Ephesians – Wayne Barber/Part 71

By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2000
Dr. Barber begins his study of the scriptural injunctions to husbands as he continues the look at spirit-filled families.

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Ephesians 5:25-31

Spirit-Filled Families – Part 2

I want you to see something in Ephesians 3:19 that we didn’t bring out earlier. This is the ultimate goal of Paul’s prayer. How do we experience God’s power? Verse 17 says by accommodating His presence. But what is the goal? Verse 19 reads, “that you may be filled up to all the fulness of God.”

Now, remember being filled with the Spirit is like taking a glass, knocking the bottom out of it, sticking it in the river, and letting the river flow through it. It is not filling it up, drinking it and emptying it. No, you don’t empty yourself of God. God has come into you to be a permanent resident. The way in which you are controlled by His Spirit, that river of living water that is there, is simply to deal with the sin in your life, the unwillingness to let Him control every area of your life. Then that flow can be what it ought to be. So hang on to that. Be fully exposed to the Lord Jesus. Then you begin to experience the strengthening in the inner man by His ability that is far beyond yours.What are the responsibilitiesof the husband? Look at verses 25-31: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh.”

So what are the responsibilities of the husband? Paul jumps right in and says in verse 25, “Husbands, love your wives.” Now to the casual observer that sounds rather easy. Buy them some flowers, take them out to eat, and let them go shopping. A lot of husbands have odd ideas about what it means to love their wives. The further you go in the verse the more you realize how beyond human possibility this is. It becomes a little frightening when you realize we are going to be held accountable for this love to our wives. He didn’t say love as the world loves. The world has a lot of ideas how you can appreciate your wife, but what he is talking about here is beyond human possibility. I want us to look at it very carefully.

The Meaning of this Love

First of all, let’s look at the meaning of this love. Secondly, there is the model of this love. What does Paul mean when he says, “Husbands, love your wives.” Well, the first thing he means is it is a command and we have no option. The verb used here is in a different form than the verb which is used for the ladies. It is used in a different sense. It is a present middle imperative. You can almost hear the Apostle Paul saying, “Ladies, wives, will you submit to your husbands? Men, love your wives!” It is almost like a command that catches you right between the eyes.

When we get to commands, you have to understand this is not a suggestion. This is a command from God to all of us who are husbands. So we need to know that. Present tense means that you are constantly in a state of doing this. It is not a one-time thing. The wives don’t submit to us one time so they can go do something they want. In the same manner we don’t love our wives one day so we can go fishing on Saturday. It works the same way. It is a lifestyle of loving your wife. It is not a one-time thing. We have got to see that. Secondly, it is in the middle voice. Middle voice means you yourselves, by your own free will and your own choice, choose to do it. In other words, nobody is going to tell you to do this. God has already told you. You are commanded. Now make up your mind to do what God says. Imperative means it is a command.

To me the word “love” is what really stretches us all. You begin to see how far beyond human possibility this kind of love really is. Paul could have chosen another Greek word. There were two other Greek words that the world would have quickly thrown in. As a matter of fact, if you ask somebody on a talk show, they would probably tell you one of these other two words, not the word that is chosen. They could have picked eros, which is a sensual, passionate kind of sexual love. By the way, that word is not found in Scripture. That is interesting. We find it everywhere today.

Paul could have picked the word philos, which is the word that means to share things in common. Aren’t these things involved in a marriage? Yes, in a proper context. But Paul didn’t choose that word. It is wonderful to be friends with your wife, to be friends with your mate, but he didn’t choose that word. He chose a powerful word that we just take flip­pantly. We don’t realize how difficult it is. He chose the word agapao. Now let me explain the difference to you. This is the highest form of love there is. It is the word used in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” That is the word we are talking about here.

First of all, this is love that is totally unselfish. Do you realize until you are filled with the Spirit of God that you cannot love anybody except in a selfish way? Remember the gar­ments in chapter 4? Don’t get away from that. You have two garments. The Apostle Paul says that you are to put on the right garment. If I put on somebody else’s garment it would look rather ridiculous. I want you to see this, husbands. If you have a wife who is Spirit-filled and she is submitting to you, but you won’t let the Spirit of God empower you, how ridiculous you are going to look in that family. As a matter of fact, consider how you look before God and every other Spirit-filled believer. That is the old man, folks. We are not to put that on anymore.

God says, “Husbands, love your wives.” God set the standard so high it is humanly impossible to do it. Then what is going on in our families? I’ll tell you. We have men who claim to be Christians wearing the old garment and they look stupid when they put it on. We are to put on the new garment. If I am filled with the Spirit of God I am enabled by a divine power. A person lives within me to do what I cannot do apart from Jesus Christ. That old garment is there when I say, “I’m doing fine. In my marriage everything is super. I’ve got money in the bank and food in the refrigerator. God, I will call you if I ever have a problem.” That is the stupidity of that old garment.

Now men, understand how to take the bulk of Ephesians in its context and put it in the right place. Therefore Paul says to love. This love is the kind of love that never seeks its own satisfaction. It is not affection answering to affection. This is what a lot of people think. “Well, yes. I could love my wife if she would just love me. If she would show me a little attention I could love her back.” No, sir. It is not affection responding to affection. As a matter of fact, it is so unconditional she doesn’t even have to do a thing for us to be commanded to love her. It is love that strives to the highest good of the one loved and will pay any price for it to take place, whatever it is. Whatever is necessary for that person, the highest good, he will pay any price in order to see those needs met, especially the spiritual ones. It is the highest form of love. So the meaning of this tells us that it is selfless, unconditional and committed to the highest good of our wife.

God asks us, “Do you want My design? To have a functional family, wives, put yourself up under your husband and let them be the authority in your home. Husbands, you, (com­manded by God), love your wife.” But make sure you understand the standard of this love. Jesus is the standard of the love life of His children. There is nothing less and certainly there can be nothing more.

Ephesians 5:18 says, “be filled with the Spirit.” Look in Galatians 5:22. I want to show you something to make sure we understand that this is humanly impossible. It has to be from the strengthening of the Holy Spirit of God in our life. It all has to do with the gar­ments. It all has to do with being strengthened in the inner man. This is what Ephesians is all about. This is the flow of the whole book. Galatians 5:22 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love.” That is agape. The fruit of the Spirit is not the result of my working it up in my own energy. No. I cannot do that. The fruit of the Spirit comes from the person living within me. He produces a love that is exactly the divine love of God. It is the same love Jesus had when He came to this earth because it is Jesus in the person of His Spirit manifesting and producing that love in my life. That is the key.

Guys, when we come to the meaning of the word, we also see our motivation. It is a command. We also see the mindset we can get into. It is not us, but it is Jesus being Jesus in us. We are commanded to love our wife!

The Model of this Love

The second thing I wanted you to see is the model of this love. Paul is so super. Re­member I told you that Paul is overwhelmed by his salvation. Men listen, you cannot love until you know you are loved. We have already covered that in Ephesians. Once you know you are loved then you can love your wife. You have to know that. You can’t know that until you learn to love Jesus by your obedience. In Ephesians 5:25 look at what he says: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” Number one, under the model of this love, is Jesus’ love for His church. Paul gives the example of Jesus to the church and the husband to his wife. It is a beautiful parallel.

It was a sacrificial love. I want you to see this first: “just as Christ also loved the church and He gave Himself up for her.” The Apostle Paul points to the one supreme act of the Godhead that clears out any doubt that God loves us. The supreme act was not Jesus coming to this earth, but it was Jesus taking our sin upon Himself, going to the cross and dying for all mankind. Jesus Himself said, “Greater love hath no man but to lay down his life for his brother.” It is the supreme act of being willing to literally die for the sake of seeing someone else’s desperate needs met if that is what it takes. It is a sacrificial love. Christ’s love for the church was a divine sacrificial act.

It is incredible how God says you love in the same way Jesus loved. You can do that because of the Spirit living within you. It is a sacrificial love. Don’t put what Jesus did for the church in such a realm that you can’t relate to it and bring it down to where we all live. When we are willing to stoop down to the level of saying, “I am dying to myself,” humbling ourselves before God and are willing to do what is necessary to meet the needs of our wife, then we are moving into the realm of loving our wives on a divine level. It is sacrificial love. We sense the needs that the Holy Spirit will point out and we are willing to do whatever it takes to meet those needs, no matter what it costs us, no matter what we have to give up to meet those needs.

Secondly, not only was it a sacrificial love, but it was a sanctifying love. Look at verse 26: “that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless.” In other words, Jesus did every­thing that was necessary in order to sanctify the church. In sanctifying her, one day His reward is presenting the church to Himself spotless and clean before Him.

What is the parallel you can draw? Well, the word “sanctify” means to set apart, to put in a class all by itself, to make special by sanctifying. “You mean to tell me that when I begin to be filled with the Spirit of God, wear the right garment and the Holy Spirit of God begins to manifest His presence in me, that the love that God puts through me, puts my wife into a category that all by itself is unique? Yes. It is a special place. As a matter of fact, that love actually sanctifies her and keeps her from defilement of any kind in her life. It’s an overwhelming, sanctifying love. Guys, if we could just understand what it means to wear this garment, we would never take it off because it is this love that puts our wives up on the pedestal they deserve to be put on. It is this garment that causes them to be put into a class unique all by themselves. It turns the focus on what God is doing to honor that relationship. Just as a church senses they are special to Christ because of what He has done and because of what He is doing, His love sets them apart in a class all by them­selves, so must it be in the husband’s love for his wife.

Verse 26 goes on to say that Christ cleansed the church by the washing of the water of His word. Let’s put that aside for a minute and just remember what He did for the church was what was needed to be done for the church in order that the church might be sancti­fied and cleansed. You see, when you love somebody, pure love never wants to see the one loved defiled in any way. You see, guys, when we begin to love our wives with the right garment, it puts them into a class unique and all by themselves, and they feel special. They feel loved. Not only that, it protects them from all the defilement that is out there in the world. If you want to make sure your wife is faithful, love her as Christ loved the church. That puts her into a very special category. She senses that she has all of your love and you will do whatever is necessary. That, in a sense, becomes a protection, a cleansing type, a keeping from being defiled in any way.

You see, his love for his wife is to actually cooperate with Christ in such a way that one day when they stand side by side as sister and brother, she will be presented along with the rest of the bride with her garment clean and spotless. Remember Revelation 19? Each of us is going to be given a garment. Is that corporate righteousness or is that individual righteousness? Folks, if it is individual righteousness, then we have a responsibility that is as grave as anything you have ever heard. My responsibility to my wife is to make sure every day I do nothing that will contribute to her defilement in any way. In a sense, I be­come a partner with God. I step in alongside in my marriage relationship and say, “I need to help you in the Word. I need to pray for you. I need to do whatever I do to keep you from being defiled in any way whatsoever so that one day we can help each other keep our garments clean and one day we will stand side by side with the Lord Jesus as the whole church is presented to Himself spotless and blameless.” Do you realize what that does? Sometimes my wife has to remind me to pray, but it is wonderful when I can remind her. When I love her the way God wants me to love her, it becomes a sanctifying situation in my marriage. It sets her apart, makes her special and protects her from any defilement that is around her. When this garment is on, everything I am doing for her is for the sake of the Lord Jesus and she knows it. Therefore, His name is much mentioned in the process and it becomes a protection around the wife.

Verse 27 shows the ultimate goal that He has: “that He might present to Himself thechurch in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless.”

So it was sacrificial and sanctifying, but finally Christ’s love for the church was satisfied. Look in verses 28-30. It says, “So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are mem­bers of His body.” When I have this garment on, strengthened in the inner man by the Spirit of God, then there is going to be a tender, caring attitude towards my wife, just like I would tenderly take care of my own body.

What Paul says here is, “Give the same tender care that you give to your own body to your wife. Begin to care for her as you would yourself.” Why? It goes on down in verse 31 to say that we have become one flesh. In other words, if I love myself, I am going to love my wife. If I love my wife, I am loving myself. We are one body. Therefore, it is going to become very satisfying to my wife at some point because as much as I want to be satisfied, I want to make sure she is satisfied because she is a part of my body. Therefore, just move it over and make sure that they are taken care of.

Look at verses 28-30. Paul says, “So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.”

I want to take those two words. The word “nourish” is the word that speaks of the tender care of nourishing children to maturity. Now I realize we are not going to treat our wife as a child. I am talking about that tenderness. Have you ever watched a man when a little child comes into the room? When a little child comes into the room I don’t care how big they are or how strong they are, that little child just tenderizes them. There is just some­thing about the way you treat a little child. It is a tenderness. It is not rough. Have you ever watched a man trying to show a child something? They say, “No, no, that is not quite right.” They just walk them through it. It is a tender caring. Do you know that word “nour­ish” is the same word that is used of the way you would bring a little child up into maturity? It is the tenderness, the care, the extra effort, the extra time to make sure that you are covering all the bases in whatever it is that goes on in your life. I want to tell you some­thing, folks, when you start satisfying somebody with that kind of time, with that kind of direction, with that kind of care, it transmits to your own self. That is the way you want to be treated, so that is the way you treat them.

The other word is “cherish.” Do you know what the Greek word means? It means to make warm. Do you know what came to my mind? One of the things that came to my mind was when I would be with my mother years ago. This just came to my mind when I was studying this. I was so distraught over several things. I remember how she would put her arms around me and just hold me. The warmth of that embrace was the most secure thing I have ever known. I don’t know how many times I have sat in the house and just held my precious dear wife. There is something about the warmth and the security and the one­ness that was cherishing. I never wanted that moment to end. That is the word he uses right here.

Folks, I want to tell you something, when you start treating your wife that way, nourish­ing and cherishing them, and they feel the warmth of your love and they feel the security that you are not going to run out on them, they begin to feel the fact that you really do care. Listen, it becomes that much easier for your wife to do what she is supposed to do in sub­mitting to the headship that you have been appointed and assigned in your family.

It’s through the love that Christ has, that garment, not this garment. When we put that garment on it is sacrificial. You are willing to die to what you think is important to meet their needs. It is sanctifying. That kind of love puts them in a class all by themselves and puts them into a situation to where they know they are unique. There is a cleansing effect to that and it keeps them from defilement from anything coming in that would be a detriment to their growth. Not only that, it satisfies. When you start satisfying them, I’m telling you straight out, you had better believe that satisfaction is returned because you are one flesh. You see, we are commanded to love our wives.

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