In Eph 5 we get a glimpse of four characteristics of being filled with the Spirit. The fourth is a lifestyle of submission out of respect for Christ. See below for this section in outline form (cf. Eph 5.19ff):
Be filled with the Spirit,
(1) speaking to one another…
(2) singing to the Lord…
(3) giving thanks to God the Father…
and (4) submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Then what follows are examples of how this fourth characteristic plays out in real-life scenarios: between husbands and wives, parents and children, masters and slaves. These examples and ideas of submission seem antiquated and overly conservative to us today. But it helps to understand how the Ephesians probably reacted to first hearing these words.
“Paul’s words would have shocked his ancient readers, for he was speaking both to master and to slave, to husband and to wife, to parents and to children. Paul requires that those who occupy dominant positions in the social order be subject to their subordinates; they are to order their lives under the very people over whom they exercise authority.” [G. Sittser]
“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Eph 5.21)
When we submit to others, we strive to benefit them, valuing them because Christ died for them.
Let’s pray: Lord, empower me that I may joyfully submit my life to You, striving to serve the best interests of others…
Let’s surrender ourselves to the Lord in worship as we sing, “Come Rest On Us” (click here) by Upperroom.
“‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ [Gen 2.24] This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.” (Eph 5.31-32)
What does “one flesh” mean to you?
For married couples, this is how conjoined, indivisible, consolidated you are. But that’s not the main point here. Apostle Paul wants us to think about Christ and the church, the love that He has for His bride and the oneness that is shared.
If you could experience more of this oneness, ie. “one flesh” union, with Christ, in what ways do you think your life would change?
Let’s pray: Lord, take us deeper into this profound mystery… the union between Christ and the church. I want to know this intense love and the vital oneness You have with Your people. Ground me, embed me in this love and oneness. I am Yours and Yours alone. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Let us be pulled deeper into this profound mystery as we sing and worship the Lord to, “New Every Morning” (click here) by Audrey Assad.
Watch this video of a modern adaptation of Hosea (Best with headphones!).
What are we supposed to learn about God’s love through this story?
“I wonder whom you have identified yourself with while we looked through this little book. Hosea, perhaps? Have you sympathized with him? After all… we all know how hard it can be to love sinners. But you realize who you really are, don’t you? I am here to tell you, you are Gomer. You are Gomer… You and I are the unfaithful objects of God’s ever-faithful love. Only when we understand this do we begin to understand what love is… Gomer’s only hope was in a love that she never deserved. And this is your only hope as well. That’s the message of Hosea.” [M. Dever]
“This is a profound mystery, but I am talking about Christ and the church.” (Eph 5.32)
What qualities do people look for in a future spouse?
Jesus gave up His life for us when we were most unlovely, unlovable and unloving. We were never fit to be His bride. Jesus takes it upon Himself to make her holy, glorious, unblemished, faultless… by rescuing, forgiving, washing, feeding, caring (Eph 5.21ff). His self-sacrificial love transforms her to become lovely, lovable and loving.
Let’s pray: Lord, heal us of our waywardness. We run into Your arms of grace and love…
The Bible portrays the relationship between God and His people as a marriage (cf. Hosea, Revelation, etc.). As Christians, we are united with Christ. As His church, we are His bride. This is the most important marriage a Christian will be a part of.
If a married person asked you for advice because they felt distant from their spouse, what would you say to them?
“My beloved is mine, and I am his.” (Song of Songs 2:16)
“In this Song of Songs we see the love of Christ and his church running towards each other in a full torrent. The text contains three general parts:
1. A symbol of affection: ‘My beloved’.
2. A term of appropriation: ‘is mine’.
3. A holy resignation: ‘I am his’.
“There is a conjugal union between Christ and believers… [But] before this union with Christ there must be a separation. The heart must be separated from all other lovers, as in marriage there is a leaving of father and mother: ‘Forget your own people, and your father’s house’ (Ps 45.10). So there must be a leaving of our former sins, a breaking off the old league with hell before we can be united to Christ. ‘Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols?’ (Hos 14.8), or as it is in the Hebrew, ‘with sorrows.’ Those sins which were looked on before as lovers, are now sorrows.” [T. Watson, “Mystic Union between Christ and the Saints”]
Let’s pray: Lord, may we leave our old lovers in order to cleave to You…
Let’s sing to Him with the song, “Even When It Hurts (Praise Song)” (click here) by Hillsong United.
As His church, we are married to Christ. We are not meant to live like “singles” and we will not find happiness in being unfaithful. Our greatest joy and satisfaction are found in “this great mystery,” our union with Christ.
What are some of the lifestyle differences between someone who is single versus someone who is married?
“Praise the LORD! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. Let us be glad and rejoice, and let us give honor to him. For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself. She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear.’ For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people.”
“Ancient Jewish couples were betrothed to one another for one or more years before they had a wedding ceremony and consummated their marriage. Yet, this betrothal period was not anything like modern ‘engagements’ that can be easily called of. The betrothal period was a time when the bride and groom were supposed to prepare themselves for the life they were going to soon share together. The husband often went away and prepared a home for the future family while the woman would engage in practices that prepared her for her future life as a wife and mother.” [G. Boyd]
As Christians, how should we live during this “betrothal period”
How well do you know your bridegroom? Let’s sing and know Him.
Hebrews 12:1-2 – Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
“Therefore, since there is a ‘you all’ of a cloud of witnesses, let ‘us’ do this, so that we can become the ‘you all’ to another generation of ‘us.’ And the final word is that Jesus is THE witness who is seated at the right hand of God, and THE witness is also the One who began our story and will bring it to the purposed and promised conclusion as told to us in Ephesians 1.4-6.”
Ephesians 4:1-6 – For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
This transmission of faith has been going on for generations and generations. It’s not about transmission of information… it’s about real-life stories of faith, being faith-full and impacting the next generation.
Let’s sing, let it rise, come on! “We Praise You” by Matt Redman (Click here).
Hebrews 11:39-40 – These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
“Now you’re wondering wait, we thought they received their promises, yes, but in this reference, the ‘something better that God planned for us’ is not about the promises we were talking about but a greater promise than that – and it includes us, and it includes the ‘us’ of believers that will come after us when we are no longer living on this earth.
John Piper describes it this way, that it is about receiving the full blessing of God’s promise, ‘which is resurrection with new bodies in a glorious new age’. In other words, God’s purpose is that all his people — all the redeemed — be gathered in before any of them enjoys the fullness of his promise… Do you see why the ‘you all’ cloud of witnesses is looking at ‘us’ and saying ‘Get on with it! We know you have issues, but we had ’em too, you’ve read all about it.’…But what counts is the Hebrews 11 kind of stuff. Not your pasts, not your brokenness, not even your successes… Will you be described as faith-full?”
Let’s respond to the Lord with bold faith. May our souls sing even louder the glory of Christ’s gospel in our lives – “Even Louder” by People of the Earth (Click here).
Joshua 24:32 – And Joseph’s bones, which the Israelites had brought up from Egypt, were buried at Shechem in the tract of land that Jacob bought for a hundred pieces of silver from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem. This became the inheritance of Joseph’s descendants.
“And how did Joseph know about this promise spoken to his great-grandfather Abraham and how would people who lived 400 years after him remember this and actually do it? Think of Moses sending whoever he sent and telling them we’re about to go, go get Joseph’s bones…
‘The living, the living—they praise you,
as I am doing today;
parents tell their children
about your faithfulness.’ (Isaiah 38.19)
It is by the telling of the faithfulness of God from one generation to another, it is realizing the ‘us’ of today, is the ‘you all’ cloud of witnesses of yesterday. What stories will you tell your children, your grandchildren? Will our stories be the ‘come and see and hear, what the Lord has done for me’ kind of stories? Well if you plan on telling those kinds of stories, better get to it; better get them stories!”
These stories of Joseph, Abraham and Moses, talk about God who was great. Pray that God would be great in our lives today!
“Just as Hannah shared that she wasn’t aware there was such a thing as being ‘healed in the mind’ or even that this was an issue in her life, we, too, often miss seeing our own issues. For myself, I didn’t know I had a ‘daddy’ issue until God revealed to me I did. I didn’t know I had an ‘unforgiveness’ issue until God revealed to me I did. I didn’t know I had any ‘issues,’ really, until God revealed to me I did.
You don’t have to raise your hands, but how many of you feel you don’t have issues? I have to break it to you, but you do, and this means you haven’t even started getting over them. It’s when we come to God do we then realize we have issues because issues are really just another word for sin and brokenness, things that we’ve done but also things that were done to us. Do you question why it’s hard to draw near to God, to feel His presence? Because to do so, you have to want God to get real with you and mercifully, even when we don’t want to, He gives it to us.”
Ephesians 4:18 – They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.
Draw closer to God through prayer: “Father, touch my heart and mind and heal me!”
“When you read Scripture, and you see the examples of those who are deemed the heroes of the faith, where do you see yourself fit in that lineage? We look at the ‘saints’ and their examples and we feel so far off from them, and we also look so much into ourselves and our own limitations, brokenness and we disqualify ourselves when even God Himself has not.
Think about all those heroes though… We would have surely thought the promise of God would not be able to be fulfilled because of their human weakness and failings. And this is a short list from the heroes in Hebrews 11:
Sarah – childlessness, the ‘other’ woman issues
Isaac – relationship with father, old age issues
Jacob – identity, disability issues
Joseph – slavery, sibling issues
Rahab – prostitute, foreigner issues
As you see, the descriptions should make us pause and wonder however did they make it? So perhaps they are agreeing with us saying, ‘we know we had issues, but you have yours too – you all are really just like us in every way.’”
Hebrews 11:11 – And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise.
Take a moment to pray about the things in life that make it difficult for you to trust God.
Prayer: “Lord, we believe You will always be faithful!”