Thanks to all of you for an awesome January in YA6. I look forward to continuing the momentum into February.
Last week we started our in depth look at Ephesians 5:22-33. I am afraid that I had too many balls in the air and I ran out of time before getting to show how they all fit together. I was trying to put together a three point foundation. Here are the points:
Point number one is that God has a way that He wants His people to follow. That way is for our good and for our benefit. See Jer. 29:11, Psalm 103, Proverbs 3:1-8. If we obey God, then we will be happier.
Point number two is that there is a way that seems right to men, but it leads to death. Prov. 14:12. Eve was deceived in the Garden of Eden by Satan who convinced her that God was holding out on her and trying to keep her down. Gen 3:1-7 esp verse 5. Every time men try to create their own morality apart from God’s standard of truth, the result is misery and destruction. (see Robespierre, Hitler and Stalin for examples). After leaving absolute truth, what a person is left with is Will and Power. “What do I want and do I have the power to get it.”
Point number three is that too many Christians have incorporated a “will and power” worldview into their marriages instead of a biblical worldview. The evidence of this is that the marriages of Christians fail at roughly the same rate as those of non-Christians. In order to have successful marriages, we need to do our marriages God’s way instead of our own. We need to commit ourselves to learning what God’s word has to say about marriage and to commit ourselves to following that direction.
I then began to lay the specific groundwork for the passage in question.
First, Christians are to follow the example of Christ. See Eph. 5:1-2 and John 13:5-20.
Second, as Christians in general and in our marriage we are to be mutually submissive. See I Cor. 7:3-5 and Eph. 5:21.
Third, as Christians we all have separate roles to play in the functioning of the Church, the body of Christ, based on our individual gifts and talents. See I Cor. 12. The church works when people play their proper roles. There is nothing superior about the role any person in the body plays based upon their giftedness. A preacher and a greeter are equally important to the proper functioning of the body. When someone operates in a role that is not using their gift, then the body functions poorly.
Fourth, similarly, within the marriage each spouse has a functional role to play based upon the way God designed us by gender. Having one role or the other in no way means that either spouse is more or less important to the proper functioning of the home.
It is essential to the proper functioning of the home that each of us learn and perform our role and not that of the other spouse. For too long we have subconsciously or consciously bought into the world’s lie that equality of the sexes means that men and women are the same and should have interchangeable roles. When we read in the Bible that men and women are different and have different roles, our tendency is to hear the whisper of Satan in our ear that God is holding out on us and trying keep us down.
The first step toward a successful marriage is to consciously realize this whisper is a LIE and that it is an attempt by Satan to destroy our homes and thus make us ineffective in furthering the Great Commission. The second step is to decide to stop being deceived by the lie and to welcome the instruction of God laid out in His word for our marriage role. The third step is to then learn.
This next Sunday, we begin the third step. If you want to further explore any of the points in the foundation up to this point or think a step is missing, please let me know.
I am looking forward to Sunday and to seeing all of you there. If you have any questions or concerns, please let me know.
THE LIE (updated)
The First point to make is that God’s law is the law. It exists before Adam and Eve, Old Testament, New Testament, and it will exist unchanged beyond this age. Nobody is saying anything to the contrary.
The Second point is that we are all guilty of transgressing the law and deserve the penalty of death and eternal separation from God in hell.
The Third point is that God in His sole discretion and at His sole choice reached down in love to provide the perfect sacrifice for our sins so that we would have a way to escape the penalty we deserve and be reconciled to Him.
The Fourth point is that once we accept God’s sacrifice, i.e. Jesus’ substitutionary death on the cross, then there is no longer any condemnation for our sins. Romans 8:1 and Psalm 103:11-13. We cannot be separated from the love of God by engaging in sin. Romans 8:31-39 esp v. 33. No longer will our sin put us out of Heaven and cause us to die an eternal death. To the contrary, where sin abounds, grace abounds even more. Romans 5:20.
The Fifth point is that we have complete liberty to do whatever we want without fear of eternal consequences. We cannot fully appreciate our position in Christ unless we grasp the limitless nature of our ability to do WHATEVER WE WANT. “There is therefore now no condemnation…” Romans 8:1. Paul said it three times explicitly. I Corinthians 6:12, I Corinthians 10:23 and Galations 5:13. He also made it very clear in Romans 6 that we have a choice as to whether we yield the members of our body as instruments of righteousness or as instruments of unrighteousness. See e.g. 6:13-14.
The Sixth point is that in our limitless freedom to do whatever we want for whatever reason we want, we must decide not to violate God’s moral law for the right reasons and not the wrong reasons or the obedience is worthless (this is the distinction between circumcision of the flesh v. true circumcision which is circumcision of the heart. See Deut. 10:16, Deut. 30:6 Jer. 4:4 and Romans 2:29). That is why Paul makes the argument in Romans 6 that we shouldn’t engage in sin because we are dead to it. He repeatedly says that Christians should have nothing to do with the unfruitful deeds of darkness because they will kill us. See e.g. Ephesians 5:1-21 especially v. 10. Walking as children of light will give us life. Jesus said that the thief comes only to steal kill and destroy, but that He has come to allow us the opportunity to live life abundantly. John 10:10. Our job is to “find out what pleases God.” Ephesians 5:10. This is also the distinction between religion and redemption that Mark Driscoll talks about in the following YouTube clip:
The Seventh point is that in order to make wise behaviour and conduct choices, we must understand/be convinced of four things whenever we are deciding what conduct to engage in:
1. That God’s way is better for us. In other words, following God’s moral law is the pathway to an abundant life here on Earth. That God is a loving heavenly father who wants us to thrive, who wants the best for us, who made us according to His own design and knows us intimately well enough to know what’s best for us.
2. That there is a very real Satan who wants to destroy us. Since he can’t separate us from God, he would like to deceive us into disobeying God so that he can cut us off from the power of God in our lives, and destroy our happiness, our health, our testimony for God and even our physical life. John 10:10, I Peter 5:8, Revelation 12:17
3. That allowing ourselves to be deceived by the destroyer causes damage in at least three ways, emotional/psychological, spiritual, and physical. These natural consequences of sin have nothing to do with our eternal hope, but they do have an immediate and real impact on our fellowship with God and our fellow man.
4. That God will forgive our sins and cleanse us from our unrighteousness and that He will restore to us the joy of our salvation. I John 1:9 and Psalm 51:12. However, the physical legacy/consequences of the choice remain. David still had to go through the agony of a family ripped apart because of his bad example. A person who goes to a prostitute still has the criminal record, the venereal disease, the loss of trust with his wife and the lost testimony for Christ. I call these consequences the scars of bad choices, i.e. allowing ourselves to be deceived.
The Eighth point is to realize in our freedom, in our Christian maturity that there is no distinction between my happiness and God’s righteousness. In other words, there is no choice for us to make as to whether we want to be happy or to be right. That being right is the best way to insure our true happiness because it is following the instruction of the Designer who loves us enough to die for us and made us to perform optimally when we follow His parameters.