Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Ephesians 6:14 comments: to stand against the Devil

14  Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

Jesus Christ is the only certain truth. There are different kinds of truth in the world. We know things in different ways. One is by the evidence of our senses. We experience something and think that how we have interpreted what we’ve experienced is true. But, everyone here knows how easily we can be fooled by our senses misinterpreting something. You think you smell something but find out that what you smelled wasn’t what you thought it was. You see optical illusions and are deceived by them.

We think we know truth by the evidence we find. A scientist looks at a fossil or a measurement  on a machine and thinks he knows the truth. But, what he thinks he knows is determined more by his own worldview and preconceived assumptions than by the evidence alone. All of those things work together to give the scientist what he thinks is truth.

We think we know something as true because someone we view as an authority says it is so. It may be a textbook, a teacher, a pastor, or some other person’s ideas. But we assume it is true because they said so. Still, in your heart you know the possibility remains that the person could be lying, deceived themselves, or just mixing truth with their own prejudices and cultural assumptions.

But there is truth we know by faith also. This is the truth that God values as we cannot know by experience or reason everything in the spiritual world. I imagine we’d go mad if we did. We must trust Him. We have a Bible, firsthand accounts, a primary source, a term historians use where God related history to Moses and others who wrote of what they experienced, heard, and saw. We can’t trust our conscience. It can be seared by sin. We can’t trust our reasoning ability. It can be twisted by our own assumptions and bigotry. But, we are called to trust the Bible’s own clear testimony as true. We are to believe the Bible as written to whom it is written and regarding the specific subjects it is written about and then apply them as we can to our own lives in order to live pleasing to God. What the Bible says literally and to whom it is said is its meaning. How we apply it to prophecy, as in future events, and to our own lives is its significance. There are at least three applications of every verse; historical or to whom was it written and when and why, doctrinal or what are the commands given for those people at that particular time and are those rules for us to obey, and spiritual (and practical) or how exactly does a verse apply to you.

As Bible Believers we look at the Bible as written in dispensational order. A dispensation is a way of managing a household. It is how God deals with His people at certain times although dispensations can run through all times. Our hinge point of understanding are the letters that begin with the name, “Paul.” Anything, anywhere in the Bible that does not contradict what is said in those letters is doctrine for the Christian today. But, every single verse has meaning and significance to us in some way. It is all truth but truth applied in a way it was not intended can be turned into a lie.

For instance, a person who sees suffering on a massive scale will look at these verses and watch their faith crumble.

Jeremiah 29:11  For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

God is talking to the Jews about returning to their land from Babylon hundreds of years before Christ. He is not talking to a Navy medical doctor operating on soldiers and marines with limbs blown off in Iraq in 2010. Applying this verse the wrong way, the way it was not intended, doesn’t help you, it hurts you, and it can hurt others.

Taking one verse on a controversial subject to prove a point when the passage it’s found in isn’t specifically about that subject rather than looking at all the verses on a particular topic is confusing. One verse on divorce can make you think a woman is never permitted to escape the clutches of an adulterous, violent drunkard.

Mark 10:12  And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.

Take all of the verses on divorce to understand the subject. A person reading just this one verse might think that women cannot even offer a testimony or sing in the church meeting.

1Corinthians 14:35  And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

A text without a context is a pretext. Don’t hold the truth in unrighteousness.

An historian approaches any document with two questions; why was it written, one, and why was it preserved, two. We know why the Bible was written, for God to reveal Himself to mankind, His will for our life and for the future. We know why it was preserved, for it to have value to us as a means by which God speaks to our hearts through the words but not always specifically about the words. He may speak to your heart about a completely unrelated subject to what you are reading.

We believe by faith that the Bible we have is true. We believe that God’s words are true. Therefore, because Jesus said it is so, we believe that Jesus Christ is the Truth, the only truth we can depend on that no matter what your interpretation of a verse is or what someone else believes about the Bible He is the Truth.

John 14:6  Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

John 1:17  For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

We must gird ourselves up in the truth of the Bible, trusting in Christ and Christ alone. This is the first part of our armor of offense and defense.

The context of the first part of the second verse being quoted here from Isaiah is putting on the Lord’s righteousness, not our own.

Isaiah 59: 16 ¶  And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him. 17a  For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head…..

You cannot succeed in this battle if you think you are a righteous person and you trust in that righteousness. Put on Christ’s righteousness as a breastplate of defense. A breastplate of faith and love is referred to in 1Thessalonians 5:8.

1Thessalonians 5:8  But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.

Trust, not that you are a good and righteous person but that the Lord Jesus Christ was God in the flesh, the physical image of God, without sin, living and dying in perfect obedience to God the Father, the soul of God, seat of will and self-identity. If you trust in your own goodness you won’t permit Him to save you and you will fall morally. People who trust in their own goodness will take all sorts of risks with sin thinking they can handle the temptations and the moral dangers. They can’t. Many a pastor, teacher, and evangelist has fallen into sexual sin by thinking he was “all that and a bag of chips,” when it came to temptation and doing the right thing. We must all guard against the demands of our flesh, the world system, and the Devil himself.

To stand against him successfully we need the truth of Christ fortifying our core and Christ’s righteousness as armor protecting our heart. There are many, many places in the Bible that talk about our spiritual heart referring to emotions and behavior. We need Christ’s righteousness as a breastplate. A breastplate based on our righteousness would be paper-thin and crumble at the first assault of the enemy. You will not stand long in your own righteousness in the day of battle.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Ephesians 6:10-13 comments: standing against the wiles of the Devil

10 ¶  Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11  Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

The word, “wiles,” we find first in the Old Testament. In the context it is linked to, “beguile.”

Numbers 25:18  For they vex you with their wiles, wherewith they have beguiled you in the matter of Peor, and in the matter of Cozbi, the daughter of a prince of Midian, their sister, which was slain in the day of the plague for Peor’s sake.

The pagan prophet, Balaam, when he realized that he could not oppose God by cursing the Israelites launched upon a different stratagem.

Numbers 31:16  Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD.

Balaam’s trickery was of a sexual nature and this would work well with the Israelites who were easily seduced by the loose morals of the Canaanite women, whose very religion was consumed by sexual misconduct from incest to bestiality. It was a powerful temptation then as it is today.

The only way to stand against Satan’s cunning and trickery is to put on the whole armor of God. This is our defense and our offense against Satan’s deceptions. God reveals his power and strength through all of the weapons of defense and offense He has given us. Remember what we are fighting against in reality. It is not the gubmint or, “those people.” It is Satan’s effort to destroy our witness for Christ, the pull of our flesh, and the demands of the world system to adore it rather than Christ.

2 Corinthians 10:3  For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4  (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5  Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 6  And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.

12  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

The location of Satan’s power, as he is called the prince of the power of the air, in Ephesians 2:2, is above us. The powers in this verse are not physical powers but spiritual.  The spiritual wickedness spoken of here, said not to be flesh and blood, is not necessarily in palaces and government buildings, but in the heavens above us, “spiritual wickedness in high places.” The “rulers of the darkness of this world,” are spiritual beings. Remember that, in the beginning darkness covered everything.

Genesis 1:2  And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

 God called the Light to reveal Himself.

Genesis 1:3 ¶  And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

And God divided the Light from the darkness.

Genesis 1:4  And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

The darkness could neither understand nor conquer the Light.

John 1:5 ¶  And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

The Lord Jesus Christ is that Light.

John 1:6  There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7  The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. 8  He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9  That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. 10  He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11  He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12  But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13  Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

These clear references to the physical universe are also allegories for what is going on in the spiritual world we cannot see.

You can resist the government all you like and still be defeated by Satan. You can resist every bad influence, every corrupting influence, and every oppressing influence, stop paying your taxes, destroy your television, and barricade yourself in your house and still be defeated by Satan. The war is not in this dimension of existence. It is in the spirit.

13  Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Again, “the whole armour of God,” is repeated. You cannot fight this fight without every piece of this kit. The Holy Spirit doesn’t repeat things for no reason. You will not be standing at the end of the day of trouble without “having done all.” The list of what you need is coming next.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Ephesians 6:5-9 comments: Employers and Employees

5  Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; 6  Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; 7  With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: 8  Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.

The admonition for servants presumably applies to employees, as well, and since I don’t personally know any bondservants I’m going to apply it that way. Notice that the servant is told to be obedient to their master, “according to the flesh.” Your boss, manager, supervisor, foreman, leadperson, or company owner is not your true head. That is Jesus Christ. You represent Jesus Christ to your saved or unsaved supervisor.

Remember how the wife was to be in submission to her own husband, “as unto the Lord.” Here, the employee is to be in obedience to his or her employer, “as unto Christ.” Now, this presents a quandary in our age of rebellion towards authority (which is really nothing new but has been an underlying trend in Western culture since the Reformation) and hostility between management and labor.

Can you purposefully and singlemindedly give your employer his or her due in the awe and reverence of the Lord? It’s a hard knot to swallow, as are most of the admonitions Paul gives us, and we gladly ignore it like the others because we are carnal, disobedient children of God.

We’re not to do it, just to get by, to stay under the radar, keep a low profile, and all of that, as employees who just want to look good enough to get a raise or a promotion but we are to work for our employer diligently and with dedication.

That being said, should you be working for someone else or should you be working as a self-employed person, a contractor? If you want to be literal Paul gave us instruction to work with our own hands and do our own business.

1Thessalonians 4:11  And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;

And we are told to be diligent about it.                                       

Romans 12:11a  Not slothful in business;

Paul himself was self-employed as a tent-maker.

 Act 18:1 ¶ After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; 2  And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them.

3  And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.

So, my advice to a young Christian would be to seek to learn a trade that would permit you to be as independent as possible, under no man’s authority in employment save your customers. If that is not possible then remember, you represent Christ to your employer and the Holy Spirit speaking through the wisdom He has given to Paul has told you how to regard and treat that employer.

God’s wages are sure and He will respond to your faithful service to your employer, done without bitterness or superficial service. In Colossians Paul expounded on this theme even more clearly.

Colossians 3:22  Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: 23  And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; 24  Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. 25  But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.

9  And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.

Christian employers here are told not to be despots, tinhorn dictators who threaten and bully their workers, remembering that you, too, have a Master, your boss in everyday speech today, who you will answer to, in Heaven. In Colossians again we have a clear command.

Colossians 4:1 ¶  Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.

A Christian employer is constrained to exercise behavior toward his or her employees that is just, right, and fair. He is to treat everyone the same, or equal, with no preferential treatment for any. Cronyism, nepotism, bribes to even get a job, and sexual and physical harassment on the job have been standard in times past particularly after the Industrial Revolution kicked in and people left home en masse to work in factories. Fair pay policies and just treatment of employees are called for, however, with regard to Christian employers.

There are many different theories about what a Christian employer should do with regard to pay. Some say that a Christian employer is only required to pay what is comparable and competitive in his or her industry. So, it’s based on self-interest. What do I need to pay to keep good people? Under that theory the employer’s relationship with the employee does not go beyond the workplace. The employer is not concerned, as an employer, with the employee’s ability to survive physically outside of that.

Others believe that a Christian employer is required to pay what is called a living wage, that is one that can maintain a person in safe housing, decent food, and clothing. This attitude is more comprehensive. This is not possible in some industries or the employer couldn’t stay in business so you have the conflict between paying your employees what they can live on and being able to offer them a job at all.

In the end, whatever the Christian employer feels led to do, he or she must remember that they are answerable to God for their treatment of others, regardless of how much money they give to charity or their church and the question of how much do they really trust God to provide is as applicable to them as it is to their employees.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ephesians 6:4 comments: how not to raise angry children

4  And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Colossians 3:21  Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.

I’ve read repeatedly that the worse type of parenting isn’t too strict or too lenient but inconsistent. If your child doesn’t know what to expect from you at any given moment you’re inconsistent. If father and mother aren’t unified in their parenting they are inconsistent. If your rules change regularly based purely on your whim and mood you are inconsistent. In fact, with regard to basing your disciplining of your child on your mood of the moment, you are a tyrant.

Raising a child in those frustrating circumstances will often lead to bad behavior, anger, resentment, and wrath in the young person.

The contrast here, though, is between provoking your children to wrath and raising them in the Lord’s nurture and admonition. What is the nurture of the Lord? Obviously, it is raising them with a clear and consistent witness from the Scriptures. You, as a parent, look at your child and imagine the kind of adult you want them to be from your understanding of God’s will for their lives in the Bible. Then, you be that person.

Let the child see the example of a Christian father and feed the child, teaching him or her to feed themselves on God’s word. Give them a joy for God’s words because you have that joy, unite with other believers in worship regularly, and live a Godly life before them. Your actions before your child will speak more surely, go deeper in their hearts, and last longer than your words will. God said to Israel;

Deuteronomy 6:4 ¶  Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: 5  And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 6  And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7  And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

The Christian culture in America is evil because it is so superficial. Many children I know who were “raised in church,” saw no power of God in their parents’ lives and saw little but hypocrisy in the church. Adults acted one way in the church building but were completely different in the street.

I’ve heard young people who walked away from their faith express that very thing as being the reason. God doesn’t want you to attend a social club, a conservative society that simply offers your children a “safe” place to be for a couple of hours a week. He wants a living, vital, and Spirit-filled church for your family. Youth groups and children’s ministries cannot substitute for imparting a love for Christ and His words that will sustain your child for life.

Fathers have to be physically available to raise their children. It is not merely the mother’s job to raise children. If you have employment that takes you away from your family for days or weeks at a time I would say to you that financial prosperity is not a substitute for being a parent.

Father’s have to be emotionally available to raise their children. Many Christian fathers are there but yet, not there, either for their wives or their children. The cares of this world, hobbies, and ambition engage their minds and there is no time in their heart life either for God, their wives, or their children unless they can spare a few minutes to say a formula prayer with a child before bread or a few hours on Sunday morning going to church as a duty.

Your hot temper and your fear of the world, the “gubmint,” or “those people,” whomever those people happen to be today is going to express itself in a way that creates an angry, wrathful child and when they leave you. Departing even from the faith with which you raised them they may refer to your fear and paranoia as two of the reasons.

Your temper, Christian fathers, is perhaps your worst parenting fault.

Proverbs 15:18  A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.

Proverbs 16:32  He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.

Proverbs 19:11  The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.

The father is the pastor of the family. It is his duty to bring his children to church, to read the Bible to them daily, to pray with them daily, and to teach them God’s word. If your children only hear God’s word taught when they come to a church meeting you aren’t doing your job. If you raised your children without that and they turned out well then praise God for His mercy not yourself for your irresponsibility.

A Christian father disciplines his child. He does not punish. A Christian father provides boundaries and guidance. He does not simply respond when he’s annoyed or embarrassed. A Christian father sets an example for his child. He never says, “do as I say, not as I do.”

A  Christian father determines what kind of person he believes the Lord wants his child to be and then the father becomes that person.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Ephesians 6:1-3 comments: children and parents

1 ¶  Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2  Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) 3  That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.

Colossians 3:20  Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.

Our modern culture does not teach children to obey their parents or to honor their father and mother. In fact, if you watch any of a number of television shows over the past thirty years you can see a steady stream of examples of how to dishonor your parents. Parental figures, particularly fathers, are mocked and insulted as being buffoons and clueless over and over again.

Examples of the rule regarding obedience to parents can be found all through the Old Testament both before and during the Law. Let’s review some of them.

Genesis 28:7  And that Jacob obeyed his father and his mother, and was gone to Padanaram;

Genesis 37:13  And Israel said unto Joseph, Do not thy brethren feed the flock in Shechem? come, and I will send thee unto them. And he said to him, Here am I.

Leviticus 19:3  Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his father, and keep my sabbaths: I am the LORD your God.

Deuteronomy 21:18 ¶  If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: 19  Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; 20  And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. 21  And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

1Samuel 17:20  And David rose up early in the morning, and left the sheep with a keeper, and took, and went, as Jesse had commanded him; and he came to the trench, as the host was going forth to the fight, and shouted for the battle.

Esther 2:20  Esther had not yet shewed her kindred nor her people; as Mordecai had charged her: for Esther did the commandment of Mordecai, like as when she was brought up with him.

Proverbs 1:8  My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother:

Proverbs 6:20 ¶  My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother:

Proverbs 23:22  Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old.

Proverbs 30:11  There is a generation that curseth their father, and doth not bless their mother.

Proverbs 30:17  The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.

Jeremiah 35:14  The words of Jonadab the son of Rechab, that he commanded his sons not to drink wine, are performed; for unto this day they drink none, but obey their father’s commandment: notwithstanding I have spoken unto you, rising early and speaking; but ye hearkened not unto me.

Most New Testament commands carry a spiritual promise if one obeys. This is one admonition of Paul’s that also carries a physical blessing, almost a guarantee, if you will, as it did under the Law.

Exodus 20:12 ¶  Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

You may not be able to be in the presence of your unsaved parents after you have walked with the Lord for a time. You might not be willing to have their godless attitude displayed in front of your children. Even if they are saved but are meddling and intrusive in your marriage or even abusive to your spouse you might just have to stay away but never speak unkindly to them.

You might have to admit that Dad is going back to jail or Mom has fallen off the wagon, again, but you don’t have to speak hatefully of them.  

These verses in Ephesians, while having an application to adult children, are more geared to the young. In the boxing club where I teach I have heard the martial arts instructor admonish children in the “kid’s class” over and over to obey their parents in all things, that a good martial artist is an obedient one to his or her parents. Would it were so that the church taught that.

How many times in your life has some young person called you, “sir,” or “ma’am,” because that is the way they were taught and you “corrected” them saying “you don’t have to call me, sir”? Well, yes, they do. That is obedience to their parents. You are dishonoring their parents. No pastor, no Sunday school teacher, and no member of the congregation should ever teach a child that it is okay under any normal circumstances to disobey their parents. Of course, the exception to this is if the parent is requiring a child to sin or sinning against the child. “Son, bring me the vodka bottle I hid from your father in the toilet tank,” or “I’ll do your homework so you can play in the game and you just sign your name to it and no one will know,” do not fall into the category of obeying parents in the Lord.

Grandparents dishonoring their children in their role as parents using the excuse that overriding their children’s rules for their own children is a grandparents prerogative are acting wickedly. You have no right to dishonor your children as parents. Letting your grandchildren watch trashy television while staying at your house if their parents have expressly forbidden them to do so is grounds for not getting the opportunity to have them over for a long time.

Never criticize a man or a woman openly in front of their children. That is wicked. Respect parents. Do it in private, apart from son or daughter. It is your duty to respect parenting and parents as the basic authority in human civilization.

When you  reach in your pocket and pull out some candy to give to a good child at church how do you know their parents are happy with that? Would not honoring parents mean you ask THEM first?

Children, outside of your daily walk in prayer and Bible reading with the Lord there is no greater thing you can do, not good grades, not being handsome or pretty, than obeying your parents in the Lord. Obedience now is the key to success later. You cannot learn to lead unless you learn to serve. This is one of those proofs of how brilliant the Lord’s standards are.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Ephesians 5:22-33 comments: Husbands and wives (for new couples particularly)

22  Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

It would be simple to say that in order to understand this all you would have to do is to apply  what I just pointed out in the last verse to this one. But, there are two very important things to note here; one implied by the text and one literally in the verses following. First, the Holy Spirit makes note on several occasions that a wife should submit herself to her OWN husband.

Colossians 3:18  Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.

1Peter 3:1  Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;

The implication here is for proper, moral order in the Lord. The role of a husband and wife is unique and has a special place in God’s order. A wife expresses a deference and respect, a humility and non-judgmental attitude to her husband that goes beyond the kind of submission expressed in verse 21, as you can see by, “as unto the Lord.” It is a special relationship that is essentially different than the relationship between any woman in the congregation and any man.

Literally, this verse begins an explanation that shows that the relationship between a husband and wife is to reflect the relationship between Christ and His church. This relationship in no way from the definition of submission revealed in verse 21 means that the wife should be a mute, pack animal with no more say in her’s and her husband’s business than the family dog.

Fundamentalists who would trumpet the following verses as proof that a woman has nothing to say and shouldn’t say it in the assembly and those prominent Fundamentalist pastors who won’t even permit a woman to offer a testimony in church…..

1Corinthians14:34  Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. 35  And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

1Timothy 2:11  Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. 12  But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.

….will completely ignore the following verses as not being significant in the least.

2Kings 22:14  So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asahiah, went unto Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe; (now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college;) and they communed with her.

15  And she said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Tell the man that sent you to me,

Judges 4:4  And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time.

Or the verse that some commentators insist is on the Millennial reign of Christ to come by linking it to Isaiah 43:19;

Jeremiah 31:22  How long wilt thou go about, O thou backsliding daughter? for the LORD hath created a new thing in the earth, A woman shall compass a man.

Romans 16:1 ¶  I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea: 2  That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also.

And those Fundamentalists who regard their wives as having no needs of importance or any opinions of any value will tiptoe around the following verses;

Deuteronomy 24:5  When a man hath taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged with any business: but he shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer up his   wife which he hath taken.

Genesis 21:12  And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called.

Unfortunately, misogyny, or contempt for women, is endemic among people who consider themselves fundamentalist and, sadly, even the women often play into this by assuming, not merely a role of submission toward their husbands but passivity and inaction.

Let me ask you. Do you think Christ holds His bride in contempt and low regard? Why would He die for someone He viewed as something He found on the bottom of His sandal?

1Peter 3:7  Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

Husbands are to give honor to their wives, remembering always that they are physically weaker, and that you and her are heirs together, or co-heirs in God’s grace, lest your prayers be hindered by your contempt for God’s order.

(The vessel is a reference to the physical body not the culturally programmed condition of being emotionally unsteady.

1Thessalonians 4:4  That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;

…If you are foolish enough to think that women aren’t emotionally strong then I would suggest expanding your horizons by reading about the lives of pioneer women in the American west or perhaps listening to some of the life stories of women in the congregation. Assuming that all women are on the verge of passing a fan in front of their eyes and declaring they feel a case of “the vapors” coming on is a sign of ignorance and arrogance).

A wife’s focus of her submission should be to her own husband and not just every man. The relationship between them is to reflect the relationship between Christ and His bride, the church. They must also remember that they are partners with their husband, co-heirs in the grace of life as Peter stated with both Adam and Eve originally sharing in the image of God.

Genesis 1:27  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

The fact that God has assigned different roles, different duties, and different responsibilities to man and woman in biological life and in the church itself does not imply or state an inferiority on the part of women to men.

Galatians 3:28  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

That being said, the wife who denigrates, humiliates, or despises her husband is most certainly not submitting to him as unto the Lord any more than the husband who holds his wife in contempt. When the ladies get together to have coffee or go shopping it is not consistent with a Christian witness to tear down your husband any more than it is consistent with a Christian witness for a husband to rip up his wife when he’s out with his friends.

We, the church, have a lot of freedom in Christ. He is not standing here or has not sent an angel, a representative of Himself, to direct the worship service. A husband who has a wife in submission to him, as unto the Lord, can trust that his wife won’t embarrass him by her behavior in public and that whatever she does it will be in both of their best interests. Interestingly, the same goes of a husband doing right. The husband and wife who put the Lord first in their lives will fall easily into the pattern that God has set for them.

Sadly, besides sin, the thing that seems to catch most couples and ruin them is money. One person hiding how much the family brings in, refusing to be accountable and transparent in their financial dealings that concern each other, is a great strain on a marriage. The wife who spends the family money like it grows on the proverbial tree out back doesn’t help. There is as much or more of a need for unity in a marriage as there is in a church body.

Martin Bucer, one of the lights from the Reformation era five hundred years ago, said, "There is no true marriage without a true assent of hearts between those who make the agreement," and marriage is accordingly "a contract not only of body and of goods but also of the soul."


Great is the wife who will praise her husband. Great is the husband worthy of praise. Let no disparaging words proceed out of your mouths downgrading, insulting, or verbally abusing your husband. Let your husband know that he can have full trust in your character, your devotion to him, your responsibility, and your faith in Christ.

Be an example for him of faith and devotion to Christ, remembering that “conversation” can be behavior. Although the following verse is about an unsaved husband remember that you can have a great impact on a saved husband headed in the wrong direction.

1Peter 3:1¶  Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; 2  While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.

Pray for your husband’s decisions. I know that God can change minds if your prayer is sincere. I have seen that personally. Try to follow the plan of submission for the church outlined in verse 21 remembering the unique qualities of the submission of a wife to her husband, as a picture of the church’s relationship to Christ. One of your primary actions, women, if you want to be a good wife, a wife of whom your husband can be blessed by, is to let God speak to you every day through His words in His Book. A wife who has no time for God and makes no effort to let the Saviour speak to her each and every day, reading or listening to His word plainly without man’s commentary, will probably not want to hear what her husband has to say either. If you are not in submission to Christ you certainly won’t be to your husband. A wife who is not a Bible reader or hearer daily will probably only be a help worthy for her husband by forcing herself and she will still mutter and complain in her heart.

23  For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24  Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

Remember, I said there are different roles assigned, generally as I know there are special circumstances that create notable exceptions, to men and women, husband and wife? Well, I have an important thing to tell you. If a man doesn’t run the home, lead the family, or act as the head then he will ruin it. It’s generally in man’s nature to do that.

The husband is to be the spiritual leader of the home. That’s his position, his job. He may not BE the most spiritual, he may not have the most understanding, but it is his job to accompany his family to church not to drop them off at the door on Sunday morning. It is his job to lead the family in prayer and Bible reading and study daily or, at least regularly. The father is the pastor of the family and should act accordingly.

The wife and husband should be able to talk about spiritual issues, the Bible, the spiritual growth of their children and their own. The man who is not the pastor of the family, will simply be a petty tyrant, barking orders and making himself the center of the universe in his pride, certainly imitating Satan more than Christ.

This is the order that God has set in place for Christians in all matters spiritual or otherwise. Husband, wife, then children, if any. If that gets out of whack somehow chaos ensues. Come on, men, do you pray with your wives daily, or at least regularly? Do you talk about the Bible, about God’s will, or are you concerned with your spiritual growth in Christ? Do you strive for the unity in the home between yourself and your wife that Christ wants in the church?

Does your headship in the home consist of simply demanding in pride like Satan or does it involve living sacrificially as Christ would have you do. Christ saved the church, His body. What have you done? How are you living before your wife?  

I know it’s hard for a poor man to act as the head of his family. I am aware of the emphasis on money in America. We have twisted the Bible into saying that money, not charity, covers a multitude of sins. But, the poor man can fill his proper position in the family with the Holy Spirit’s guidance through the daily reading of and submission to God’s words in His Book.

In the days before Capitalism in America, before there was even a bank, the family, as I have noted before, was the basic unit of production. Families, under the authority of the father, particularly in rural areas, had to be as self-sustaining as possible and make things to sell if the markets were close enough. In England, before the Industrial Revolution, every cottage was a little factory. Families made products to sell in the market from clothing to leather goods along with the excess produce of their farm. Husband and wife did not go to work outside the home except in dire circumstances.

It is different today. Our economic system, our Mammon, expects at least one, if not both husband and wife to pursue outside employment. This takes the man away from the daily operation of the home now, which doesn’t produce anything to sell anyway, and often, due to economic circumstances the wife must make up for what her husband cannot and place herself under the authority of another man or woman if she is not self-employed. Contrary to many preachers’ opinions this is not always the result of the couple wanting a home at the beach or boat on the lake but simple economic necessity for survival. In any event this condition places a great strain on the marriage. The couple immersing themselves in God’s word and having a regular participation with other believers in worship is essential for a Godly and successful marriage.

Most Fundamentalists are more concerned with form than with substance. Their idle and godless talk is often about who bosses who around. They have no concern for unity or a Godly marriage where Christ is the head of the home and both seek to please Him. Their concern is with control, not trust, not love, not being co-heirs in the grace of life, not mutual respect, just being in charge. Radical feminism and violent, domestic abuse are two monsters God has unleashed on American Christians for their apostasy as He unleashed Assyria and Babylon on Israel and Judah for theirs.

25  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26  That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

27  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.

“Even as Christ also loved the church.” Christ died for His bride and rose again for her. What have you done for your bride?

Christ sets the church apart and cleanses it by His words in His Book. Do you let God speak to you each and every day through His words in His Book and encourage your bride to do the same? The end goal is to glorify His church with Him, a Holy, perfect church. If the word is central to the church He is constantly working toward that end. Are you constantly working toward that end of encouraging your wife’s walk in Christ?

The end result of your marriage should not be less than what it was when you first loved her. It should be greater. Your love for your wife should grow not diminish. Youthful beauty of man and woman dies after a short time but spiritual beauty can grow for a lifetime and never die.

How, husbands, are you living in front of your wife and do you have, as Christ does for His church, her best interests at heart and want, more than anything, to draw her closer to you? Or, is your pleasure, your entertainment, your busy-to-do list more important than her joy, her fulfillment, her spiritual growth, and her happiness?

28  So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29  For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: 30  For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. 31  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.

Would it were that this was the case in all Christian marriages where the husband loved his wife as his own self, nurtured and cared for her as he would care for his very own body. A wife is nourished and cherished by love, trust, honor, and devotion as the Lord has cared for His church. The church is a part of Christ. Your wife is a part of you. Remember that Eve came from Adam’s own body, the first example of cloning, in a way.

Never permit anyone, even family members, to disrespect your wife. Christ has defended His church against the gates of Hell itself, against the great Slanderer, the Enemy, Satan. Is it too much to ask to defend your bride if your marriage is to be like the church of God?

I have known several married men who have never left their mother’s apron strings and whose wives were treated as almost an intruder between mother and son. This is wickedness and confusion. They compare everything their wife does in an inferior manner with every perfect thing their mother did and the wife can never measure up. Their own marriage is a non-starter, so to speak.

32  This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

Paul has said in plain English that he is comparing the relationship between a husband and wife to Christ and the church. There can be no confusion in this. Think of what Christ has done for the church and think of how the church is to respond to Christ. Christ saved the church and nourishes it. The church represents Christ in the world, uplifting Him.

33  Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

Paul sums it all up with calling on the husband and the wife to do specific things. This is not possible without Christ being at the center of the marriage and the couple permitting Him to speak to their spiritual hearts through His Bible each day.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Ephesians 5:21 comments: submission

21 ¶  Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

Here’s the end of one thought and the beginning of the next. We are to submit ourselves to each other, not to exercise our will over each other but each of us, man and woman, submitting to each other as Christians. If there be any strong willed individual in the assembly who feels a need to dominate others, and there is always one or two in every group, then they are out of God’s will.

Paul has defined what submission is throughout his letters to the various churches which are our doctrinal statements. Submission begins with an attitude.

Romans 12:3  For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

Thinking that you’ve already arrived someplace and you need to bring along your less fortunate in understanding brethren is not the attitude Paul wants you to have but more of a sharing what God has laid on your heart with others encouraging others as you have been encouraged. God works in a believer’s life, with the least pain having to be inflicted in the believer’s humility, not in his pride. Peter noted;

1 Peter 5:5 ¶  Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. 6  Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7  Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

Without any clever play on Greek words for submission and subjection we can learn what it means to submit to each other directly from the Bible itself. Caring for each other and not placing ourselves one above another is first.

Philippians 2:3  Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4  Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

Remember that any comparison we make between ourselves and someone else should be between ourselves and Christ, not another believer, so that we are always aware of where we are heading. This next verse in Romans is the second level of Godly submission between believers.

Romans 12:10  Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;

So, we don’t place ourselves above the other person and we show deference, a courteous respect out of affection, to each other.

This is absolute equality in position in the church which must be established voluntarily by our own individual attitudes.

Romans 12:16  Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

God is the great leveler of position and privilege if you take His words literally. Third, besides not putting yourself above another and showing courteous respect to others, comes this absolute equality before God I just mentioned.

Galatians 3:28  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

Humility, respect, and equality between believers are essential parts of submission without distinctions of race or ethnicity, social position outside the church, or gender.

We are not told to worship each other, to bow the knee, and acknowledge mastery (2Kings 5:18; Psalm 22:29; Psalm 95:6). We are to submit to each other, to be in subjection to each other, to defer to each other, and to not hold ourselves higher in position and in any kind of ranking above each other.

One primary condition of being submissive to each other is not to judge another’s walk with Christ by our personal convictions but, if at all, by the clear words of Scripture.

 Romans 14:4  Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.

Humility, respect, equality, and a non-judgmental attitude between believers are essential to Godly submission. You still call out sin. You still have order. You still have standards. None of these requirements of submission change any of that.

In the chapter on the active love that a Christian is called to have for his or her brothers and sisters in Christ several things should be noted;

4 ¶  Charity suffereth long [we should be willing to be patient with our brothers and sisters in Christ], and is kind [making an effort to encourage]; charity envieth not [we should not envy the success or covet the material possessions of each other]; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up [we don’t place ourselves higher than each other in our own minds or brag], 5  Doth not behave itself unseemly [we abstain from any appearance of immorality], seeketh not her own [we’re not just out for ourselves], is not easily provoked [we carry a long fuse and don’t get angry quickly], thinketh no evil [don’t assume the worst about a brother or sister]; 6  Rejoiceth not in iniquity [we’re not happy when secret sin is revealed but saddened], but rejoiceth in the truth [we cling to the truth and delight in it]; 7  Beareth all things [we put up with a lot], believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

We are to do this in the fear of the Lord. Godly fear is defined for us in the Psalms as awe and Hebrews as reverence.

Psalm 33:8  Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.

Hebrews 12:28  Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:

If you revere the God who created you and stand in proper awe of who He is then submitting to each other will not be an odious thing to do as He has called you to do that very thing.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Ephesians 5:17-20 comments: be thankful

17  Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.

Christians are not to live foolishly. God’s will for our lives is very carefully spelled out in the letters that were given to the church through Paul including;

1 Thessalonians 4:1 ¶  Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. 2  For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. 3  For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: 4  That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; 5  Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: 6  That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. 7  For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. 8  He therefore that despiseth [to hold in contempt and dishonor], despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.

Paul has been very specific here about the wrongness of sexual immorality, which is so prevalent among human beings to a great deal because of covetousness and selfishness. Humans, left to their own devices, neither respect their own persons or the persons of others but the Christian is called to live inside his or her own body, “in sanctification and honour.”

18  And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 19  Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;

In another context;

Job 35:10  But none saith, Where is God my maker, who giveth songs in the night;

Is it not appropriate that Paul, while speaking of how the Christian should abstain from immorality, should tell us not to be drunk with wine? Alcohol is that great remover of inhibitions and reducer of moral standards. Paul tells us that a better thing to be filled with is the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and gospel songs of praise and rejoicing in our hearts and among each other.

Keeping our minds focused on God would be such a huge help for us if we weren’t so taken by the world and the siren song of our own flesh.

Isaiah 26:3  Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

Paul told the Galatians what the fruit of the Spirit, the proof of having God’s Spirit inside you is. It never hurts for you, Christian, to hear and see it again;

Galatians 5:22  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23  Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24  And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

In these verses in Ephesians we have one result of being filled with God’s Spirit, singing praises to Him. Some differentiate between a gospel song and a hymn this way; that a hymn praises God for who He is, such as Martin Luther’s, “A Mighty Fortress is our God,” while spiritual songs praise God for what He has done for us like, “Just as I Am.” Regardless of classification this is what we want to have our hearts filled with rather than songs about lust and selfishness. Feed the new man, not the old.

20  Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

The reverse of covetousness that leads to fornication is thankfulness to God. Being grateful for what He has given you and developing that relationship to its utmost is a great blessing.

Paul has called us in these chapters of Ephesians to peace and unity among the brethren, personal morality toward our spouses, and thankfulness to God for all things, even, I might add, the difficult things.

Colossians 3:12 ¶  Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; 13  Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. 14  And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. 15  And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. 16  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17  And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.[This is another reason why hymns and gospel songs should be read to make sure they are doctrinally correct as the singing we do teaches us.]

1 Thessalonians 5:18  In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

There are a great many sins and resulting sorrows that come from an ungrateful heart toward God. Ingratitude toward God’s blessings in your life does not lead to unity or righteousness. Your anger toward yourself and your bitterness toward your spouse all reflect a heart lacking in gratitude toward God. You say in your mind, “if only this had happened,” or, “if only that hadn’t happened,” then my life would be better. Your unwillingness to let go of the past and experience Christ’s mercy, forgiveness, and grace in the present is part of your sin problem.

Give thanks for all things. Paul has prepared us for the most difficult part of this most advanced treatise on what it really means to be a Christian in practice. He has shown us where we, as the body of Christ, are sorely lacking in what we are called to do and to be. And now, he is about to open the floodgates and because of unbelief many people will sink beneath the waves on what is to follow.