A Voice in the
Ephesians - book study:
Wives to their Husbands - (Ephesians 5:22-24)
"Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord." (vs22) "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord." (Col3:18)
"..the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior..the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the Word of God may not be blasphemed." (Tit2:3-5)
"..and let the wife see that she reverence her husband." (vs33)
Well, sorry ladies... we start with you. The 'passage' starts with you. The husband gets his next lesson! Knowing the climate of the day, there are some of you who are going to rise up and rebel against God's Word as we look at it in this lesson. As we see what God teaches for the proper wifely role, and if you begin to think that it is awfully one-sided and chauvinistic, just wait till you see what the husband has to deal and compete with, and his responsibilities next lesson. Hopefully then, you'll realize that you've got it relatively easy.
Wives are told to "submit" to their husbands. Right here many women have already turned off. In today's climate, forget about notions of male vs female; people in general do not submit. As we learned in the previous lesson, Christians are to submit "to one another in the fear of God". (vs21) In today's world nobody wants to submit to anybody or any thing. We are all our own masters. We have self-esteem. We are "self-actualized". (I still haven't quite figured out what 'that' one means!) But everything is of self, from self, by self, for self.
Submit means to "arrange under, to subordinate, to submit to one's control, to yield to one's advice or admonition, to obey". It is like when the Roman centurian wanted Jesus to heal his servant, and is not worthy to have Jesus come under his roof, because, as he says, "I am under authority". (Mt8:9) The centurian was under his higher-ups. And he had servants under him. It is a thing of "chain-of-command".
Often when children are told by their parents to do something, they retort, "Why?" In the 'olden days' parents would sometimes simply say, "Because I said so (Smack!)." That was reason enough. The parent is over the child; and sometimes the child might not have been old enough to understand "why"; or, more likely than not, their retort was an act of rebellion, and thus, no explanation was appropriate for the moment.
-WHY- is the wife to submit to the husband? Because God 'said so'. That is reason enough. "For the husband is -head- of the wife" (vs23) This is how God appointed it. When the Commander-in-Chief sends an order down the pike, and eventually the sergeant barks an order to the private, if the private were to ask, "Why?", the sergeant could say, "Because the President ordered it." Now, I don't know how things are in today's more lenient military, but would I be accurate in assuming the private, if he doesn't want to be in hot water, is not going to even dare to ask, "Why?"? He knows his rank, and replies, "Yes, sir!"
Is the president more important than the private? Is the private less of a person than the sergeant? They all inherit the same Adamic sin nature that came through Noah, through the generations. And when a husband and wife are both Believers into Jesus Christ (which, this passage is written to believers), the same Salvation is imputed to both equally, "..there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Gal3:28) Please notice; this verse is misapplied all over the place in these days, to teach that male/female 'roles' are equal. They are not. This verse is speaking of 'Salvation'... of being "in Christ Jesus". When a wife submits to her husband, she is not 'less saved'. She is not 'less-of-a-Christian'. She and her husband are co-equally "one" with Christ, in the same way that if the president and private are Believers, even though rank separates them as to their roles, they are both "one" in Christ. As I have observed in church fellowships in military towns, when a teacher is in the military, and many in the group are also military, the teacher often introduces the lesson/lecture by saying something to the effect that "Rank stays outside the door". In this class, "there is no (military) rank". Lower rank does not salute the upper rank, because in God's presence, they are all "one in Christ" and "submitting to one another in the fear of God". (vs21) Same with husbands and wives. In God's site, they are both co-equal. But just like when those military personnel get back on base and rank is observed, so too, in marriage, the roles are observed.
The wife is to submit to the husband just as the Church submits to Christ. And let's complete this chain-of-command structure. Even Christ is not His own "boss", but is under the Father. (1Cor11:3) He said, "I always do those things that please Him". (Jn8:29) Christ obeys the Father. Jesus says to the Church, "If you love Me, keep My commandments" (Jn14:15) Wives, particularly, like the sentimental talk. They like to hear their husbands tell them, "I love you". And wives love to tell their husbands, "I love you". Well, wife; if you -say- you 'love' your husband, "keep his commandments". In other words, obey him. If you -say- you "love" your husband, but do not obey him, nor are submissive to him, you are a "liar" when you say you "love" him; in the same way a Believer is a liar. "He who says, I know Him, and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His Word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him." (1Jn2:4-5) Wives: do you want the love between you and your husband to "grow" and become "perfected"? Be submissive to him, and obey him. Hold him in "reverence". (vs33)
Oh yes, I'm sure some of you think I've gone way off the deep end right about now! But this is what it says, "..JUST AS the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything." (vs24) Yes, wives, "everything". Even to your unsaved husband? Yes, "in everything".
Do you desire to see your husband saved? How are you going to win him? Thump your Bible at him and make sure he knows just how horrible a sinner he is, and that he should be 'like you'? Do you whine and preach 'at' him? Do you sniff your nose in the air, with a hoity-toity 'better-than-thou' promenade as you head off "to church"? What does Peter say? "..be subject to your own husbands, that..they, without a word, may be won by the -BEHAVIOR- of their wives, when they observe your pure behavior with fear." (1Pt3:1-2) Submission and obedience.
Also notice: submit to your "own" husband. (vs22) Christian wife: you are not under the authority of the male leadership of the fellowship. In this, some Bible-thumping churches are no better than cults, where the pastor and board expect the church women to be under 'them'. But notice, even, that when a wife wants to investigate even some spiritual matter, Paul instructs, "..let them question their -OWN- husbands at home.." (1Cor14:35)
There have been times when women write in to VW with questions about this or that. I will give answers from the Scriptures. But then, depending on the topic or situation, I will often also ask them "if they have discussed the matter with their husband?" I will suggest to them that the answers I have given are how I see the Scripture in the matter, but that they must seek the counsel of their husband on the matter, and follow his leadership. When God made Eve, He did not bring her "before the church board". No! He brought her to Adam. She became Adam's "helper suitable to him". (Gen2:20)
So, what is the wife's role? Should she be a stay-at-home-mom? Should she can/freeze all the garden produce, wear only long dresses, wear her (long) hair in a bun, sew all the family clothes, and home-school the children? If she gets a job, is she sinning? Should she not wear any makeup, nor have her hair done up in a salon? Well, guess what... I'm not going to answer 'all' these things. Who is to give her these answers? Her "own" husband. Her marriage is to her "own" husband.
There is a section of this country called, "the Bible belt". In discussing some problems someone was facing recently in one of these groups, I suggested that it should be called, "the Pharisee belt". Most of the things they require each other to conform to are not necessarily 'all' Scriptural precepts. But interspersed into their phariseeism is a certain "code of conduct" for Godly wives. Somebody even recently sent me a URL to a website of a place that specializes in "modest attire" for Godly women. When Paul says that wives should be "discreet, chaste" (Tit2:5) and "pure" (1Pt3:2), did he mean that every dress is supposed to have a certain design of ruffle around the shoulders and sleeves, and that aprons are to have a particular checkered red/white pattern? (I won't even touch the rest of what I saw at that site, even suggesting "godly" attire for the bedroom!! I guess they never noticed Gen2:25, or the book of S-o-S) You see, they miss the whole point where Peter says, "Do not let your adornment be outward; arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on apparel" (1Pt3:3) They suggest that Peter is exhorting not to fix up one's hair, nor dress up. But it must be taken in context. They stop there, without going on to, "..rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a meek and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God" (vs4) What do people notice about you? Your lipstick/gloss, coifed hair, perfectly color-coordinated outfit, high-heels and matching purse? Did Peter say these things are wrong? No. He says, let this not be what people notice about you, but that what they see is the "meek and quiet spirit". Now, to be sure, a meek and quiet spirit is going to affect the nature of one's attire. And, oh how I could recount instances of some of these Pharisee-belt women, who conform to 'their' standards of modesty, but do not possess a "meek and quiet spirit"!
So...how should you "get up" yourself? Well, the holy women of God "..adorned themselves, being subject to their own husbands" (vs5) Like I said, I'm not going to give you the answer. It is not mine to give. It is your husband's. And there is not one "Pharisee belt" -standard- for all women. Each wife, being subject to her "own" husband. What does -each- 'individual' husband say? That is what "his" wife will do. And if you see another woman conforming to how her husband wishes of her, and it is different from what your husband wants from you, don't you dare judge that woman! Don't you dare! Don't you dare be a 'gossip and busybody, saying things you ought not'. (~1Ti5:13) That other woman "stands or falls" to her own master (Rom14:4); as do you to yours!
Now, when Paul instructs that the wife be a "homemaker" (Tit2:5), is that her only option? Is she condemned if she has a job? If you think so, then it is recommended that you read Proverbs 31:10-31. If we understand how God's instruction to "teach" God's Law "diligently" to the children is a command given specifically to fathers (Deu6:7) as they are instructed to "nurture them in the discipline and admonition of the Lord" (Eph6:4b), perhaps we can have some tolerance for families we see occasionally where the wife has the job, and the father is a stay-at-home-dad. As a fellow school bus driver called himself years ago, whose wife was a doctor... he was the "house husband". How can a father be an effective teacher to his children, if his time is totally spent away from home at the job/career, and when he comes home, is too tired? Naturally, when the O.T. was written, most people were of an agrarian society. The whole family lived and worked together on the 'family farm'. So, naturally, the fathers and sons were working together all day. When today's society is mostly urban, of necessity we must view things differently. And also, let us be sensitive to the fact that there are some men who seem not to be well-suited to holding a salaried job, but are gifted around the house. Both the salary, and the domestics are necessary to make a "home" work.
But again, who makes these decisions? It is made between the husband and wife. Each family unit makes its 'own' life choices. If you decide that the wife is more suited to the career, and the husband should stay at home with the children, don't let the pharisees give you a guilt complex for not being "like-THEY-are".
Thus, hopefully it becomes clear that a wife's "submission" to her husband does not automatically translate into "stay-at-home-mom". She is under "her OWN" husband, and as they are "one flesh" (which we will discuss next lesson), having left their individual families to form their "OWN" family, they make their "OWN" family decisions. It's like Jesus said to Peter, who was looking around at others saying, "what about this man?", and Jesus says to him, You never mind him! "You follow Me!" (Jn21:22)
"Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything". (vs24)
Husbands to their Wives - (Ephesians 5:25-33)
"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her..." (vs25)
"Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter towards them." (Col3:19)
"Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be cut off." (1Pet3:7)
OK fellas... remember how it was? She was the most beautiful creature you had ever laid eyes on! God brought her to you and your eyes popped out and you said, "Wo! Man!" (Gen2:23) This is awesome!! You could hardly keep your eyes or hands off her. Now, it's more like: Why is she sooo emotional! I thought I could trust her, but see how manipulative she is... and whiny and bossy and self-centered. How did I end up with -HERRRRR??- Or like in My Fair Lady, "Why can't a woman be more like a man!"
Adam even went so far as to accuse God, "The woman whom You gave to be with me...!" (Gen3:12) Yes, Peter says to "understand" them, and Paul says, "Don't be bitter against them". Yes, perhaps their sin nature stirs their emotions up into manipulative behavior. But also 'understand' that this is the state of affairs which is part of the curse to the woman, "Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you." (Gen3:16b) You see, this emotional nature is also part of the curse; part of the "sorrow" of conception.
And there is really no grounds to be bitter. Initially she was attractive to you, but now you feel like you are "stuck with" her. What a 'raw deal' you got! Mmm? Well, what did she get in you? Likely, no knight in shining armor, either!
What did Christ -get- when He 'got' the Church? And yet, the husband is to love his wife just as Christ loved the Church. What did Christ get? He got a bunch of scoundrels who were "dead in trespasses and sins" (2:1) Even the apostles were continually squabbling with each other. A couple wanting to be at Jesus' "right and left" in His kingdom. How many times doesn't it speak of how they were always jockeying amongst each other, speculating as to who was better. Even the very night Jesus was betrayed, just before they abandoned Him and scattered, just after Jesus has told them that "one of them" would be betraying Him, and they are wondering "who" it might be, "there was also a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered greater." (Lk22:24) -THIS- is what Jesus has to work with!
I don't know of any Scripture that suggests Jesus has ever been bitter against us. Husbands, love and "don't be bitter". (Col3:19) And as God deals with us, He "..knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust." (Ps103:14) Husbands, respect/honor her as the "weaker vessel". (1Pt3:7)
But now... let's get into the meat of this passage. While Paul speaks of marriage, he says "..but I speak concerning Christ and the church" (vs32) And as we delve into this, our understanding will then work its way backwards, out from Christ and His church, to the husband and his wife.
Ladies, please pardon while we finish painting a terrible picture of 'womanhood' here. We are speaking of the "church", and what Christ is working with. While my own unequal yoke turned out to be a manipulating liar, particularly as she was leaving to be with "her gods" (you who know about my life know what this refers to), I'm sure there surely 'must be' some honest women out there; at least, one or two? Although, the "virtuous woman" whom "her husband safely trusts her" is called rare: "who can find?" (Pr31:10-11) Solomon with his "thousand" to analyze says, "One man among a thousand I have found, But a woman among all these I have not found." (Ec7:28) And so, as we analyze what Christ has to work with, we see that God was looking for a righteous person: "Jehovah looks down from Heaven upon the children of men, To see if there are any who understand, who seek God. They have all turned aside, They have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, No, not one." (Ps14:2-3)
With this as background, Paul says, "..as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.." (vs25) How did Christ give Himself? He DIED! There is no greater love. (Jn15:13) Now, while with Christ the resurrection fits the Salvation equation, if we just consider "death" by itself; if one gives his life in death, there is no more to give. And furthermore, once a person is dead, there is nothing more to "receive". A great many relationships are ones of "what can I get out of this?" You see, fellas, this is why you are now feeling 'trapped', because you went into marriage to "get". You saw things you "wanted", so you went after them and got them. But because you were in it to "get", but were not really "giving", now you are getting what you gave. Make sense? You think she manipulates? Well, did you do any manipulating to 'snag' her? You see how that works? "..whatever a man sows, that he will also reap." (Gal6:7)
But, since, in our human finiteness we cannot understand such a depth of love, Paul brings it down a notch. "So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself" (vs28) Yes, Christ "gave" Himself. But only He is perfect. We are yet in these bodies of sin. So then, we get to the "golden rule" concept. "And just as you want men to do to you, you also do the same to them." (Lk6:31) We cannot begin to comprehend Christ's love, because His holiness is so pure, and our sin is so rotten, and we really have no concept as to how rotten we are, to understand the depths of His love. But we can understand our own hearts and desires. We can understand how we care for ourselves. Forget "low self-esteem". Paul shoots that theory down in vs29. We have lots of self-esteem. Well, all that, that we feel for ourselves, is what husbands are to lavish upon their wives.
Now, if this seems like a difficult concept to put into practice, what a husband lavishes upon his wife is the same as he lavishes upon himself. If he cares for himself, he cares for his wife; because they are "one". Why does God "hate divorce"? (Mal2:16) Because he made them "one". (Mal2:15) Why one? Because He seeks a "seed of God". It is the oneness that exists between the Father and Christ, which now also exists between Christ and the church. (Jn17) And how does man understand this oneness? Through the earthly relationship of marriage. Remember back to the series "Life is in the Blood", where part of the man's essence becomes part of the woman's essence. So, husbands, when you are with your wife, you are with yourself. And, while we know that as Eve went off and rebelled independently of Adam, we know that wives often go off to do their own thing today; but if everything else could be equal; men, whatever you see in your wife, -is- yourself.
And this is solidified in the marriage 'process'. A man "leaves" his father and mother, and "cleaves" to his wife. Just as many are softening the concept of divorce in these days, and the gods of this age are telling women to launch out on their own, that they "don't need the -MAAANNN-", that they should divorce the bum and "good riddance" to him; they are also softening the original union in their translations. When they change "cleave" to "join", its like changing from Super Glue to artist's rubber cement. Rubber cement may hold things together, but you can pull them apart again. Whereas, when super glue makes a bond, those items aren't coming apart. This is the nature of the union of Christ with His church. "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rom8:35,38-39) Husbands, cleave to your wife. Don't let her go.
Last lesson we gave a "Don't you dare" exhortation to the women. Here we give one to the families whose children are in the process of "leaving" in order to "cleave" to their spouse. If your child (or family member) is becoming "one" with their new spouse, DON'T YOU DARE go meddling! I dare say one of the biggest problems to young marriages is when the in-laws/families start trying to run things. They no longer belong to you. They now belong to each other. In God's design, there is no such thing as "family values". Uh, that's the kind where the the families do a continual tug-o-war with the new couple, trying to pull them apart, because of their own selfishness, because they are under the false assumption that parent/child is the strongest relationship on earth. Particularly, that of "mother and child". It is not! Husband and wife is! Why? Because God said so. It is how He designed it. It is a picture of "Christ and the church". (vs32) And this is the scourge Israel was under...they continually went "whoring" after other gods. And today's "church" is busy inviting the world into its fellowship. But with Israel it was supposed to be God and Israel. And today it is Christ and the Church.
So, as the husband is loving his wife as himself, what are his goals? To have hot sex and a pretty trophy on his arm? That's what the world goes after. Certainly these things will be there, "Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled" (Heb13:4) And Paul exhorts a couple not to "deprive one another" (1Cor7:5) in that department.
What does Christ purpose for the church? "..that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the Word" (vs26) What is "sanctify"? Same word as for "holy". Cut apart, separate. Remember, "leave"? When the Church cleaves to Christ, what do we leave? All the stuff we looked at in the previous lessons. The stuff we "put off, concerning the former conduct" (4:22) The "works of darkness" that we "have no fellowship with". (5:11) That's why those lessons came before these. We cannot appreciate and understand our "cleaving" to Christ, if we haven't first "left" the "trespasses and sins" that we were "dead in..in which [we] formerly walked.." (2:1-2) That's why, if you believe in marriage 'cerimonies', the 'vows' include the phrase, "forsaking all others". Abandon them. No longer go see those old girlfriends. Don't still "be there" for them, as a shoulder to cry on. You now have your wife. "Drink water from your own cistern, And running water from your own well." (Pr5:15)
The Church, as we anticipate Christ's coming for us and our being like Him, the exhortation is "..everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure" (1Jn3:3) While in adult terms, women (as Eve did) have minds of their own; if she is submitting to the husband, she will conform to what he is. As the church conforms "to the image of His Son" (Rom8:29), the wife conforms to the image of the husband. How is your wife going to be pure? Are you pure? If you are pure, she will tend to follow your lead. (Again: we are speaking of Believers, here. If you are married to an unequal yoke, for obvious reasons, this cannot apply, because you are of different spirits, and you each worship different gods.) But as you seek purity in your own life, by the very nature of your oneness, you will be imparting purity to your wife. As your life is cleansed, and as she follows and obeys you, she will be cleansed. "Commit your works to Jehovah, And your thoughts will be established." (Pr16:3)
"..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" (vs27) I guess this must be why women are always stiving for perfection in beauty? But fellas, how often do you complain when your wife went shopping, and she comes modeling that new outfit she just bought...and you think to yourself what you feel you don't dare say, "How ugly!" Well, if you weren't willing to go shopping with her, don't complain now. Christ knows what He wants His church to look like and has left instructions; the Scriptures. Do you know what you want from your wife? Just because there are a lot of feminists out there who say otherwise, don't assume that your Godly wife doesn't want your guidance. Get involved in her life. Remember, her life is your life. Yes... go shopping with her. You might even be surprised at, how, actually, fun it can be!
But then, as Peter spoke of the outward vs inward beauty, do you only look at your wife's outer beauty? And what happens after you are married? Before, when you were courting, you would primp. Now, you both let it all "hang out". Sadly, that's what today's "church" does. Once you're a Christian, "it doesn't matter". God doesn't care. After all, He accepts you "just as you are". You can hang out with the world, it "doesn't matter". After a couple get into trouble and their marriages become "stale", one thing that they are told in seminars is to "continue to date" your spouse. All those things you did to attract each other? Continue to do them after you are married. You would primp before? Continue it now. You sought out the well-being of the other before? Now, even more so, because you are now "one".
Yes, we are "one" with Christ. He is the "Head" and we are the "body". (1:22-23) Notice we go back and forth, in and out, between the human marriage, and the church's relationship with Christ. They are so similar. Just as the wife is "one" with the husband, and as he cares for her as though he was caring for himself; the Church with Christ has various facets, too. Yes, the Church is like the wife, but because we are "one" with Christ, we are also His "body" in that oneness; so Paul speaks of being "members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones" (vs30)
This primping, sanctifying, cleansing and making into a "glorious church", however, has a final goal. While grooms dress up and can only be 'handsome', when a bride bedecks herself for her groom (Is61:10), she is 'beautiful' in all her glory. (Rev21:2,11) And as the couple turns around the announcement is made, "I am happy to present to you, Mr & Mrs Couple".
Only, with Christ, it's a bit different. Jesus is the groom, and the Church is His bride; and Jesus announces His bride:
"Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will also confess him before the angels of God." (Lk12:8) "He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels." (Rev3:5)
"Now when everything is subjected to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subjected to Him who subjected everything under Him, that God may be everything in all things." (1Cor15:28) The Church, as Christ's bride, will be there with Him, under the Father. And in that place, "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it dawned upon the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him." (1Cor2:9)
But as we come down off these clouds of anticipation, Paul reminds us that, while we might understand human marriage, and have some glimmer into how this relates to our relationship with Christ, that this is all yet "a great mystery". (vs32) We don't yet fully understand it in all its glory. If the husband wasn't also of flesh and incapable of being a perfect husband, his role regarding his wife should be as Christ is to the church. However, there is no man alive on earth who can match Jesus' perfection. So for now, he summarizes in practical terms that we can do. Do you want to know how to have a successful marriage? Everything else that might be said on the subject all boils down to this:
"Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she reverence her husband" (vs33)
Children to their Parents - (Ephesians 6:1-3)
"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right" (vs1) "Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is pleasing to the Lord." (Col3:20)
A couple months ago our local news told of a late-night party going on in an area park. Well... more like 'early-morning'... around 3:00 am, or something like that. A group of teen-agers with loud music. It was loud enough that the disturbance awoke people in the neighborhood. And so, when one of those men got up and went out and asked them to "be quiet", they ganged up on him, beat him up, knocked him unconscious, and continued beating and kicking him, to where his head was swollen up so badly his neighbor could hardly even recognize him. Cracked his skull, broke his jaw, etc. [Editor: He is recovering]
A little Word prophesied 2500 years ago about our day: "And I will give young boys to be their rulers, and caprices shall rule over them. And the people shall be crushed, man against man, and a man on his neighbor. The boy will be insolent against the elder, and the despised against the honorable... Woe to the wicked! For the evil, the doing of his hand will be done to him. As for My people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over him. Oh My people, those leading you cause you to go astray, and they swallow the way of your paths." (Is3:4-5,11-12)
40 years ago teachers could grab a kid by the ear and haul them to the principal's office where, in turn, they might get a board whacked on their bottom side. And then, if the parent heard about it, they'd get whacked again when they got home. 20 years ago when I drove school bus, a person in charge could grab a kid by the scruff of their shirt to "get their attention" when they were misbehaving. But by then, however, kids were already learning to sass back, "my parents will sue you!!" Today, we have adult-sanctioned and produced TV spots, with children "instructing" adults on how they should be to their children. And the series that really gets under my craw are the commercials with the little smart-mouthed 'young' boy, dressed in martial-arts style 'white', and in one of the series he begins with, "I told my father..." as the commercial goes on to expound the -child's- 'wisdom', compared to his father's (assumed) 'stupidity'.
Well, we don't need to expound very long on this topic. Scripture is quite clear. Children are to "obey" their parents. In other words, when the parents say, "Thus-and-so"; the child is to conform to "thus-and-so". The reason children today do not follow this is the parents' fault. As this Scripture says about their "evil" and the "doing of their hand" being done (back) to them. Today's society is reaping the results of years of non-parenting and non-discipline. But that is next lesson's topic, to fathers.
Now, I've heard that there are some who like to interpret this vs1, when it applies to 'Believing' children, that "if the parents are -Christian-, then obey them" but if the parents are not believers, a believing child does not have to obey non-christian parents. That the phrase "in the Lord" defines the the state of the "parents". But it should be clear from the Colossians passage that this is not so; but that children obey their parents, saved or not, just the same way a believing wife is to obey her husband, saved or not (1Pt3:1), "as unto the Lord". (Eph5:22) In other words, children: when you obey your parents, you do so "as to Christ". (vs5) "in all things". Why? For the same reason wives are subject to their husbands... Because God said so.
And then, as the child grows up to adulthood, what is the responsibility to the parents? "Honor your father and mother." (vs2)
So, what does "honor" mean? Many parents; the ones we exhorted last lesson with "don't you dare"; interpret this passage to try to keep their children under their thumb even as they mature to adulthood, that they are to still obey them. But remember, when a person "cleaves" to their new spouse, what does it say about their relationship to their parents? "..-LEAVE-..father and mother.." (5:31) If they have "left", they obviously don't still 'obey' them. Thus, "honor" must mean something else.
First of all, there is a universal Scriptural principle of Respect for elders. "You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God: I am Jehovah." (Lev19:32) I still remember the days when a child didn't dare call an adult by their first name. Such 'familiarity' was not "respectful". However, in today's climate youths are calling adults by the first letter of their names: "Mr. P", "Mrs. J", etc. While that is not the adult's first name, it mocks their respect; seeking to be inappropriately familiar. And what is the saying? "Familiarity breeds contempt." And as children call their own parents by their first names, if one looks at the rest of their demeanor, one sees lack of respect. In the O.T. when a young man was insolent, the parents might bring him before the rulers with the accusation, "This son [youthful young man] of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard." (Deu21:20) And the verdict was to stone him to death and thus "put away the evil from among you". (vs21) And indeed, in these days we are seeing some youths being tried "as adults" for their crimes.
But most of all, honor speaks of "taking care of" the parents. Or, seeing to it that they are cared for. When Paul speaks of "double honor" to the elders who teach the Word, it is in the context of financial support. (1Tm5:16-18) Honor those who minister God's Word by making sure they are cared for. Now, while Paul speaks of parents "laying up.. for the children" (2Cor12:14), and not expecting to live off the children; there comes a time when the parents cannot care for themselves. And Jesus condemned the Jewish practice of "corban", where a person could give what they would have otherwise used to help their parents, for the temple. (Mk7:10-12) Jesus speaks of this support as being the "honor" (vs10) of the 5th Commandment. (Ex20:12, Eph6:2-3)
Does this mean that adult children are required to take their elderly parents into their own homes, as they did in ancient times? What about when rifts have developed due to some being saved, and others not? Jesus did say that those who follow Him might have to experience a separation from family as the "sword" of animosities and hatred result. (Mt10:34-36) and also, "let the dead bury their own dead". (Mt8:22) And obviously there have been many times when children left one country to move to another, never to see their parents again, in which case, there were others near-by to care for them. When parents grow old, in their senility they often become child-like; and the adult children often need to interact with them as if they were children. But "how" is this done? What about when the parent is a cranky ol' buzzard and impossible to deal with? Depending on the situation, children often put a distance between themselves, knowing the parents are being cared for. Sometimes an adult child might need to be 'firm' with a parent. But again, "how" is this done? With respect. With honor. For all their failings, remember, they -did- bring you into this world. If it had not been for them, you would not be where you are now.
As children, obey the parents. As adults, honor them. With the promise, "that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth."(vs3)
Fathers to their Children - (Ephesians 6:4)
"And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but nurture them in the discipline and admonition of the Lord" (vs4) "Fathers, do not provoke your children, that they may not become discouraged." (Col3:21) "And these Words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." (Deut6:6-9)
The subject we discuss in this lesson, you who know something about my life might think that what -I- write might be biased because of my growing up experience. But as you see how the lesson progresses, hopefully you will understand that it comes from God's Word, because we will see things that might seem contrary to what 'I' might say if I were merely 'reacting' to my own upbringing. Just as a brief summary: while I received well-deserved punishment as a child, I also was subject to much abuse, both emotional and physical. What I experienced must have been somewhat common to many children, because...
Notice: "Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath..." Now, the fathers who are doing the abusing, if they make claims to being "Christian", will often interpret this sentence that "wrath" means -God's- wrath. In other words, as some fathers have been known to say, that they are "beating the devil out of" their children. In other words, if the children are beaten enough, they will grow up to be "good little Christians" and will be spared God's wrath. So, what these father's call "discipline", they think is "saving" their children; because, after all, "You shall beat him with a rod, and deliver his soul from hell." (Pr23:14) And they are also usually KJV-onlyists, who follow "chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying" (Pr19:18-kjv) However, the text says nothing about "crying". That is a mistranslation. The verse says to discipline the child for the purpose that he doesn't go to "destruction/death". But they will beat, beat, beat; and the child will cry, cry, cry. Over and over, time and again, it goes on and on.
But notice how Paul expands upon this by saying, "..that they may not become discouraged". (Col3:21b) Is it possible to beat children 'too much'? Well, these exhortations, since they are given as they are, suggest that, indeed, it is. And what happens when a child is discouraged? They can become self-destructive, or out of disgust for what they perceive as their parents' "cruel god", they are often known to bend over backwards later in life, and totally rebel against anything and everything having to do with God and the Bible, and actually seek to live "like the devil" their fathers tried to beat out of them.
Now, having said all this, do we then bend over backwards and say that corporal punishment is 'totally' wrong? Today's society would vehemently protest that it is. They label it as "violence"...that "violence never solved anything". And as they seek to psychologize everything, they ignore the basics they learned in their own Behavioral Science 101. They, who claim that we evolved from apes, forget the studies they do with apes. That rewards encourage certain behavior; but that pain is also sometimes necessary to prevent/deter certain other behavior.
How does any living creature learn "not to" do certain things? When they experience pain or discomfort as a result of doing them. One learns to keep away from a hot stove, when one's finger got singed. My former cat I have mentioned in the past, whom the robins taught to not chase them, also learned about refrigerator doors. As a kitten it continually wanted to poke its head into the fridge when the door was open. We would continually pull him away, saying, "No!" But eventually one day it finally learned the necessary lesson, when we weren't 'right there' as the door was slowly closing under its own weight, and his head got caught. He never did it again! No sirree! Whatever 'discomfort' he felt with his head between the door and the frame was what was 'necessary' for him to learn.
You see, "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction will drive it far from him." (Pr22:15) How? It is this basic elementary principle that God designed into all living creatures. When pain and/or discomfort becomes associated with wrong behavior, that wrong behavior is unlearned. And furthermore, for a more correct understanding of the earlier verse, if we understand, "Commit your works to Jehovah, and your thoughts will be established" (Pr16:3), if a child is trained away from evil 'works', and guided to -good- works, along with God's Word (which we will come to in a moment), this is what is meant when it says, "you shall beat him...and deliver his soul from hell". As the child learns what is wrong, coupled with God's Word to know the right, such 'guidance' away from wrong is part of the process of instructing him in the ways of the Lord. And when he learns of the Lord, and then meets the Lord, he is delivered from God's wrath.
The exhortation is, "Do not withhold correction from a child, For if you beat him with a rod, he will not die." (Pr23:13) This figure is used of how the Lord deals with us, "For whom the LORD loves He disciplines, and whips every son whom He receives." (Heb12:6) Thing is, when earthly fathers do this, they are imperfect, as the writer continues, "For they indeed for a few days disciplined us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness." (Heb12:10) And thus, Paul continues with exhortation about the "nurture" in the "admonition" of the Lord.
The world, bit by bit, is seeking to outlaw God's commands in this regard. That "civilized societies" don't engage in such cruelty and violence. That it is cruel to "hurt" their children. But notice: "Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been exercised by it." (Heb12:11) You see... it is SUPPOSED TO HURT! That's why it works. When they refuse to discipline their children, then they wonder why there is so much violence from these same youth!
"He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly." (Pr13:24) Parents, do you love your children? Then, discipline them. Do you want them to turn out like today's violent youth? If not, then, discipline them. If you say that discipline is hateful, and don't do it, they -WILL- turn out like hoodlums. So, which do you desire for them? If you don't want them to be hoodlums later, you need to show your 'love' for them by disciplining them 'now'.
But, the raising of children is not just about discipline. It is about nurturing them. Which comes first? Discipline or nurturing? Well, they both go together. Sometimes, when wrong behavior is in progress, one cannot be teaching how to "be good". Today's psychology tries to do that. The child is throwing the tantrum, and the adult tries to 'nicely guide' the child into something 'positive'. Well, it's like we have been learning, we have to get rid of the "old" first, before the "new" can be put on. The child's 'attention' needs to be secured first, so they can then heed the positive. As long as rebellion is rising up with wrath, they are not in a frame of mind to hear anything else. And so, often the discipline has to be given; and then, the nurturing as to what replaces the wrong. "This is the way, walk in it..." (Is30:21)
And 'what' is the way to walk in? "These words which I command you today..." (Deut6:6) God's Law. God's Word. "How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your Word." (Ps119:9) "Your Word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path." (Ps119:105)
And 'how' is this way to be taught? "..you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up." (Deut6:7~) And the following verses essentially say that 'everything' about your way of life should be based on God's Law.
Remember, two lessons ago we suggested that if a wife is submitting to her husband, the husband can look at his wife and see himself, because she becomes what he is. A similar thing is true of children. While the soul of the father does not pass to the children except for as they were conceived, nevertheless the children imitate their parents' behavior. So, whatever you see in your children is a pretty good reflection of yourself.
Thus, fathers, getting back to that "do not provoke" concept we opened with... If you see your child being a certain way, what is your first reaction? Is the first reaction to yell at them, and go give them a thrashing? Or, do you temper your reaction by first observing...'where did they learn that'? Did they learn it from you? Are they doing what you do? So, are you going to punish them for it? Or, does observing your child give you a sense of how your own behavior needs some modifying? Perhaps you need some of that "chastening of the Lord" yourself, first? (Heb12:5)
You know, when I used to teach piano and organ lessons, there were many times that my teaching of my students also taught 'me'... in ways that would be next-to-impossible to put into words. But as I would teach a concept to the student, the same concept would become heightened in my own playing technique. As parents train up their children, if they are doing it right, I expect they are also receiving instruction for themselves.
This is why, this whole thing comes from the Lord. The "..discipline and admonition of the Lord". (vs4) Do you see, ladies, why we said to you several lessons ago, even though today's liberated female complains about "the maaannn!" so much and what they perceive to be his deficiencies, how your man has things a lot tougher than you have them? If he has you and the children looking up to him, he has a higher standard he needs to attain. He not only has to be responsible for you, he is supposed to have all this wisdom regarding the children, too. Notice, vs4 specifies "fathers". And so, too, do you realize just a bit more your own role as his "helper suitable to him"? (Gen2:18)
Fathers can do the best they know how, even though they can never match God's perfection. (Heb12:10) This is why fathers, before they can teach their wives and children, must first have God's Law "in [their own] heart". (Deut6:6) While doing as all believers must, who desire to live Godly... "..looking unto Jesus" (Heb12:2)
Masters and Servants - (Ephesians 6:5-9)
"Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ". (vs5)
Notice that this addresses "bondservants". A bondservant was somebody who was 'owned' by the master. The master might have purchased the slave, or the servant might have come under debt to the master and not been able to repay the debt, and so, came under servitude.
Notice one thing Paul does not say... He does not say to organize amongst the fellow-slaves, march in protest marches, and plot against the master... because slavery is 'wrong'! While he does speak of taking advantage of any opportunities to become free if they present themselves, he exhorts the believer to not be concerned about being a slave. (1Cor7:21)
But this passage also applies to those who are not enslaved, but are under the employ of an employer, since he closes out what he exhorts as being to: "whether he is a slave or free". (vs8)
So, if we work for somebody, how do we serve? Recently I went to a McDonalds again. I hadn't been to one in a long time; around here, the service is so bad, I tend to go to other places if I stop for a bite to eat away from home. But this day, as I was working on my Big Mac and fries, one of the girls was sauntering around with a rag in her hand. I don't think I could have moved as slowly as she was moving, even if I were to work 'hard' at being slow. Even when I'm resting, I move faster than she was moving. Well...maybe not...but you get the idea. And of course, the way they keep increasing the minimum wage for these kids, she was making 'big bucks' for her sauntering around. She was supposed to be wiping off tables. Recently a subscriber sent me some jpg files of made-up Windows "error messages", for 'fun'. One of them, looking like a little pop-up error dialogue box, said something like, "The system has detected that the operator is a government employee, so the computer has now gone into sleep mode." And then, how often haven't we seen the 'single' person up in the cherry-picker, working on the power lines, and 6 are down on the ground, standing around doing nothing.
A christian working for somebody, expecting to get paid, gives the employer their money's worth. "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might.." (Ec9:10) Why? We are not serving the employer. We are serving the Lord. When we work for some person, we are to do so as if we were doing it for the Lord. There are many who spend more time contriving the 'appearance' of working, than actually doing any work. Give the boss the 'impression' that they are doing a lot, even if they are not. But Paul says our service should be "in sincerity of heart". God says that "dishonest scales are an abomination to Jehovah" (Pr11:1, 20:10, 20:23) If you pretend to be giving your employer a certain service, but are 'padding' your work, it is every bit like scales mis-adjusted. Scale weights with wrong labels on them. The odometer of the car turned back. Software installed in gas pumps to make them read more gallons than actually went into the customer's tank. Etc. If you don't give everything you are capable of, it is like "stealing" from your boss. "You shall not steal" (Ex20:15) It is like "dealing falsely [and] lying" (Lev19:11)
And then, what about the Believer who is actually a slave? How does such a person serve? What about when the master requires things of such a slave that the slave might view as being inappropriate or displeasing to God? Do they obey, or disobey? Bondservants, "..be obedient to.." your masters. Just as wives are to submit to their husbands "in everything" (5:24), even to the unsaved husband (1Pt3:1); servants are to "obey IN ALL THINGS your masters". (Col3:22)
What if the master requires the servant to attend to him while he engages in idolatry? Going to the pagan temple? Bowing to pagan idols? After all, the first and foremost commandment in all of God's Law is "I am Jehovah your God...you shall have no other gods before Me...you shall not bow down to them nor serve them." (Ex20:2-5) We have an example of this very thing. Naaman has come to Israel, and has been healed of leprosy through Elisha, and comes to faith in God, and proclaims that he will no more worship "other gods, but Jehovah". (2Ki5:17) And then, he presents his dilemma to Elisha. When his master, back home in Syria, goes to worship before Rimmon, he as the servant is required to be at his master's side tending to him, and bows to the idols with his master, he asks, "may Jehovah please pardon your servant in this thing" (vs18) and notice the reply from the man of God: "Go in peace." (vs19) You see, when we are subject to the godless "higher authorities" which are "ordained by God" (Rom13:1), God knows the chain-of-command under these authorities. While man can only see the "outward appearance" God "looks at the heart". (1Sam16:7) A true "Jew" [and Believer] is one who is so "of the heart" (Rom2:29), and God is a "discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Heb4:12) Just as we have observed some time ago that a believing wife of an unsaved husband should dress up and join him when he goes out partying when he wants her with him, and the pharisee women should not judge/condemn her; so too, a believing slave should be subject to the unsaved master.
Now, if it should be that the Lord lays it on your heart to disobey the master, because the Lord lays it on your heart that the given situation requires a testimony of purity and obedience to God's Law, then, also be prepared to be thrown into the lion's den like Daniel, the fiery furnace like Hananiah, Mishael & Azariah, or prison like Joseph. (And yes, if you are a 'free' non-enslaved employee, be prepared to be fired or politicked out of your job/career.)
If this becomes your outcome, do not grumble at the punishment you receive. Servants are exhorted to be subject to their masters, "not only to the good and fair, but also to the perverse" (1Pt2:18) And look to Jesus as the example you are following, "who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but gave Himself over to Him who judges righteously" (vs23)
And finally, to the masters: "do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in Heaven, and there is no partiality with Him" (vs9) Remember just as with the husband and wife, while there is the chain-of-command which places the husband 'over' the wife, in God's eyes as to their individual standing before God, they are equal (Ga3:28); so too, even though economics, society or politics have placed one person as "master" over another, in God's site he is no better than the slave. Even though he may be a master over his slave, he is a slave to his Master in Heaven. Remember the story Jesus told of the one who was forgiven a debt, but exacted a much smaller debt from a fellow-servant with cruelty; God required retribution from the one who treated his fellow-servant ill. (Mt18:23-35)
When Paul was sending Onesimus back to Philemon, since Onesimus had run away, according to the law of the day, Philemon could have beat him to a bloody pulp, or any of a number of things. In those days, masters could kill their servants and be legally guilt-free. The slave was their "property". God's laws to Israel made things more merciful to slaves. But still...a slave, even in Israel, was like 'property'. But since Philemon was a Believer, and Onesimus had just become a Christian, Paul sends along a letter explaining the situation, urging Philemon to receive Onesimus back as "no longer as a slave but more than a slave; a beloved brother.." (Phm16)
So... masters/employers: Don't merely be thinking of the "bottom line" when dealing with employees/slaves. They are "people", just as you are a person. How would you wish to be treated if you were in their shoes? "And just as you want men to do to you, you also do the same to them." (Lk6:31) Ah, yes!
Spiritual Warfare - (Ephesians 6:10-13)
"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on all the armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." (vs10-11)
First of all, "finally". Notice that in six chapters to this epistle, spiritual warfare comes 'last' in the discussion. Notice also that throughout the book we have not had tongues or being 'spirit-filled'. What we have had up to this point is a putting off of the old sin nature and works of the flesh, and a putting on of a Christ-likeness. The emphasis has not been our 'authority over satan', but our "growing up in all things into [Christ]" (4:15) How can we hope for victory over satan unless we have been trained? Military recruits are not handed rifles and granades first thing off the bus, and sent to fight the enemy. Pilots do not first thing get into an F-16 and perform precision aerobatics with the Thunderbirds. Pilots receive hours and millions of dollars worth of training. Other soldiers receive bootcamp into mental and physical discipline necessary to work together with others and follow orders of the commanders. They learn about their weapons, and military tactics. This training takes time. They are always exercising their skills. As Christians, in training, we are always having, "..their understanding -exercised- to discern both good and evil." (Heb5:14) How can we stand against satan if we do not understand him? If we are "not ignorant of his purposes" (2Cor2:11), it means that we have learned how to see past his facade as an "angel of light" and his demons who appear as "ministers of righteousness" (2Cor11:14-15) But how can we have a 'fighting chance' against him, if we have not been through boot camp and are trained in righteousness? Many of the military boast of themselves as being "mean. lean fighting machines". "Lean" means getting rid of the excess baggage of whatever would hinder one in carrying out his duties. Getting rid of sin, growing in Christ, taking the nourishment of God's Word.
"..be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.." (vs10) Notice this says nothing about sitting around mantracizing praise music and being 'spirit-filled'. We are not to be filled by demons, but with God.
We need to be fully aware that what we are up against is "wiles". (vs11) Deception. We speak of this continually. And we harp on it over and over, because so many are deceived. For as much as we address this, and for all that is posted at the website on it, the most number of whinings against this ministry come from those who obviously either 'cannot' or 'will not' see satan's deception.
NOTE THIS WELL, dear Believer! Our greatest struggle is against that which 'looks like' it is "Christian". Those who do the most complaining that you are being "divisive AGAINST BROTHERS" are the 'very ones' through whom our spiritual warfare comes.
Let's repeat this point: The people who are tearing down walls of doctrine, mushing everybody all together, and complaining that you keep separate from them and expose them through God's Word, accusing you of being "divisive" because of your Godly separation... -THEY- ARE the enemy. -They- are unregenerate. -They- are wolves in sheeps' clothing. -They- are of the "spirit of antichrist" that is already in the world. (1Jn4:3) Don't pay any mind to the "Rev" in front of their name, or be impressed/intimidated by the degress behind it, or the thousands who flock to their meetings. Remember that the "broad way" that contains "many" leads to "destruction". (Mt7:13) And also remember that Jesus promised that persecution would originate from out of the "synagogues" (churches) (Jn16:2-3) But as Jesus says of them, "..they do not know the Father nor Me".
However, having said all this, these 'people' through whom it comes are merely the conduits from the real source. The struggle is "not..against flesh and blood". (vs12) The reason the deception is so effective is because the enemy persuades Believers that they are being "divisive against BROTHERS (people)". But it's just like in earthly warfare. It is not so much the 'people' of the militaries that fight each other, but their sending governments. During the US Civil War of the 1860s how many are the accounts of family members (brothers, cousins, fathers, sons) fighting each other, because they were on opposite sides from each other in the conflict... when, in actuality, they had no personal animosity against each other? But they were forced to shoot at each other because of the governments which drafted them. Even during WW1 and WW2, there are the accounts of when Xmass came, enemies would lay down their weapons and the soldiers from opposite sides would meet with each other and celebrate the season together. The next day, due to orders from their commanders, they would start shooting at each other again.
While, what we see and have to deal with is the 'people' serving their commanders, their 'commanders' are the "rulers, authorities, the world's rulers of the darkness of this age and spiritual wickedness IN THE HEAVENLIES" (vs12)
The people who brag up -their- 'authority' "speak evil of things they do not know". Even God's angels, who exist in the same realm, do not elevate their own authority over satan. (Judas 9-10) We get a bit of a glimpse into this kingdom of the "heavenlies" in Daniel ch10. A messenger is sent to explain Daniel's visions to him, but is detained by the "ruler of the kingdom of Persia" (vs13) This messenger had been apparently imprisoned there, until Michael came along to free him. Notice, this is merely a 'glimpse' to us humans. But the validity of this is shown when the devil offers to give all his authority over the kingdoms of the world to Jesus. And he says, "All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish." (Lk4:6) And if you read that passage, you will see that Jesus did not disagree with the devil's assessment of his authority. But He tells satan to "Get behind Me, Satan!" (vs8) It is this authority that Jesus will be wrenching away from satan when He exercises His authority as "King of kings and Lord of lords" (Rev19:16) And it is this same authority of the heavenlies which constitutes the source our warfare.
Therefore, our orders are to engage in Prayer Warfare. Map out strategies against the territorial demons. Set up warfare prayer rooms, and interlink all these around the world, and establish "blankets of prayer" and "prayer-chains". Pray up walls against your own local territorial demons. Walk through neighborhoods and pray the demons away. Challenge satan and his demons in prayer, speaking to them personally, and make sure they know -just- "how powerful" you are and that they had better shudder at the mere sound of your voice in prayer and what you are about to do to them through your Power-of-Prayer. Mmmm? Notice that this paragraph suddenly has no Scripture references attached! You will not find 'any' of this rubbish in Scripture! But this is what the pretenders claim to be doing.
What are the Believer's marching orders? To go on spiritual offensive warfare? Go on the attack? Map out strategies? Those who do this think they are in charge. But Christians are NOT 'in charge'. We obey our Commander. What does He command? "Stand". (vs11)
This word "stand" is defined by the concepts of "to place, put, set, make firm, fix, establish, to keep his place, to stand immovable" The concept defined in the exhortation, "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable..." (1Cor15:58) The guards 'posted' to the doors of the White House, or at the ramp/stairs of Air Force One. The guards assigned, posted, to guard the airplanes on the runway. Before the stealth fighter plane became more common, when on display at Air Force airshows, surrounded by rope, with armed guards posted, with signs warning of the guards' authority to use deadly force if anyone entered the roped-off area. And these guards, not engaging in chitchat with people, but standing/pacing their posts, watchful eyes against any incursion into the security/secrecy of the airplane. In NO CASE do you see these guards running around, here and there, helter-skelter; barking out orders. They are assigned to their 'post'. They are to "guard" that 'spot'.
Now, if somebody attempted to make an incursion past such a guard, when the commanders came along later to investigate, what they had 'better' find, if the intruder got through, is a 'dead' guard. "..resist in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.." (vs13) As Believers, "...they did not love their lives unto death." (Rev12:11b)
This is different from what is called "spiritual warfare" today, isn't it. So, which warfare are you enlisted into? Are you a Christian, or a -pretend- "minister of righteousness"? (2Cor11:15) Now that you realize that spiritual warfare is not glorious as -you- are 'commanding' satan's legions, have you "counted the cost" to follow Christ? (Lk14:28)
If you are a True Believer, next lesson we will see the 'defensive' weapons available at our disposal. But be sure, victory is assured. Let's finish that verse we quoted a part of above, "And they overcame him through the blood of the Lamb and through the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives unto death." (Rev12:11)
Defensive Weapons - (Ephesians 6:14-20)
"Stand firm therefore..." (vs14)
Well, c'mon, let's get on with this lesson! I thought you said we were going to look at our 'weapons' this time. How come you are rehashing last lesson's depressing thoughts? I want to get these weapons and fire them around, make some loud banging sounds, and shed some blood, and face the enemy and do battle. I want to map out strategies and show satan 'just who' is -boss- around here... 'me'!
Dear Believer... (Pretenders... right about now you might as well run along to something else. These lessons aren't for you!) Do you see the point being made? This word "stand" is used three times here. That means it's important. We 1) STAND against satan's wiles (vs11). We 2) STAND, having done so to death if necessary. (vs13). And we 3) STAND with the weapons provided. (vs14) We are not 'going' on the offensive, but we are to "RESIST" in the evil day. (vs13) For the True Believer, if the person is living for the Lord, we don't need to go looking for conflict. It finds us! And when it does, we stand and resist it.
Now, look at all the weapons we have. Truth, righteousness, gospel of peace, faith, salvation, Word of God, prayer. (vs14-18) Does anybody see in this list anything that does 'not' represent Jesus Christ? Jesus said, "I am...the truth". (Jn14:6) "O God of my righteousness". (Ps4:1) "..that we might become the righteousness of God in [Christ]" (2Cor5:21), "..the gospel of peace..glad tidings of good things" (Rom10:15) We won't cover everything here, but when satan came against Jesus, what did He respond? "It is written..." (Mt4:4,etc)
Notice that all of these figures of military weaponry are all defensive, to protect the wearer. Just as God was a shield to Israel against Egypt's armies from the pillar of cloud/fire (Ex13:21,14:24), so is He also to Believers against satan's onslaughts through spiritual 'Egypt'. And the one item the pretenders claim is for offensive campaigns, the sword (vs17), Jesus used to resist satan with "it is written". Jesus did not go out looking for satan in order to jab at him.
The pretenders claim that, being the "sword of the Spirit", that means they need to be "spirit-filled". That they need "Holy Spirit power". That if they are thus filled, 'they' can defeat satan. But notice that the passage defines itself... "sword of the Spirit -WHICH-IS- the Word of God". When God's Word goes out, it does so without returning "void". Without accomplishing what it was sent to do. (Is55:11) And so you see, even when we "wield" this 'sword', it is not 'us' fighting. It is Christ. It is -God's- Word.
You see, if we want to be successful in resisting satan and standing firm for Christ, we do not need worship music to help us be "spirit-filled". What we need is a firm foundation of God's Word. Yes, -DOCTRINE-, the very thing the pretenders are tearing down in favor of their own agenda. Notice that there is not one word in this passage about "worship". The "cost" to follow Christ does not always "feel good". We will not always -feel- "blessed". We will not always -feel- "charged up". We will often be tortured, mocked, flogged, imprisoned, destitute, afflicted, oppressed. But notice that of this sort, "the world [is] not worthy". (Heb11:37-38)
Notice Paul's desire. He was an "ambassador in chains". And yet notice his prayer request on his own behalf. Oh, please contact all the people in the prayer chain for intercession on my behalf that I can be freed from bondage. Mmm?
"..supplication..for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel...that in [bondage] I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak." (vs19-20) Hey! Speaking out is what got Paul into chains, in the first place. And he is asking for prayer that he will continue to be bold in speaking for Christ.
Today there is an interesting phenomenon. When groups of people labeled as "Christians" (whether they really are or not, nevertheless they have the label) are experiencing persecution (allegedly) "for their faith", other [c]hristians in other parts of the world "pray" for them that their circumstances might become less cruel, and they go petitioning governments to stop the persecution. I have not heard of a one of these entities sending out e-mails or prayer requests so that these who are being persecuted might "be bold" for Christ. That they might stand firm, and "having done all, to stand". When the early church was persecuted, they prayed for "boldness" to "speak [His] Word". (Acts4:29) Today's "christians" are different from those in Acts. Are they even really "Christians"?
Yes, Believers have "authority" over the enemy. Jesus said, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from Heaven. Behold, I give you the authority to tread over serpents and scorpions, and upon all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in Heaven." (Lk10:18-20) Names written in Heaven? That's righteousness, gospel of peace, faith, salvation. 'Ever wonder why so many [c]hristians seem unable to resist satan? They do not possess salvation. They are not True [C]hristians. They are not saved.
Yes, we stand firm, and even though we may die resisting, we do not fear those who only have power over our bodies, and have nothing more they can do. (Lk12:4) Yes, we do have affliction of spiritual warfare from satan's onslaughts. But our victory is not our own. Jesus says, "be of good courage, I have overcome the world." (Jn16:33)
"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." (1Cor15:57-58)