Ephesians 5 21-33
21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
Our online bible study continues this week with the 5th sermon from the series on Marriage by Tim Keller. Below is a summary of the fifth part of the nine part audio teaching which I recommend you listen to at your own pace. It’s the all-time bestselling sermon series from Redeemer Presbyterian Church, preached in 1991, and the basis for the bestselling book “The Meaning of Marriage” in 2011.You can purchase them HERE for only $2.50 per session. I am in no way affiliated with the Redeemers Presbytarian Church.
This week Tim Keller continues on the subject of Friendship in marriage. He says that marriage is friendship with romance garnishing and flavouring it. So if you are going to get married, it should be with someone who has the potential of being your best friend. Last week we talked about friendship being a deep oneness that comes from people journeying together to a common horizon.
28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. Tim Keller points out that husband and the wife are parts of a single body just as we are one with Christ. A husband and wife should deal with one another the way you deal with your body and the goal is to present the boys without blemish or stain and the way you get there is by washing, nourishing and cherishing your body. You are not really separate from your body but you can think of your body as something distinguishable from you. Your body happens to you and you can look and see all the flaws and blemishes and you work at it and your goal is to present it to be in certain condition. Marriage is like that and the job of the wife and the husband is to sanctify one another. The thing that everthing that revolves around in the marriage is that we are working to make each other holy.
The horizon is a vision of the glory self, the perfect human that God wants the person to be and you are committed to getting the person there. This is friendship with windows. Friendship with a christian is trying to look for a mountain on a foggy day, sometimes you see the snow on the mountain and you see the sun briefly shine on it and takes your breadth away, then the fog comes back. You get a vision of what this person is becoming if not shackled and fettered by their sins and faults. You get and idea of the person without the flaws and sins. You get committed to it and say I want to be part of the process of getting them there. I want the light of this person to be evident, I want this person to grow. That’s how any christian friendship should go and in particular how marriage should be.
If that what you are after, the implication is that:
You will constantly find your self falling in and out of like. Love is a commitment and like is the feeling. Because you’ve got the real self and you’ve got attitudes and personalities and traits that are going to burn off in the light of God, they are not permanent they are temporary. You are going to have times where you are looking at dross and you are mad about it. The process of Marriage is a furnance and there’s heat. When you have an impure metal you put it in the furnace and the dross and all the impurities will fall away and the real metal stays. In marriage two people come together and know what the glory self is and what the dross is and work together against dross. You are going to fall in and out of like because sometimes one person will point at dross and say its got to go and the other person resists. In a normal marriage that doest have this horizon we are working towards and this context and framework, when you come up against these imperfections, you don’t think about it as dross, you wish you had somebody better. When two christians are in love and they are thinking along these lines, they can also envision somebody better but the person is the person who you they married to. You want perfection but you want his or her perfection. The kind of perfection that only that person can ever become because you want the holy them. You don’t want somebody else you want the perfect them and the only way you are going to get that is to stick with them. Paul says I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:6. The commitment grows even when you hate the imperfections you see because you see the dross and want the persons perfection.
Don’t eliminate people who you don’t have an initial sexual attraction to. Think about how you can find someone you are attracted to their character, to their nobility, to their balance and wisdom. There is a sexual attraction that comes from deep oneness with someones character you admire and who incredibly admires yours too..there’s nothing sexier than that, it’s a very different kind of attractiveness and it’s amazing how it is not completely independent but semi independent from the looks of the person and it gets deeper as the years go by.
There are people that have a gift of singleness. Adam was lonely because he was male and what God did was that he divided up his attributes and his qualities into men and women. Men are different than women and so when Adam finds Eve he finds a completion that can only happen in friendship across the gender line. Some people have a gift where they don’t need that deep consolation that many of us have if we are going to be happy. They don’t have that deep need for completion in the same way. The rest of us have that deep need but some don’t have it yet because they haven’t found somebody to marry or are scared to death of marriage. Some try to find that completion without a marriage covenant. The bible says that the only safe place to have it is in a marriage covenant, it’s the only place you can have this deep oneness, the only safety net in which to do the stripping and vulnerability that marriage is supposed to be.
Some go ahead and say ‘even though this person is not a friend, I will have sex with him anyway’ because it feels for the moment that you are getting that completion. You will find yourself becoming lonelier when you use sex outside of the covenant. Another approach is that two ppl of the same sex try to get that kind of completion through a sexual friendship. The bible says you can’t get that completion with someone of the same sex. Another way is when they decide to have that deep oneness and friendship but refuse to try to get romatically committed. Eventually somebody gets burned.
For those who desire a commitment but are yet to find a spouse, a good alternative will be through good same sex friendships. Not same sex friendships that try to replace marriage unless you don’t need or want marriage which can happen permanently or for a season.
Tim Keller shares how you can tell you’ve got a friendship that can become marriage. He says, you can agree on what the real self is and what the dross is. That is, as you talk to one another and in your relationship as you spend time together, a man finds that as you talk to her, not only does she have a terrific insight into who you really ought to be, who you can be, the glory self, in some ways she knows it more than you do and as you speak to her you get a better idea about who you should be and get ignited about it and passionate for it. Basically, does this woman make you want to be holy? Does she give you a vision of what you should be in Christ that it excites you and you want to get there. Do you want more by being with her? If this is happening both ways, and you can agree on what is dross and what is metal, you’ve got the workings of a friendship on which to base a marriage.
How do you get there?
Many people, Tim says, have come up to him and said, we are not friends. We looked great together we had fun together people said we made a great couple. I can talk to my friend and tell them things I can never imagine him or her understanding but I thought that was the way it was. So what do you do? don’t despair, make this person your friend!
28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church
To be friends you have to be able to do the negative and the positive. The negative is cleansing your body the positive is nourishing and treasuring it. You are not going to be friends unless you have got both. To clean your body is private thing, and the bible says when you get married your spouse has that kind of access to you..to the most private parts of you life and that means that your spouse will see and take part in cleaning the dirt. If you hate and resent that, then you do not understand marriage and this person will never be your friend. One of the ways this person cleanses you is simply by being there. Are you moody irritable grumpy? You can hide it from people but your spouse sees it and it also creates problems for your spouse. Its cleansing to have someone there seeing it and you can’t be in denial anymore. You spouse can help you with it if you are willing to accept that your spouse has access to cleansing you, but you have to be so gentle. Cleanse gently. You nourish and cherish your body find out what makes it happy and strong and in turn you really live out with your spouse the actual salvation of Jesus because Jesus comes to you and says ‘you are my beloved child in who i am well pleased’.
The bible says, If our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts. God created marriage with this power, that if your spouse tells you that you are gorgeous you feel gorgeous no mater what anyone else says, if your spouse tells you I don’t care what your mother and father said or your teacher, you are great and you are someone I admire you feel great. You have the capability to completely reprogram the self appreciation of your spouse. Your words can overturn the all verdicts that have ever been placed on your spouse over the years. You have got the ability to redeem him or her. You call out what is good in the other and you affirm because Jesus has done it for us. He brings you forth to victory and if you are like a bruised reed he will treat you so gently you won’t break of. If you are so dim and just a glimmer of a flame on a candle, he wont quench you. Thats a friend…someone who will bring you to victory, who won’t let you go, who will tell you about your faults but is so completely committed to you and continually says I love you and I care for you. Jesus is greater than your heart, he overcomes everything that anyone has ever said of you and in the marriage relationship you are living that out. Get yourself a marriage with windows on eternity.
Don’t forget to join our bible study this evening at 8.30 PM GMT +1 / 7.30 PM in London. It’s an interactive online bible study HERE ON FACEBOOK. I look forward to fellowshipping and praying with you for our marriages.
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