Letter to the Ephesians: Commentary, Part 9 :: By Dr. Donald Whitchard

Ephesians, Chapter 5 (continued):

Spirit-Filled Living

Walk in Spiritual Wisdom (vv.15-21)

15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.”

Paul continues to instruct the Ephesians on the nature, character, and attitude a genuine follower of Jesus Christ is to emulate. We are to keep our eyes on Jesus and imitate Him in our journey of life. To do so is to build trust, faith, and assurance in His Word and example and to aid us in maturity concerning the things of the Spirit and will of the Father. Jesus Christ is Lord, Savior, and God Incarnate who has walked among us and has been one of us. He died publicly upon a cross, beaten, ripped to shreds by whips, bleeding and bruised by hands that hated and despised Him, representing all of us throughout the course of time (Romans 5:6-11).

He willingly took this upon Himself, not because we deserve any kind of mercy or rescue, but because of His love for us. The gift of eternal life and forgiveness of our sins is too wonderful to comprehend at times, but as Holy God, Sinless Savior and Creator (Isaiah 53; John 1:1-4; Colossians 1:16-18), and if what the Scriptures declare are true and of His hand (John 17:17; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:19-21), as our Creator, we can trust Him to guide us and assist us in the decisions and trials of life.

If we are serious about allowing the LORD to guide us, we need to keep focused on doing those things that are pleasing in His sight (1 John 3:22). We are not to give any place in our lives to anything or any person who would take our eyes off the LORD and have us rely on our own faulty sense of direction and thinking, including food, drink, and amusements that are questionable at best and destructive at worst, especially in terms of how they could ruin your testimony and effectiveness for Christ. The devil would love nothing more than to trip you up and catch you off guard (2 Corinthians 11:12-15; 1 Peter 5:8).

We are instructed to be filled, not with wine (Hard liquor), but to be filled with the Spirit of God, who guides us into all truth (John 16:13; Acts 8:39), controls our behavior fitting a true believer (Acts 10:19-20), directs the selection of godly leaders (Acts 13:2), and chooses our fields of operation (Acts 16:6). The Lord Jesus taught us about the work and person of the Holy Spirit throughout His ministry and in the Upper Room with His disciples the night before His crucifixion.

The Holy Spirit dwells in us as believers in Christ (John 14:17). He is our Comforter and Teacher as He aided the Apostles in the preaching of the Gospel without error or contradiction (John 14:26; Galatians 1:8-9, 2:2). He testifies of Christ (John 15:26), warns sinners of judgment, and blesses righteousness (John 16:5-15). Being filled with the Spirit of God is not a dramatic emotional experience of energy and accelerated spirituality nor a stoic attempt at doing God’s will where we act in the flesh and hope God approves of it. It is not the same as possession, which is what we have as believers at salvation, and is not a repetitive reception of Him in degrees of spiritual development.

When we are filled with the Spirit, we are to give up all self-centered will, intellect, body, time, talent, possessions, and desires to follow Christ, to let our thoughts be His thoughts, our work His work, and our will His will, and to be in step with His ideas and standards. Our worship of Him is to be from the heart and the depths of our souls through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Psalm 150). We are to have a continual attitude of gratefulness and thanks for all things in His name and for His glory, all under His Sovereign authority. This is not just the pattern for us as individual believers but is also the foundation for a successful marriage, which will be our next area of study in this letter.

Marriage- Christ and the Church (vv.22-33)

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.

31 ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

If every couple, who is serious about getting married and staying that way, would take the time to read these verses together and abide by them in the strength and name of the LORD, they could save a lot of money and heartache on counselors and lawyers in the future. Now, can we keep these standards with perfection and without fault? Not without the guiding hand of the LORD, a serious attitude and goal to commit to one another, and taking the vows of marriage as an act of both love and determination.

The role of the Christian wife is to be an example of godliness to her husband (Proverbs 31:12), to be faithful to her husband (1 Cor. 7:10), to recognize the dual authority of both her husband and the LORD in the home (Colossians 3:18), and to have a faithfulness and reverence to the LORD (1 Tim. 3:11). The Scriptures also speak of the act of submission, and modern humanity cringes and rebels against the entire concept. It brings up the picture of male chauvinism, domination, or abuse to some women who have suffered through such hardship. And to men, it is a picture of a dominating, nagging shrew who will not let him have a moment’s peace and finds fault with everything he says and does.

Submission is for both sexes a voluntary response to the Sovereign will of Almighty God, and to set aside all independent thinking and actions before other believers and ordained authority.

There must be a chain of command and a sense of order and responsibility in the body of Christ. It cannot be a “free-for-all” as there had been in Corinth.

I had a ministerial colleague tell me one time that he was going to “step back one Sunday and let the Spirit take control of the service.” That might have sounded holy and wondrous but could also be a recipe for disaster and a foundation for chaos and confusion over what is to be done.

Scripture commands us to do everything decently and in order (1 Cor. 14:40). Submission is a part of a disciplined life and a comfort in that we know what is going on, who is in charge, and our specific duty or chore in order to have the household, our business, and the church run smoothly and in harmony with the will of God. It is the spiritual equivalent of a well-running machine.

The Christian husband is the head of the household and submits to the authority of Christ, as does his wife. He is to be the protector of his wife and family and to be side by side with each other as partners in marriage. He is to establish a home for his bride (in other words, have all your events in order, and be mature enough to handle the responsibility) and to enjoy her pleasures in every way (Genesis 2:23-24; Proverbs 5:18). He is to honor her and be an example of a godly man before her and his family (1 Peter 3:7). Husbands are to love their wives just as Jesus loves His church and gave Himself for her. In other words, a good husband will sacrifice his life and well-being for the sake of his wife if needed.

The bride of Christ is His church, and He has made us clean and justified, spotless and pure before Him. Likewise, husbands should desire the best and greatest for our wives. We are to place her interests and needs before ours. In other words, act like the gentlemen the LORD expects us to be with them and as a witness before the world of commitment and true love. The welfare of our wives comes first in any God-centered marriage, but we need to take care of ourselves as well physically, mentally, and keep a time of prayer and Bible reading open every day in order to get spiritually charged and prepared for what may come down the line.

Jesus Christ and His church are united as a groom is to his bride. They are no longer two separate individuals but one flesh forever. This unity was a mystery to Paul, but he used it as the best means of illustrating the love Christ has for His church and that husbands and wives should abide by this example. When I mean marriage, I mean the biblical standard of a biological man and a biological woman and nothing and no one else. There are no third options or changing of genders for the sake of a daily whim of fickle emotions or from the beratement of a deviant society and a dishonest media who could not care less about you but only want to push a trendy agenda.

The devil, his demons, and his willing minions throughout history have done their level best to destroy, pervert, or redefine the institution of marriage that had been created and blessed by God Himself in the Garden of Eden between Adam and Eve. The LORD takes marriages and families seriously and does not and has never looked the other way when they are compromised, deterred, or ruined by the acts and words of despicable individuals and families who are not satisfied with the order and function of life that God has established for His creation.

Christian families are being pummeled every day with the world’s persecutions and derisions, and we must not give in or compromise our standards for any reason. If our brethren in the past could get through their dark times, so can we until that day when our LORD returns to take us home.