Today: [Ephesians 5:] Imitators of God and Marriage Issues: In chapter 5 of Ephesians Paul encourages us to be imitators of God. That means that we do what God would do if He were in our shoes. Also, Paul addresses marital issues and the need for proper order and sacrificial love between a husband and a wife.
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[Eph 5:1-17 KJV] 1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. 3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; 4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. 7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them. 8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now [are ye] light in the Lord: walk as children of light: 9 (For the fruit of the Spirit [is] in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) 10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove [them]. 12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. 13 But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. 14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. 15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord [is].
In the closing verses of the previous chapter, Paul urges us to be kind, tenderhearted and forgiving one to another. Chapter 5 verse 1 extends this thought with the encouragement to be a follower (orig. imitator) of God as dear children. Little children who are beloved of their parents will imitate mom and dad. I remember my eldest son as a toddler dressing up in his overalls and red cowboy boots to go out on the porch with his plastic guitar to sing and preach the gospel to the neighbor kids. As believers, we are encouraged ourselves not only to worship God but as the original word implies we are to imitate God. What does this mean? We are to think and act as God would think and act were He in our position. Kenneth Hagin, Sr., put it this way – act like God’s word were true in the situation. God’s default response to every challenge is “my kingdom come.” You are likewise a king, and you should act like it. When you are under challenge, yes you are to submit to God in all things, but regarding the problems at hand you once you have aligned yourself with the known will of God your response as an imitator of God should be what His response would be: “my kingdom come…” That makes you and not the devil the principality and power in the circumstance and situation.
The appeal as well is to walk in love toward others even as we are the recipients of the love of God. Does that mean to give everyone their way or to love them on their terms? Does God do this? No, He doesn’t. He loved Adam and Eve, but he still put them out of the garden. Loving someone does not mean letting them steamroll over you in the name of Christ. We are to be imitators of God, and we are to allow the love of Christ to be reproduced in all our dealings with others. Paul is speaking to people who have a desire and an interest to see God glorified. At the same time in talking to these same believers, they are instructed as saints to refrain from sexual impurity, covetousness, filthiness, foolish talking, and jesting – things that are not convenient for believers. What are we to replace them with? Somber and ashen faces? No, we are to shun these sinful habits of life and replace them with thanksgiving and praise. That can be a disconnect for those who struggle with these besetting sins. However difficult (v. 5) this may be yet the caution is that we keep in mind that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor idolator has any inheritance in the kingdom of God. What does all this tell us? Regardless of how holy the Ephesian church was – its members struggled with darkness in their lives. How about you? Are you even capable of identifying let alone refraining from contaminating behaviors that may seem hidden to us but are quite evident to anyone with discernment looking on?
In v. six we see that even though we belong to God and have a commitment to Christ in our past, we constitute ourselves children of disobedience by our bad behaviors. When does this happen? When we disobey God. Grace in the new birth is not an extension of God’s clemency to put up with sin more than He did with those who were under the law. Even in grace, God is still a God capable wrath and you and I, whether we are born again believers or not, can incur that wrath by persistent sin in our lives. To believe or teach otherwise is not in harmony with Paul’s statements in Eph. chapter 5. We must then (v. 14 awake from our slumber and walk in the light of God’s true character and not the contrived, anemic concept of God that is taught so often from our pulpits.
[Eph 5:18-33 KJV]
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; 20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; 21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. 22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 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. 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. 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. 32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 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.
In v. 18 Paul warns against excessive use of alcohol, and we might include other substances as well. In the US it is very likely that gateway drugs such as marijuana will soon be entirely legal for medical and recreational use in all 50 states. Just because something is legal does that mean it is expedient when overused or abused? Chocolate cake is legal, but if we have too much of it we endanger our health and our waistlines. What Paul is saying to us in v. 18 is choose to be filled with the Holy Spirit and allow God’s presence to take the place of the diminishing returns or so-called benefits from such things, singing and making melody in our hearts to the Lord and giving thanks always for all things unto God and submitting to one another in the fear of the Lord. In other words don’t look to anything (substances, relationships, etc.,) for what we should look to God for because that constitutes idolatry and there is a price for this that is higher than you would rationally be willing to pay.
On the subject of submission let us answer that question. Who are you submitted to? Just because you receive from your pastor or another minister doesn’t mean you are submitted to them. In Christian culture today it is a red flag of warning to suggest that you submit to anyone but what does the scripture say? One parishioner made the statement “you are my pastor as long as you tell me what I want to hear…” How devastating and how unfortunate. We are to submit to leaders, and we are to submit to one another. To do otherwise is not in our best interests.
What about wives? Paul says in v. 22 that a wife is to submit to her (own) husband as unto the Lord. That means that you are to defer to your husband as you would defer to Christ. Is that a misogynistic statement? Are we on good ground to dismiss this verse as not relevant for our day? Many wives today cannot demonstrate one area of their lives that shows a practice of obedience and submission to their husbands. Most husbands as well have no interest in their wives being submissive toward them because they don’t want the responsibility. When God-ordained authority is absent in the home what happens is the husband becomes the defacto oldest child in the house, and the wife is more or less the den mother with the added benefit that he gets to sleep with her and what’s wrong with that?
There are those who say Paul was addressing things that were only germane to the ancient world but how do you justify that thought when v. 23 insists that the headship of the husband in relation to the wife is a pattern of Christ as the head of the church? Jesus is the head of the church now as much as He was 2000 years ago when this was written. Whether you like it or not or whether it was demonstrated in the home you grew up in there is a God-given order in the home with the husband and the wife relating to one another according to a pattern God ordained. If your husband or your wife is not in the Lord that is another matter and another problem that God would have spared us by the warning not to be unequally yoked, however, just because your spouse is not a spiritual person doesn’t dissolve this crucial issue. As the church (v. 24) is subject to Christ, let the wives be subject to their (own) husbands.
In v. 25 Paul turns his attention to the husband. The wife is not your slave or your punching bag emotionally, verbally or otherwise. You are to love your wife and give yourself to your wife as Christ gave himself to the church. There should not one word come out of your mouth toward your wife that is inconsistent with Christ’s character. If this statement does not reflect your heart toward your wife and your practice, then you are an offender and have proven yourself an unfit husband in that instance. How did Jesus give Himself to the church? By crucifixion. You are to lay down your life for your woman as Christ laid down his life for you and sometimes as in the case of Jesus she will be the one with the hammer and the nails. The mandate is the same.
You are also to wash your wife with the water of the word. It isn’t the pastor’s job to wash your wife with the water of the word. Have you ever given your wife a bath? Most husbands would never think of themselves as serving their wives so sacrificially. Husbands, God will never ask your pastor why your wife didn’t make it. The church is not accountable for her spiritual well being – you are. If you don’t do your job, then you abdicate your authority, and your place in the home and the consequences are yours to face. A husband whose character in the home contradicts the character of Christ is a husband who has nullified and relinquished his authority as a husband. If there is a problem in the home, husband it is your problem to solve not your wife’s. This subject of proper order in the home if addressed sincerely would resolve many difficult marriage situations and in some cases might dissolve some marriages because the partners have no intention of ever doing things God’s way. Nonetheless, gentlemen, you are (v. 28) to love your wife as your own body, cherishing her and giving yourself for her. It would be an unusual woman not to respond to that kind of love.
For Paul, being single as he was, (v. 32) the marriage bond as God would have it is a great mystery revealing beyond our reckoning something of Christ and his church. Nevertheless, a husband is to love his wife as himself, and the wife is to reverence her husband.
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