[powerpress sc_id=”sc2″]Last week we examined Paul’s word to the wives. This week we are going to turn our attention to what Paul has to say to the husbands.
What Paul has to say to the husbands is short and sweet, and impossible to do apart from Christ. Everything that Paul says to the husbands is said in the context of Jesus Christ and his relationship to the church.
Husbands, love your wives”. A seemingly simple command. And it would be a relatively simple command if that was all Paul had to say. The challenge is found in the words that follow. “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church…
Notice that the husband is not at liberty to decide if or how he is going to love his wife. The man who is considering taking a wife needs to ask himself if he is ready to love both emotionally and spiritually.
Start with Loving not Leading
What I find interesting in this passage is where Paul begins. If you remember back to last week’s message we explored the proper functioning of the Christian home. The Christian home functions properly when each person in the home understands their roles and lives out those roles in the power of the Holy Spirit. The role of the husband is to be the head of the home. The husbands role of being the head obligates him to provide biblical leadership in the home.
So I would assume that Paul would have continued on with that theme as he turned his attention to the husband. But Paul did not open verse twenty five by telling the husbands to lead their wives, rather he told them to do what? To love their wives!
Why is this true? It is true because if a husband loves his wife in the same way that Christ loves the church his leadership will naturally flow from his love. You can’t love the way that Christ loved without simultaneously leading in the way the Christ leads the church.
Therefore the focus isn’t on leading it is on loving. The focus is on a husband loving his wife as Christ loved the church.
Now as we factor in the component of a husband loving his wife as Christ loved the church Paul’s words take on a completely different dimension.
Why is the husband to love his wife? Is there a theological purpose, a spiritual reality behind a husband loving his wife?
Gaining an understanding of this will help not only the husbands to love and lead but will also help the wives to understand the how and why a husband is to love his wife.
Love, real biblical love is a radically different kind of love.
- Biblical love is a love of action
- Biblical love always has the other person’s best interest at heart
- Biblical love is love with a purpose.
I believe this is at the heart of what Paul is saying to us in this passage. My first impression as I began to read and study these verses was to immediately rush to explore how Christ loved the church and then apply that to how a husband is to love his wife.
Paul tells us how Christ loved the church. For instance we know that he gave himself for her. That is a reference to the sacrifice of Christ upon the Cross. But he also tells us why Christ gave himself for her, for the church. In other words he tells us the purpose behind the sacrifice.
The purpose for Jesus sacrificing his life for the church is found in verse 27
so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.(Ephesians 5:27 ESV)
Now I’m going to make a statement that you will probably need to meditate on to fully grasp, I know I still do. The husbands love for his wife is rooted in the sacrifice of Christ. The atonement of Christ therefore shapes our understanding of a husband loving his wife and why he is to love his wife.
Why do I say this? Look back at verse 25 “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,” (Ephesians 5:25 ESV)
What does the last part of the verse say? “as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”. What is Paul referring too? The reference is to the sacrifice that Christ made at the Cross. The reference is to the atonement.
Now I realize that the love Christ demonstrated is beyond our ability to duplicate. There has never been a human expression of love like the love that Christ has loved His Church with. Though the love that Christ demonstrated for the church cannot be duplicated, there is much to be learned from it.
Was there a purpose to the atonement? Certainly. The atonement was accomplished by Christ through both his life and death. Why was there a need for the atonement? The atonement was necessary because of the nature and the character of God. The atonement satisfied the justice that God demands while at the same time it demonstrated the love that God has for the world.
But let’s go a little deeper and think about who the atonement was made for. God was under no obligation to save anyone. But in His grace He saves any and all who will repent of their sins and trust in Christ and in Christ alone.
The atonement was made for people who from the very beginning had rebelled against their Creator. They had rejected Him, they had chosen their pleasure, their desires over the paradise that He had offered them. Isn’t it hard to like someone who rejects you? How much harder would it be to love those who totally rejected you? Yet that is what God did. He loved us as the Bible says that even while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.
The Atonement and Marriage
Now how does all of this impact the way the husband is to love his wife? Let’s start with how God loved. God loved us even when we were not worthy of His love. Have you ever given much thought to that. There was nothing in us that made us a worthy object of God’s love yet God still loved us. God loves us unconditionally. Therefore the atonement teaches me as a husband that I am to love my wife unconditionally.
Too much love today is conditional love. If they make me happy then I’ll love them. If they meet my needs then I’ll love them. If they give me everything I want, not what I need but what I want then I will love them. All of that is simply an expression of conditional love. What happens when you don’t make me happy or you aren’t meeting my needs, or you won’t or maybe can’t give me everything I want? Then I stop loving you.
What if the person we love does something so that we consider them to be unworthy of our love? Can we stop loving them? Not in light of the atonement. God loved us unconditionally and He loved us even when we were not worthy of that love. And He visibility demonstrated that love to us through Christ.
When problems arise in the marriage we should turn back towards the Cross. We should turn to the atonement, we should go back to the cross of Christ and stand and look upon the cross and what took place there. We should turn our attention to Christ and once again be reminded of the forgiveness that was made available to us through the Lord’s life and death. We will once again be reminded that we can now forgive the one who has hurt us or we are at odds with. We should reflect upon the sacrifice of Christ that was motivated by the love of God. A love that was directed towards rebellious, unworthy people and we should remember that we were among that number and that God through Christ has forgiven us.
In light of the sacrifice that Christ made is there any sacrifice too great for us to make to pursue Christ likeness in our homes and marriages?
In light of the atonement, because of the atonement a husband is to love his wife unconditionally, he is to love his wife whether or not she may or may not be worthy of his love.
Love in Action
Of course the Bible provides us with a real flesh and blood example of this. God commanded Hosea to go and marry a wife who from a human perspective was not worthy of Hosea’s love. Yet Hosea did as God commanded him to do. How did Hosea’s wife repay him? She rejected his love, she rejected his attempts to care for her and went back to her old way of life. Yet God told him to go and get her back. And Hosea did. How or why did Hosea go through all of that? Because it was an an act of obedience on his part to demonstrate the love that God had for His people Israel even though that had repeatedly rejected Him and His gracious love and care for them.
Earlier I said that Biblical love is love with a purpose. We see that in the text. Jesus died for the church so “that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:26–27 ESV)
Jesus died for the church so that he could make the unlovely lovely, He died for the church so that he could make the impure pure. He died for the church so that He could make the inglorious glorious. He died for the church so that He could take a blemished and wrinkled people and present them one day as a beautiful bride, arrayed in all her splendor, without a wrinkle or a blemish!
The atonement, the sacrifice of Christ wasn’t only for the forgiveness of sins. No it was much more than that, it was to make the most beautiful bride. It was for the purpose of making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. It was for the purpose of taking the poor stepsister and making her Cinderella!
Here is why the husband is to love his wife, because if she is a Christian she is part of this beautiful, glorious, full of splendor bride of Christ. As the husband loves his wife as Christ loves the church is he helping to prepare the Bride for his Savior.
Marriage is not lived in isolation. Marriage is not lived out for this life only. Marriage is for the preparation of the Bride of Christ. Marriage is a demonstration of the atoning love of Christ. Marriage can be and should be a demonstration of the reach and the power of the atonement.
The husband is to love his wife because God has chosen that man for that women to help prepare the bride for His Son!
Isn’t that an incredible thought? It should strike a sense of fear and awe into the heart of every Christian husband or husband to be.
Love is inseparable from our actions. Notice the actions that Christ has taken on behalf of his bride.
HE SACRIFICES FOR HER
The first one we’ve talked quite a bit about and that is His sacrifice for the church. What was the extent of His sacrifice? He gave himself for her. Paul opened chapter five with this same truth.
“And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
(Ephesians 5:2 ESV)
Of course we all can quote John 3:16
““For God so loved the world,that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 ESV)
The Lord’s love for His bride was demonstrated through His sacrifice.
HE SANCTIFIES HER
A second action that Jesus took for His bride was sanctifying her. How does he sanctify her? Through the washing her by the Word. It is the Word of God that cleans us up and gets us ready for the marriage. Jesus loves his church even with all of her spots and blemishes, but because he loves her he is not going to let her stay that way. He is going to clean her up, he is going to make her a glorious bride. The means by which He is going to transform his bride is through His Word.
This is so very practical. At least for me as a Pastor, my assignment is to preach and teach the word in such a way that the bride is prepared for her husband. I’m not at liberty to get the bride ready for anybody else but Jesus Christ.
HE SAVORS HER
“For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,”
(Ephesians 5:29 ESV)
Notice what Paul says about the Jesus and the church, he nourishes and cherishes it. Anyway you slice it those are terms of affection and care. Jesus loves the church even with all of her bumps and bruises, even with all of her wrinkles and blemishes. Even loves the church so much that he is actively taking care of the her. He loves the church, he nourishes the church and he cherishes the church. Do we?
Counsel to Young Christian Ladies
As we finish up this morning, I’d like to direct my closing comments to the young ladies. I’ve tried to stress this to my own daughters. Who you marry is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. Who you marry will have an impact on just about every area of your life, and will continue to impact every area of your life for many many years.
Many times the decision about who we are going to marry is not grounded in the Scriptures. When that happens trouble lays ahead. It is not just enough to marry someone who is a Christian although that is the place to start. You need to ask yourself, and be honest with yourself, is this man whom I’m considering dating or marrying is this man going to be able to love me in the same way that Jesus loved the church? Is his love for me going to be rooted in the atonement? Will he love me unconditionally when the time comes when perhaps I can’t meet his needs?
Will he sacrifice for me? Will he be a means of sanctification in my life, will he help me be a better Christian? Will he look after me the way that Jesus cares for the church? Will this man prepare me properly to be a part of the bride of Christ?
Is he willing to learn to love me as Christ loved the church? Does he love Christ? If not move on, walk away, look for the mate that will do those things. God will bless your obedience