Ephesians 5 22-33
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 second sermon from the Series on marriage by Tim Keller. Below is a summary of the second 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.
In the sermon, Tim Keller talks about verse 21 and the word reverence, which means to be in awe of Christ. The assumption Paul made before he goes on to talk about marriage is that the power of marriage relies on the assumption that we are spirit filled and that we understand the gospel which is that we are more sinful than we ever dared believe but more accepted and loved than we ever dared hope. This knowledge gives us the ability to be strong yet humble and equips us to live a non self centred life.
This week he focuses on the definition of marriage.
Definition of marriage: It is a covenant.
“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” Ephesians 5:31
Marriage is an institution created by God, therefore, you should operate in it under God’s principles. In the bible, a covenant is a binding, public, legal, contract or agreement. It includes, the parties involved, stipulations (obligations), lists of blessings and curses and the vows. The difference between modern and pre-modern thinking is that modern thinking says that you find fulfilment in choice and being free from obligations, while pre-modern thinking was that you find fulfilment out of obligation. The modern worlds definition of love is therefore very different from the biblical definition. The modern world focuses on the inside and feelings. Biblical love is covenantal, and thinks in terms of the other and not you. Modern love measures how much love you want to receive as opposed to how much you will give. Real love goes way beyond feelings. It’s a promise to be loving, be loyal, be faithful regardless of how you feel and for the rest of your life. It’s talking about your behaviour, not your inside but your outside. The modern world says never open up yourself like that and be vulnerable to anyone, but if you never commit, your heart will never be broken but it will become impenetrable.
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” CS Lewis
Tim Keller reiterates that the essence of love is that its not a feeling, its an action that leads to a feeling. When you give yourself to your spouse the tendency is still to think love is a bargain. You want to get as much as you put in, so your giving is based on how much your spouse is giving, and when your spouse isn’t giving you withdraw. On the other hand when you have a child, he/she gives you nothing. The child needs you and you serve the child. The more you serve the child, the more you love the child. At 18 or 20 you still love the child regardless of how he/she has turned out. In the same time, the less your spouse gives, the less you give, the less you act loving, the less you feel loving. You are operating with your child on a biblical pattern but not with your spouse. Eventually, you will feel no love for your spouse.
He goes on to say that, if you feel that there will be this overwhelming unrelenting feeling of love for someone before you decide to marry them or that there will be no doubts, you will not have ups and downs or any bad days, be assured that no marriage operates like that. Marriage is covenental. Feelings of love will follow the actions of love and the best way to understand Jesus love for us are on those days you don’t feel much affection for your spouse. That’s love! Jesus did not love us because we were lovely he loved us to make us lovely.
Finally, he says, your marriage will become more stable if you love covenantally. He also explains that the essence of marriage is confrontational. We cleanse one another, we wash each others blemishes..and don’t think about the wash like a bubble bath! Think about washing wounds with soap. Ouch! He likened marriage to a bridge which worked well but when a 50 tonne truck rode across it, all the structural defects could be seen. Before marriage, different people would have tried to point out these defects of selfishness, pride and so on but as we were not so intimate with them, we could write it off. We could always walk away as there was no covenant and no vow made, but getting married brings out the worst in us and our flaws are laid bare. We must realise that the conflict is not with your spouse but with ourselves! Marriage forces you to look in the mirror and you will see your warts and flaws in a way you can’t escape. When you cry out to God to help you, your journey to healing will begin. Marriage is a gem tumbler, you are refined and eventually, you come out smooth and perfect.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34
Don’t forget to join our bible study this evening at 8.30 PM GMT / 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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