- Sacrificial Love (verse 25)
- Sanctifying Love (verses 26-27)
- Symmetrical Love (verses 28-33)
Now let me make you welcome to our Bible reading tonight, here in the Iron Hall - it's great to see you all out with us, thank you for coming and may the Lord bless you for making the effort to come around His word this evening. Ephesians chapter 5, Ephesians 5 and this is our 25th study in the book of Ephesians - and this is, as it were, a sub-series within the whole study of the book. And what I mean by that is that in chapter 5 we are beginning to look at 'Christ in the Home' - or at least that is what I have entitled it - in other words: the impact that Christ has upon the family relationship and upon the home. Now this is not some philosophical, religious ethic that just changes the mind and spirit, but it actually changes relationships - it comes into the very heart of life itself, the family, and it has an awesome impact upon a relationship between a man and a woman, a husband and a wife, and between a parent and a child, and as we'll see in later weeks between the master and the slave. There is a sphere of influence that Christ has, and if we fail to recognise that Christ Jesus, the Lord, influences everything when He comes into the life we have failed to realise what this great Christian life really is - it impacts everything, it should change everything. So we're looking at 'Christ in the Home', and we looked last week at the Christian wife and we had a little bit of time also looking at how the wife relates to the Christian husband, and this week we're going to look specifically at the Christian husband - but the wives have something to listen to as well this week!
But we'll begin our reading at verse 25, that is where our study begins - but we'll read from verse 22 to get the whole context: "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour" - we saw that that word could be translated 'preserver' - "of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband".
'The Christian Husband' - the key verse in this passage, as in many of our passages there has been a key verse and it's important that we notice them to interpret the passage, the key verse this week is verse 31 I believe. Look at it: 'For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh' - I beg your pardon, 32 is the key verse - 'This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church'. And those two verses together form the key that we have here in this whole passage, verse 31: the relationship between a man and a woman, two separate entities, two individuals who have been brought together and begun to love one another, and are united in marriage and become one flesh. Now that's all that verse 31 says, it's purely speaking of the marriage relationship, and indeed it's a quotation from the book of Genesis chapter 2 and verse 24 - and the point is 'one flesh' as God ordained it in the beginning, as God made it, a man and a woman come together, are married and become one flesh. But the dual purpose of the passage, and the dual key of it is found in verse 32: 'This is a great mystery', Paul says, 'but I speak concerning Christ and the church'. So in verse 31 he speaks of one flesh, the marriage relationship; and then in verse 32 he says, 'But this is a profound, a great mystery, for I speak concerning Christ and the church'.
So the keys to the passage are verse 31 and 32, and from it we see there is a dual purpose in the passage. It's as if there are two spheres that are entwined together, uniquely, as one; there are two themes, two purposes - but Paul brings them all together into one thing, one entity. Of course the passage speaks of marriage, and if we were to define marriage we would say, at least, that it's fourfold. First of all an emotional relationship, as we read in the book of Genesis - and it's important always to go to that book of beginnings to find the definitions of life - and there we have that it is an emotional union: you remember God looked at His creation and He saw that all was good, but yet He said this: 'It is not good that a man should be alone' - and so He created Eve, a help-meet for Adam, so there is an emotional relationship there that marriage fulfils. And then we could define it, secondly, as being a social relationship - it meets all social needs: it continues the race, it populates the world...and Adam was told, 'Be fruitful and multiply' - that is one of the reasons for the marriage union. So it's emotional, it's social, and then thirdly it's physical. It is the relationship that God has ordained whereby we fulfil the natural, physical desires that are given to us by God, the sexual urges and appetites that God has put within us and created within us - that is God's ideal, ordained by Him for that purpose.
But fourthly, and primarily given to us in this passage this evening, it's not only the emotional need that is met by marriage, and the social and physical - but Paul speaks specifically of the spiritual need. This union, this marital union meets a spiritual need and it has a spiritual purpose. And Paul is saying to us all in this century, this evil century that we have now entered into, we must not fail to recognise that marriage is a spiritual thing. It's not a legal thing alone, it's not only something in the eyes of the state, or even in the eyes of the church, it's not a cultural thing, it's not simply a relational thing of convenience - but this marriage union, whereby a man and a woman become one flesh, is spiritual. And even the most physical aspect of marriage, when the two physical bodies become one flesh, that itself entails a spiritual act. I believe, personally, that in that act there is an exchange of the soul. That is why, I believe, that God abhors the sins of fornication, adultery, and all the perversions of His own ideal. And that is what this world, that is dying and breathing its last breath in depravity, has failed to recognise: that when a man or a woman unite outside the marriage relationship they are exchanging souls, they're going into a deep relationship of personality with one another - and the one-night-stand makes a mockery of God's ideal! You are playing spiritual 'Russian roulette', it is an abomination to God! You've heard the expression 'soul mates', and I believe that that is a well founded expression - it is the deepest knowledge that two human beings can have of one another, and that is why God abhors and abominates any perversion of His plan and His ideal.
Now, if the previous verse that we studied in-depth last week, verse 22, was on its own it would be very unfair to all the sisters in the Assembly here tonight! But it's not, it's not on its own, but it gives with it a high standard of the husband - there's not only something expected of the wife, but indeed I believe there's a higher standard expected of the husband, God's appointed head in the home. And you can get no higher standard, for the standard that is given is the standard of Christ! The illustration that is given by the Holy Spirit through Paul, is that the marriage relationship should operate just like Christ and the church operate together. Now, as we enter into this study, just as last week, we need to note the balance, we need to understand that husbands - in the light of what we studied last week - are not to keep their wives in subjection alone. Wives are to be subject to their husbands, they are to obey their husband in the Lord, they are to recognise their husband as the head of the home - but the husband is not to lord it over the wife, he is not to keep his wife in subjection. But the other side of the coin to her subjection to her husband, is the great love of God in Christ reflected in her husband - what a high standard! It's remarkable! You can't get a higher standard - morally speaking, spiritually speaking - for this man, this husband, to represent the love of Christ in his marriage.
The man said it well when he said: 'No wife would mind being subject to a husband who loves her as Christ loves the church', isn't that right? There'd be no problem, ladies, would there? It would be no problem to do what your husband said if he loved you as Christ loved the church, because you'd know that in the depths of his decisions, in the depths of his wisdom, was a love like Christ's love and a wisdom like Christ's wisdom. A man on one occasion feared that he loved his wife too much, and a spiritual man counselled him and asked him if his love for his wife was more than the love of Christ for the church. Isn't that the point? That wise spiritual man told him: 'Only when you go beyond that love are you loving your wife too much!'. In other words you can't love your wife too much! Because you can never exceed and you can never - as we begin we need to realise - you can never, ever meet that love wherewith Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it.
Within this passage of Scripture our Lord's love for His church is presented in three wonderful parts. The movements within this whole song of love, if you like, incorporate the past, Christ's love for us in the past. Then we have Christ's love in the present, and then eventually His love for His church in the future. This love of Christ that we find here is to be reflected - and this is Paul's point - His love must be reflected in marriage. So what are the ways in which that love must be reflected? The first way is found on your sheet, your first point: it is a sacrificial love. Verse 25: 'Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it' - now that's the past, isn't it? That is the past, the previous aspect in Christ's love: He gave Himself. Love your wife as Christ loved the church and gave Himself. We're talking about the atonement, we are on holy ground, we're talking about the ransom payment, the purchase price, indeed the greatest price ever paid in love to purchase any bride. When you go into the book of Genesis you find there Adam lying, and God puts a deep sleep over him, and God thrusts His hand into his side and takes forth a rib from Adam and with it He makes a wife, Eve. And we have a holy parallel at Calvary, for God thrusts His hand into the side of His own Son and brings out, by precious blood, a people unto Himself - isn't that beautiful? Brings out a wife, a holy bride, from the death of Christ, from the blood of Christ, from that great price wherewith we are bought, for we are not our own, we are bought with the precious blood of the Lord Jesus, as a lamb without blemish and without spot. And that is the past love that Paul is giving husbands as an example of how we ought to love our wives - what a price, what a love, what a giving of self! And that's the point: give yourself! For God so loved the world that He gave!
Do you give yourself for your wife? For that's what a husband is to do, he's to give himself. You see, this is radical. Of course, to women's lib today and to a modern politically correct society that we live in, this is old-hat, it's Victorian, puritanical stuff that we're talking about. But in the world which Paul was in, and the world that the Holy Spirit was inspiring these words to, this was radical, this was revolutionary! It was never heard of before, and people didn't want it - and I'm talking about the establishment, the academia, they couldn't handle it! Indeed, if you look at the way marriage was held in the pagan world you find a few home truths. If you look at Demothnases (sp?) he said this: 'We have prostitutes for the sake of pleasure. We have concubines for the sake of daily co-habitation. We have wives for the purpose of having children legitimately, and of having a faithful guardian for all our household affairs'. Zenophon (sp?) said - and it was his belief that this should be the husband's aim that a wife should do: 'The wife might see as little as possible and ask as little as possible' - that's what a wife was to be! To see as little as possible in the home and to ask as little as possible. Socrates, you know him, you've heard great things about him, this is what he said: 'Is there anyone to whom you entrust more serious matters than to your wife? And is there anyone to whom you talk less?'. One writer tells us that the ancient pagan man breathed adultery - that's not an exaggeration, he breathed it, he sweat it, he lived adultery! The marriage bond was virtually meaningless, it didn't mean anything at all!
We may assume from the Old Testament that the Jews had a better view of marriage, except of course in our Lord's day - when He walked upon the earth there was the ultra-liberal Jews who didn't have a terribly superior view of marriage than these old pagan reprobates. Of course there was the school of Helel (sp?) and he believed, that Rabbi, that you could divorce your wife for almost anything - even if she burnt the dinner you could divorce your wife! And he was very popular, as you can imagine - everybody was joining his school! But that was even the Jewish view of marriage, it had fallen into disrepute, it wasn't looked upon in any sacred way. And to that backdrop you can imagine what it was for Paul the apostle to come and say: 'Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church', imagine! Imagine the impact, the explosiveness of what that meant to those people - to love as Christ loved the church? If you think that it had an impact then, you better believe that it has an impact now! That in our world, and even in the church, to love your wife as Christ loved the church - you feel the impact, husbands, when you hear that, don't you? It's a hard - in fact it's an impossible thing to do, yet we are to strive after it and try our best by the Spirit of God to love them, to give ourselves for them.
It's a sacrificial love and a sacrificial love is simply a selfless love, isn't it? That's what sacrificial means, to lay your life down - and it's selfless. I believe that this is primarily, in the light of Scripture, the reason for much marital failure today: there is a lack of selflessness. They go into marriage deciding what they're going to get when they divorce, before they've even tied the knot! There's no selflessness in it any more. And even within the church there is little selflessness, isn't there? There's little sacrificial love, like Jacob for Rachel - you remember, he sacrificially worked 14 years to win her. He didn't care for that other seven years after he was done out of his bride, he went on the extra seven, because true christian, godly, holy love seeketh not her own - isn't that Paul says? 1 Corinthians 13, go down the definition of love - you don't seek your own, it's not a selfish love, it is a love that is sacrificial, which is a love that is willing to pay the price. You hear the men say: 'I'd die for my wife' (maybe you don't hear too many of them say it - but sometimes, maybe in a fit of excitement, or delirium, they shout: 'I would die for my wife'!) - isn't that right? But how many husbands die daily for their wife? I would hope most of us probably would die for our wives if it came to the bit in a situation - but dying daily is a different thing, isn't it? To be selfless for our wives, to pay the price of what it means to love as Christ loved the church - 'as Christ', let those words sink into your psyche, 'as Christ'!
Philippians 2 gives us a perfect illustration: He thought it not something to be grasped, but He made Himself of no - not 'low', 'no' - reputation, He humbled Himself, He became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Now, how many marriage guidance counsellors would set down in their first lesson Philippians chapter 2 and say: 'Now men look, that's your standard, that's what you've to live by'? That's too high a standard, why would Paul even make such a comparison? Paul makes the comparison because that's what's needed! A selfless, sacrificial love, a love like Christ's great love where:
'Out of the ivory palaces,
And into a world of woe.
Only His great eternal love
Made my Saviour go!'
Was His love not a special love? For I hope all of you are united already to your wife if you're married, that's the case isn't it? You're already united! But He was not united with His bride, He loved her when she would not receive Him, He loved her - while we were yet sinners Christ died for us! How many of us love a person when they don't love us back? How many of us love a person when they rebuke us, disdain us, detest us? How many would love if they crucified us? But He loved the unlovely, and there's sometimes we're unlovely, but we're to love nevertheless.
His love's selfless and special, it's also a satisfying love, for He sees of the travail of His soul - Isaiah says - He sees what His great love at Calvary wrought when people come to Him, when His sheep hear His voice and follow Him He is satisfied. You remember when He brought that sheep home, the great rejoicing there was: 'The sheep I've lost has come home!' - and His love is a satisfying love. Can you imagine how the Lord felt when He saw a mother clutching the child who had just been given life again? Imagine that! How satisfying His love was! And if you give love in the marriage relationship, men, it will satisfy - if you give anything, indeed, the word of God says you will receive good measure, shaken together, pressed down and running over! Do you see what's coming through here? Christ's love is selfless, it's special, and in turn it is satisfying - but the point is: it is never, ever selfish. Never!
We could say it's a protective love. It's protective, it's never thoughtless or careless with the one He loves. He possessed the ability to foresee, didn't He - the Lord - into the future, He knew what we would need, He knew the grace that we would need for the trials that we go through, He knew the equipment that we would need spiritually speaking to live in this adulterous generation and to come through to heaven eventually. He knew, and He looked forward and He was able to protect us from these things. You remember He was out preaching and there was 5000 people all around Him, and He knew that they needed fed, and He protected them and fed them. Out in the storm, there He was, and His disciples thought they weren't being protected and they shook Him awake, 'Master, carest Thou not that we perish?' - and He woke and He stilled the storm! And He's still stilling storms, praise the Lord! He protected His own sheep. He went to Simon, He could see that he was going to betray Him, but He could see that he was going to need help to get through it all: 'Simon, Simon, Satan hath desired to sift thee like wheat, to have thee - but I have prayed for thee'. He protects, that's His love, that's the nature of it! In the Old Testament He sent the ravens for old Elijah, didn't He? He sent an old fish for Jonah to protect him, to stop him getting drowned He sent it. And this is the miracle: that that protective love of God in Christ is the love, men, that you're to have for your wives! It's unbelievable, isn't it?
It's a protective love, it's a provisional love. It provides things, doesn't it? Paul says to husbands in 1 Thessalonians 3 and verse 10: 'If any would not work' - notice it doesn't say 'could not work', this is a matter of the will, not predicament - 'If anyone will not work, neither should he eat'. Husbands have got to provide, as far as they can they've got to provide for their wives materially speaking - and Paul taught that to meet the need, the Lord Jesus Christ for the church give up all that He possessed. He knew they needed to be reconciled, so He went to the cross to provide for them, the sacrificial Lamb being Himself, to shed His blood for His own people. He knew they needed an advocate in heaven to represent them before the bar of justice, and He went to heaven and He represents us now at the right hand of God as our Great High Priest! It's a provisional love for He's praying for us at this very minute, in John 17 before He left this scene of time He prayed for us, and He hasn't stopped praying since. And men, if we're going to be the husbands God wants us to be we need to pray for our wives, as Christ prayed for the church. We need to pray for our families, our children, our mothers and fathers, the whole gamut of the family - because Christ loved His church like that!
His love is a present love - and what I mean by that is: Christ is with His bride. He's present with us, isn't He? That's the whole point - we wouldn't want to meet like this if Christ is not in our midst. But how many husbands can say they're present with their wife? It's like the couple that were sitting watching television in the living-room on the settee. And there was a gas explosion, and the settee went out the window and them along with it, and they were left sitting on the front lawn. And the woman started crying, and the husband says: 'What are you crying about? It's not a time to be crying!'. She said: 'I'm so happy, for it's the first time I've been out in years'! Isn't that what some of our marriages are like? Christ is present with us, He is present with us - and we need to be present, we need to spend time with our loved ones!
And here's the great climax of Christ's sacrificial love for us: it's a faithful love! 'My sheep hear my voice and they follow me, and I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish. No man shall pluck them out of my hand, neither shall any man pluck them out of my Father's hand' - it's a faithful love. And if we are to be faithful, as our Bridegroom is faithful to His church we must be faithful as husbands. Old Jeremy Taylor said: 'Faith is unspotted chastity' - that's what faithfulness is! To be chaste! He goes on to say: 'That is the marriage ring' - you know, the old Puritans didn't believe in marriage rings because they believed that your word should be your bond, and your faithfulness should be the marriage ring that speaks that you are another's! He says: 'It ties' - that chastity ties - 'two hearts by an eternal band. It is like the cherubim's flaming sword set for the guard of Paradise'. Husbands, how chaste are we? How chaste are we in our minds and our eyes?
This is a sacrificial love - we could finish at that and we'd all fail, isn't that right? But secondly, it's a sanctifying love. Paul says this in verse 26 and verse 27: 'That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish'. This is the Lord's love presently, not the past love, but how He is loving the church at this moment. And His love is manifest to His church in sanctification, in holiness, giving the power and the ability and the grace to live a holy life down here on earth. F. W. Grant translates this verse like this: 'That he might sanctify it, cleansing it by the washing of water by the word' - that's how He sanctifies it, by the washing of the word. In Palestine, before a bride was married, before she went to the ceremony, she passed through the ceremonial purifying waters. She was made clean before she united with her husband. And the word that Paul is trying to get across here is 'sanctify'. We are, as husbands, to sanctify our wives, as Christ at this moment is sanctifying His church.
Now 'sanctify' is the same idea as 'holy' - it means 'to set apart'. And in marriage the husband is set apart for the wife, and the wife is set apart for the husband - and any interference with that setting apart is sin! Of course, the church has been set apart positionally, hasn't she? She is already sanctified in that she is in Christ, and we are blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, but she day by day is being sanctified, and we individually, practically speaking. It's a process, a moral and spiritual preparation getting more accentuated until the day that we actually come and see the Lord face-to-face, and we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is. It's like Esther chapter 2 and verses 12 to 16, before she was presented to King Ahasuerus she underwent a one year course of beauty treatment before she was prepared to meet her King. The process of sanctification within Christ's church is created by the washing of water - now that's the washing of the word, that's not speaking, at least I don't believe it's speaking about baptism or anything like that - it's speaking about the word of God, simply your life being washed and cleansed when you hear the words of our Lord and you obey them. Sure, He said that - John 15:3 'Now you are clean', He told the disciples, 'through the word which I have spoken unto you'. John 17:17, He prays to the Father for us: 'Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth'. And just as the blood of the Saviour cleanses us from guilt and from the consequences of sin, the water of the word of God cleanses us continually from the defilement and from the pollution of sin. The Psalmist asked, the young Psalmist in his mind at least asked the question - 119: 'How shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to thy word', 'Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee' - and it's this cleansing influence of the word of God that is continually sanctifying, the church is being bathed and cleansed by the agent of the water of the word of God.
So, here comes the other sphere, the parallel: therefore husband's love ought to be a cleansing love. It ought to be a sanctifying love, it ought to sanctify his wife and it ought to sanctify himself. And we - think of this - we husbands ought to be the means of our wives sanctification! Now the question is: do we provoke her to anger or do we provoke her to sanctification? In other words: both husband and wife our becoming more and more and more like their Lord Jesus Christ. Are you helping your wife to be more holy? Are you helping her in your attitudes and in your reactions, in your answers and in your behaviour, in your habits? Wives are you helping your husbands be more holy and be more Christ-like, or are you winding him up? You see, the point is: if the lordship of Christ is what marks a marriage, the relationship in the home will be a holy one! It will be one whereby husband and wife together are becoming more holy and are constantly growing in grace as a pair as well as an individual, together as one person, one body, they are becoming more holy. They are being sanctified, for the word of God - as Colossians 3:16 says - the word of Christ dwells in their hearts richly, with all wisdom. They are teaching and admonishing one another in Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs - singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
We don't have time to look at it, but 1 Peter and chapter 3, in verse 1 you find there that the holy life of a saved wife is able to influence, even to conversion, her unholy, unsaved husband. But as you go further down that chapter to verse 7 you find something else - and we will take time to read it. 1 Peter and chapter 3 and verse 7: 'Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with [your wives] according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel' - now note that, ladies: 'unto the weaker vessel', that is not a sexist remark, that is God's word - and that's fact. In the beginning it was Eve that sinned first, and in that she is the weaker vessel, I believe that is one of the reasons that within the local church she is not given a position of leadership. So we have to honour that, not disdain that, we've to honour that fact and protect as the weaker vessel...'and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered'. What an amazing thought: that if our relationship - husbands and wives - is not right with one another in some point, that it could be hindering our prayers!
Verse 27, we must move on. The reason He sanctifies His bride, the church, is: 'That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish'. The church isn't perfect, and our wives aren't perfect either - and I'll pay for that later! But isn't that right? None of us are perfect, and His church isn't perfect - it has spots, it has wrinkles. And spots are defilement that comes from without, from contact with unclean things - it's an outward uncleanness - wrinkles come from decay from within. And because we become defiled by the world and from the flesh within, we need cleansing don't we? We need to be cleansed continually with the word of God - James taught: 'Keep yourselves unspotted from the world' - and the way we do that is through the word of God. As the church is nourished by the word of God those wrinkles and those spots will disappear, and the church will become cleaner, it will become more youthful, more beautiful if we allow the Spirit of God to apply the word of God to our hearts and change us. And the point is: our marriages also will change!
Wives aren't perfect, but they will change when you're a holy husband - that's the point. When you love as Christ loved, when you sanctify as Christ sanctifies, and then one day - and here is the future love - one day in glorification He will present to Himself a holy church, a glorious bride. A. T. Pearson (sp?) said, think of it: 'When the omniscient eye looks upon us at the last day, He will not find anything that is too immaculate for His holiness' - not even a pimple, not a mole on a human face. How incredible that His awesome holiness that we were thinking of yesterday morning will look at us on that day and not find one thing. He will say: 'Thou art all fair, my love, there is no spot in thee'. When He hung upon the cross, and when He was about to die and breathe His last and give up the ghost, surely He looked back at the earliest stages and recalled what was determined by His holy Father. And then, with an exultant cry of relief and joy, He exclaimed: 'It is finished!' - but that was only the finish of the final phase, for there were more phases to come. And there will be a day that is yet to come, when again He will exclaim in triumph as He looks at us, absolutely perfect - and as we are robbed of pain, and robbed of death, and robbed of trial, and every memory of sin is gone - He will say again: 'It is finished!'.
But we must move on. It is a symmetrical love - and what 'symmetrical' means is simply a shape with parts in it that reflect one another if you like. You know if you had a shape on a piece of paper and you put a mirror, you would get a symmetrical image, an identical image, yet it's still one entity. And this is what Paul is saying from verses 28 to 33, that marriage is the uniting of two persons, but they become one entity - but there is this symmetrical relationship. And after he deals with Christ's love for the church, Paul now reminds husbands again that this is your pattern, this is your pattern for living as a Christian husband - you are to imitate the love of Christ for His church. Indeed, he goes on to say, verse 28, you are to love as you love your own body, your own wife. Love your own wife - that's monogamy - love your own wife and love her as yourself! It's interesting the amount of times Paul mentions 'your own wife' and 'love as yourself'. In verse 28, the first part, he says 'his own body', and then in verse 28 the second part he says 'himself'. In verse 33 he says 'himself' again, verse 29 he says 'his own flesh' - and the point is, when two become one flesh in union, the husband loves his wife if he loves himself because he is one person with her! Do you understand? Two have become one, and if he doesn't love his wife he's not loving himself!
It's the golden rule of life, and indeed it's the golden rule of marriage too: 'Love your wife as yourself'. The Lord said, 'Love thy neighbour as thyself', 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you' - but this is what it is in marriage: 'Love your wife as yourself'. This is the self love that is permitted within the word of God, and just as we have found already in chapter 4 and verse 16 of this epistle that love is the circulatory system of the church of Jesus Christ, it's what fits it all together and keeps it together as the body of Christ - so love keeps the body of husband and wife together in the home. There should never be the cry from a Christian home: 'I'm starved of love'! Because if you're loving your wife as Christ loved the church, and if the wife is reverencing her husband that should never be - if there's a submitting to the lordship of Christ all will be well! And this is a symmetrical love in that it is mutually satisfying; each party is to satisfy the other. You're not to seek your own! It's a man loving his wife, and he does it and he is loving himself, and if he is loving himself of course he will be satisfied emotionally, socially, physically and spiritually - and there'll be no temptation for him to look elsewhere for fulfilment!
In verse 29 he is to nourish. And the word 'to nourish' has the sense of 'to mature'. And the man, every man and every woman, has the instinct to care for their body, to nourish - that's inward feeding - and to cherish, that's outward, to keep warm and safe. And you feed your body, you clothe your body, you bathe it, you protect it from discomfort, pain and harm - and your survival depends on it - and that is what Christ did for His church! That is what we as husbands are to do for our wives. Now imagine this, our time has gone, but imagine this folks: our marriage home is to be an illustration of the great drama of the ages. Imagine that! It's to be a representation, an object lesson to the world and to those around us, that this is the great love story of Christ and His church - and it makes marriage a serious thing, as I've said many a time, not to be entered upon lightly or unadvisedly, but with due thought and consideration. Not because you get on with a man, not because you have things in common, not just because he's saved, but because it's God's will!
And in verse 30 and verse 31 and verse 32 we have the climax whereby Paul tells us that this is showing us the representation, this marriage is the mystery. And a mystery, you remember, is something that was hidden and now revealed - it's not something mysterious, but God is now revealing that this is what it's all about! But in verse 33 he comes back to this point, just in case we get carried away with the spiritual mystical church in Christ and forget about our responsibilities in the family - and he comes back and reminds again: wives, reverence your husbands; husbands, love your wives.
Now as we close let's take just one more. Imagine if Christians adhered to this, and if Christian husbands and wives have the Spirit of God - and they do - and have everything that they need to live like this, why are they not living like it now? And the point is further up the chapter that we dealt with a couple of weeks ago, and it's this: one - the problem of marriage is, and always has been, sin; and two - the answer always has been, and always will be, the Lord Jesus Christ. And if the husband and the wife are filled with the Spirit, that's the point, it's in the same chapter - if you're filled with the Spirit it's the answer to marriage, it's the answer to the home, it's the answer to revival, it's the answer to everything! It is such a home as this, and only this, that will commend the preaching of the Gospel from that pulpit and in your life.
Our Father, we hail the day that we will stand before Thee and before Thy Son, and we will stand in white robes of righteousness without spot or wrinkle. Thy bride, bought with the blood of Christ out of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation. And Lord, in the light of that great fact, we pray that husbands will be husbands as Christ, and wives will be wives as the church, and Lord, that we will do all things in our homes to the glory of God. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ we pray, Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the twenty fifth tape in his Ephesians series, titled "Christ In The Home Part 2: The Christian Husband" - Transcribed by Preach The Word.
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