The Husband's Core Role - Part One
May 14, 2017 | Randy Smith
The Husbands's Core RoleEphesians 5:25-30
Sunday, May 14, 2017
Pastor Randy Smith
As you know, last week we covered the core biblical role for a wife in marriage. I'm not going to take the time to review, but I am going to ask the women to perhaps listen again to last week's message off the Internet. And I plea with all the ladies that missed the sermon last week, please take 46 minutes of your time to listen to that message. And ladies, thank you for your positive feedback regarding the sermon. In many ways, your comments were very encouraging.
As we learned last week, directly after Paul provides the wife's role in Ephesians (in verses 22-24), he provides the role for the husbands (in verses 25-30). Naturally as we systematically work our way through this epistle, these passages are teed up for us this morning. Well, kind of unnaturally, because today happens to be Mother's Day. You know, the day we preach about Hannah and Ruth and the virtuous woman from Proverbs 31. The day that we talk about the greatness of motherhood. The day we appreciate and encourage our moms for their faithfulness to their high calling. It sounds kind of selfish to talk to the men on this glorious day that should be devoted to the women. I considered putting this passage aside for a week.
Almost immediately I went back to my original plan. One reason is because of the comical running joke I have with some of the men. From them I hear, "Why is it that on Mother's Day you praise the women, but on Father's Day you 'beat-up' the men?" So to avoid that accusation, I'm choosing to "beat-up" men on "Mother's Day!" Kidding aside, the primary reason is because if men will apply the material we are covering today there is no greater gift they can give to their wives, not only on Mother's Day, but throughout the year.
Today, we are covering the definitive passage on this subject. Today, we are covering the core role for a man in marriage. Two points - first we will look at the need to love our wives as Christ loves the church and then second we will look at the need to love our wives as we love ourselves.
1. Love As Christ Loves (verses 25-27)
Let's begin with the first point.
Paul's initial words in verse 25 are not what we would have expected. After spending three verses expressing the same point of a wife's submissiveness (in verses 22-24), we would expect Paul to say in verse 25, "Husbands lead your wives." Yet what we read is, "Husbands love your wives." The core role for a husband is to love.
Now at this point many men might believe they are already fulfilling that command. "My wife has never gone hungry. She's been kept safe. I get her nice gifts for Christmas and on her birthday. I occasionally bring her flowers. I've been faithful to her for over a decade of marriage." That's wonderful, but a million unbelievers can say the same thing. The love Paul talks about goes much deeper.
Last week after talking about submission, I might have shocked you when I said the husband's role is more difficult than the wife's. At least esteemed counselor Jay Adams agrees. This week I read him say, "We don't like to submit; [the flesh] within rebels. Yet by comparison to what Jesus Christ has required of the husbands, Christian wives have an easy lot" (Christian Living in the Home, p. 88).
And what has Jesus Christ required of husbands? Verse 25, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her."
Adam's goes on to say, "It is one thing for the wife to exemplify the church in its relationship to Christ. That relationship ought to be perfect, but we all know it is far from perfect. But the headship of Jesus Christ, in contrast to the faulty obedience of His church to Him, is perfect. It is always proper and right… And [husbands] you must exemplify this. That is the task that God has laid on your shoulders" (Ibid, p. 88-89).
Let's back it up. Last week we learned that our marriage roles are not arbitrary, cultural or time sensitive. Paul makes it crystal clear in verse 32 that human marriage was designed by God to reflect the spiritual marriage between Jesus Christ and His bride, the church. Women get their cues from the church. Men get their cues from Christ. Different roles, but equal in essence. And through their marriage, they show the world the beauty of the Gospel. That through the death and resurrection of Christ, a divine marriage has been created that is based eternally, never to be broken, on mutual love and fidelity. Our marriages in this life were created to reveal that glorious reality.
So men, what is your role? Simple! Just love your wife as much as Jesus loves the church. Christ's love for the church is the model for us. So here is what comes to mind when I consider Christ's love for the church.
Jesus Christ, God Almighty in the flesh - fully God, without sin, worshiped continually by the angels in heaven. Yet at a point of time, motivated solely by obedience to the Father and love for hell-bound rebels, He would leave the glory of heaven, become man and live amongst us - the Creator becoming one with His creation. And rather than receiving the praise and acceptance He deserved, the very people He came to love would reject Him. His closest would deny and betray Him. His enemies would mock, reject threaten, and torture Him on a cross. The Son of God would die a physically, emotionally and spiritually horrifying death. All of it done that He might forgive our sins, call the church to Himself, present her to the Father without fault and enjoy an intimate spiritual marriage with us for all of eternity. (For a beautiful articulation of this subject, please see the excerpt from Jonathan Edward's sermon below).
So men, there is your role. Simple! Just love your wife as much as Jesus loves the church and as Paul adds, give yourself up for your wife as Jesus gave Himself up for the church. No problem, right?
The following go without saying, but I will say them anyway. This is a call to be filled with the Spirit (verse 18). This is a call to give everything and withhold nothing. This is a call to make your wife's submissive role something she delights in. This is a call to sacrifice regardless of your wife's attitude. And as I said last week to the wives, this is a call to ultimately obey God with a command He has placed upon you, men. This is a call to fulfill the topic sentence of chapter 5. Verses 1 and 2, "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma." This is a call to confess your sin in this area daily.
"For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him" (Rom. 5:6-9).
"We love, because He first loved us" (1 Jn. 4:19).
The church was unloving, undeserving and unworthy. Christ still loved her and Christ proved that love by dying for her. This is a love that transcends feelings and emotions. This is a love that is called to model the love of Christ - a love that is sacrificial, purifying, protective, matchless and affectionate. Sure you are still a leader, but you lead your wife as Jesus leads the church - with love.
Mark 10:45, "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." Let's remember that loving and serving are not incompatible. When Jesus was washing the disciples feet (the action reserved for the lowest slave), there was no doubt who was in charge that evening. When Jesus was the sacrificial lamb on the cross, He never ceased to be the Lion of Judah.
Five thoughts before we move on.
One, roles in marriage are not the result of the fall, but are God's design that go back to creation. Listen to John Piper, "When sin entered the world, it ruined the harmony of marriage not because it brought headship and submission into existence, but because it twisted man's humble, loving headship toward hostile domination in some men and lazy indifference in others. And it twisted woman's intelligent, willing, happy, creative, articulate submission toward manipulative obsequiousness in some women and brazen insubordination in others. Sin didn't create headship and submission; it ruined them and distorted them and made them ugly and destructive" (This Momentary Marriage, 79). When a husband and wife walk in the Spirit and fulfill their core roles, they complement one another, bring unity to their marriage, joy to their hearts, a reversal of the fall and proof they are being recreated by Christ.
Two, men when you lead as Christ leads, you make your wife's role much easier. Actually you make her submissiveness a delight. R.C. Sproul said, "I have yet to find a woman who said she wanted to be married to a man she can dominate. As a general rule, women want leadership from their husbands, though they do not want tyranny" (The Intimate Marriage, p. 48). I agree! The biggest cry I hear from Christian women is that they want their husbands to be the spiritual leader in the home. Would any Christian wife have difficultly being married to Christ? We fall short men, but that is to be our goal.
Three, men we are called to be sure our family is spiritually strong. We know God will hold us accountable. Know where your family needs to be, have a goal, and be sure you keep the "train on the track." Immediately correct the times your family begins to derail from your biblical goal. Yet we must not only have biblical goals in mind, but also (and here's where many men blow it) we must also follow biblical means to achieve those biblical goals. And those biblical means as we have been learning today must all be rooted in love. For instance, to achieve those biblical goals, we are patient with our wives. We pray for our wives. We listen to our wives. We seek to understand our wives. We include our wives in our decisions. We defer to our wives on preference issues. We lead our wives by sacrifice and serving and example. We honor only the Lord above our wives. This is not just loving our wives, brothers, this is good leadership in general!
Four, we always remember that God in His sovereignty gave us our wives out of all the women in the world. She ultimately belongs to Him and we must receive her as a gift from her heavenly Father. Every dad in the room with a daughter can understand how God must feel if we mistreat His daughter. Maybe that's why it says in 1 Peter 3:7 that we as husbands must "live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered."
And five, understanding the roles in marriage are why God has established and we must have men take the leadership role in the church. Not only is it commanded according to 1 Timothy 2:12, but it is also necessary to model and promote the role of men in the home.
Let's get back to our passage. Verse 25, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, (now verse 26) so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word."
Since the husband gets his role from Christ, Paul goes into more detail regarding Christ's role for the church. We do what He does. If we learn His ways and imitate Him, we will know our ways. So men, the goal is to keep our eyes on our Savior, know how He served and serves His bride and then serve our bride in like manner. Specifically here, we read how Christ served the church with a specific goal. And that specific goal was to make His bride spiritually pure.
So men, we now narrow down the specific type of love that God expects from us as husbands. We love with a sacrificial love that ultimately seeks to (here's the tip of the spear) purify our wife. Our sacrificial love is not just one that catered to all of our wife's needs no different than a secular organization that seeks to make great sacrifices for others. Specifically our sacrificial love aims to make our wives more holy.
The church was dirty with sin. Christ died to cleanse us from that sin. Verse 27 makes that clear. "That He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless."
If you are the bride of Christ, thanks to His work on the cross you are not simply forgiven, but you are washed of all your sin. In the eyes of God you are, verse 27, "holy and blameless." This is the only reason we can stand before a holy God. We have been declared holy through Christ's sacrifice. We have positional righteousness. But we are also in the process of being made practically righteous. Our Divine Husband through the Holy Spirit has the primary goal of progressively making us more holy, making us more like Himself.
Men, that is how we can best love our wives. Men, we should be in full cooperation with the Holy Spirit to be used as a tool to see our wives become more holy, as a result of us, not in spite of us.
You want some practical thoughts? Bringing her to the Word. Giving her time to be in the Word. Discussing what she is learning from the Word. Bringing her to church. Finding answers for her biblical questions. Protecting her from the world's contamination. Doing nothing that might lead her to sin. Carrying her spiritual burdens. Making and explaining decisions on the basis of Scripture. Praying for her. Maintaining a positive spiritual atmosphere in the home. Commending her for the biblical traits you see in her. Encouraging her in her spiritual growth. Keeping your critiques only to spiritual issues. Setting a godly example.
Single Christian women, I trust you want to be more like Christ. Therefore it only stands to reason that you will seek to marry a man that will assist and aid you in the process. Because after marriage, the greatest spiritual influence in your life will be your husband. Your sanctification is your responsibility, but it should also be his as well.
As verse 27 says the day will come that the church will be presented to Christ in perfect holiness. Revelation 21:9, "Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, 'Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.'"
On that day all tears will be wiped from our eyes. On that day, throughout all of eternity, we will enjoy perfect fellowship with Christ and be perfectly righteous like Him without even a hint of sin. That's God's goal. After all, didn't Paul say in the fourth verse of this letter that God chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him" (Eph. 1:4)? Men, that should be our goal for ourselves and for our wives as well.
Well, I know many of you have a busy day, so we will leave it right here for today. Lord willing, I'd like to finish up the second point in verses 28-30 next week.
- How astonishing it is, that One who is blessed forever, and is infinitely and essentially happy, should endure the greatest sufferings that ever were endured on earth!
- How astonishing it is, that One who is the supreme Lord and judge of the world, should be arraigned, and should stand at the judgment-seat of mortal worms, and then be condemned!
- How astonishing it is, that One who is the living God, and the fountain of life, should be put to death!
- How astonishing it is, that One who created the world, and gives life to all his creatures, should be put to death by his own creatures!
- How astonishing it is, that One of infinite majesty and glory, and so the object of love, praises, and adorations of angels, should be mocked and spit upon by the vilest of men!
- How astonishing it is, that One, infinitely good, and who is love itself, should suffer the greatest cruelty.
- How astonishing it is, that One who is infinitely beloved of the Father, should be put to inexpressible anguish under his own Father's wrath!
- How astonishing it is, that he who is King of heaven, who has heaven for his throne, and the earth for his footstool, should be buried in the prison of the grave! How astonishing it is!
- How wonderful this is! And yet this is the way that God's wisdom has fixed upon, as the way of sinner's salvation!
Jonathan Edward's sermon, "The Wisdom Of God, Displayed In The Way Of Salvation"