submitting to him. And because she does submit, he feels that total freedom of expressing that love that he has for her. And it just gets gooder and gooder as we are following the rules.
But you see it has a way of compounding. You start going one way, and it starts building up to drive you farther and farther apart. And so if you find yourself way out here in your marriage, you know, where every decision is challenged, “Why are you wearing that shirt this morning? Are you sure you want to wear that tie? If I was you I would wear a different pair of shoes.” You know, you may even agree with what he wants to do, but still you are going to challenge it. “I think I will take you out for dinner tonight, Honey.” “Oh, I don't know if I want to go for dinner or not.” You challenge it, don't let him get by making a decision.
Now, somewhere someone has to give. You have to break this routine that is driving you and tearing you apart. You have got to break the routine and someone has to give in. The husband has to begin to show more love to his wife. He has to cause her to really feel secure in that love. He has got to go ahead and just express his love, let her know that there is no one else and there will never be anyone else, that she is it for life, till death do us part, and he has no intention or desire for anybody else, she is it. As she begins to feel that security, then she will be able to be freer to allow him to do those things that he feels that he ought to do or wants to do. And you can get the thing going the other direction until it becomes heaven on earth, as we are following now God's rules which takes into consideration the basic need of the husband as a man, and the basic need of the wife as a woman.
God is so smart. He has it all set out. And He puts it so simply, rather than, “Here are the fifty-five rules for a happy marriage.” He knows you’d forget them. So He gives you one, but even we have difficulty with the one, don’t we? We forget so readily. “She ought to know I love her, I come home for dinner, after all.” You know, there is something interesting about women, of course, that is why we are attracted to them. But I really don't think that you can tell your wife enough times that you love her. If when she first opens her eyes in the morning and you look over and you see her in bed, and you say, "Oh, Darling, you are beautiful. I love you." Then as you are sitting across from her at the breakfast table and you just look into her eyes and say, "Sweetheart, I love you so much." Then as you kiss her goodbye and head off for work and you say, "I love you, Honey. See you later." Two or three times during the day you call up and she says, “Hi, what do you want?” "Oh, I just wanted to tell you, Honey, I love you, and I think you are great." Believe me, when you go to bed at night, you are going to hear the question, “Honey, do you love me?” Take a hint, fellows, they need assurance of love. Not just verbal. Love is demonstrated in its actions and love is demonstrated in its giving. Love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. Giving of yourself to her, showing your love in your giving yourself to her. The rules for a happy home.
Paul goes on and draws on this illustration of Christ and the church as an illustration, really, of the perfect marital kind of a relationship. He gave Himself for the church
That he might set it apart and cleans it with the washing of the water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church (5:26-27),
You know, the wife who is smothered with love will just blossom forth so beautifully. As we blossom forth in the love of Jesus, the purpose is that He might present to Himself a glorious church,
without spot or blemish, or wrinkle, or any such thing; So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loves his wife [is really doing himself a favor, he] is loving himself (5:27-28).
You are the one who is going to benefit from your showing your love to your wife.
For we are members of his body, of his flesh and of his bones. And for this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall become one flesh. It is a great mystery: but I am speaking [Paul said] concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless, let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband (5:30-33).
So relationships, submitting ourselves to one another, wives submitting to their husbands, husbands loving their wives supremely.
Now parent-child relationships,
Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right (6:1).
That “in the Lord” I think is important. If your parents are not godly and if your parents are demanding you to do things or requiring you to do things that are improper from a spiritual base, then I do not believe that obedience is required. But obey your parents in the Lord.
There is the higher conscience to God, where we must obey God rather than man. If what is being required of me would violate my conscience towards God, then that has to be the guiding standard of my life. Even in wives submitting to their husbands, again, there is the guiding standard of your conscience towards God. If your husband is requiring something that would affect your conscience before God, then I do not believe that you have to submit. Your husband isn't really loving you as Christ loved the church or he wouldn't require you to do that. So in all of these issues there is that higher authority of God in our lives and our conscience towards Him.
So children obey your parents in the Lord; for this is right.
Honor thy father and thy mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) (6:2)
Now, a lot of commandments. This is the first commandment that had a promise attached to it. “Honor thy father and thy mother that thy days may be long upon the earth.”
That it might be well with you and your days long upon the earth. Now, you fathers, provoke not your children to wrath (6:3-4):
I think one of the cruelest things that I have observed fathers doing sometimes is teasing their children to the point of distraction, getting a kick of the frenzied little child. Holding out a piece of candy or a cookie, and then as they are reaching out, pull it back. Then hold it out and pulling it back, and creating frustration until the child can't handle itself. Provoke not your children to wrath, that is a cruel thing to do. It is cruel to derive humor or whatever from this kind of teasing of a child. It isn't right. It is mentally abusing the child, but some people get sort of a kick out of seeing a little child just scream in a frenzy by frustration, can't do anything about it. Provoke not your children to wrath.
I think that we can provoke our children to wrath by demanding unreasonable achievements from them. “After all, it is my child. They have got to be a genius. They are so smart; they are talking before anybody else. They are walking. My child just has to be super smart and special,” and so we sometimes are trying to push them beyond their capacities. Thus, that creates frustration. We need to be careful that we don't push them to the point of frustration.
Provoke not your children to wrath,
but bring them up in the nurture and the admonition of the Lord (6:4).
Teach them about God, teach them the things of God and the ways of God.
Servants, [employees] be obedient to your bosses according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, and singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart (6:5-6);
We are told in the Scriptures that whatsoever you do, in word or deed, do all to the glory of Christ, or do what you do as unto Christ. No matter what kind of a job I am doing, I am a witness for Jesus Christ, and therefore, I want to do it good for His sake, so that people will think well of Christianity because the job that I am doing is super special. I am giving an extra effort. I am not complaining. I am going an extra mile. I am doing more than what is required of me. That my life might be a good witness for Jesus Christ.
We have many young people that have gone from Calvary Chapel on these kibbutz programs over in Israel, and they have left a good witness because of the way that they work without complaining, their good attitudes. Why? Because they go over and they are working as unto the Lord. They have taken the right attitude with them. Doing their work as unto the Lord, and it leaves a powerful witness as these in the kibbutz observe their work. Some of the first groups that went over, those in the kibbutzim were determined to really break them. They gave them the dirtiest jobs around the kibbutz. Just pressed them all kinds of stuff, and yet, these kids would do it smiling and rejoicing and with good attitudes. And what they did was break down the kibbutznicks. They said, "Wow, can't believe the way these people respond and react." Why? Because I am doing it as unto the Lord.
There are a lot of times when we are required to do things that are galling to us. Sometimes the boss may ask you to do something that you say, "Hey, come on. I am above that." Sweep the floor. “Are you kidding?” I used to work for Alpha Beta markets. In my work for them I was called on to do just about everything. I was going around to the various stores, substituting for managers and all kinds of work. Anything that would come up they would call me to hotshot for them. Sometimes I would go into the store and it would be filthy and so the janitor wouldn't be there. I would go ahead and clean the restrooms and sweep the floors. I thought, “If they want to pay me what they are paying me, I don't care what I do. I will sweep the floors or whatever.” I developed a reputation of a guy that will just go for it. Because I was doing it as unto the Lord and I figured they are paying for my time, and so I will do what they ask of me when I am here, without complaining or murmuring. That is exactly what we are told to do here. Do what you do as unto the Lord, not to please men but to please the Lord, as a good witness for Him.
With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: knowing that whatsoever good thing any man does, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be a slave or a free man (6:7-8).
I am ultimately looking to the Lord for my rewards for my life and for my work.
And so, you masters [if you are in the position of an employer], do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him (6:9).
In the early church when slavery was such a popular thing, it was quite interesting because many of those in the early church were slaves. Many of those in the early church were masters who had many slaves. The interesting thing was, is that here is a fellow that all week long is taking orders from his master and he goes to church and he is the elder in the church and his master is just one of the people in the church, and the whole order was reversed when they got to church. With God there is no respect of persons, we are all one before Him.
Finally, brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore (6:10-14),
So we now come to the final section of the book, the warfare of the believer. The first three chapters Paul dealt with the wealth of the believer. The next two and a half chapters Paul dealt with the walk of the believer. Now he deals with the warfare. Or, in the first three chapters he dealt with the position, seated with Christ. In the next two and a half chapters he dealt again with the walk, and now he deals with standing.
Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Know that you don't have the strength in yourself; it is the Lord who gives me strength. Apart from Him I can do nothing, but I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God. So Paul sees the Roman soldier dressing himself for war, and we as Christians are in a warfare. It is a spiritual warfare, we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, and powers, which are spirit entities; they are captains and lieutenants of the demon ranks. They are called principalities, powers, authorities, dominions, and they have various rankings of evil spirits. That is where the real warfare lies, in the realm of the spirit, fighting these spiritual battles. And thus, the weapons of our warfare are spiritual weapons. It is a spiritual battle. It cannot be fought with physical weapons. We must arm ourselves with spiritual weapons. We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against these principalities and powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, against the spiritual wickedness in the high places. So you have to take the whole armor of God that you might be able to stand in that evil day and having done all, just stand.
Therefore, as we arm ourself, the first bit of armament that we put on is the
Because the enemy is always coming with his lies. Jesus said that the devil is the father of all lies. And he tries to lie to you about God, about the nature of God, about the character of God, about the attitude of God towards you. He tries to lie to you about God's attitude towards sin. “Oh, it really doesn't matter. You can get by with it. God will judge you. God will forgive,” and so forth, and he presses the point of causing you to use the grace of God as a cloak for lasciviousness, deceiving yourself. The truth—it’s important that I be armed with the truth.
the breastplate of righteousness (6:14);
That commitment in my heart to do that which is right before God. I have got to have that as just a commitment of my life. I want to do the right thing. Not to observe the situation and then determine which way I will balance. But just have that determination that I am going to live a right kind of life. Righteousness.
Righteousness actually constitutes the right actions towards those around me. And unrighteousness is not doing the right thing toward my neighbor. Godliness is doing the right thing towards God. The right relationship with God. Ungodliness is the wrong relationship with God. There is ungodliness, my relationship with God, and unrighteousness, my relationship with man.
Now he is talking here about righteousness. I have got to have that just as a basic foundation, the breastplate of righteousness. I am going to do as best as God enables me the right thing. I want to live right.
Your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace (6:15);
It is God's desire that we live in peace with each other, and with Him. We live in a world that is filled with strife. We talked about marriage relationships, but how many homes are so filled with strife. The atmosphere is continually tense as we are failing to obey the Scriptures in submitting one to another in love. But we are trying to dominate over each other; we are trying to rule over each other, and there is no love involved. We get to arguing over the most ridiculous things and we won't give in. We won't yield the point, we will press our point, get the last word in, leave a sour taste. And yet, as the Scripture says, "That yielding will pacify great offenses."
How many times in a tense situation where there is just the drawn sword and the clash taking place can the whole issue be diffused by just one person saying, "I think you are right. It is stupid to go on arguing like that. You are probably right." It just diffuses the whole thing. Suddenly the strife is gone. Why do we find that so hard to do? To admit to being wrong, or to admit to the other person possibly being right. Even when we know they are wrong. Help us, Lord.
Above all, taking the shield of faith (6:16),
That faith and confidence in God is what is being talked about here.
wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked (6:16).
Satan is constantly attacking us. My faith in God, God's ability, God's power, God's working in me. I can stand against these attacks of the enemy.
Take the helmet of salvation (6:17),
Thank God I have been saved through Jesus Christ from that tyranny of a life mastered by the flesh. I have been saved in order that I might walk in fellowship with God through the Spirit.
the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (6:17):
Not finally, but next, the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.
God's Word is a tremendous defense against sin. John said, "I write unto you young men, because you are strong, because you have overcome the wicked one, because His Word abides in you." The power of God's Word within my heart against sin, it is the greatest defense that I can have in this spiritual battle that I am in. God's Word hidden in my heart.
And then finally,
What a powerful spiritual weapon prayer is. In this spiritual warfare, prayer is often the deciding factor in the spiritual battle.
Praying with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, watching with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints; and for pray for me, [Paul says,] that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel (6:18-19),
Interesting that so often in the early church their prayer was for boldness and proclaiming the truth of God. The reason for that being the heavy persecution against those who were proclaiming the gospel. Imprisonment often, oftentimes killed. There are some estimates that range as many as six million people were put to death for their faith in Christ in the first 270 years of the church’s existence. Some six million people martyred. That is why, no doubt, they needed boldness, because my witness may cost me my life. You can be intimidated by that kind of pressure into silence. In the early church after one of the first persecutions, when the disciples were beaten and told not to speak any more in the name of Jesus Christ, warned severely not to preach anymore, they came to their own company having been beaten, and they shared with them the experience that they had before the magistrates, and they said, "Let's pray that God might give us boldness to continue to speak the truth." So they prayed and the place was shaken and the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they went forth boldly proclaiming the truth. Paul is praying, asking for prayers that God will give me boldness in utterance, opening my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel.
For which [he said] I am an ambassador in bonds (6:20);
For which I have been placed in prison.
and that I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak (6:20).
That I will not be intimidated by this imprisonment, by the persecution, by the beatings, but that I will continue to speak boldly for Jesus Christ as I ought to speak.
I think so many times of our attitudes when someone has given us a dirty look or someone has put us down because we testified of Jesus. “Oh, are you one of those Jesus freaks?” We keep quiet. We have been intimidated by someone's remark. Imagine what they went through in the early days. Here is Paul in prison because he has been proclaiming the gospel, and he is saying, "Please pray that God will give me boldness to speak as I ought to speak. That I won't be intimidated by the fact that I’ve been thrown in prison, that my life has been threatened, that Nero is going to take my head." What we need is the grit of those early apostles.
But that you may also know my affairs, and how I am doing, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, will make known to you all of these personal things about me; whom I have sent to you for the same purpose, that he might let you know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts. Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ (6:21-23).
Peace and love, these glorious gifts of God. And then finally,
Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen (6:24).
Next week we go into the Philippian epistle. It is called the prison epistle, because Paul wrote it from prison. Now, if you had a friend thrown into prison with an indeterminate sentence, what kind of a letter would you expect to get from him? It is interesting that the epistle of the Philippians is the most joyful epistle in the New Testament, in which he is continually urging them to rejoice in the Lord. Paul’s epistle to the Philippians next week. You’ll find it very rich, very blessed, very full. Now may the Word of God abide in your hearts richly through faith, that you might comprehend the length, the breadth, the depth, the height of God’s love for you. And that you might live in fellowship with God as light in a dark place, so may your life give forth of the beauty and the radiance of Jesus Christ that it might bring hope unto others. May God use you as His instrument this week. In Jesus’ name.