Today: [Ephesians 6:] Family Relationships and Spiritual Warfare: In chapter six Paul cautions us to be circumspect in our family relationships. Many believers embrace this chapter for its lofty concepts of spiritual warfare but leave out the practical demands made upon them in their relationship to their families. God calls upon us not to be neglectful of our duties in this area lest our prayers fall inert at our feet because we fail to apply ourselves to the whole counsel of God.
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[Eph 6:1-24 KJV] 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. 4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. 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. 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. 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. 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]. 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. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; 19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. 21 But that ye also may know my affairs, [and] how I do, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things: 22 Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and [that] he might comfort your hearts. 23 Peace [be] to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace [be] with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.
After addressing marriage relationships in ch. 5 Paul turns his attention to other social transactions. He begins in v. 1 admonition children to obey their parents. The commandment to honor your mother and fathers is the first commandment with promise “that it may be well with you and that you will live long on the earth.” That word “well” in the original language means “to prosper and be well off.” I know in my own life there was a time in my early 30’s that I asked the Father what could I do to advantage myself further in life than I was experiencing at the time. He gave me this verse. From that day forward as an adult with my own family obligations, I looked for ways to benefit, bless and honor my parents. This didn’t come without a price. My siblings didn’t always understand, and they didn’t always agree. I learned to keep my thoughts toward my mom and dad to myself and just do what God instructed me to do without suggestion that others do likewise. At first, my parents didn’t understand. I wanted to be near them to make myself of service to them. They were cautious because my brother next oldest to me (now deceased) was significantly dependent upon them up into his early middle age and this left that relationship very strained and awkward. I realized this and bided my time praying for the Father to give me wisdom how to proceed. The day came that I was able to move my family to the small town where my parents had retired and were speculating in real estate.
God told me to go there and lay my life down for them and to serve them in every way possible. It was a challenge because my father was very industrious. I was running my own business during the day, and then I would be gone most nights and working over the weekends to assist him in his affairs, and with the church, he pastored at the time. Over the years from that point, I supported my dad financially although he didn’t need my money. At one point I was giving him 70% of the profits of my business without being asked. He balked at this, but I insisted that he allow me to honor him in this way. Right up to the day of their death these were the things that characterized my relationship to my parents, and I’ve never regretted it. I know in my heart that I would not be in the position of blessing and fulfillment of life that I am at this time without making those sacrificial decisions.
In v. 4 Paul goes on to warn fathers not to provoke their children to wrath. He also instructs that it is the father’s responsibility to bring their children, their sons, and daughters up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Notice what this verse says. Just as in chapter 5 we see it is the husband’s job and not the pastor’s job to minister to his wife, likewise it is the father’s responsibility and not the wife, the pastor, or the children’s program at the church to raise the children in the things of God. In our culture, this is a significant failure on the part of fathers and has contributed greatly to the social declension of our day. For my part, this was another area that I made a determination I would accept my responsibility to minister to my children and teach them the things of God personally, at home, myself. This is a mandate in scripture that carries great promise. This one attribute of Abraham is the only positive thing that is said by God about him as to why God chose him as the father of the faith:
[Gen 18:19 KJV] 19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.
Fathers, when you are wondering where the blessing of God is and why God hasn’t brought to pass the things he has promised you – check upon on your commitment to your spouse and your children. Even as a pastor and later a businessman with two businesses I took the time to instruct my children in the word at home every week on what little time I had on the weekends for myself. Even when they married and had children themselves they still came over every week with their spouses, and I would sit in the middle of the room with their babies, my grandchildren in diapers sitting at my feet and I would teach them the word of God. Every one of my children has an entire relationship with God today.
In verse 5 Paul states that servants should be obedient to your masters and serve them as unto Christ. I have held a job consistently since I was 12 years old. As I grew to adulthood, I took this verse to heart. I had many employers who were abusive, dishonest, harsh and unkind. I served them from the heart as unto Christ. When they would persecute me or pressure me, using fear tactics to get what they wanted I would quote this verse to them and tell them if they weren’t satisfied with my work they should fire me because I was in violation of this scriptural mandate. In my work history, I consistently rose from entry-level positions to management authority and beyond because I followed this scriptural admonition.
In summing up his thought toward the Ephesians, Paul reminds them of the warfare a believer faces. These people were very spiritual, and Paul set much store by them; however, we know from chapter 5 that they struggled with deceptiveness, dishonesty and sexual laxity in their lifestyles. Their marriages were not the best, and they weren’t very good mothers and fathers (lest many of the things Paul wrote here would have gone without saying). We all face pressures in life in family, vocation and our public witness. Paul reminds us that this is all about spiritual warfare and for that reason we should arm ourselves with the full armor of God that we can stand against the wiles of the devil.
Taken in context what are the wiles of the devil? Pressures in life that arise in how we make a living. Difficulties in marriage and child-rearing. Temptations to sexual sin, dishonesty, and deceptiveness. The wrestling of the Christian life (v. 12) is not something existential that doesn’t intimately touch our lives. It doesn’t get any more personal than this yet often we glibly consign concepts of spiritual struggle as something far removed from the most intimate aspects of how we conduct our lives. We feel we are overcoming as believers but behind the compartments of hypocrisy in our thinking, we are bound in darkness and self-interest to the detriment of our spouses and our children and our public testimony.
How do we defend ourselves? By having the loins of our mind girded with the truth of God’s word as expressed in scripture. By maintaining a sense of our relationship with God based on the righteousness of Christ that we might withstand the constant assault of outside influences working to bring the worst out in us. By maintaining above all (v. 16) the standard of our faith believing for the best when the temptation is to despair and give in to the dictates of the flesh and our baser nature. By remaining (v. 18) constant in prayer, always praying (Paul says) with all prayer and supplication for ourselves and for our leaders whose lives influence us that they may boldly represent the truth to us with uncompromising transparency.
The importance of these things cannot be overemphasized particularly the matter of prayer. When a leader serves a prayerless people, he is not a threat to the enemy, it matters not how powerful his anointing or how charismatic his preaching might be. As for us we seldom pray for ourselves let alone pray for others. Prayer is more than just warm wishes and kind thoughts. A strong prayer life isn’t something contained in a Facebook post. Prayer is something for which there is a set time in your day when you put aside everything else and verbalize in the room your petitions and desires toward God in expectation of an answer. The early Christians were known to greet one another with “do I find you praying…” Following that example, we close our study of this chapter with those same words. What does your prayer life look like? Are you praying over those of your household? Are you praying for your spiritual leaders? You have no right to address broader issues in prayer until you have covered the necessity of praying over your spouse, your children, yourself and your immediate spiritual leaders. When they falter and fail, and you complain yet remain prayerless the responsibility is yours to make the correction in order to have any hope of things being different for you or them.
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