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.