Ephesians 5 v 25
We begin by asking 2 questions this morning –
1. Wives – do you love your husbands enough to LIVE for them?
For 4 weeks we have let the scriptures teach us that this is what God requires of wives – and by extension it is what the Bible requires of all believers men and women who are joined to the Lord Jesus Christ their husband. Do we love the Lord Jesus Christ enough to live for Him and for Him alone, forsaking all others, cleaving, separating ourselves to HIM? This, my friends is the challenge of the Christian life – submission to Christ our saviour in every avenue of our existence. This means we will become more like Him and seek to put on His holiness in our thought speech and behaviour. So wives – and all Christians – do you love Christ your husband enough to LIVE for Him? And as the Church submits to Christ do wives submit to their husbands? We have found that God’s order is good for us. It is good for us in that when we submit God prospers and blesses us; and wives find the same – when they willingly submit to their husband’s leadership it is good for the wife and ultimately it is good for the husband. The second question is much, much harder.
2. Husbands – do you love your wives enough to DIE for them?
The Apostle Paul in Ephesians 5 now turns attention to the men – the husbands.
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.
It seems that Paul assumes that husbands are much slower to catch on than their wives! Under God the Holy Spirit’s direction he uses 3 verses to instruct the wives in their responsibility in the marriage relationship – how THEY are to show submission – but he needs NINE verses, 3 times as many to instruct husbands how to love their wives! These verses show that men are to reach a very high standard in their behaviour and in their love for their wives. He is now going to explain to men in particular that when a wife knows that her husband loves her with the highest kind of love possible, a love that makes much of her, then she feels no resentment over her responsibility to render loyal submission to him. Now, I said that this was to men in particular – but it is also to wives – because it concerns you too – so don’t let anyone switch off this morning because they believe that this ministry is specific for just one group or category of believer. A Christian psychiatrist once wrote a book with a fascinating title –“What wives wished their husbands knew about women.” It is the title rather than the contents that is fascinating because sadly the author has gone off in a very unbiblical direction and his teachings are no longer helpful. But that title! There are some wives who despair that their husbands do NOT know what their Biblical responsibilities are towards them. These wives are treated very badly and yet from their husband‘s point of view are expected to submit to those husbands. But there is a greater responsibility on the man in this God given relationship than on the woman. She loves her husband enough to live for him – but he is to love her enough to die for her! Before we enter in to the details of how husbands are to love their wives let us first remind ourselves of the reasons that God established marriage.
Marriage was established for an emotional purpose. This was God’s reason for Adam – the wise all caring creator God saw how lonely Adam was and said
Genesis 2 v 18 “And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.”
Marriage was established for a social purpose. The marriage service reflects the intention that God wished to make sure that mankind increased and populated the earth –
Genesis 1 v 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
God provided marriage indicating a physical purpose – God provided the means for the man and woman to fulfil the normal desires given to them by God. We referred to this last week in
1 Corinthians 7 v 2 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.
The fourth reason is indicated here in Ephesians 5 – and it is a SPIRITUAL PURPOSE. The spiritual purpose of marriage is the spiritual relationship between the Husband and the wife – submission and love on her part, and loving leadership on his part – and together they experience with each other, as heirs of the grace of life, submission towards and love from the Lord Jesus Christ.Here then is a set of verses outlining
The Kind of love that a man should have for his wife.
In these nine verses we are going to see a comprehensive description of the kind of love that Christ has for His church, and that Christ expects every man to have for his wife. 1. A SACRIFICIAL LOVE. Verse 25. 2. A SANCTIFYING LOVE. V 26 – 27. 3. A SATISFYING LOVE. V 28 – 30. 4. A SEPARATED LOVE.V 31 – 32 5. A SUMMARY OF LOVE. V 33. My brethren, the Lord Jesus Christ has placed a huge responsibility on to our shoulders. We are to love sacrificially – even unto death!
1. A sacrificial Love.
If it seems difficult for wives to obey God’s commandment to submit, let those wives consider that, by comparison to these words of Paul to husbands, submission is relatively SIMPLE! It is one thing to learn to submit to another. Certainly that is hard running as it does against the grain. We don’t like to submit our wills to anyone. The old man (or woman) within us rebels. Yet by comparison to what the Lord Jesus Christ has required of their husbands, Christian wives have an easy lot. Because on the other side of the coin is headship. Men who are husbands are now told that they are to exemplify, follow to the letter, the Headship that Christ has over the church. Just think of it. The wife is to exemplify the church in its relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ. That relationship ought to be perfect, but we all know that it is far from perfect. The husband on the other hand is to exemplify the Lord in His headship over the church – and His headship is a perfect headship – it is always proper – always right – always wise – always embodies what God has commanded. Brethren – we must exemplify this! This is our task. And for my part I believe it is too great for a weak and sinful man like me. I know that I cannot fulfil to the letter, this commandment – and I know to my shame that I have not as a husband. And it is only as the Holy Spirit of God works in our lives as husbands that we can come anywhere near being what we ought to be – as those who demonstrate Christ’s loving leadership and headship in our marriages. Now it is one thing for us to have failed in the past. But the Lord is so gracious and patient with us that He calls us to aspire to much greater things in our marriages. He has set the standards. He has laid down the goals for us to reach. We dare not give up now just because we have not in the past come up to the mark as Christian Husbands. So He teaches us – He prompts us to see from His word what we SHOULD be – that is to emulate Him in all our ways. We are called to be like the Lord Jesus Christ in relation to our wives. We are to be head in our homes; the loving heads of our wives. But when we fail we fail not only our wives, but also we fail to represent our Lord’s love for His church. Which is why our task is such a solemn one. When we fail to reflect him in our marriages we damage His Name. Brethren we are called to show forth the Lord Jesus Christ by the leadership that we exercise in our homes. This is awesome isn’t it! Let us think about this Sacrificial Love of Christ. The word for love here in verse 25 is AGAPAO. What a powerful word it is and how our English language suffers from only ONE word for LOVE. Greek has 3 – AGAPAO, PHILEO and EROS. PHILEO means love in the sense of fondness, to treat affectionately, to like, to befriend, to welcome or to approve of. EROS is not used in the NT and refers to physical love in Greek literature. AGAPAO with its corresponding noun AGAPE have been called the CHARACTERISTIC words of Christianity. The reason for this is that God the Holy Spirit has used it to express ideas that were previously unknown – that is the attitude of God the creator towards His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, the human race and to those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ in particular. We can see these three attitudes in three verses –
1. God’s loving attitude towards His Son –
26 And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.
2. God’s loving attitude towards the human race in particular –
John 3 v 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Romans 5 v 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
3. God’s loving attitude towards those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ
in particular – John 14 v 21
He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
W E Vine says on AGAPAO that,
“Love can be known only from the actions that it prompts. God’s love is seen in the gift of His Son 1 John 4 v 9In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. But this kind of love is not the love of mere affection that is drawn out in any qualities in the objects of love. This love is an exercise of the divine will in deliberate choice that comes from within the very nature of God Himself.”
So many of us get the wrong idea about love. We tend to think of love primarily in terms of emotions. We can be forgiven for this because we are most conscious of love in the realm of emotions. God however relates love to the WILL rather than to the emotions. He commands us to LOVE. He commands us to love Him. We are familiar with the scriptures – Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine affection, with all thy feeling, with all thy sensitivity and with all thy tummy tingling excitement! Oh no my friends – there is no scripture that says anything remotely like that – we are to love
the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. Mark 12 v 30 – 31.
God commands us to love one another – He does not invite us to get involved in emotional gymnastics – he commands us to LOVE – because God is love and love is the greatest revelation of God.
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5 v 8.
Now obviously if love can be commanded it does not belong solely in the realms of emotions. Our emotions, that we associate sometimes with the term “falling in love”, are those which fluctuate. Sometimes they fade away altogether. Emotions need to be cultivated. So PHILEO refers to love as a feeling. Whereas AGAPAO refers to LOVE AS A PRINCIPLE. A further feature of the use of these words is this – it is AGAPAO and not PHILEO that is always used to describe man’s love for God. God does not tell us to be fond of Him – He commands us to AGAPAO Love Him. AGAPAO therefore places love on the highest plane possible. God’s love for us and ours for Him. Our text tells us husbands to AGAPAO our wives – as God loves man – and He commands us to love like God. So how are we to do this? The answer is SACRIFICIALLY. John 15 v 13 says
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
This is the self-giving love referred to in our text – the Lord Jesus Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. The Lord Jesus Christ loved the church BY giving Himself for her. The Lord Jesus Christ not only loved His church but also proved it by the most spectacular and powerful means possible – dying for her. Oh my Christian brother who is a husband – are you a man who is ready to die for your wife? I mean really die? Would you stand between your wife and an attacker to protect her from harm – physical harm? Many men have. They have fought for their wives and the wives of other men in the armies of our country when defending them from attack. This is why we honour those who died in war – not because we like war or we wish to perpetuate violence on an international scale – but because when our wives and families are threatened by an enemy, who will come in and attack them, then loving our wives and children means being prepared to die for them. Others died that we might live. Some husbands are not prepared to die for their wives. Some are not prepared to obey God’s command to love their wives as Christ loved. This is how they find it the easiest thing in the world to walk out on wives and children leaving their responsibilities behind them. They have the gall to blame their wives for the breakdown – not realising that theirs is the greater responsibility – to love sacrificially. It is a matter of the will, not of the emotions. Giving one’s life for someone else is the most selfless thing that any person can do. But this selflessness also shows itself in the way that a man leads his home. The selfless man who loves will do just that – be self less. His wife and family will come first. If there is only a certain amount of money available for the household the truly selfless loving man will put the needs of his children and wife FIRST – before anything that he might want or say that he needs. He will be responsible with God’s resources. He will not go into debt if he can avoid it because interest is wasteful. He will deny himself in the interest of his wife. A truly loving husband will sacrifice his free time to be with his wife and children. He will sacrifice his leisure so that they can benefit. He will sacrifice his whole life and career if it will benefit his wife. Sacrificial love is the husband making sure that his love is of such a quality that, come what may, she will reign so supremely in his heart that no sacrifice would seem too great for him to make for her. This is keeping before him the example of the Lord Jesus Christ and His great love for His church. The Lord Jesus Christ could have stayed in the heavenly glory reigning as sovereign – but he humbled Himself instead – sacrificially –
Philippians 2 v 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
The Lord Jesus Christ could have destroyed the world as He hung on the cross – he could have summoned the mighty hosts of angels to come down and set Him free; He could have spoken the word and mighty power come from His mouth and relieve Himself of suffering dealing with His enemies and those who scoffed at Him at the foot of the cross – but he went through with the sacrifice – so that none of His elect children would have to suffer what he suffered – the very pains of death and hell! Can we husbands sacrifice to that degree? But there is more to this love of Christ than this. When we read the words in this verse “even as Christ loved the church” we must ask, “ How did Christ love the Church?” He loved the church in spite of her unworthiness. He loved her in spite of her deficiencies. He saw that she needed to be washed and she needed to be cleansed. He saw her in her rags and in her vileness – but He loved her – His bride His church. The Lord Jesus Christ has loved us my friends not because of anything in us. He loved us in spite of what sin was in us. While we were yet sinners Christ died for us. He loved us while we were yet enemies. In all of our unworthiness and vileness He loved us. He loved the church – not because she was beautiful and glorious – but that he might make her so! What then does this say to us about how we are to be loving husbands? We come up against deficiencies, difficulties and things we can criticise in our wives. We may be irritated – something is not right here or there. But brethren we are commanded to love our wives as Christ loved the church – does He criticise us and make us feel small? Does He get irritated with us? Does he pick quarrels with us? No – the Lord Jesus Christ never does that – so neither are we, who are to emulate Him, to treat our wives like that. Perhaps now we can see that the quality of this love is a matter of the will and not of the emotions. If it were merely a matter of emotions it is bound to fail. This love is unconditional love and it is a love that never fails. Paul has already introduced this wonderful theme in Ephesians – in 1 v 7
In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
then in Chapter 2 v 12 – 17
12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: 13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.
And in verse 2 of this 5th chapter the same point is being made – Christ has given Himself – given Himself for us.
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.
The Lord commands us to love. Then He tells us that if we love Him we will keep His commandments. Therefore loving our wives, as we should, is an expression of our loving the Lord Jesus Christ as we obey His command. This principle is the equivalent of our wives submitting themselves to us their husbands as an expression of their obedient submission to the Lord Jesus Christ. There once was a wife who adored her husband – not for his good looks – he was no Adonis – nor for his wealth – he was hard up – but for his likeness to the Lord Jesus Christ. She said of her husband, “My husband loves me so thoroughly and is so good to me that I jump at the opportunity to obey him.” My dear brothers – can your wife say this about you? I dare you to ask her! And I dare you wives to give your husbands a really honest answer if he dares to ask you. Oh what a long way we husbands have to go to love like the Lord Jesus Christ loves. Yes, we aspire to it, but we do not come very near it. We wish that we were better. Well we should not merely wish – rather we should act. We should be thoughtful about loving our wives thoroughly – and being good to them as much as we can. Let us abandon our excuses appealing to our weaknesses, or our tiredness, or perhaps the fact that our own fathers were not very good examples to us. We stand today as those who are charged with a serious responsibility as married men – to love our wives as Christ loved the church – sacrificially and extensively and thoroughly. Are we brave enough to re-evaluate this morning? Are we ready to take stock and ask ourselves serious questions – “Do I love as Jesus loves? Do I care as Jesus cares? Do I forgive as Jesus forgives? Do I sacrifice as He sacrificed for me and all of His dear children?” May the Lord help us all to see this teaching as relevant to each one of us – not just husbands and wives – but men and women of God who serve the Lord Jesus Christ here and seek to glorify His glorious Name.