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I’m your host AMBrewster, and today we’re continuing to subdivide the final chapters in Ephesians.
Last time we dealt with the first two-thirds of chapter 5 and today we’re going to deal with the last third of chapter 5 and the first third of chapter 6.
I believe this portion of the letter goes together the best, and since neither the chapters nor the verse numbers were inspired . . . I don’t mind dividing them differently.
As most of you know by now, my name is Aaron Michael Brewster. I’m the president of the Evermind Ministry family, and I’ve been a biblical family counselor since 2007.
I am passionate about seeing God glorified in the family because the family is the second most important set of relationships in our lives.
God put unique primacy on the husband/wife relationship as well as the parent/child relationship. The family was inaugurated before the fall of man and is part of the Creation Mandate. And when the family is strong, the church and the nation are strong.
The only relationship more primary than the family is our individual relationships with God. And — as we’ve seen over the course of this study — the strength of our family is directly related to the strength of your individual family member’s relationship with their Creator.
That’s why I dedicate the time to creating this free family resource. That’s why I travel and speak. That’s why I counsel. God deserves for everyone in your family to worship Him, and He has amazing plans for you when you do . . . and I want you to be successful all to the glory of God.
So, I’m very excited that you have continued with this study — especially because today is all about the unique relationship within the family.
As always, we have a ton of free resources to help your family better know, understand, and live out these truths. Those resources include the Family Unity LifeWork for all TLP Family members, episode notes, transcripts, and related podcast series.
And today I have a special resource for family that is unique to today’s lesson.
So, let’s get started.
Last time we learned that our family unity will increase and strengthen as we are continually matured into the image of Jesus Christ. But there was an important observation I neglected to share.
In the physical world, things that are living are things that are growing. Growing doesn’t always look the same, but it’s true that all living things grow. And the same is true in our spiritual lives. Everything that has new life in Christ is going to be growing in Christ.
It’s impossible for something to be alive in Christ not growing in His likeness. Therefore, as you look at your life, if you’re convinced that you are born again, but there’s no evidence of continued spiritual growth that results in continued conformity to Christ . . . then it’s probably more likely that you’re either growing very slowly because you are so incredibly immature or that you don’t really have spiritual life.
And I keep hitting on the importance of knowing for certain whether or not you’re really born again, because that’s the most important reality in the universe. It’s not worth hoping you’re a Christian even though your life shows no Christlike fruit. It’s far better to genuinely enter into a relationship with God and then revel in the new life and growth He provides.
All of that to say, let’s not make excuses for our negligible growth, let’s embrace God’s plan for our sanctification and conformity to Christ because all living things grow.
Now, of the entire book of Ephesians, what we’re going to discuss today is the second more specific and detailed part of the letter.
Remember, Paul started very broadly at the beginning of the letter, and as he goes, he’s getting more and more specific in his application.
Now, at the end of chapter 5, Paul beautifully ties together the previous lesson about maturity with the next lesson about influence.
The beginning of chapter 5 was about becoming like Christ, and at the end of the chapter Paul introduces a human relationship that was designed to demonstrate the relationship God has with His saints. And that relationship is the marriage.
Now, by now you should have your LifeWork printed out and you should have read Ephesians 5:22 through 6:9.
Assuming you have done that, let’s continue.
Of course, we can’t get into all the details about the specific beauties and spiritual significance of the fact that a human marriage between one man and one woman is supposed to be a physical picture of the spiritual relationship between Jesus and the church.
Instead, we’re going to zoom in on the specific roles that God outlines for the family.
And as we look at these roles, I want to focus on a concept that is not specifically mentioned in the passage. That concept is influence.
To influence something is to effect it. Influence results in something being changed.
Just like the influence of God, His truth, and His people is designed to result in our changing into the image of Christ, so too God wants us to influence each other in the family.
And this is just as true for the parents as it is for the kids.
A unified family is a family that is going to actively be influencing the family for God. Everything we say and do in the family is supposed to make it easier for everyone else in the family to do right.
I like to put it this way: your home should be a place where it’s easy to do right and hard to do wrong. And everyone in the family has a part to play in making the home such a place.
Once again, allow me to admonish you to listen to our Family Worship Series. That series is all about creating an atmosphere of Christ-honoring growth in the family. Be sure to check it out.
Now, let’s start with Ephesians 5:22.
The most potent human relationship that is intended to epitomize the relationship God has with people — the sacrifice, the submission, the redemption, and everything else included — is the marriage relationship.
And it’s interesting that God starts with His expectations for the wife.
Had I written this section of the letter, I would have started with the expectations for the husband, but I believe that if God had first explained what a husband should be, it would be easy for a wife to think, “I’d happily submit to a man like that!”
But God wants all women to respond this way to their husbands regardless of how noble or holy they may be — or not be. And we’re going to find that He has the same expectations for all of us.
This is not an excuse for leaders to be sinful, but it’s an important lesson for all of us followers. We must not allow the excuse that our leader is doing a bad job leading to justify our doing a bad job following.
I’ll unpack this more with each member of the family. For now, though, let’s start where God starts — with . . .
1. The Wife
A. The wife is to influence the family by submitting to God.
This is clear from chapters 1-5. Mom, God expects you to submit to His will for your life.
As the wife and mother submits to God’s will for her life, she will have a profound effect on the rest of the family. But that effect won’t just be on her kids as she parents. I Corinthians 7 and II Peter 3 are two passages that clearly illustrate the positive influence a godly wife should have on her husband.
Any time we submit to God — even when it’s in quiet obedience — that influences people.
Now, as we’ve learned from chapters 1-5, part of God’s will of the wife is that she submit to His saints when they speak truth in love.
B. The wife is to influence the family by submitting to God’s people.
Paul wrote the letter to the Ephesians to influence them for God. Ephesians 4 details how the prophets and apostles and pastor/teachers are to influence all Christians. And it also explains how we are to speak the truth in love to each other so that everyone is built up into Christ Who is the head.
And Ephesians 5:21 teaches that we are all to be subject to each other in the fear of Christ.
This means that when anyone — regardless of their sex or age or relationship to us — faithfully communicates God’s truth, mom needs to submit to what they say because they are simply communicating to her what God has already communicated to her in His Word.
And as mom submits to God’s truth when spoken by His people, mom’s faithful obedience and submission is going to influence the whole family.
But Paul get’s even more specific concerning mom’s submission.
C. The wife is to influence the family by submitting to her husband.
Wives are not only to submit to all of God’s people when they speak His truth, more specifically, the wife is also to submit to Her husband.
Now, we’ll get more specific as to what this looks like later. For now, though, when a wife submits to her husband’s leadership, she is influencing him, any kids in the family, as well as anyone else who watches their relationship.
And God wants her to influence others for Him.
Now, real quick, an important side note: a wife is not required to sin because her husband said so. We never have to obey any authority who tells us to do something that God says is a in. Acts 5:29 teaches that we all must obey God rather than man.
Okay, so Ephesians 5 teaches that God made the husband the head of the wife in the exact same way that Jesus is head of the church. And then He repeats Himself — in the same way that the church submits to Christ, wives must submit to their husbands in everything . . . except sin.
Now, let’s move to . . .
2. The Husband
A. The husband is to influence the family by submitting to God.
You, Dad, are expected by God to obey Him in all things. In particular, this passage ends the same way it started. Husbands are commanded to love their wives in the identical way Christ loves the church.
I wish I could take more time with this, but I will say this — this love involves giving himself up for her. It involves being an integral part of her sanctification by washing her in the water of the Word. It involves taking responsibility for her so that he may present her to God as more holy because she was his wife.
This love also involves caring for her as he would his own body. He doesn’t hate his body, instead he nourishes and cherishes it in the same way Christ cares for the church.
The love a husband is to have for his wife requires that he leaves his parents and be joined to his wife in such a way that they become one — physically and spiritually.
And God finishes this section by reiterating: husbands, love your wives, and women, respect your husbands.
However, keep in mind that this passage does not mean that women are not to love their husbands and men are not to submit to and respect their wives.
As were going to continue to see, all saints are commanded to love as Christ loves, and verse 21 commands us all to submit to one another in the fear of Christ.
So, that leads to . . .
B. The husband is to influence the family by submitting to God’s people.
The husband has the exact same responsibility to submit to spiritual authority as the wife has. And the husband has the exact same responsibility to submit to God’s truth regardless of who is speaking it.
Allow me to give you a personal example. After my children both professed faith in Christ, I started to relate to them in the same way that I would relate to any of God’s people.
My son became my brother in Christ, and my daughter became my sister in Christ.
Now, of course, they were (and at the time of this recording are) responsible to God to submit to me as their father. But as my brother and sister in Christ, God expects them to be part of my sanctification by one-anothering.
There are about 30 commands in the Bible deal directly with how we are to minster to each other, and they are often called the one-anothers.
For example, we commanded to be at peace with one another, love one another, build up one another, and care for one another.
In the same way that I am to do all of that for my friends at church, God wants me to do that for my wife and children. And in the same way that God expects my children to do that for their friends at church, God wants them to do that for their mother and me.
Therefore, I have taught my children the most Christ-honoring way to lovingly and truthfully and respectfully confront me when I sin.
And I am happy to say that when they do it (and — to be honest — they could do it more than they do) they do a wonderful job, and God has repeatedly used them — especially my son — to influence me for righteousness.
And — by the way — the same is true for mom.
And I’m sure you can see how a husband and father who loves God so much that He’s willing to submit to God’s truth whether he reads it in the Bible, hears it preached from the pulpit on Sunday, or is confronted by it from his wife and kids . . . that man is going to influence his family for Christ.
But before we get to the kids, I want to look at Ephesians 6:4. It reads, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
There are a few important things we need to understand about this verse.
First, God expects dad and mom to influence the family by parenting the children in the Lord.
I know that the word “fathers” starts the verse, but that Greek word is translated parents in Hebrews 11:23. And we know from other parts of the Bible that the mom is responsible for rearing her children in Christ as well.
So, that’s the first observation.
Second, neither parent is to provoke their children to anger.
Now, this is a huge concept, and I’m going to encourage you to listen to episode 433 called “Provocative Parenting.” That short episode will carefully explain what God is talking about in this verse.
For now, though, all of the children need to understand that God is not saying that dads and moms are not allowed to do anything about which you may choose to get mad.
If you choose to get mad because they expect you to clean your room or do your homework or be nice to each other or eat your vegetables or go to bed . . . that’s not their fault. That’s your sin.
And we have a whole series all about living a Merciful Life that looks at Ephesians 4:31 and our responsibility to not be sinfully angry.
This verse is actually commanding parents not to sin against their children in very specific ways.
And third, Christ-honoring parenting involves both discipline and instruction.
Instruction is the telling part of parenting, and discipline is the reproving and correcting and training part of parenting.
We have another series called A Parent’s 5 Jobs that goes into wonderful detail all about what it means to bring your children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
So, dads and moms are to influence the family by submitting to God, submitting to God’s people, wives submitting specifically to their husbands, and both of them bringing their children up in the truth of God’s Word.
Now, let’s turn our attention to . . .
3. The Children
And by now, you should be able to guess what’s coming.
A. The children are to influence the family by submitting to God.
Please understand this. It doesn’t matter how old you are. If you can understand what I am saying, then God expects the same thing from you that He expects from people older than you.
There is no children’s version of the Bible.
God doesn’t say, “Well, he’s only 5, and she’s only 14, I don’t expect them to be redeemed, I didn’t create them in Christ Jesus for good works, they don’t have to submit to me, and they’re not able to be unified with my people.”
To be honest, the very fact that God has a command specifically for children in Ephesians 6:1 makes it perfectly clear that He expects children to submit to Him.
And since that command has to do with submitting to their parents, then it’s completely appropriate to observe that . . .
B. The children are to influence the family by submitting to God’s people.
This includes spiritual authorities as well as any brother or sister in Christ who speaks God’s truth into their lives. And obviously this includes . . .
C. The children are to influence the family by submitting to their parents.
Specifically, God expects children to obey and honor their parents.
We have a series called Teach Your Children to Obey that reveals the fact that biblical obedience does include doing what you’re told, but there’s so much more to obedience than just that.
Perhaps, after finishing these biblical counseling sessions, that may be a good series for your family.
To honor is to value something. The idea is actually closely related to the concept of worship — which is attributing worth to something.
When we value something, we treat it differently. We take care of it. We cherish it. We protect it. We preserve it.
And children, just like their parents, can positively influence the entire family when they submit to God and His people — especially their parents.
Now, the last two categories of people are called slaves and masters. Since most people don’t truly understand the ancient concept of slaves and masters and generally only ever imagine the sinful slave trade in early America, let me say that it would be more accurate to think of these designations as employees and employers.
And, though I’m not going to spend a lot of time taking about them — because this is a podcast about family unity — I do want to point out that God’s expectations for them are similar.
Employees are to obey their earthly employers as they would obey Christ Himself.
This description of obedience is really powerful because it includes obeying with fear and trembling, not with eye-service, not just to please men, but obeying God from the heart, serving with good will.
And employers are commanded to lead their employees in the same way that employees are to obey — as unto Christ. They’re not to threaten sinful consequences, and they are to remember that God is their master just as He is the employee’s master.
Everyone is supposed to submit to God, and everyone is supposed to submit to God’s people when they speak biblical truth.
As we do that, we not only will personally mature (like we talked last time), but we will be salt and light to the world around us.
In Matthew 5:13-16, Jesus puts is this way: “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. 14 You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.”
Jesus is using the two pictures of salt and light to describe the influence we’re to have on the world around us. And what is that influence? What are the salt and light? Verse 16 says, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
Your submission to God, your obedience to your heavenly and earthly authorities is the light.
Now, let’s close quickly discussing . . .
4. Biblical Authority
We have a series called Authority that has a number of episodes in it, but what I’m about to share with you right now hasn’t been explained in a lot of detail as of the time of this recording. Depending on when your family is working through this series, it may already be there, and I encourage you to check it out.
Either way, I’m going to succinctly explain the concept of biblical authority here and now, and later I’m going to deepen the study with more detail and plenty of Bible passages to explain and support it.
Simply put, authority is the one who is in charge. They are responsible to lead the other people.
God the Father is the ultimate Authority in the universe.
God the Son submits to the Father, but He is also the next Authority.
God the Holy Spirit submits to the Father and the Son, and is the next Authority in the line.
The Bible clearly explains each of Their authority, and all people are expected to submit to them.
Within human terms, all throughout the Bible, God set up various relationships. Every time He did, He set up a man to be the singular authority.
Let’s move back in time. When God created the church, He ordained the office of pastor.
When God created a government for the Children of Israel, He set up a king.
When God created an organized religion for the Children of Israel, He ordained a High Priest.
When God created the family, He made the husband the authority over the wife and kids, and the wife the authority over the children.
By the way, we do have an episode in the Authority Series called Does Your Family Function Like the Trinity. God’s expectation for the family are actually fashioned after how the trinity functions. That’s a very exciting reality.
But here’s the thing, even though pastors, kings, parents, and husbands have practical authority to lead those who follow them, they are still responsible to be following their God-given authorities.
And . . . we’ve already established that God uses His people to share His Word. That means that when a man is talking with his pastor or a wife with her husband or a child with his parent, when the individual is accurately speaking God’s Word from the Bible, they are acting as a mouthpiece of God.
If I lie to my daughter, and my son comes to me and says, “Dad, God says that lying is a sin.” I need to submit to that truth — not because God expects me to “obey my son,” but because God expects me to obey God. My son was simply obeying God by lovingly speaking the truth so as to reprove and correct me.
And that’s completely appropriate.
So, within the home, everyone is expected to speak the truth in love so as to influence everyone else in the family for God’s glory. They don’t do it in bossy ways. They don’t do it because everyone has to submit to them and their whims. No, it’s about God. This is called our Inherited Authority.
However, dads and moms do have Inherent Authority over their children, and husbands have Inherent Authority over their wives.
Obviously, no parent is to abuse the authority, and no man is abuse his authority.
All authority, whether Inherent or Inherited should follow Jesus’ example — servant leadership.
Again, I wish I could take more time to unpack this, but we are already out of time.
The main truth from today’s counseling session is that the whole family is responsible to relate to everyone else in the family in appropriate ways.
As they relate to each other according to God’s plan, they will not only continue to mature in Christ, but they will also have a positive influence on everyone else in the family — thereby helping them mature in Christ.
And that, my friends, is the picture of a unified family.
Now, before we finish up, I have a special resource for members of the TLP Family. In addition to the Session 6 Family Unity LifeWork, you will find a PDF called “Relationships in Ephesians.”
This is a LifeWork assignment I created for my counselees to better understand God’s expectation for how they are to relate to the people in their lives.
It’s a bit more involved than the one page handout you’ve become used to in this series, but it is so incredibly valuable for everyone to understand.
So, make sure you join the TLP Family and then download that free resource.
Also, speaking of family counseling, please take the time to work through the final questions from today’s LifeWork and discuss it as a family. Your answers to those questions will reveal important changes God wants you to make in your life . . . which will — in turn — have a beneficial influence on the rest of your family.
Please share this series on your favorite social media outlets so that other families can learn how to positively influence each other, and don’t forget that you can reach out to Counselor@TruthLoveParent.com or call (828) 423-0894 for specialized help.
As always, I hope you’ll join us next time as we once again open God’s Word to discover how to best worship God with our families.
To that end, we’ll be discussing how a redeemed, living, submitted, unified, mature, and influential family can flourish.
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