Relationships: Marriage

You Don’t Complete Me  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
0 ratings
· 1 view
Our wedding photo- this is the day that Jenna and I both died a second time. That may be a weird way to put it, but when you get saved, you have to really understand you are dying and it’s no longer you who live but Christ who now lives in and through you. But then, if you get married, you, again, have to decide to die to yourself because you no longer belong to yourself but you and your spouse are becoming one body in that moment! This is unfortunately why so many marriages fail, two people enter into a relationship and try to keep being two people- that seek their own will, that feed their own desires, and pursue their own plans. That will simply never work. That is why the Bible has such clear and strong language for what the relationship of a husband and wife is supposed to look like!
Today, it is safe to say that marriage and families are some of the most criticized and redefined ideas in our culture. The definitions of gender, marriage, and families, are all constantly under attack in our world. And it makes sense- From the very beginning, like we talked about 2 weeks ago, God created humanity, male and female- uniquely- to bear God’s image to the world through relationships. God’s relationship with Israel was talked about all throughout the OT like a family and specifically a marriage. Jesus came and made it clear that through Him the family of God was open to everyone- male and female, Jew and Gentile. Then we see Jesus call the church His bride and one day he will return for His bride- the church full of His followers! God’s work has always been done on earth through relationships- males and females bearing His image as a community of families and marriages! So, we cannot get this confused- we are not living in a culture war, this isn’t just about language or social constructs- no, this is a spiritual battle. As Martin Luther once said-
There is no estate to which Satan is more opposed as to marriage.
Martin Luther
So then, even if you aren’t thinking about marriage any time soon, or maybe you even already think God is calling you to remain single in your life- either way as a Christian you need to know and trust God’s design for marriage, so that you don’t fall for any of the lies of our world that tries to twist and corrupt God’s good designs for marriage and family!
Tonight, we will be in Ephesians 5 if you have your bible you can start to turn there!
As you do we need some context. We are jumping into the middle of a thought from Paul as he is writing to the church in Ephesus. He is specifically talking to them about life in the Church as Christians and how we should live differently, treat each other differently, and worship differently when we are followers of Jesus! Leading up the verse 21, where we will be picking up, Paul has been teaching them to walk in the Spirit as Christians in the church and that their community of Christians should live in unity and purity together. And he then finishes by telling them to worship together, giving thanks to God and submitting to one another in the fear of Christ. That’s the phrase we will be picking up with tonight. And to be clear- in the fear of Christ doesn’t mean we are meant to be scared of Jesus- but rather that we recognize his holiness, perfection, and authority as Lord and God and so we respect and obey Him with our lives! That’s the idea of reverence and the fear of God!
So, with all that in mind, let’s jump in at verse 21!
Ephesians 5:21–33 (CSB)
submitting to one another in the fear of Christ.
Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord, because the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of the body. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives are to submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word. He did this to present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and blameless. In the same way, husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hates his own flesh but provides and cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, since we are members of his body. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This mystery is profound, but I am talking about Christ and the church. To sum up, each one of you is to love his wife as himself, and the wife is to respect her husband.
Hopefully you caught a consistent theme in that passage. It applies in and outside of marriage.
As Christians, we are able to submit to one another.
Like we already said, in verse 21, Paul in clear that all believers are meant to submit to each other in the Church.
By the power of God’s Holy Spirit at work in us, the church is meant to be a place of mutual submission for the sake of God’s Kingdom!
What does this mean?
Submission is an interesting word.
Tony Merida puts it this way:
The word submit [ὑποτάσσω] means “to arrange under.” It was used in the military to refer to the subordination of soldiers in an army to those of a superior rank (O’Brien, Ephesians, 399). Good soldiers surrender control. They turn loose of their selfish agendas and live in submission and for the good of others. So it is with the Christian. - Tony Merida
We are able, in Jesus and by the power of His Spirit in us, to give up our own personal and selfish desires for the sake of God’s Kingdom moving forward in and through God’s people. Together, we are meant to bear God’s image to the world and go make disciples- this cannot happen if we are all competing for control, recognition, or status. So, the people of Jesus are called to submit to each other, rather than compete against one another! That is the collaborative nature of God’s Kingdom!
Theologian John Stott said it this way:
The Holy Spirit is a humble Spirit, and those who are truly filled with him always display the meekness and gentleness of Christ. It is one of their most evident characteristics that they submit to one another. - John Stott
So, this is a heart that is meant to be in all Christians, therefore it makes sense that Paul instructs husbands and wives to submit to one another.
Now, after Paul clearly sets up this expectation for all believers he goes into the dynamics of a husband and wife relationship and how submission should work in that context.
2. Husbands and wives must submit to each other to experience marriage as God designed them to.
To be clear, this isn’t an opinion or a good idea, this is a command. First, that we each submit to each other and then Paul breaks down each direction.
Let’s lay out the commands for both the husband and the wife.
First, Wife- submit to and respect her husband as the head of the marriage and family. Verses 22-24 are clear- wives are meant to have a relationship of submission to their husbands just as the Church submits to Christ as it’s head!
This is where that phrase headship comes from- that Christ is the head of the church and husbands are the head of their wife.
What’s crazy is out of this whole passage there are just 4 short verses that focus on the wife’s responsibilities. Now, that’s not because she is less important or carries less weight in the marriage. No, it comes down to one thing- if the husband is actually a Christ-like head of the marriage then it makes the wife’s role very straightforward. So, let’s look at what is commanded of the husband and we’ll come back to the wife ok?
The Husband- submit to, love, lead, provide for, give himself for his wife.
Reading through that passage we see Paul map on the roles to Jesus and the Church. Just as the church is submitted to Jesus as it’s head, so too wives should submit to their husband as the head. And, as Jesus is the head of the church husbands are to be the head of their wife.
But what does that entail? Well, how was Jesus head of the church? Paul lists off a few things: Jesus’ leadership of the Church: He loved the church (5:25); He sacrificed His own life for her (v. 25); He sanctified her (v. 26); He cleansed her (v. 26); He presented her (v. 27); and He “provides and cares for” the church (v. 29).
That is the example we have to follow as husbands. Now, can you begin to see if a christian man actually lives and leads his family like Jesus, then it begins to make a lot more since that God would say- and women should submit to and respect their husband?
One of the best illustrations I have heard for how this plays out is related to dancing.
How many of you have ever slow danced? OK! That’s inappropriate!
But really, in dancing, especially slow dancing, there has to be someone leading. Someone has to be the one initiating each move along with the music. They are listening to the beat, counting to the music and leading the movements with their partner. Likewise, their partner needs to be paying attention to their lead and following along. Together, if they are working with each other, they can begin flowing across the dance floor in a beautiful movement that goes along perfectly with the music being played.
God has uniquely designed men to lead as the husband and women to follow as the wife. Again, this isn’t about having different value or significance. It’s about having order and working together in a complementary way. They each have equal value, but different roles within marriage.
Now, I get this is all super controversial in our world today. People hear that all and immediately call it sexist and chauvinistic and unfair. And on one hand this is that spiritual battle we talked about earlier, our enemy attacking the basic truths that God designed the world with. But on the other hand, they’re exactly right, If that man isn’t leading like Jesus then yes, it is unfair and it will cause division and injustice and oppression. However, if the man does live and lead and love like Jesus this is a formula for LIFE to flourish between men and women!
When we live according to God’s design we can experience life and bear the fruit that God desires!
In marriage, the husband is designed to lead and love and serve his family, the wife is meant to submit to and respect her husbands leadership.
But, all of this hinges on both husband and wife first submitting to Jesus as Lord individually!
Christians can submit to each other because they first submit to Jesus.
Husbands and wives must submit to each other to experience marriage as God designed them to.
Now, a couple important impacts of viewing marriage this way.
This clearly leaves no room for a Christian to marry a non-christian- that is only a recipe for disaster! Why? Simply put: because they haven’t submitted to Jesus and aren’t full of the Spirit and so CANNOT submit to, love, or respect their spouse like Jesus! That’s the bottom line for that conversation.
This understanding also impacts the way we think about dating. So, let’s quickly talk about that idea since it is so closely tied to marriage.
Dating as we know it today didn’t exist in the Bible, in fact it didn’t exist for most of human history until very recently. But 2 big things for what we’ll loosely call biblical dating. Again, like marriage, a christian should NEVER date a non-christian. Because, as christians, dating should only be focused on determining if that person is the person that God is calling us to marry and do life with. If we date a non-christian That relationship is destined for failure. But even more than that, we need to be careful about dating. The common narrative today is to date around so that you eventually find the right person to marry. But that’s not the right mindset. In fact it’s the opposite. Your goal, if anything, should be to date as few people as possible before marriage. That may sounds crazy but keep two things in mind-
1. Like we talked about last week- your focus shouldn’t be on your relationship but on the Mission of God to reach the lost and make disciples through your life.
2. The more relationships you get into and out of before marriage- the more difficult it will be to submit to one another in marriage. You will be bringing more relational and emotional baggage into your marriage that you will have to work through before you can have a really solid foundation of trust and submission! To be clear, it doesn’t mean that God can’t forgive sins and bring healing to you from dating the wrong people, but you just have to keep in mind that you carry all of that with you INTO your marriage.
So, don’t waste time chasing after a bunch of people to date, focus on the mission and trust that as you follow Jesus and serve him, God will lead you to your spouse at the right time!
As many other pastors have said, keep following Jesus and as you do, look to your side and see who is follow Jesus right there with you that God may be leading you to begin to follow Him together.
Your goal isn’t to find a trophy wife, or rich man, or a perfect spouse. Your goal is follow Jesus and serve him with your life and passions and gifts- and trust God to lead you to the right person that will serve Jesus with you like a great teammate!
So, be careful dating, avoid dating many people, and go into very prayerfully and only with the intention of seriously considering marriage together!
All of this becomes a lot easier when you remember this final point:
3. Marriage ultimately points to the Gospel.
As Paul wraps up this powerful passage on marriage he quotes genesis , look at verse 31:
Ephesians 5:31–33 CSB
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This mystery is profound, but I am talking about Christ and the church. To sum up, each one of you is to love his wife as himself, and the wife is to respect her husband.
I love these verses because Paul is being so creative! He is like hey this is all about marriage, and I am talking about the Church and Christ, so husbands and wives submit to a love one another!
As a reader we are like- wait Paul are you talking about marriage or the church? The answer is YES! It’s both.
Ultimately marriage is a powerful picture of the Gospel. Two people who have been saved by Jesus, dying to themselves so that they can submit to and serve one another. Men loving and leading their wives to serve Jesus!
Jesus loved us so much and knew he would have to suffer and die so that we could live! And now we get to submit to Him and experience a good and full life with Him as His church!
Likewise in our relationships with one another, we are called to die to ourselves so that we can submit to one another and experience the good and full life that the Holy Spirit can bring to our relationships.
As Christians, we don’t seek to gain an upper hand in relationships. Instead, we seek to serve and love one another like Jesus. This is true for husbands and wives in marriage, and for all christians and their relationships with others.
Focus on the mission of God and live out this self-sacrificial love towards everyone around you and you will be able to watch God build beautiful communities of love through the church!
And we can let our marriages do that same thing as we love and submit to one another!
All Christian relationships need mutual submission and christlike love in order to bring life to those involved and around them! Let’s have these types of relationships!
Let’s pray!
Like we started with, we can have relationships of real love and submission without the Holy Spirit within us. If you are here tonight and have never turned to Jesus as Lord and been filled by his spirit, you will continue to experience broken relationships because you are lost in your sin and don’t have the Spirit of God in you to lead you in God’s Love! The good news is that God does love you! He loves you so much that He sent Jesus, his one and only son into the world to save you from your sin! He lived a perfect life and died in your place on the cross to pay for your sins. He rose from the grave and said if you will turn away from your sins and follow Him he will forgive you of your sins, bring you into a personal relationship with God and give you the full life of His kingdom forever! If you are here and haven’t ever been saved and need to follow Jesus as Lord, you can tonight. God WANTS YOU to come back to him and He will breathe life in you and all of your relationships! If that’s you, just raise your hand so I can pray with you!
For christians here tonight lets pray for three things.
Ask God to forgive you for any ways you have been selfish or prideful in relationships instead of submissive and loving like Jesus.
Ask the Holy Spirit to continue to grow you in your ability to to submit to other christians and display the love of Jesus in your relationships.
Ask God to help you trust him with your future and give you peace in your singleness right now to live on mission to reach the lost around you!
Related Media
See more
Related Sermons
See more