Have you ever experienced a period in your life with competing objectives that occupied far too much mental real estate? Admittedly, over the past few weeks, I have allowed distractions to crowd my mind and deprive me of the refreshing joy and peace found in my relationship with the LORD. People in all walks of life and at all ages have demands for their time and attention. How we handle these demands is critical to a balanced and stable life. Our LORD said, “I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father…. I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:28 and 33 New International Version).
The LORD has an amazing way of bringing His children to new levels. Over the past few months, the study of Ephesians has excited my mind and overwhelmed my heart as I understood more of the love and excellency of our LORD toward us. Little did I know that God had ordered a test around the corner that involved a number of people and He had intended to help me navigate it using the study of Ephesians 5.
The purpose of a test is to identify for the pupil what remains to be learned or strengthened. The review of the pupil’s errors against correct responses can increase their knowledge.
My test was to keep an eternal perspective and focus on the LORD despite the multiple activities and responsibilities that I would be thrust into. My ability to listen to the Holy Spirit and yield to His leading was now being tried as the intensity of life events increased. Was I going to exercise greater reliance on Him or would I lean on my capabilities?
The treasures the LORD revealed to me in His Word over the past 5 months can be summarized this way:
- In Ephesians 1 and Ephesians 2: the impact of the headship and glory of Christ on a believer is priceless; God’s purpose and power are unchanging, unfolding, and unstoppable; and, the contrast of the prior unregenerated nature to the “new-creation” person is completely opposing to each other; the reborn individual has life, freedom, peace and is united with God and each other.
- In Ephesians 3: the mystery of the dispensation of grace (or the church age) was described by Jesus when He spoke in parables about the Kingdom of Heaven and the end of the age; it is prophecy fulfilled and still unfolding.
- In Ephesians 4: the emphasis is on unity with the Holy Spirit and other believers; it is of paramount importance since the same Spirit resides all believers.
I was frequently reminded during this study that the Ephesian Church was admonished by Christ (in Revelation 2) to “overcome” by loving the LORD above all else. To do so, they would need to value His character more than anything, be thankful for redemption and the promise of eternal life with Him; and, remember what was at stake. Interestingly enough, this theme of overcoming by keeping a proper perspective coincided with the appearance of new trials and increased demands for my time.
But now as I attempted to continue my study with chapter 5, my mind was preoccupied with life. The Scripture wasn’t ministering to me, and reading it felt more obligatory. I nibbled on other Biblical passages while being reminded by the Holy Spirit that I needed to complete my study of Ephesians. Suddenly there was a calm in our circumstances, as though an adjournment was announced amid the evolving situation.
As I resumed with a more peaceful mind, something dawned on me. Ephesians 5 begins with the command to “be imitators of God.” I had glanced at those words frequently in the past, and yet I had never really explored what it meant to imitate God. I knew if I failed to self-reflect, I would be wrongfully excusing myself and falling short of necessary growth.
We are to develop through adversity not merely spin our wheels in it.
The problem with absolving oneself based on being human is that we have a kinsman-redeemer; the perfect Son of Man; a Human being who walked this planet in flawless obedience to God. Scripture bears witness to this in John 5:19, 30; John 12:49 to 50; and John 14:10. I suppose one could argue that Jesus could imitate God because He was the Christ, Deity, the Son of God. But we have to remember that Jesus as a Human being was given every opportunity to sin, but He did not. Scripture states it like this:
- …, Jesus the Son of God…was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14 to 16);
- though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him (Hebrews 5:8 to 9).
I realized I was forsaking the maturity of faith God had called me to. I had left my place of peace and started striving in the flesh as though everything depended on my actions. I was reading Scripture, praying, and acting in faith (or so I thought). In reality, I did not wait for the LORD to act on my behalf. You see, I disregarded that still small voice advising me to stand still and see the hand of the LORD. That was disobedience. I allowed a sense of urgency to move me into my default mode, action. There is a time for action because faith without works is dead, but this was not that time.
Standing still is still an action. Exercising faith, self-control and determination are required to refrain from reacting under pressure.
The pressure I experienced was not because of the situation; it was because of my independence from the LORD in the situation. Praise God for this reality check; and, for the affirmation of His love. Perhaps I will now be better equipped to let Him lead.
- Awaken to Unpopular Holiness (Ephesians 5:1 to 14);
- Endure with Attentiveness to the Spirit to Understand God’s Will (Ephesians 5:15 to 21);
- See Beyond the Temporal to Grasp the Deep Truth of the Lesson (Ephesians 5:22 to 33).
Ephesians 5 provides four fundamental Godly principles for walking out our earthy life: namely, walking in (1) love, (2) light, (3) wisdom, and (4) sacrifice; and, six popular culture actions to abstain. I will bring these principles to your attention as we traverse the outline. In addition to the practical applications, you will find that this blog goes deeper into what the LORD expects within His relationship with us. You will catch a glimpse into the strategic design of humanity. I hope that by sharing this with you, your heart will worship the most incredibly awesome intelligence and love that has ever existed, our LORD. Are you ready to begin? The first point is:
Awaken to Unpopular Holiness
(Ephesians 5:1 to 14)
Verse 1 starts with the conjunctive adverb “therefore”. This joins the previous statement with verse 1’s concept. By reading the two verses together, the rationale for the directive to pattern the attributes of the Divine nature of God is given to us. We are told to mirror Him because God forgave us through Jesus’ sacrifice for Christ’s sake.
- And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. (Ephesians 4:32 to 5:1)
While children are individuals, there are markers of the parents that naturally are inherited while other attributes are learned or developed through interaction and nurture. Therefore we can understand that when we became children of God, there were changes that occur immediately because His Spirit came to dwell within us, and other changes develop over time.
Knowing that the Holy Spirit is very intentional, I wondered why Scripture included the words “God in Christ forgave you”. Why specify who forgave? From Scripture, we understand that: (1) God is Spirit; (2) Jesus is God incarnate; (3) that there are three persons of the Holy Trinity; and, (4) that God is one essence. All of this is a separate study on the beautiful mystery of the Holy Trinity.
In the context of understanding why we should make every effort to imitate God, the Holy Spirit has made a distinction in Scripture by pointing out that God in Christ (both persons being Deity of the same essence) forgave us. The King James Version of this Scripture states it this way:
- And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Be ye, therefore, followers of God, as dear children (Ephesians 4:32 to 5:1).
This informs me that God loved Jesus so much that He forgave us because of Jesus. Was this because Jesus wanted us to be His bride? Although our fallenness cost the Father the price of His Son, God wanted to reconcile His creation to Himself and provide the Son of His love with a bride or a people that He would become one with (Matthew 22:2 to 4, Revelation 19:7 to 8 and Revelation 21:9 refers to the concept of the bride). The process of purchasing the bride was agonizing for both the Father and the Son. Colossians 1:13 refers to Jesus as:
- the Son of God’s love in the New King James
- His dear Son in the King James Version
- the Son He loves in the New International Version.
Not only does Father God love Jesus, He also loves us so much that He gave His only begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him could have everlasting life and escape the punishment we deserve (1st John 4:9, John 3:16 and 17).
Just as the earlier chapters of Ephesians state, we are to join to the Godhead (to the beloved, Ephesians 1:6) and inherit the riches of the eternity that God originally designed for us as joint-heirs with Christ.
- The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs; heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. (Romans 8:16 and 17).
If we are the bride betrothed to the Godhead, we must become like Him and extensions of His glory, nature, and unity.
Walking in Love is the First of the Four Principles to Imitate God
In reviewing Ephesians 5:3 to 7, walking in love has nothing to do with condoning behaviour that opposes Scripture. We are told to refrain from these actions and to avoid friendship with those who walk contrary to the Word in order to be spared from the wrath of God (Ephesians 5:7). The behaviours include:
- Covetousness: This means to have a greedy desire to have more than what God has provided and can include but is not limited to fraudulency and extortion. These latter forms of covetousness are at the extreme level of greed. God calls greed idolatry. (Refer to Colossians 3:5, Ephesians 5:5);
- Filthiness: This means obscene, baseness, dishonourable, corrupted, shamefulness (Refer to Strong’s G150 and G151);
- Fornication: This is sexual activity outside of Biblical marriage (Refer to Matthew 19:4 to 9);
- Foolish Talking: This is silly talking and buffoonery (Refer to Strong’s G3473);
- Coarse Jesting: In context, this includes scurrility, ribaldry, low jesting. The actual word means “well-turned” which can be a wittiness that gives something a different connotation. When you think about it, it can be making light of deception. (Refer to Strong’s G2160 which is from a compound of G2095 and a derivative of the base of G5157);
- Moral or Physical Uncleanness: The word “uncleaness” identified as Strong’s G167 is identified in Thayers Greek Lexicon as follows: lustful, luxurious, immoderate living, impure motives (Matthew 23:27; Romans 1:24; Romans 6:19; 2nd Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19; Colossians 3:5; 1st Thessalonians 4:7; and 1st Thessalonians 2:3).
Verse 5 states that individuals who practice these behaviours have no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Scripture goes on to say:
- Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. (Ephesians 5:6)
When I researched the original Greek words, I was flabbergasted. Based on today’s society, many of these things are accepted, and in some cases, signify intelligence to the world. For example: how many times had I chuckled at witty, off-coloured innuendos thinking it was harmless. OY! It dawned on me that in the garden of Eden, there was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. My intelligence should stem from good, not evil. Jesus said it this way:
- “Therefore take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness. (Luke 11:35)
Or, how many times have I become discontent with what God had given me and wanting something else whether relationships, knowledge, gifts, circumstances and trials. Having goals to grow is Godly! But, it is evil when your desire takes you to a place where you are no longer content; even bordering on being unthankful.
In context, if we are walking in love, we are sacrificing the carnal or unregenerate ways and desires as a sacrifice to God; crucifying our flesh daily; yielding ourselves to the will of God. This is to increase in Christ-like character. Please allow me to prove this. In this passage containing instructions to walk in love, we are directed to abstain from the behaviours we just reviewed. Scripture states:
- And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. (Ephesians 5:2).
Scriputre also states:
- For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. (Romans 8:5 to 6)
- Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things, the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience (Colossians 3:5 to 6)
- But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. (James 1:14 to 15)
- And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:24)
- Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, (1st Peter 2:11)
When I consider the seriousness of God’s Word, I realize that being an imitator of God will be unpopular and set apart. If the world shades the lens through which we self-examine, it will be too easy to blindly sin.
If we fit into popular culture, we likely have become carnal. If wrath comes to those who do these 6 things, can there really be such a thing as a carnal Christian?
The LORD’s call to walk in love is greater than we understand. As we mature and truly seek to imitate God, we will begin to see the hidden sin in our lives and through testing, we will be refined.
If we are walking in love, then we are loving God in the first place which in turn causes us to love others without compromising God’s will. We will show grace and compassion to others while adhering to Scripture. If we are walking in love, then we are hating the sin that mimics the enemy of our souls. We are to be in light in the world, but not behave like the culture. We are to be in the world, enjoy relationships, but long for our heavenly home and our Heavenly Husband.
Walking in the Light is the Second of the Four Principles to Imitate God
So far I have used the word “dawned” a couple of times. Definitions from Oxford Languages states the word “dawn” means the first appearance of light in the sky before sunrise; and, it also means to become evident to the mind; be perceived or understood.
In the Bible, the Greek word for “dawn” is “epiphṓskō” which Strong’s G2020 interprets as to begin to grow light. Ephesians 5:14 uses the root word “epiphaúō”, Strong’s 2017 which means to illuminate or give light.
- … “Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.” (Ephesians 5:14)
The Old Testament states:
- Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you. (Isaiah 60:1)
I have worked with some unbelievers whose conduct was better than some professing Christians who are at the entry-level of sanctification. That said, if a person has been awakened by the light of the LORD, they will walk in the light. They may be quick risers or they may be slothful but they will walk in the light because it is the Holy Spirit’s regenerating work. The Word of God says:
- For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth) (Ephesians 5:8 to 9)
The rate at which an awakened person arises to walk is dependent on their yielding to the Spirit and their understanding of the Word of God. If a person does not invest time in the presence of the LORD through Scripture reading and prayer, they will certainly be sluggish; perhaps stumbling as they walk with sleep still in their eyes.
If anyone is going to be Holy, they need to be aware of what God defines as holy. God’s holiness is His otherness. The Father, Spirit and Son are of the same essence, they are One. There is no one like Him and no one who can have equal attributes to Him. While we cannot be “God”, we can imitate certain aspects of Him. Shunning darkness is key.
There are aspects of God’s holiness that the world values. There is no one more gracious, loving, good and merciful. This part of God’s otherness is embraced by the world but they despise His justice, righteousness, sovereignty, omniscience, omnipotence and so on. You see, they want a God who not only forgives sin but one who will condone their desires even when evil. But because our LORD is always all of His attributes at the same time, God can not condone sin, He must judge it. Even a believer who is forgiven of sin is disciplined.
- Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear. (1st Peter 1:13 to 17).
- My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor detest His correction; For whom the LORD loves He corrects, Just as a father the son in whom he delights. (Proverbs 3:11 to 12)
To walk in the light is to allow God to illuminate our hearts to who He is and what is right. It is to allow Him to penetrate our hearts and reveal areas we need to humbly correct.
His grace will strengthen and cover us as we develop; His righteousness will train us. He will cast His light on the dishonourable aspects of our minds so that we will be able to accept the instruction of the Holy Spirit. The LORD sees believers in their future completely glorified state so He patiently helps us develop as we cast off the dark grave clothes we wore when we were dead in sin.
- For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2nd Corinthians 4:6)
There will be many individuals (even some who profess to be Christians) who are willing to give you permission to remain in ways that oppose God’s holiness. Our job is to use the light of God’s Word in self-examination. When we have that prompting to humbly correct or yield, we need to submit. Jesus Christ, very God, submitted to the will of His Father. We need to imitate Him. This is a fight at times because we either do not wish to deny ourselves, are afraid of the outcome of submission, or doubt we can overcome the area being identified by the LORD. But fighting this fight of faith ensures we lay hold of eternal life. Scripture states:
- Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I urge you in the sight of God … that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing, which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen. (1st Timothy 6:12 to 16).
- Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: “For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” (Hebrews 10:35 to 38).
To do this we need to search out what is acceptable to the LORD and set ourselves apart from any hint of darkness as indicated in Ephesians 5:10 to 13. Jesus said,
- “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. “For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. “But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” (John 3:19 to 21).
Family of God, let us be willing to humble ourselves to the LORD so that He can expose our sin to us. Let us confess our sins and let His love and healing Word cleanse us. The second point in our outline is to
Endure with Attentiveness to the Spirit to Understand God’s Will
(Ephesians 5:15 to 21)
How can we understand the will of God in every situation? The will of God is specified in His Word although some have difficulty applying God’s Word to every scenario in life. Since the Holy Spirit indwells the believer and knows how to apply His will at all times, it only makes sense to listen and obey.
This is where I was being tested recently. Was I willing to “hear” the promptings of the LORD in a situation where I had several “good” options plus the skillset to solve some urgent matters?
There are plenty of things in life that are good but aren’t necessarily God’s perfect will for the individual. For example, one can do the right thing at the wrong time and find themselves in a mess. Or, perhaps the way they go about something isn’t the best for all involved. There are “good” opportunities that could distract you from a God-given directive or calling. I suppose one could settle for good, but why would you if you could have what is “best”? If you settle, is that disobedience?
Here is another consideration. What if your actions or decisions are perfectly fine for your life but they unintentionally impact someone else negatively down the road? Only the LORD can see around the corners of life. If we live attentive to the Spirit’s leading, we can choose what is best in the long term and avoid much hardship.
Walking in Wisdom is the Third of the Four Principles to Imitate God
Regardless of a believer’s awareness about the forces of darkness, spiritual battles are all around us. Things may appear to be innocuous in the natural realm; however, in the spiritual domain, there may be an invisible, evil plot afoot. Scripture states:
- See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:15 to 17);
- Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. (1st Peter 5:8).
As we move forward in time, we will be confronted with more evil.
- But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come… But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. (2nd Timothy 3:1 and 13);
- Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons (1st Timothy 4:1).
Jesus warned that deception would be great in the last days (Matthew 24:24). He also said that no one could snatch His people out of His hands, nor His Father’s hands (John 10:28 to 30). With both of these truths, we understand that Holy Spirit will help guard our minds and hearts during the increasing deception as we remain close to God, leaning on His omniscience and guidance.
- Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6 and 7).
Additionally, Scripture states that regardless of what we go through, those God foreknew and predestined will be justified and glorified because He is the Sovereign Judge who intercedes and intervenes to keep that which is His. (Romans 8:26 to 35). It is written:
- For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38 to 39)
While the LORD will ensure His children make it safely home, we are told to exercise wisdom and walk with caution to avoid unnecessary adversity and to fulfill the will of God. There are times when our LORD will allow testing (even using the adversary). It is only to refine us; not to crush us. We may be cast down temporarily, but we will remain unconquered because we are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus. It is written:
- For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2nd Corinthians 4:17 to 18)
Ephesians 5:15 to 18 says walk cautiously and wisely by redeeming these evil days. Scripture says:
- Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever. (Daniel 12:3)
- The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise. (Proverbs 11:30)
- Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. (Colossians 4:5)
Although walking in wisdom through the Holy Spirit helps us avoid the traps of the enemy, it also helps us fulfill God’s plan of redemption. If we are alert and wise, we will be investing our time and effort into what Jesus told us to do. We will not be distracted by circumstances and not lose sight of His strategic objectives. Jesus said:
- …”Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. (Mark 16:15)
- “But when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled; for such things must happen, but the end is not yet. … “And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations. … “And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. (Portions of Scripture starting at Mark 13:7)
With the darkness around us growing, it becomes easy to desire an escape to ease the sorrow we experience when we see the wicked night settling in. We need to ensure we are not bolstering our emotions with substances, entertainment, technology or other temporary means of abandoning life’s concerns to licentiousness. Jesus said:
- “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. (John 9:4).
If we truly want to do God’s will, we will walk in the Spirit being obedient in our daily living and actively looking to snatch souls from the fire.
If we are to be imitators of God, we are to: (1) lay down our comforts to bring souls to heaven; (2) praise God wholeheartedly; (3) encourage each other to press forward; and (4) obey the leading of the Holy Spirit.
You see, God cares about relationships. Each member of the Holy Trinity is in perfect unity with each other in everlasting love and goodness; and, He plans to extend His character throughout the universe. As such, He wants to redeem the lost and bring them into fellowship with Him.
Also, He cares about His relationship with His children and wants His children to be grateful for all that He allows in our lives (even the trials we may not understand knowing He has permitted it). He cares about how His children treat each other. We are to respect and yield to each other just as the Son of God submitted to God the Father. Ephesians 5:19 to 21 states that we ought to be:
- speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.
There is something more to be gleaned in this chapter. Part of understanding how to imitate God is contained within comprehending the marriage relationship the way God defined it. What does it mean to be the bride of Christ? Let us move into our third point to:
See Beyond the Temporal to Grasp the Deep Truth of the Lesson
(Ephesians 5:22 to 33)
The remaining verses of Ephesians 5 have been a matter of controversy (probably for centuries) even though the instructions for both husband and wife are very clear. I believe sin has caused a division over something incredibly sacred. The enemy has continued to whisper rebellion into the ears of God’s children (as he did back in the garden). He uses doubt, fear and slander as key tactics to accuse God and believers hoping to malign God’s image in humanity.
Christ created marriage in the garden of Eden to demonstrate Christ’s relationship with us as the church and individually. What an amazing mystery that we will not fully understand until the marriage supper of the Lamb.
- “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. (Revelation 19:7 to 8).
Authority, submission, sacrifice, leadership, service, humility, and love are all properties or demonstrations of the Godhead; and, each member of the Godhead is valued as One.
With this concept in mind, let us go to the Scripture in Ephesians that provides so much insight.
- For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:30 to 32).
We have heard Christians are the body of Christ and are destined to be the bride of Christ. For references, please read the notes at the end of the blog. Scripture provides the reason for marriage which was stated when humanity’s history began.
- ...God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion … over all the earth …” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1:26 to 27).
The Holy Trinity discussed the creation of humanity and agreed to create them in their very image. Being omniscient and sovereign, God knew that the first man would sin. They planned that Christ would incarnate and then sacrifice Himself to redeem those they foresaw would be willing to accept that they need salvation and are willing to submit to His Lordship.
- Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned. To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come. (Romans 5:12 to 14 New International Version).
As we read the details of how He constructed His creation, we see that God made and female comparable but with differences intentionally.
- And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” … And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. (Genesis 2:18 to 25).
Again: Naked and Unashamed.
They only knew goodness; they had pure unhindered love.
Sin caused shame resulting in fear of the true intimacy that was lost, and is still longed for. This is a desire to be completely known and accepted. This is what our Heavenly Husband gives us.
Let us now take a look at some terms to understand what the joining of a man to the wife was intended to be. Please notice I used the word “wife” intentionally:
- The word “man” (identified by Strong’s H120) in the original Hebrew text is ‘āḏām (which comes from the root ‘āḏam Strong’s H119). These two words sound almost the same but when written out, one can see the variation. “Man” in Genesis 2 was both the created individual (Adam) and the species (mankind). Its root word means to show blood in the face, to be made red.
- The word “woman” (identified by Strong’s H802) in the original Hebrew text is ‘iššâ. The King James Version translates ‘iššâ as wife 425 times; as a woman 324 times; as one 10 times; and, as married 5 times. Please note that this is different than the word female.
- The word “female” in Genesis 1:27 is nᵉqêbâh and is used to delineate between the sexual forms of mankind.
- In Genesis 2:18, the word “helper” is ēzer (Strong’s H5828) which is used 2 times as a helpmeet and the other 19 times as aid. The word meet means “appropriate” or “fitting”.
The model of marriage was the joining into an intimate relationship where hearts, minds and bodies could be merged into the purest delightful love most nakedly; not hiding or not concealing anything. This relationship was the coming together of distinctly separate beings made from the same substance for the expressed intent of sharing all things in common under one authority; working together to expand their dominion; subduing the wild to make it beautiful and orderly.
There are echoes of the Trinity revealed in God’s design. Humanity was to be fruitful and multiply thereby extending the image of God on earth. They were to also have fellowship with the Trinity.
Praise God! God has told us the final outcome in His Word:
- … “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. (Revelation 21:3).
Since God is the One who has designed the family, instituted marriage and permitted human government, we are to be obedient to what He has established. He is the Sovereign Head over every authority. It is written:
- Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. (Romans 13:1)
Also, remember that God has used evil authority to complete His purposes since God can not do evil but He can work it together to accomplish the greater good. When the authority whether (regenerated or not) has failed to align themselves under God’s law, then we are to obey God.
Following orders or obeying authority is NEVER a licence to sin.
It is written:
- But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. (Acts 4:19)
- But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men. (Acts 5:29)
This means two things: We do not obey any authority that:
- (1) forbids you to obey God; and,
- (2) commands you to disobey God.
If you knowingly disobey God’s command, you intentionally sin like Adam. If you do not rightfully discern God’s will resulting in obedience to an authority that disagrees with God, you are deceived like Eve. Both are wrong and result in a penalty; one held a more severe consequence.
You see while Eve bore the consequences of deception with intermittent pain, God held Adam accountable for disobeying God with the penalty of continuous struggle for all of creation and death.
- Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it‘: “Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. (Genesis 3:17)
When our LORD was challenged by teachers of the law about following man-made rules, Jesus responded:
- … “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ “For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men… He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. (Mark 7:6 to 9)
Human males and females are created equal in the image of God and are sinners needing the Saviour. Neither are valued more than the other as the Godhead values each member equally.
- Husbands are to cherish, provide and protect their wives (saved or unsaved) with everything they have, even die for them. They are to be the authority for their wife; not over females, just their own wives. They are not to judge their wives or apply a penalty such as withholding love, security or applying force. Judgement is the LORD’s responsibility.
- Wives are to obey their husbands (saved or unsaved) provided the obedience does not contradict God’s Word. They are to respect, encourage, and help achieve. They are not to overstep the husband’s authority, harm his ego, or withhold physical expression from them. The LORD is the wife’s help and will not answer the husband’s prayers if he is not considerate of her (1st Peter 3:7)
This relationship requires a great love for the LORD and self-control enabled by the Holy Spirit.
- Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. (Revelation 14:12)
Walking in Sacrifice or Humility is the Forth Principle to Imitate God
From the prophetic and mysterious eternal purposes of God, we see that marriage is to teach the church how to be joined to our God.
- Unlike Adam who blamed God and Eve for sin, the church’s Husband, Jesus the Christ, cleanses us from unrighteousness (Ephesians 5:25 to 27, Jude 1:24 to 25, Titus 2:14).
- Unlike Eve, Jesus did not listen to the voice of the tempter, He rebuked Satan with Scripture (Luke 4:1 to 13).
Our beautiful Saviour laid down His life willingly for the entire world knowing that only a few would accept His offer of engagement. He paid the price, went away to prepare a place for us to be with Him, and when His Father says it is the right time, Jesus will retrieve His bride.
- “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. (John 14:2 to 3)
You see, Scripture explains that we must bear the image of Christ. We must imitate Him which we can only do by yielding to the Holy Spirit as He reveals His Word and guides us in our daily activities.
- The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (1st Corinthians 15:46 to 52).
We have gained such knowledge and demonstrate God-given abilities to imagine, problem-solve, etcetera. But overall, we have failed to learn the lesson of sacrifice. For a large part, in the most significant way, many have failed to accept the only sacrifice that matters eternally. And, we certainly do not enjoy laying our wills on the altar. Jesus prayed “not my will but Thine be done” before He sacrificed His life for His bride (Luke 22:42).
If you recall, I had indicated that I was going through a testing period. What I did not mention earlier was that I heard a still voice telling me that it would not be my intelligence, strategy, or exertion that would bring a solution. I sensed the Holy Spirit telling me that He was going to resolve the situation in a miraculous way to give Him glory and remind me who was LORD.
My test was simple. Was I willing to stop striving and focusing so much of my time on what I wanted to see happen; instead, to trust solely in Him knowing that He wants what is best for everyone? Was I willing to humble myself and lay aside my training, experience and knowledge to wait for Him? Was I willing to say no to those who looked to me for solutions? In short, was I willing to be the submitted bride of Christ?
The bride comes under the authority of Christ’s decision, timing, provision, protection, and guidance while respecting Him with thanksgiving.
- having to trust the LORD to work in the life of others;
- giving thanks to God for who He is and encouraging others during a pressing time;
- seeing life through the lens of relationship with the Redeemer which means eternal priorities above earthly desires.
If the examination resumes, I have decided to imitate God walking in love, light, wisdom and sacrifice. It is the right thing; it is the best thing. Besides, I certainly don’t want to go around this mountain another time (although it has been a pure joy to see Ephesians 5 from a different perspective). Thank you, my LORD.
For those who have not received God’s gift of Jesus Christ for salvation, if you feel a nudge to believe, you should evaluate the Scripture for yourself. Please visit DESIRINGFRUITFULNESS.CA/CHOICES. There you can find 4 SIMPLE STEPS or concepts to help you ask the LORD to bring you into right standing with Him. The steps are designed to help you know why a prayer of repentance is necessary. There are no “specific words” to pray, but there is a process to coming to faith.
Reference Notes: This is not a comprehensive list. The purpose of this list is limited to the context of this blog.
- God is Spirit (John 4:24);
- Jesus is God incarnate (Matthew 1:23, Isaiah 7:14, John 1:14, 2nd Corinthians 5:19, and 1st Timothy 3:16);
- Three persons of the Holy Trinity (Matthew 28:19, Matthew 3:17, Genesis 1:26, 2nd Corinthians 13:14, Ephesians 2:18, and 1st John 5:7);
- God is one essence (Galatians 3:20, Deuteronomy 6:4, and Mark 12:29).
- The Description of the Belivers:
- Body of Christ (1st Corinthians 12:12 and 27, Ephesians 4:12, 1st Corinthians 6:19);
- Bride of Christ (2nd Corinthians 11:2, Isaiah 54:5, John 3:29);
- Knit with Christ for God to fill: (Ephesians 4:16, Colossians 2:2, 19; and 1st Corinthians 15:24 and 28).
- God’s Omnicience (Ephesians 1:4, Ephesians 3:9, Acts 15:18, Isaiah 44:7, and Isaiah 46:9 to 10)
- God’s Sovereignty (Psalms 115:3 and Ephesians 1:11)
All Scripture used in this blog is from the New King James Version unless otherwise specified.