The Christian Home (cf. Eph 5:21-6:9)

 18 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them. 20 Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. 22 Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. NKJV

         Today we will spend our time understanding our roles in life as sons and daughters of the Living God. Everything Paul has been addressing relates to how we live out the new creation of man in the here and now.  When the Lord gave to Israel His Law, he was giving them an ordered culture or Society. It was the comprehensive framework of how they were to conduct themselves in contrast to the other nations. His Society centered on obedience to Jehovah in the context of the family structure, worship, and service.

Here is a thought that the Lord spoke to me this week, “The law, and the judgments, and the statues of the Lord, serve to give to us His views of sin, wickedness, abomination, perverseness, and the defiling of oneself.” Although the attempt at keeping the Law has become obsolete regarding atonement and acceptance before God, the Law remains God’s kingdom standard concerning His view of sin and sins manifestations and ultimate judgment of death. Jesus has redeemed us from the “curse” of the Law (Galatians 3:13), but the Law is still God’s standard of holiness and righteousness. In many cases, Jesus even raised the bar and the requirement of the Lord.  For example, hatred equals murder, looking on a woman to lust after her equal’s adultery. It is not just the action, but the heart condition. With that in mind, let’s look into the five areas on which Paul focuses our attention.

We begin with wives and submission. This biblical value has been dumped from our Society. Marriage is no longer seen as a “covenant” between a man and a woman and their families. The attitude of submission is traced back to the order of God’s creation of man and women.

First, let’s consider what Jesus has to say about marriage and the man/woman relationship in Matthew 19:3-12. The Pharisees purposed in their hearts to tempt Jesus using a question around the legality of divorce. “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?” Jesus points them to the scriptures by saying, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh?” “So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no man separate.”

          This was not good enough for those religious leaders, so they asked further, “Why did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.”

         Our heart is the issue. The scriptures tell us this about the heart: The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it” (Jeremiah 17:9)? It is the hardness of heart that runs interference with the “submission” value. The submission value is a safety and protection value, not control, and heavy-handed view. It is the heart issue that turns the submission into an “authoritarian” attitude of domination. Paul puts things into perspective in 1 Corinthians 11:3-16. “But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.”

Headship is vital to our understanding in regard to the “Kingdom of God” and “Divine Order.” Paul goes on to relate headship or covering to prayer and authority. We do not have time here to delve into this, but it is a worthwhile study in order to gain a “spiritual clarity” and not end up with natural reasoning that perverts the will of God. Listen to what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:8-12, “For man is not from woman, but woman from man. Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man. For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord. For as woman came from man, even so man also comes from woman; but all things are from God.” These verses are so important in helping our understanding. They are not cultural but eternal in their substance. There is no independence allowed in the Christian marriage relationship. The Christian man and women are joined together in the Lord!

This brings us to Husbands. Paul nails it with his brief exhortation to husbands. “Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them.” First, let us consider what it means to be a husband. The dictionary defines husband, in the noun form, as a “male partner in a marriage.” The British speak of the husband as a “manager” of another’s property or a steward. The word in verb form, husbanded or husbanding, speaks of managing prudently or economically and taking care of resources well. This should be one of the strengths of a husband. Let me say here, that a husband is not to dominate over his wife, but to manage or steward her life. His stewardship is about her welfare and success, not his control to get what he wants.

Consider Gary Chapman’s 1995 book that suggests five ways that a couple shows love toward one another. The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitments to Your Mate.

Love is expressed in many ways. It is important for a husband to know what their wives love language is. Gary Chapman suggests these five different ways of expressing love and commitment: gift giving, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and touch.

Paul’s next exhortation found in verse 20, is to the children. In the family of God, the children are a vital component of the Lord’s eternal plans. Remember, our God is the God of the “generations.” He has a generational outlook, not just an immediate need outlook. He wants us to also join Him in that generational vision. Becky and I knew, when our children left the nest, our times of prayer and intercession for them would increase not decrease. Boy did that turn out to be true!

“Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.” The willing obedience of the children to their parents releases the favor of heaven upon them. This truth is an eternal law of truth in humanity but is especially true for the Christian home with believing consecrated parents. Most problems in one’s life can be traced back to childhood. Parents are intended to be God’s protection to the children. They are a wall of defense against the spiritual enemies that want to invade the child’s innocent understanding and their inability to put up defenses against Satan’s demonic forces. Prayer, dedication, godly counsel, the unity of the whole family, Christian education, and guarding the children against outside foreign influence, in other words, their relationship with others, provide a means of protection over their lives. This is ideal, but unfortunately, not the reality in many cases. The Proverb is so true,

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverb 22:6).

Another exhortation to fathers is found in verse 21, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, lest they become discouraged” There is so much truth in Paul’s instruction. I am sure that this is at the core of much of the rebellion and anger in the current generations. I have stood in the so-called “demonstrations” and heard the complaint of young people. I say so-called because many demonstrations started with a legitimate grievance but were taken over by those with agendas of overthrowing our “Constitutional Republic” in order to get what they want, “the control of society.” Their agenda is driven by rebellion and hate. Much of which came from “fatherlessness” through broken homes and abuse by a step parent with no regard for the child. Many of those leaders prey on this brokenness and anger within the youth of today. Great repentance is needed in the fathers going back generations. As the scriptures declare, “The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation” (Numbers 14:18). Sexual sins can go back to ten generations. Only through the redemption of Christ can this curse be stopped and broken.

Finally, for today we examine verses 22-25 regarding Bondservants. In modern times with the breaking of the horrible sin of slavery in Society, we should apply this principle to the employer/employee relationship. In the work environment, we are under an obligation to obey our employer. Most companies have rules and regulations that the employee must be familiar with and be willing to obey. There is a recognized chain of command in an orderly business format.

Notice Paul’s admonition to the employee in verse 22, “not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in the sincerity of heart, fearing God.” Eyeservice definition:Service performed only under inspection or the eye of an employer.” The right viewpoint for the believer is that God is our overseer. Our service is to God and to His kingdom. Years ago, as I went to work for a large service company, the Lord spoke these words to me, “let your goal be to make your service manager a success, and I will make you a success.” The Lord was faithful in what He had promised me. I never lacked in a pay raise, I always was number one in selling service contracts, and I always had excellent evaluations regarding my performance.

Paul goes on to say, “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.” When we are joined to the Lord and baptized into His body, we are to no longer think that our service is to men. It is not! It is only to the Lord. Men are benefited by the service of a son or daughter of God. This is part of our daily witness to an unbelieving world. It speaks volumes of the Life of Christ dwelling in us. It strengthens our words when we do testify of God’s goodness and His faithfulness. It is the Lord that rewards. Our inheritance is in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the Lord Christ that we serve.

Paul reminds us, “But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality.” God has no respect of persons. If we do well, the Lord will reward, but if we do wrong, that also will reap a payment, repaid by the Lord for the wrong done.