Our Adversary, Our Armor, Our Obligations
New Relationships with Each Other Because of Our Relationship with Him
God's Will and Way for His Glory and Your Good in Marriage
The Ruling Principle for All Relationships
Be Filled - Not Fooled, part 2
Be Filled - Not Fooled, part 1
How Do You Define Love? The Divine Way or the Deceiver's Way?
Walking in the Light: What it Looks Like and Why We Do It
A New Life Resolution for a New Year
The reason we study the Bible at a worship service, the reason we take time out to do this, is because all that worship is is a right response to God's Word. The reason, traditionally in the church, that there's been a time when God's Word is looked at and studied is because if we're going to worship him, we need to know what God's Word says, that we can respond rightly to it.
We'll take a moment now to spend some time digging in and reflecting on God's truth so we can continue our worship throughout the week because as Christians, we don't worship at 6:30 on Sundays, or 9:30 or 11:00; we worship as we live. You'll find today that there is no biblical precedent for a compartmentalized life.
The Christian knows no secular. The Christian knows no spiritual and then worldly things. We live, 100 percent, in a spiritual relationship with Christ where we worship him. It is not that we spray on our holy when we go to church and then let it drift off throughout the week before we, one more time, go and get wafted again on Sundays. We live in constant communion with Christ.
What Ephesians is as we've looked at it… Let's just go back. We won't read a lot, but look at Ephesians, chapter 1. Let me walk you through the book. Ephesians, chapter 1: Paul begins writing to us, and we know that in chapters 1 through 3, all he does is pour out on us the riches that we have as Christians. Chapters 4 through 6 respond to those riches and say, "This is your responsibility."
In chapter 1, Paul is saying, "Listen, you…" and who he's writing to is a new man who has been given a new heart that is holy and blameless. God has responded to our cries of, "Give me a faithful heart. Change my heart, O God." Then we see that this same God who created the world… And I don't believe it's a coincidence that the whole creation idea has been under attack the last 150 years, because if we can mock the fact that God has created this earth, if we can mock the fact that God created the first time, what hope do you have that he can make you new again?
If you have evolved from some slimy cell, grew legs, walked out of a pond, then grew a beard and became a truck driver, if that's evolution for you, then there's no hope that you can evolve into a person who can be holy in God's eyes unless you work your way into being holy. That flies directly in contrast to what Paul says in Ephesians 1 happened.
We have a creator God who made grassy fields, who made a beautiful ocean, and he can make a perfect heart. So Paul writes in Ephesians 1, "Listen, people. You have a perfect heart, and that new heart will make you a new man." Then in Ephesians 2, he goes on to say, "As a result of being a new man, you ought to be a member of a new community."
Ephesians 2 and 3 continues that idea that a new heart makes a new man, a new woman, and that new woman and that new man should be a part of a new community which is… If you're there still in Ephesians, chapter 1, look at verse 9 with me. "…the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him [Jesus] with a view to an administration suitable to the fulness of the times…"
There will be a time when, it says right here, "…the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth." There will be a unity in the unifier, Jesus Christ. The church is evidence of what God will accomplish one day. I should be able to say, "Do you want to know what heaven should look like? Come to 6221 Woodcrest and live with the Wagner family." I should be able to say that. I should be able to say, "Do you want to know what heaven should look like? Do you want to know what serving people looks like? Look at the church.
They are a view of the administration which is to come, the fullness of diversity, multiplicity, of Jew, Greek, barbarian, Scythian, circumcised, uncircumcised, male, female, parent, child, employee, employer, husband, wife loving each other in mutual subjection, not looking out for their own personal interests, but with humility of mind, each one considering the other person as more important than themselves." Each person here should have that attitude in them which was also in Christ Jesus. It should be a picture of what heaven is going to be like.
That new heart, which makes a new man and woman, will make us a part of a new community. This is where we are in Ephesians 4 and 5. That new community will have in it new relationships, and we're going to find out that the only thing which will enable us to have new relationships… Let me list them for you again.
The way you relate to different nationalities, different races, it's a non-issue anymore. The only thing that matters is who Jesus is. By the way, this is the one thing which will make us the enemy of the world continually because our world is moving increasingly toward a one world order, a one world government, a one world religion.
We as Christians have to forever say, "No, we cannot come together and agree to disagree. We do not believe that religions are all different means and different paths which men are climbing, and even though we're taking different paths, we're all winding up the same mountain, and eventually we'll get to the top, and we'll all find this whole time we were worshiping the same God."
We say, "No!" That is not what Christianity is, and that is not how our God has revealed himself and how we should get to know him. We must say, "It's different than that." We, of all religions in the world, will stand out and say, "No, that is not correct. We cannot accept your form of worship. There is one way, there is one truth, and there is one way to gain life: it's through Jesus Christ."
That, frankly, will offend some people, and indeed, all those who desire to hold to the truth of God's Word will be persecuted. You will not be thought of fondly. You will be the bigots of the day. There are already terms appearing in our press; they call them Shiite Baptists, Shiite Christians, terrorists who bring separation and not harmony.
But if they understood our God, if they understood the Bible, they would know there's only one thing that can bring men together, and that is not tolerance, because tolerance is a lie. There's always going to be somebody imposing their agenda. Truth is always narrow, and the Scriptures are going to say the only thing that will unify humanity, the only thing that will unify God with man is not us making our way up the mountain.
It is God changing us, coming down off that mountain which man can never build to and saying, "I will supernaturally deliver by my provision of love to take you up there. I will make a new heart in you because I am the Creator, and I will deliver you because of my good name. Cease striving. Be still and know that I am God. Throw yourself before me and cry out for mercy because you need a new heart, because the problem is not your hands; it is your defiled heart."
It doesn't matter what we do with our hands. We can't work our way to find acceptance from a holy God. Our hands have been defiled because it is an expression of our inward, corrupt heart. Jesus says, "You must be holy as I am holy." We all blew that about 15 second out of the womb and continue to live a life to verify how defiled we are as adults. What we need is somebody who will make our hearts new, and that's Jesus Christ.
That new community is made of up of new relationships, and there is no distinction between Jew or Greek, barbarian or Scythian, as I said. There is no animosity between husband and wife. There is not going to be anymore a rebellion between parents and children. There will not be a striving and the sin relationship which should identify an employer with an employee, a citizen with a government. Christians should be different.
Look how he says it's going to happen again. Look with me at a few key verses. Look at Ephesians 5. Look at verse 21. It is the rule for all relationships that he has. We've read it before, but watch the key word, the phrase that's going to show up. It says, "…be subject to one another in the fear of Christ." Notice: you will treat each other this way because you have a right understanding of who Christ is.
Look at verse 22. "Wives, your relationship with your husband will change. You'll respond to who God intended them to be, even as you do the Lord." It's service to the Lord. Look at verse 25. "Husbands, you love your wives." How? Again, it's always wrapped up in Christ: "…as Christ also loved the church…""Be subject to one another in the fear of the Lord. Wives, do this as to the Lord. Husbands, do it as the Lord did it."
Look down at verse 1 of chapter 6. How are children to respond to their parents? In this way: they are to obey their parents. How? Because it's the will of the Lord, you are to do it in the Lord. It is a right response to who you are as a child. Dads, I think it's in verse 4, how are you to respond to your children? You're to "…bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."
Watch this. Slaves? We'll make it employees, and we'll talk about that for a little bit. Employees, how are you to be obedient? You are to be obedient "…in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ…" Masters, to your slaves, look at verse 8. You are to be mindful of…who? Jesus! That will change the way you treat your employee.
Everything has to be unified and summed up in one person: Jesus Christ. Do you see what he says is going to be the thing which will enable us to have new relationships? Christ. If you are trying to get along with your wife, if you are trying to get along with your roommate, if you are trying to be a faithful servant of whoever it is you work for, apart from the Spirit of Christ, I will tell you, you are fighting a losing battle.
You will have moments of victory, but you will not sustain in the battle. You will eventually tucker out. You will not remain steadfast, immovable, always abounding. There will be separation unless you have the Spirit of the mind of Christ, unless you have the Holy Spirit indwelling you.
Let me show you one more thing, and that is back to the key verse. I told you, it is probably the most significant verse in the New Testament for Christian living. It is Ephesians 5:18 where it says, "…be filled with the Spirit…" We talked about what that doesn't mean, and Lord, we talked about what it does mean.
If you will find as you go out and be filled with the Spirit, the next three clauses that come out of that are dependent clauses. In other words, they go back to verse 18. It's his way of saying, "You can't do this unless this happened. Be filled with the Spirit so you can have this attitude and be joyful no matter what the circumstance. Have this true of you. Be filled with the Spirit of Christ in order that you might be thankful to God, knowing what he has done and what he will do. Be filled with the Spirit so you can be subject to one another in the fear of Christ."
Now, we have been through the husband and wife relationship. We spent two weeks on it. This week, we turn to Ephesians 6:1, where the new community, which is made up of new relationships, is expounded upon further. He'll talk tonight about children and parents, employers and employees. Let's read Ephesians 6:1.
"Deductions, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right." Sorry, it was just in honor of tomorrow. I'm thankful for Ally and Kirby, especially this time of year. They're more than that. One guy did say that children are deductions because they're taxing all year long. Some of you out there believe that more than others.
It says, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right." Now let me make this clear right here from the beginning. It is assumed as you go through and as this book is being read… Paul wrote this letter to the folks in Ephesus. He was explaining to them how they should love one another. You notice he doesn't say at the end of chapter 5… By the way, there are no chapter breaks in the original languages, in the original work. We've put those on there; we've put the chapter and the verse breaks. Sometimes they're better placed than others.
If you'll notice, there isn't between verse 33, where we have placed it, and verse 1 of chapter 6, a note which says, "At this point, parents should leave the main worship service and go and get their children so they can receive instruction." It is assumed that worship will happen in the family. It is assumed that children and parents will participate together in their study of God's Word.
We don't do such a grand job of that in our culture. There needs to be a time when we separate, certainly. We even do that here so they can be instructed in an appropriate way as we study here. But know that what should at least happen is that you and I, as we have children, and if not physical children, spiritual children, all of us, there ought to be a time when we're not just hearing something someplace and then going and living it with other people only.
There should be a time when we should involve them in our study, and we should interact with them over the Word. There should be the younger with the older; it's biblical. As awkward as that is, because we have to sometimes reduce our language so they can hang with us, well, hey, great. It's just assumed right here that children are with their parents.
It says, "…obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right." Then he goes to verse 2. "HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise)…" He takes you back to Deuteronomy 5 and Exodus 20, where the Ten Commandments are. It says, "This is the first commandment with a promise and a principle." Here's the principle: "…THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU, AND THAT YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH."
That word honor, what does it mean? I think it's interesting that first it says, "Children, obey your parents…" That word, children, we can't make it too convenient here and say it's only people below a certain age and they're the only ones to obey their parents. I would not go as some do, and there are men who teach very strongly on this, that a child should never do anything that is against their parents' will.
By the way, next week, we're going to study in light of all of the authority relationships. We said, "Don't confuse that there is a difference in roles." Just because you have somebody leading and somebody responding to that, that doesn't mean that there still has to be somebody who's better and somebody who's lesser than. The Scriptures stand right in the face of that. Next week, we're going to come together and study when it's okay not to obey.
When is it okay for a child not to obey his parent? When is it okay for a citizen to not obey its government? When is it okay for a wife to not be subject to her husband as to the Lord? That's what we're going to look at next week. Some people call it civil disobedience. Others would call it a biblical mandate to not obey the relationships which God has ordained for us to submit to. When can you not obey and it's okay? That's next week.
This week, it tells us, "Hey, children, you obey your parents." Like I said, we can't just say that children are age 13 and under. It's true that in Jewish law, a child was bar mitzvah-ed at roughly 13. Bar mitzvah… When you see Bar-Joseph or you see Barabbas, those are names in the Scripture. Bar means son of; mitzvah is law.
So basically, bar mitzvah is son of the law. At the age of 13, you are no longer just going to listen to your parents, but you are legally, at that point, responsible for you own actions in the Jewish society. When you are bar mitzvah-ed, you are now accountable for what you do. You are brought into adulthood in that society. You are a son of the law. You are a son of your own actions, delving out your own consequences.
This word child here really means those of you who are begat from your parents. The fact is, my mom and dad, who happen to be here this evening, it's kind of ironic that I'm teaching this passage. As children obey their parents, you can't say, "Hey, I'm 14 now, and I no longer am to submit to your authority." No, I'm always going to be begotten by you.
There is a time that, as a child, you're to obey, and then it says, though, the Ten Commandments say to honor your parents. What does it mean to honor? That word, honor, means several things. It doesn't mean just obey. It gets much broader than that. This is really where most of us are. When it says, "Honor your parents," I think it has in mind, and the word does mean to value the input of your parents, to respect your parents, to love and cherish your parents. We're going to see why that principle which is stated below here makes sense at this point.
Last night, we were messing around at my house. We were having some fun, and my mom started asking my wife and me some questions about some stuff. I happened to be listening to Hank William's 24 Greatest Hits, a fine CD, I thoroughly recommend it. Cut number 12 is old Hank singing, "Why don't you mind your own business?"
I was sitting there, my mom was having some fun asking some questions, and I just happened to listen out of the corner of my ear to that song. I grabbed the remote to the stereo, and I turned it up right before Hank said, "Why don't mind your own business, because you won't be minding mine." We laughed about it; we had some fun with the rest of the evening.
What this is saying right here is a child should never say to a parent, "Why don't you mind your own business?" Forever… There are times where it's appropriate for a child to say, "Well, I don't think, in the context of my relationship with my wife or my relationship with this individual, that we need to reveal some of that information, but I want to listen to what you have to say. Tell me your concern. Let me value your input. Let me listen to you."
I even believe that your non-Christian parents… Let me tell you. As I used to work with kids specifically, and they'd go to summer camp, they'd trust Christ, and they'd go home, I wanted to make a rule that you were not allowed to tell your parents for 30 days that you trusted Jesus Christ. You can't tell them. You just go home and do everything your parents ask you to do. You make your bed. You clean off the table. You're nice to your sister or your brother. You put your shoes away. You do whatever you do when your parents ask you to do it. You take the trash out.
I guarantee you, at the end of that 30 days, they're going to be begging you to explain what in the world happened to you. What so many of us do, and myself among them… I was a hellion to live with, I'm sure, early in my conversion to Christ. I walked around with this self-righteous attitude, like, "Hey, I have it all figured out. I don't know what you guys are doing, but this is the truth, and this is the way it ought to be." I probably wasn't real pleasant. I didn't have an aroma of Christ about me because I wasn't doing what Christ told me to do.
A Christian child ought to honor their parents like no other child does, ought to listen, ought to respond, ought to revere, ought to love, and I think, ought to live in such a way that their parents are honored. Tell me if these couple of proverbs aren't convicting. Think about this one. Proverbs 17:21 says this: "He who begets a fool does so to his sorrow, and the father of a fool has no joy." I imagine we could have some men stand up in this room right now and testify that that's a fact.
Proverbs 17:25 says it this way: "A foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her who bore him." Do you want to honor your parents? Don't be a fool. Don't be bitterness to them. Don't live your life in such a way that they're ashamed, that you've taken that good name… The greatest thing a father can give his son or his daughter is a good name.
I heard a guy say one time, "It takes a lifetime to build a good name and a moment to lose it." How would you like to have the name McVeigh in Upstate New York right now? How would you like to have the name Kaczynski, period, much less if your son grows up to be the Unabomber? Do you understand what I'm saying?
It says that you should not live your life in such a way that you are a source of ill feelings toward your family. That doesn't honor your mother and father. No matter what they did, you can become an honor to them. If your dad was a drunk, if your dad was a bootlegger, if your dad was an adulterer, if your mom was a prostitute, you can be a blessing to them. You can be an honor to them because of the way you live your life.
Let me ask you this. Are you an honor to your mother and father? When people speak of you, do they make your parents gloat? No matter how they've lived their lives, are you a source of honor to them? Let me make it even more applicable. You are a son or a daughter of Jesus Christ. God is your Father in heaven. How are you living your life? Are you honoring him, or are you a source of mockery to his name?
It says if you do this, the second part there in verse 3 is, "…THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU, AND THAT YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH." This is a principle. As with any principle in Scripture, there are going to be times when just because you die young, it doesn't mean that you're a source of shame to your parents.
When you speak about the goodness of life, you need to not just think about quantity but also quality. It is true that if you live your life free of sin, if you live your life in right response to what God says you should do, you will have a life that is better lived than if you lived for 30 years in rebellion against God. It speaks here of quality as much as quantity.
By the way, children watch and learn from the way you treat your parents. This hit home as I was studying and looking at it again. There's an old story; in fact, it's a Grimm's fairy tale. It's a story about a man whose father had a disease that cause him to shake, we'd call it Parkinson's, who had lost his wife and was no longer able to live by himself. He went and got his father and brought him to live with him.
Now the wife wasn't pleased with this because the old man, every time he'd bring the spoon to his face, caused the food to flicker and hit his lips. It would go back on the table and make a mess. The wife said, "This is just ruining my happiness. This is making a disturbance at my table; I lose my appetite." They took the old man, grabbed him by his skinny arm, and put him in the corner. He ate in the corner.
There was a day when the family was eating, and all of a sudden, the man shook. He was trying to get some soup to his mouth, and he dropped the bowl, and he broke the bowl. The food went all over the floor, and as the woman looked there in disgust, the man reached down, grabbed a piece of meat from the stew, and tried to put it in his mouth. She got up, and she said, "You want to eat like a pig? You'll live like a pig." They went out to the barn and got a trough where they fed the pigs. From that day forward, the man ate on the floor with just his hands and his mouth.
The family had a wonderful dinner table, but their little son watched this. There came a day when one day, the father walked out to the woodshop, and he saw his 6-year-old boy out there building something. He goes up to his son, and he says, "Son, what are you doing?" The son looked up, so proud of his father. He said, "Dad, I am making a trough." The dad looked at him and said, "You're making a trough? Why are you making a trough?" The son responded, "So when I'm big, I can feed you and mommy."
It says in the Scripture to honor your mother and father. It says if you do that… And I'll tell you what. The way you treat the older generation in this country right now, and they're coming, baby. The Boomers are going to be older. The way we treat them is going to teach our society how they're going to treat us. Do you want to eat out of a trough? You treat them that way. Do you want the society to see how you love somebody who's due respect? You honor them.
Look down here at what it says in verse 4. It says, "And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger…" This is why I invited my parents to be here this evening. No, I'm kidding. It says, "And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."
Let me make a quick note there at the bottom. It says, "…discipline and instruction…" It's not just the doing; it's also the dialogue. There are a lot of parents who, when they raise their child, are only satisfied if their child performs well. It's appropriate that you should discipline your child. It says in Proverbs 19, "Discipline your child while there is yet hope, lest you desire his death."
Another alternate translation is, "…lest you cause him to die," to live his life in such a way that he thinks he can live without consequence. If you don't discipline him and show him there is a consequence to his actions, you are causing him to die because he's going to get out in the world that will eat him up.
It says to discipline your son, but it's not enough. So many parents fail with this because they're just happy with the performance of their children. They just get their children to respond to that wooden spoon or respond to that raising of the voice. "Put it down!" The child will learn, "Hey, in this house, you don't cross Dad." But if that dad never sits and dialogues with that child, that child will learn the moral what but will never learn the moral why.
If you'll notice, it is the job of a Christian parent to not just teach the child what to do, discipline, but it is to instruct him in the Word of God, in the Lord. When you become a parent, or when you become a discipler, and we all should be heading that direction, don't just become a legalist who says, "Yes, this; no, that." We are to teach our children to think. It says to transform yourself, to transform your child by the renewing of your mind, that they may then live in such a way and prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
You have to not just make the decision for them. There's going to be a time when you're not at Sodom and Gomorrah U, sitting in their dorm room. You're not going to have a wooden spoon in your hand, saying, "Nope. Don't drink that. Don't kiss her there. Don't kiss her that way." You have to teach them the moral why and not just the moral what, or they'll think, "Hey, baby, I'm off that leash. I am now away, and I can do what I want," because they've never learned why. So make a note.
Make another note. Look at earlier in the verse where it says, in verse 4, "And, fathers…" It doesn't say, "Fathers and the Y and the church and the school…" It's talking here specifically now to the father. There is no other agency in Scripture which is given the responsibility for rearing your children. It is up to you.
It says in Luke 2:52 that Jesus increased four ways: in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man. Any good father and mother should want to raise their child in such a way that their child will do what Jesus did. He will increase in wisdom. It is the job of the parent to raise their child that he might grow in wisdom.
That is why, every night before Kirby and Ally go to bed, I get out the Encyclopedia Britannica and read at least 15 pages. Not really, but I'm not sitting there and whining, saying, "Oh my gosh, the public schools are falling apart." It is my job as a parent to let the schools be a supplement for what I'm doing in the raising of my children and not a substitute.
It is the job of the parent to not just see that their child increases in wisdom but in stature. Boy, you have so many kids today… The physical condition of the kids in our country today is worse than it has ever been. Do you know why? It isn't because recess is shorter. It's because in their homes, parents have this wonderful electronic babysitter, and they can just pop it right in and have that child sit there, and that's all they do. Or, there's a Nintendo there that they can play with all day.
One of the greatest gifts my dad and mom ever gave me… They used to help me with my homework. It wasn't just the school's job. I came home, and I had my two finest teachers sitting at 629 Gaslight Lane, ready to teach me. My finest coach that I ever had was Bob Wagner, sitting right out there.
When he would come home from work, he didn't just say, "Hey, did you watch the John Wooden video? Did you read the John Wooden book?" He'd go out and beat me at Horse. He'd go out and beat me in one-on-one. He'd go out and pitch to my brother and me. He made a sacrifice to do it, and don't think I don't know that he took responsibility. He didn't sign me up for some league at the Y. He took me to the Y, and he was my coach. When I came home, he was the one who encouraged me.
It's the parents' job to increase in wisdom and to help you increase in stature and in favor with God. Boy, do we have parents in this church who are concerned about our children's ministry? "How come you don't raise up my child to be a strong, devout Christian?" Let me tell you something, parent: we are a supplement. The Bible says you are the agency which is to disciple.
You're the one to have it on your doorpost. You're the one to talk about it at your dinner table. You're the one to talk about it when you go to bed. You're the one to talk about it when you lie down. We're going to do all we can when they're here, but God didn't ordain the church; he ordained you. It is not cotillion's job to increase you in your social skills. It is the father and the mother's job to teach when it's time to shut up, when it's time to stand up, when it's time to fold your hands, when it's time to clean the table. That happens in the home.
Let's look at verse 5. It says, "Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ…" Let me just make this observation. When you guys read this, you're going to be like me. You're going go, "Slaves? Why didn't he take a time right here and say, 'Slaves, addendum, see footnote: There should be no slavery. It is wicked; it is oppressive toward man'"?
The reason is because God did not have Paul tie the gospel to anything but the cross of Jesus Christ. The gospel is nothing but the cross of Christ, and what Paul said is the way to get new relationships is to be a part of a new community. That new community can only come as you have a new man and a new woman, and the only way to get a new man and a new woman is not through legislation and not through lobbying; it is through a new heart.
Paul preaches here in chapters 1, 2, and 3 is, "Have a new heart." If you have a new heart, you don't have a problem with slavery. He says, "What we lack is not a right social order. What we lack is an improper spiritual understanding. Don't think what you need to do is to change your status; you need to change your heart."
He says, "Slaves, instead of having animosity toward your owners…" As Christians you need to know this. "…be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh…" But be mindful of this: do it "…with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ…" That word, sincerity, I think in the King James Version, and this an appropriate translation of the word, it says, "…in singleness of your heart…"
Let me show you what that means. Verse 6: "…not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men…" I said it earlier: there is no sacred, there is no secular, there is no separation in the new community. If you are a new man, everything you do is service to your Master and to your King.
God has ordained that some should be executives at IBM and some should be salespeople. God has ordained that some should be leaders in the church, and others should be laypeople in the church, and you are to subject yourself to that leadership as to Christ. That leadership is to serve you, even as Christ would serve you.
Women, God has ordained that you have a certain role in the family, to be a completer, to contribute, to use your wit, your insight, all the intuition God grafted in you and not in us as men. You're to let your husband be what God intended him to be as he mutually submits himself to you, serves you, and sacrificially dies to himself that your glory may shine. You do it as you serve Christ. Don't say, "I'll do that at church. I'll do that in my religious organizations." It should happen, period.
There's a story about a brother and a sister who are sitting there, and Mom made some fresh cookies. Mom left the room, and the little boy got up, walked over, and started to take a cookie. He looks over at his sister, and his sister does this. He says, "Nuh-uh. I saw Mom leave. She didn't count the cookies." The little sister says, "You can be sure if Mom didn't, God did." Don't you hate sisters like that?
Do you know what that sister did? She spoke some truth because what the child was doing was living according to eyeservice. Do you know anybody at your office like that? Are you like that? Do you know what our businesses in America are having to do today? They're putting up security cameras to film their employees and then to go back and monitor how they do. Do you know what? Christians should be the ones… They should be able to watch that video and go, "That person knows Jesus Christ."
There's an old saying that says that who you are when no one is looking is who you are. That is who we ought to be. When no one is looking, we ought to be exemplary. We ought to be people who don't cheat on our expense reports because everybody else does it, because I'm not reporting to everybody else. I'm not reporting to my company. I am serving Christ and out of faith that it pleases him. Nobody will ever know it. I'll forget about it.
When I do stuff on my taxes, and I go, "No one's going to know about this. In fact, it's going to be a hassle to go out and get the number just right." When I do that out of my love for Jesus Christ, it pleases him. "The IRS will never know. I'm not going to get audited." You're not going to come and go, "Todd, I know that you were really meticulous in doing your taxes, and you put down what exactly is true." We do it out of worship for Christ, not for the IRS. "That's secular, and the spiritual is over here." He says, "No, everything you do reflects your relationship with Christ."
Then it goes in verse 8. It says, "…knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free." So be mindful. We talked about that at the beginning; that was our hors d'oeuvre. Look at verse 9. It says, "And, masters, do the same things to them…"
What are the same things? "Render good service" is what he just got through saying. You love them. You do what's right. Why? You treat them like you would treat Jesus Christ if he worked for you, even as they should treat you as their Lord. "In mutual subjection in the fear of Christ," Ephesians 5:21. It is the rule for all relationships.
"And, masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him." He's saying that freedom comes from a renewed spirit. It does not come from a new structure. Do you want to know how to have a better relationship with people? Don't reorganize; rethink. Reprioritize your values. Make them biblical.
The Scriptures would tell you, in Ephesians 5:15, that you should be enabled to do this one way. What is it? By the Spirit. It tells you, and we'll start to look at this next week, that you're encouraged by the example of the living Word, Jesus Christ. You are enabled to have these new relationships by the Spirit of Christ, and there is no other way, who helps you think with an eternal perspective, who helps you know that there will be a day when you'll receive right reward.
You can be encouraged by the example of Christ who lived this way. Did he suffer unjustly? You bet he did. Was he mistreated by people who were in authority over him? You bet he was. But was it worth it? Where is he seated? Fourth seat from the right? Not bad seats? No, he's seated at the right hand of God. He has been given the name above all names. He has been given the ultimate reward. "Well done, my good and faithful servant."
Let me give you four little bits of application out of this that you guys can take home. First, the answer to new relationships, the answer to our society getting along… This is so significant during an election year. The answer is not legislation. The answer for you to have a better marriage is not registration. By that I mean at the next Marriage Life Conference. That's not the ultimate answer to your marriage problem.
It's not registration, it's not legislation, it's not education. We don't need more people to be taught how to be better parents. What would be another one? Negotiation, education, legislation… Those aren't the ways. There's one way, according to Ephesians, that you can have better relationships. It is regeneration, that your heart is made new. When your heart is regenerated, when you have a perfect heart, when you change your heart… "O God, make it ever true. Change my heart, O God, make it be like you."
"I'm going to love you the way I should love you, wife. I'm going to serve you the way I should serve you." I love what one guy said: "You can be sure that there were no crooked chairs coming out of that carpenter's shop in Nazareth." He was diligent in the way he worked because he didn't work to please his daddy, Joseph. He worked to please his heavenly Father, and he knew that he was impressed with our best effort.
Do you want to know what the answer is? I'll tell you what; I am for there being laws which protect good values, but that is not my hope. I don't think a Christian in the White House is going to change our country. I think Christ in the heart is going to change our country. I love what Spurgeon said: "If God has called you to be a prophet, don't stoop to be a king."
A king cannot change hearts like a prophet can who can speak truth and say, "Do you know what your problem is? It's not that you don't have righteous laws. It's that you have a wicked heart." Fight for righteous laws, elect righteous men, but don't rest there. You share your faith. Get out there and tell folks the truth. That is how… You be faithful men and women. You are commissioned, every member a minister. A kingdom of priests, a holy nation…that's the church.
Here's another one. You have to ask yourself simply this: Are your relationships different because of Christ? Another way to say it is: How are you honoring your heavenly Father? Are you bringing blessing to the family name, or are you like Christians throughout the centuries who have committed murder, who have pillaged villages, who have oppressed people, who have been hateful toward others, all because of Christ? All because, in the name of Jesus, it as the right way to do it.
Are you a David Koresh? Are you somebody who's going to walk up to a doctor leaving an abortion clinic and blow his brains out? That's bringing dishonor to the family's name. How are you doing? Here's another one. Don't be so heavenly minded that you're no earthly good. Let me tell you what I mean by that.
Don't be so heavenly minded that you're no earthly good. I can't tell you how many times I have people tell me that some of the worst employees they have are their Christians because they have this little pious attitude as they float around their office that work doesn't really matter. "This isn't really spiritual. The really spiritual things, I'm doing tonight when I teach my Bible study." I have to tell you something. The Bible says that the way you work is spiritual. The way that you serve your employer is a testimony to who Jesus Christ is.
Do you want to have your office converted? You be their number one salesperson. Don't let them manage your life, but while you're there those eight hours, you do everything you can to serve them. Not so they'll promote you, but so you can say, "The reason I'm doing this is because it honors Christ when I give my best." Some of you guys, no matter what you do, are never going to be the top salesman. But they're going to go, "This is a diligent worker." Don't be so heavenly minded that you're no earthly good.
I love the story about a guy who came home, and he's disgusted. His friend goes, "What happened?" He goes, "I got fired by the foreman." His friend goes, "The foreman? Who's the foreman?" He goes, "The foreman is the guy at your job that stands around, doesn't do anything, and tells everybody else what to do." He says, "Well, why did he fire you?" He says, "Because he was jealous; everybody thought I had his job."
So many times, Christians are standing around and not working as diligently because, "Really, there are things that are more important to me." If you feel that way, maybe you shouldn't be there at that company. If you're not an employee who's doing the best of your abilities, then you need to really reevaluate your worship. Don't be so heavenly minded that you're no earthly good.
Here's the last one. Don't work for a promotion, respond to the promise. According to Ephesians 6:8, it says, "…knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord…" I want to tell you something; if you respond to the promise and you work like there's going to be an all-knowing God who will honor those who, in faith, give their best for him, you're going to get promoted.
Don't live for something here that moth and thief and rust can take and destroy. Work that you might cherish and earn for yourself things in heaven, where there is none of those things, where they will be with you forever. You can lay those crowns at his feet and, one last time, worship him. Let's pray.
Father, tonight, we look… We want to be new people with new hearts who live in a new community, who respond to you appropriately. In our relationships with our parents, God, help us to honor our mothers and fathers. Help us to not treat them like pigs so our children don't think that's the way we should be treated.
More than that, help us not to do it just for selfish reasons. I pray, Father, that by faith, we would love those in our family. That as parents, we would love our children. As children, we would respond to our parents. As employees, we would serve faithfully. As employers, we would be in good repute with our employees. As husbands and wives, et cetera, citizens and rulers, that we would love and submit and care because you have modeled for us.
You have encouraged us with your example that even though you were God yourself, you did come to be serve but to serve and to give yourself as a ransom for many. God, you have gone before us, and we thank you. We thank you for the example of Christ, and, Lord, we are so encouraged with the promise. We are so grateful for knowing what you did for him, that there is a God who rules, the grave is not the end, there is a resurrection. There is a God who will make it right. May we labor faithfully until then.
Today, as we go forward, step by step, may we do it to please you, in faith. We are reminded that it is impossible to please you without faith. Those who serve you, in whatever relationship they're in, must serve with faith, knowing that you are a just God, and you are a rewarder of those who seek and serve you. In Christ's name, amen.
Most people are desperately looking for answers to such age-old human dilemmas as violence, greed and racism; not to mention personal pain and disappointment with our own duplicity and lack of fulfillment. In this series on the book of Ephesians, Todd Wagner challenges us to open our eyes to the truth that Christ has called us to be part of a completely new society called the Church. Our highest calling then is to be men and women whose lives have been regenerated and empowered through faith in Christ. Our 21st century challenges are not unlike those faced by followers of Christ in first century Ephesus. The Apostle Paul, author of this letter to the Ephesians, emphasizes that the problem with the Church then and today is not that God hasn't given it everything necessary to be successful in its mission. Rather, our problem is like that of a wealthy miser who dies of starvation rather than dip into the abundance of resources at his disposal. Allow yourself to be challenged and encouraged by this ancient letter that adroitly analyzes the plight of Christ's bride, the Church, and then paints a vivid portrait of what we can - and indeed do - look like as His redeemed people. This volume covers Ephesians 5 and 6.