To submit is to yield to another person’s will and/or authority. In 2019, in the UK, to submit is not seen as a desirable thing to do and yet that is how God and Paul instruct us in Ephesians 5 and 6. Christians are to honour authority and submit according to this passage. In the husband and wife relationship, within the family and in the workplace, God calls Christians to submit to one another. We will obey God’s word, even when it conflicts with the culture we live in.
Lord God, we humbly come to you this morning. And I humbly come to you this morning and ask that I would preach what is true. Heavenly Father, the passage we’re about to read is a controversial passage in 2019, in this day and age, so Lord, I pray, you would by your Holy Spirit, make sure that I preach what is true, according to your word. Lord God, I pray you make each of us humble, to hear what your word has to say. Would you convict us where there are things that need to change? Would you uplift us as I preach as well to see the love of Jesus Christ? I pray this would be a time when your Holy Spirit moves in power in our midst making us humble. We want to submit to your word this morning. And lift us up to worship you in our hearts, as we listen to the sermon this morning. We pray this in Jesus name, amen.
A Controversial Topic
So, I want to say two things by way of introduction to our passage this morning. The first thing I want to say, I’ve already said it in my prayer is this. Â This morning’s sermon is controversial.
If I were preaching this sermon in an Eastern country, I think they’d be absolutely no problem with it. If I was preaching this passage 100 years ago, I think there would be absolutely no problem with what I’m about to preach to you. But when I preach this in the UK in 2019, this passage, this sermon challenges our culture. Â This this passage says something different to what the vast majority of people outside of this room believe, in Fareham. So, this passage, this sermon is controversial.
And I put it to you before I even read the passage and get into the Word of God, that it’s passages like these – these passages that we read, that make us feel uncomfortable, that make us think all this doesn’t quite fit with my cultural understanding of the world it’s passages like these, where we need to be extra vigilant and extra concentrated and really listening in to hear what God has to say to us.
If we read the Bible and it never makes us squirm and never challenges the way we’re thinking, we’re not reading it right. We’re going Oh that doesn’t apply to me. We need to read this as though this is the word of God. This is God’s word spoken to us. And so at times, we’re going to read things that challenge the way we think and the way we live. And in those moments, we have to heed what God is saying to us.
That’s the first thing I want to say by way of introduction is a controversial passage. So let’s listen in and submit to what God says in his word.
And the second thing I want to say by way of introduction is that this sermon in this passage is all about Spirit filled submission.
That word submission means accepting and yielding to the will or authority of somebody else. And normally, when I preach a sermon, quite a lot of the application would come at the end of the sermon. So I preach through the verses and then say, this is how we apply these verses to our lives.
But this morning, I thought I’d break all the rules. And I’m going to start with the application before I even read the passage. Talk about controversial! Â And so this is your application of this text that I’m about to read to you this morning.
What difference does Ephesians 5 and the start of chapter 6 make to our lives? The answer is that all of us should leave this room this morning, and go out into the world and practice being submissive.
Christians should be really, really good at yielding to the will of others and yielding to God given authority, respecting and submitting to that authority. And the only way we can do that is by being full of the Holy Spirit. When someone is filled with the Spirit, they become a submissive person. So that’s the application. Go out into the world and submit to others, yielding to their will, serving their desires, serving their authority, recognising and respecting authority in the world.
Let’s read shall we? So I’m going to read Ephesians 5. I’m going to read verse from verse 18. And through to chapter 6 and verse 9.
Ephesians 5:18 6:9
18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 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 Saviour. 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 splendour, 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.
6 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 Honour your father and mother (this is the first commandment with a promise),3 that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger,Â but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, 6 not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7 rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, 8 knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. 9 Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.
I appreciate that this is a challenging sermon. This is a passage which will challenge us this morning because it’s a passage that just reading it challenges me as a husband. I know it challenges my wife as a wife. Because we talk about this passage from time to time. It should challenge children. It should challenge all who are employees and all who are employers. So yeah, thank you for being here. I hope you enjoy it.
Being Full of the Spirit
Let’s dive straight in and talk about verses 18 to 21 to start. I mentioned these verses last week, but I just want to go back to them because the passage really flows from what it says in verses 18 to 21. And the instruction of verse 18, is Don’t get drunk, but be filled with the Holy Spirit. That’s what it says in verse 18. And then there are four participants that follow after in verses 19 to 20
1 : Addressing one another in hymns and songs and spiritual songs
2 : Making melody to the Lord in your heart
3 : Giving thanks
4 : Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ
Making is a participle – making melody in your hearts the Lord. Giving thanks – that’s a participle. And the final participle is submitting.
And so what I want you to see in those verses is that when you’re filled with the Holy Spirit, this is how you’re going to act. When you’re filled with the Holy Spirit, you’re going to do these things you’re going to give thanks, you’re going to address one another in psalms and songs. You’re going to make a melody to the Lord in your heart, and you’re going to submit to one another that’s what it is to be filled with the Spirit. That’s the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christian, so be filled with the Holy Spirit, in order that these things might happen in your life.
And so to be filled with the Holy Spirit is to be filled with a spirit of submission.
And so Christians in the church should be submissive people. In fact, we should be submitting to one another in the church all the time because we pray for the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit comes into a person, it changes them to make them more submissive.
So let me start with that as a challenge, submit to one another. Are you yielding to other people’s will? Are you saying actually today, what I want doesn’t really matter? What other people want matters far, far more. So I’m going to submit I’m going to yield to their will to serve them and to love them.
Sunday would be an even more amazing experience if every single one of us came not thinking what can I get out today, but rather, how can I submit to others? How can I serve their will? How can I serve them? How can I lift them up? Can you imagine the church where everyone in the room comes thinking, I’m just going to bless others today. And you know you will be blessed because all of you will be blessing me. So if I came just to bless all of you guys, all of you would also be blessing me and so on and so forth, everyone will be blessed. And everyone would also be blessing others. It’d be amazing, amazing Sunday. That’s what we aim for as a church.
So be filled with the Spirit, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Then in verses 22 onwards, Paul describes three relationships where submission absolutely needs to happen. If you’re going to be a church where everyone’s submitting to one another. These are three ways in which submission is absolutely crucially vitally important. These are relationships where we need to show submission.
And so firstly, he talks about marriage in verses 22 to 33 of chapter five. Then he talks about children and families at the beginning of chapter six from verses one to four. And then thirdly, he talks about the master-servant relationship. I’m going to apply that to our workplaces in chapter six, verses five to nine. And so those are my three points this morning. Let’s talk about marriage. Let’s talk about families. Let’s talk about workplaces. I’m going to spend the vast majority of my time on point one. I’m going to spend most of my time talking about marriage because that’s what the passage does. There are more verses about marriage than the other two relationships.
1. Husbands and wives
So what are Paul’s instructions in Ephesians 5 to husbands and wives?
Before I get into those verses, let me just let me just give one word of warning.
The temptation with a passage like this is if your husband to think Oh, I really like those words, those verses that speaks to the wives, I’m going to remember those. That’s what I’m going to take away from the sermon. I’m going to go home and I’m going to remind my wife that she should submit to me over and over and over agai .
And if you’re a wife, the temptation is to listen to the verses about husbands and go, yeah, you’re to love me like Christ loved the church.
So what I want us to do is to listen to the verses that are for us. Right? So don’t if your husband don’t focus on the first Â few verses of this passage, focus on the second half of the passage and think That’s where Paul’s talking to me, so that’s what I’m going to take to heart. That’s what we take away from this sermon.
And if you’re a wife, then you need to not become bitter if you feel like your husband’s not loving you as Christ loved the church, but rather focus on the first few verses and say, This is what I’m to do. This is how I’m to live according to Paul’s instructions. So listen to the bit that’s for you, not to the bit that’s for your spouse.
So Paul starts by writing this. Wives submit to your own husbands as to the Lord, for the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church.
Wives submit to your own husbands is the command in verse 22 and it is actually a command that’s repeated multiple times in Scripture.
Colossians 3:18, says, Wives submit yourselves to your husbands as is fitting in the Lord
Titus 2:5 says Wives should be subject to their husbands so that no one may malign the Word of God
1 Peter 3:1 says Wives be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be one without a word, by the conduct of their wives.
It is not one verse in isolation. This is four verses in the New Testament, all commanding wives to submit to their husbands.
We are Complementarian in this Church, which means we believe God created men and women to be equal in value and dignity in the eyes of God and both men and women are created in the image of God. Both are clearly equal in value and dignity.
Yet we believe in this Church that God created men and women differently, to have different functions and roles within the home and within the church. That is reflected in these commands four times in the New Testament, that we believe God creates an order in marriage, that husbands lead in love, according to Ephesians 5, and wives submit to their husbands leadership.
Let me speak to the husband’s just very briefly, once again. Husbands, be merciful to your wives. This is a difficult command to obey. Submission is not natural to human beings. Â The sinful nature within human being says Rebel against authority, rebel against authority, do not submit, take power for yourself. Power is something to be grasped and taken.
And so the command here to wives is hugely counter cultural and very, very difficult. So if you’re a husband here, let’s be merciful towards wives and understanding how difficult this command is. Sometimes husbands are silly and do stupid things. And so it makes it even more difficult to submit to a husband’s leadership.
We are Complementarian in this church. There are churches that are Egalitarian. They believe that men and women are not only equal in value, but also equal in role and function. Â Husbands are not the head of their wives in authority. And I’m trying in the sermon to be sympathetic towards the egalitarian point of view. Because there are many brothers and sisters in the Lord in this town. They’re probably people even in here who would describe themselves as Egalitarian. They don’t recognise that headship of a husband within a family, as I believe is described here in Ephesians 5. And if that’s you, you have to ask yourself, Why is it in Scripture that this command is repeated four times to wives to submit to their husbands?â€Â At no point in Scripture is the opposite command given to husbands.
That’s a very difficult question. And if you have an answer to that question, I’d love to talk to you afterwards and find out how you would answer that question because I believe the Bible is actually very, very clear. There is a unique calling upon wives, a calling that’s not necessarily given to husbands in the Bible, a unique calling upon wives to submit to their husbands. In fact, it’s so important to Paul, that he repeats it four times in his letters to the churches.
Now why, why should wives submit to their husbands? The answer is in that verse, isn’t it? The husband is the head of the wife, just as Christ is the head of the church.
There are some modern scholars. That word for head in the Greek is kephali. And there are some modern scholars who are trying to argue that kephali doesn’t have anything to do with authority and leadership, but actually means source.
I think this is their argument. Â That Eve was created out of Adam’s Rib. And so in that sense women is created out of man. So man is the source for women. I think this is what the scholars are arguing. And so in that sense, wives find their source rather than leadership in the husband. As I said, I wanted to be sympathetic to egalitarianism when I read the sermon, but I think verse 24 absolutely clarifies what Paul is talking about when he talks about husbands being the head of the wife. Because in verse 24, Paul says this, As the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands . That is a verse about leadership and authority and submission.
Maybe you don’t agree with me, but I can’t read that verse and not see leadership in there. If the wife is submitting everything to the husband that means the husband’s leading and has authority in directing her and shaping her and guiding her which he is to do in love – we’re about to get to that point.
But I think that verse 24 is absolutely clear that the husband is called to lead his wife. And in that sense, he is the head. When Paul talks about husbands being the head of the wife, he is talking about husbands being the head of a household in leadership, just as Christ is the head of the church in leadership. You know what, Jesus Christ leads this church and we follow him together. He is the leader of the church. Christ is the head of the church and we are members of his body. And in the same way, husbands are called to be the head of the marriage. And wives are called to submit to their husbands. I think this passage is clear. There’s a clear mandate here for husbands to lead their wives and for wives to submit to their husbands.
And if I’m totally honest, in our modern society, in our modern culture where this idea is not popular, when I read other Christians writing about these verses and trying to argue that there’s not a male headship in marriage and wives shouldn’t submit to their husbands. If I’m totally honest, my opinion is that someone is consciously and deliberately rebelling against what the Bible teaches. And that’s very strong language. But that’s the conclusion I’ve come to as I prepare for this sermons, as I’ve read this passage. I find it very difficult to read those verses and then to say No, actually, husbands don’t lead their wives and wives don’t submit to their husbands . I think that is a denial of what’s in the text.
When God created Eve, she was called Adams helper. And our instinct when we hear that is to think Wow, that is patronising. Helper is such a patronising title. Adam must be superior to Eve, because Eve is just Adam’s helper, she just helps him and that’s what she does. That’s where our minds go in 2019 culture and society.
But that isn’t how the Bible talks about value. And it isn’t how the Bible talks about dignity. That isn’t how God thinks about value and dignity. To be a helper is such a noble and lofty and glorious title. That is a title that God uses about himself. The Holy Spirit in the New Testament is called the helper. So to be called a helper is such a glorious thing. It’s something that God calls himself. The Holy Spirit is called the helper. And in the same way wives are called to help. There’s this whole topsy turvy understanding in the Bible, where in our culture, we think it’s really important to be number one, and to be the most important and for everyone to serve us. But in the Bible, it’s actually the opposite. Truly, he who serves others will be greatest in the kingdom of heaven. So actually, when God calls Eve and calls wives to be helpers to their husband, that’s a noble calling. That’s a lofty calling. Â That’s a calling to be great in the kingdom of heaven to have significant value or greater value, maybe even than the husband in being a helper.
So, wives, this is what a Ephesians 5 is calling you to, as long as you aren’t being asked to break God’s commands. And as long as you’re not the subject of abuse, I don’t think Ephesians 5 means that wives who are suffering under abusive husbands should stay silent and just submit. I don’t think that and if you’re in that situation today, please speak to someone today. Come and speak to me and I’ll do everything I can to help you in that circumstance. We certainly don’t believe in abusive husbands and abusive relationships and we don’t want women to remain quiet in those abusive relationships. But so long as you’re not being asked to break God’s law, and you’re not being abused, God’s command to you, wives, is to submit to your husband, and that is a noble and glorious and lofty calling. It’s the same calling and work of the Holy Spirit in the world. It’s not an easy calling, as I said earlier. And so wives, you need to pray for help. Ask the Holy Spirit, the helper, to come and help you be a great helper. Wives submit to your husbands.
And then Paul turns his attention to the husbands.
And he says this in verse 25, Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.
Husbands, let me ask you a few questions. Would you die for your wife, if required? Let me ask you what I think is a bigger question husbands, are you daily laying down your life, are you daily giving up your wants and desires to lead your wife in a way that is good for her, in love? Let me ask you this, this is a different question – what decisions have you made recently in your home and in your marriage that you actually made completely for your wife’s good? That was your thinking, you making that decision you said We’re going to do this because that that would do my wife good. I wonder whether you think like that as a husband.
That’s a loving way of thinking towards your wife. How husbands are to lead their wives in love, in sacrificial, limitless, Christ-like love. Â Love that was so great that Jesus Christ gave himself up upon the cross for the church. Christ so loved the church, that He died for us. And so husbands are to love their wives so deeply that they would give everything to build up their wife, to edify their wife, to help their wife.
Husbands, have a look with me at verses 29 where it talks about Jesus Christ nourishing and cherishing the church. He does that as an example to us as husbands. Husbands also should nourish and cherish their wives.
So husbands consider some more questions. How are you nourishing your wife? When I told Rachael I was preaching about nourishing her, she said, Are you going to cook dinner this evening?, which I did. And she said, Can you do it quickly because I’m hungry. But actually nourishing is talking far more about spiritual nourishment. And so husbands have a responsibility to spiritually feed their wives, lead their wives in ways that teach them to be like Christ, to nourish them with the Word of God, to read the Bible together, to nourish them and leading them in prayer, praying with your wife. To nourish them in, in giving them what they need to flourish. Sometimes that means giving them time and space. On some occasions that’s what it means to nourish your wife. Sometimes it means just listening to your wife, all these things that we can do as husbands to nourish our wives. So can we think like that, how can I nourrish my wife this week?
And secondly, we need to cherish our wives. You know, I love Rachael very much. She’s fantastic. She’s beautiful. I’ve been so blessed by having her as a wife. But actually, so often, in my sinfulness. I take it for granted. I go a whole week, and I just think about what a fantastic wife I have and just leave her to get on with it. I mean, that’s terrible, isn’t it? Sorry, Rachel. I need to ask myself, how much do I express how much I cherish her? If you’re a husband, express how much you cherish your wife. Tell her that you love her. And don’t just do it with the I Love You as you go to bed, do it in genuine ways. Now sometimes you see people on Facebook like declaring how much they love their spouse on Facebook. I’m not saying we should do that. I think we should do it to their face. I think we should say I really cherish you and I love you. I’m not saying don’t do it on Facebook, but how often as husbands do we express how much we cherish our wives.
We need to do thoughtful things for our wives. We need to buy flowers. We need to take the bins out. We need to cook dinner and light a candle and do something romantic. Â All these things, whatever your wife loves, do those things because those things express that you cherish your wife.
You’re not just nourishing her with the spiritual good, but you’re also cherishing her by just showing her how much she means to you and how much you love her. Â You need to make decisions in a wife-cherishing way. Sometimes that means you don’t go out with the lads down the pub to have a pint because you need to cherish your wife by giving her time. You know, I don’t cherish the lads. I quite Â like spending time with the lads, but I don’t cherish them. I cherish my wife! Jon isn’t looking happy. Jon, I don’t cherish you, I cherish Rachael.
We need to cherish our wives and actually makes decisions for her good in a cherishing way.
I know I’ve laboured those points but I just want us to leave today. I want husbands to leave going I will nourish and cherish and love my wife like Christ loved the church. And wives to leave going,It says in Scripture, I should submit to my husband. So that’s what I’m going to do.
Here in Ephesians 5, you have marriage at its absolute best. A husband leading his wife, loving her so sacrificially. He’s prepared to lay down his life. He’s nourishing her. He’s cherishing her in every way. And then you have a wife helping him and submitting to his leadership and everything. The husband is going to thrive because he’s got a fantastic helper alongside him, helping him and all that he does, and the wife is going to thrive because she’s being nourished and cherished and loved and cared for and lifted up. Those two people, that marriage, is going to be beautiful and wonderful and amazing if the husband and the wife would only read these commands and live them out.
But the primary reason that the marriage described in Ephesians 5 is beautiful is because it’s a reference, it’s a pointer. It’s a reflection of the greatest love story in all of history. This mystery is profound, that I’m talking about Christ and the church
This is the gospel.This is the good news of Jesus of Christianity, that Jesus, like a perfect, loving husband, loved the church. Â He loved the church with such a love that he laid down his life for her on the cross. If you’re a Christian here this morning, Jesus Christ loved you as part of the church so much that He died on the cross for your sins. He endured agony on your behalf. That was the how much he loved you. He gave everything for you, his love having no limit. There was nothing he was not prepared to do to love you and to save you. And so he went to the cross.
This is a wonderful love story, that Jesus Christ is presented. Just as this perfect, loving husband laying down his life for his wife, Jesus Christ laid down his life for the church. This is the story of the Bible, that every human being every single one of us in this room are rebels. God gave us commands and we rejected God and we rejected his commands. And we committed sins, we did things that were selfish, we did not worship the Lord God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. We did not love one another as ourselves. We were sinful human beings, we were rebels against God. And the Bible says that sin is punishable by death. Those who rebelled against the eternal, life-giving God receive the punishment of death. But Jesus Christ, in love, like a loving husband said, No, I love those people. I care for them. I’m going to go however far I need to go in order to save them. I love them so much that I’m going to come into the world to be a substitute. I do not want the church to die I do not want Christians to die, but rather I will die in their place upon the cross. So that everyone, every single one of us who believe in Jesus Christ for salvation, enter into this relationship with Jesus Christ where he showed his love for us by dying for us upon the cross, we have our sins forgiven, and we enter into eternal life.
This is the greatest love story in all of history. No one has ever loved like Jesus Christ loved. No human being has love, like Jesus Christ loved. None of us in this room love like God loves us.
So, when we look around and we see good marriages in the church, I pray we have wonderful marriages in this church. We’re to see the greatest love story in history, the love of Jesus Christ for the church – that he loved her so much, he laid down his life.
Incidentally, in Jesus’s death upon the cross, Jesus doesn’t just display the love of a husband. He also shows what it means to truly submit. He shows the submission of a wife. That idea isn’t actually in Ephesians, but if you read Philippians 2, it says of Jesus Christ, he was obedient to death. Jesus Christ submitted to God the Father’s commands and plan and was obedient even to death. Jesus Christ is the perfect example of submission
In Luke 24, after the resurrection, Jesus described his crucifixion and he says, The Son of Man had to be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified. That’s just an astonishing sentence. Jesus Christ, the one who created the world, he was there in the beginning, everything that was created was created through Jesus Christ, God, the Son, God, the second person of the Trinity, and Jesus says of himself, I had to be handed over delivered into the hands of sinful men. Â Jesus submitted to those sinful men, which ended up in his crucifixion. You want an example of what it means to submit, even when it’s impossibly difficult to submit, Jesus Christ is where you should look.
So, husbands look to Christ as the example of the way you are to love your wife. He shows the greatest love in all of history. Wives, look to Jesus Christ as the ultimate example of perfect submission.
Husbands love, Wives, submit.
2. Parents & Children
Now, let’s move on to chapter 6. And as I say, I’m going to go through these last the second two points much more quickly. So in in chapter six verses one to four, Paul also calls children to submit to their parents, specifically children are to obey and honour their parents. And I’m not going to spend to long on this section because I’m aware that the kids are next door. Maybe I should have gotten them in here and started talking to them about how their to obey their parents. The parents are nodding.
Maybe one day I’ll do the kids work on these verses.
I want to challenge all of us today. I want to challenge all of us from these verses. How can you honour your parents this week? When was the last time you honoured them? And how can you do it again. We take our parents for granted don’t remember all of them as we should. Even I think once someone leaves the home there should be a sense of honouring our parents and, and trying to bless them and spend as much time as is reasonable with them. So let’s be Christian to honour our parents.
And then I also want to bring a challenge to the Dads here this morning. Your husbands and dads so you’ve got double challenges this morning. That’s Have a look at verse 4, fathers do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Well, that verse is saying if you are a father, you have a responsibility not only to love your wife as Christ, loved the church, but also to raise your children in the discipline and teaching of Jesus Christ the Lord. So, if you’re not teaching your children the Bible, then you’re actually not fulfilling chapter six verse four, you’re not obeying the commands of Scripture. It’s not enough just to hand over your kids on Sunday morning to the kids workers and say, You guys teach my kids and and I’ll bring them back next week so they can learn. No, fathers, you have a responsibility upon you, to discipline your children and to teach them the way the Lord. Read the Bible with them, pray with them, model to them what a Christian life looks like, talk to them often about grace.
Parents sometimes can fall into the trap of always disciplining the children and telling them off. And actually parents need to show them the gospel of grace in the way they parent at times as well. I’m not saying it’s wrong to tell them off, but also model grace in the way you parent them in order to teach them the way of the Lord. When you see Jesus be merciful. You also should be merciful in the way you raise your kids. Be active. This isn’t going to happen passively. If you just go I’m a Christian, I’ve got the Holy Spirit. I’m obviously going to show my children the way of the Lord, that is not going to happen. You need to be active and deliberate in fulfilling Ephesian 6:4, bringing up your children in the instruction of the Lord.
I’ve no idea how hard that is, by the way. So I’m speaking purely on Paul’s authority, on God’s authority from the Word of God. So apologies for that challenge. But it’s there in scripture.
3. Employers and Employees
Finally in verses five tonight in chapter six, Paul talks about servants and masters.
I don’t have time this morning to fully answer the question, is the Bible pro slavery? Have you ever had that conversation with non Christians or even Christians who say because of passages like this, God must be pro slavery. And I think there’s a pretty strong case, to say that the Bible is not pro slavery. God is not pro slavery. There’s another story that happens a few books on in the Bible in the book of Philemon, where Paul is writing to Philemon and he’s writing about a slave who’s run away called Onesimus.
Paul says to Philemon to receive Onesimus not as a slave anymore, but receive him as a brother. So, in that very personal example, where Paul actually knows the slave master, he’s able to say to him, Don’t keep him as a slave. He’s now a Christian, you treat him as a brother. So he essentially is active in trying to free Onesimus from slavery so that he can live as a Christian. So, I would say, Paul and the Bible is anti slavery and Christians were extremely active in the abolition of slavery in history. But obviously, that’s not a very complete argument. If you want to talk to me about that, do come to me over coffee. I’m happy to chat about that.
I will say this. Here, in Ephesians 6, Paul is writing instructions to a whole bunch of Christians in Ephesus, and he knows that some of them are servants. That is their occupation. That is their job, their current status. And so Paul needs to instruct them and teach them how to live as a servant. This is your current lot in life. This is how you need to act, this is what you need to do. So I don’t think Paul is advocating slavery. He
s simply saying I need to instruct these people and how to live in their current circumstances.
And I think what he tells them, it’s kind of crazy actually. He could have written saying, Ignore your masters, slavery’s terrible, slavery is awful. So, you need to rebel as much as possible. Instead hes saying, Bond servants, obey your earthly masters. Don’t be rebels to your earthly masters, but obey them, submit to them, follow them respects their authority.
I think we can quite fairly take these verses and apply them to our work life.
Just as a servants job was to serve their master, so many of us are in jobs where we have bosses, and it’s our job to do the will of our bosses in our job. And so if you’re an employee and a Christian here this morning, God wants you to be obedient to your boss (verse 5). He wants you to genuinely work hard in your job, not just when your boss is watching you Â (verse 6). Â We’re not to work just as people pleasers, but we’re to work as if we’re working for the Lord. And the Lord is always there. whatever circumstances. I don’t know about you, but when my boss is out of the office, the team work ethic drops significantly, but Christians should be not like that. Christians have to work even harder when the boss isn’t watching.
And most importantly, and most of all (verse seven) God wants you to work and serve as if your boss was the Lord God, not man. So again, as long as your boss isn’t telling you to do something that breaks God’s law, when he speaks and gives you instructions and telling you what to do in your job, you’re to act as if God Himself was speaking to you. That’s how important it is that you submit to his authority. This is a very strong instruction from Paul in Ephesians 6.
In 1985, there was a German sociologist called Max Weber. And he spoke about something called the Protestant work ethic. And his argument, I think was wrong. But his argument was the Reformation and Protestantism, Protestant Christianity created capitalism in the world. That was his argument. And I’m not sure he’s right historically, but he has highlighted something very, very important. Christians, Protestants who read and believe the Bible and try to live it out, should have something called the Protestant work ethic. We should be hard workers we should be very honouring to our bosses. We should stand out in the workplace for how well we submit to authority. I wonder whether that your bosses, if your boss was here today, I wonder how they would talk about you. I wonder what the conversation would be like over coffee about what I’m preaching at the moment? Would they say Yes, you are someone who has the Protestant work ethic. You are someone who works even harder when I’m not looking. You are someone who obeys my instructions when I give them.
Let me finish again with the application of this sermon. Just as Jesus Christ showed ultimate submission to the Father’s Will, and even to the sinful men who crucified Him, so Christians should be submissive. Those who are full of the Spirit, should submit to one another, and submit to authority on the earth.
In particular, we need to live this out within our marriages. So wives submit to your husband’s as to the Lord. We need to live this out in our families, so children, honour your father and your mother and, fathers teach your children the way of the Lord. And we live this out in our workplaces. So employees, submit to your bosses, honour them, and obey them as if when they speak it is God himself who is speaking to you. Because all of this pleases God, and ultimately points to the truth of the gospel. When we live in love, we’re showing the world Christ loves. When we submit, we’re showing the world that Christ was the ultimately submissive example. Even though he was king of the universe, he was also prepared to lay down his life in submission.
And we live out these things that feel quite heavy instructions and quite a difficult things to do. And yet when we do, we’re reflecting the glorious gospel. These are instructions not given to people in order they might earn their salvation. These are instructions given to children of the king, those who have already received salvation from Jesus Christ. So, let’s go from this room, submit to one another, to live out these instructions as God has given them, even if they are countercultural, and very different from the way the world thinks and talks. And because it’s so different. I want to lead us in prayer. Come would you stand up. I’m going to pray for us. We need the help of the Holy Spirit to help us.
Holy Spirit, come and fill us now I pray. Come Holy Spirit now that we might speak to one another and sing to one another in songs, that we might be full of thanksgiving that we might make melody to you in our heart, but also that we might submit to one another. Lord, I pray for the wives in the room. Lord, I pray you would give them the spirit of submission to honour what you say in your word, even though it’s sometimes very, very difficult submit to our husbands help them I pray.
I pray for us husbands too, Lord. May we love like Christ loved the church. Give us a greater love than ever before that we might nourish and cherish our wives like never before.
Lord, forgive us for the times that we haven’t done that and raise us up to greater heights of love and submission according to your instructions in Ephesians 5. We pray for the children in the church, may they be obedient to their parents and honour their fathers and mothers come. May we honour our fathers and mothers.
And I want to pray for the workplace as well. And I pray that each and every one of us who are employed, would shine as a light in the workplace would excel by working hard and submitting to authority as is right according to your instructions. Lord, I know my heart kind of rebels against some of this stuff. I don’t want to submit, I want to be powerful and great and mighty, would you break that in my heart? And would you break that in all of our hearts, that we wouldn’t chase power, but rather we would seek to have a submissive heart and a submissive attitude, just as Jesus Christ was so submissive in all that he did. He is our Lord. He’s our leader. And yet he also showed us what submission truly really looks like. And so we thank You Jesus Christ for that. Come Holy Spirit fill us as we sing now. In Jesus name, amen.