We are going to begin the
first part of a series within a series. This is called Spirit-Filled
Families, Part I.
I hope that you are not forgetting the
context of Ephesians. Paul is talking to believers in a pagan city called
Ephesus. These believers in this pagan city are in a hostile world. Paul
is trying to let them know they have everything that they will ever need
in the Lord Jesus Christ. They have all of God they will ever get.
They lived in a pagan society. Ephesus was an awful, awful place. They
lived in a hostile world. In this letter he is trying to encourage them.
He wants them to know they have everything they need for life and for
godliness. He wants them to know that when they were pagans, when they
didnít know Jesus, what they couldnít do, they now can do because Jesus
lives in their hearts in the person of His Spirit.
Go back to
Ephesians 3. In verse 16 he prays
"that He [God] would grant you,
according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power
through His Spirit in the inner man." (Click
for first of 6 messages on a
Prayer for fullness)
That is very important to realize. There is an inner man, and the Spirit
of God lives there. The Spirit of God wants to strengthen us with power
and give us an ability that we would not have apart from Him.
Verse 17 continues,
"so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through
How am I strengthened? How do I experience the power of God? I
experience it by accommodating His presence.
How do we accommodate His presence? By obeying Him. By faith. When I am
willing to do what He says to do, when I choose to obey Him, I am saying
"no" to my wicked flesh. Immediately I begin to experience the empowering
of the Holy Spirit of God.
Ephesians 4 we have a new garment.
for a discussion of putting off the old and putting on the new "garment"
and what this looks like practically) What is on the inside is going to affect
you on the outside. A garment is what people see.
we begin to
imitate, mime the love of God. It is not what we say, it is how we live.
We are children of light. We walk in a world of darkness that is hostile
he warns the Ephesian believers in the pagan world they
"Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as
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How do wise men walk in a hostile world?
Verse 16 tells you. First
of all, "making the most of your time." The word "time" is the word
kairos, which means opportunity.
From the time I got saved to the time I die I have an opportunity. I am to
make the most of that opportunity. How do I do that? By redeeming the
time. How do you purchase time? By the choices that we make. We have to
suffer the consequences of wrong choices. Paul says, "You only have from
the time you are born again until the time you die. Now make the most of
that time. Redeem the time. Make wise choices."
"So then do not be foolish."
That is the word aphron.
That means donít act as if you donít have the ability to put together in
situations in your life what God wants you to do because you do. Second
Timothy tells us we are not like people who are lost. We have minds that
have been saved. We can actually understand what God wants us to do.
"but understand what the will of the Lord is."
Generically, the will of the Lord is that we be strengthened in the inner
man by the Spirit of God, that we obey Him, that we depend completely on
Him, that we be surrendered in our attitude towards Him. Specifically
because of that fear of God, God will give us wisdom in the specific areas
of our life. He says, "Know what the will of the Lord is."
In this context of walking wisely,
Ephesians 5:18 begins with the word "and." It
is a connector.
is still in the context of walking wisely in a
world that is hostile towards us. He says,
"And do not get drunk with
wine, for that is dissipation (or waste), but be filled with the Spirit."
being filled with the Spirit)
The word "filled" means controlled by the Spirit of God. How do I live
wisely in a dark, hostile world? I am constantly saying to the Lord,
Lord, whatever it is."
By saying "yes" to Him, I am saying "no" to my
flesh. I am being controlled moment by moment by moment. I am constantly
aware of His presence in my life, moment by moment by moment, practicing
the presence of Christ as I am willing to yield to whatever His will is in
This is going to have a powerful impact on our families. Do you realize
that Godís first institution on this earth was the family? This was not
manís idea. This was not manís plan. This is why the world today has such
an attack on the family. Satan began that in Genesis. You see, God came up
with the idea of the family. He created the man first. He created the
woman out of his side and immediately they were to bear children. This
institution is Godís idea. Not only it is His idea, but He has the only
master plan for how the family is supposed to function.
Letís work our way from Ephesians 5:22 down to 6:9. Letís look at Godís
design so that we donít have to go back and redo what we should have done
years ago. Hopefully this will be a real help to some of you who are just
getting your families started. Some of us who have been there a while are
just going to have to swallow real deep and say, "Thank you, Lord, for
your grace and your forgiveness and your mercy," and start afresh as we
The first instruction in
is to the ladies, the wives. Paul wrote
this under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God. You wonít understand
why he started with wives right now, but you will understand later. There
is just one verse addressed to the wives, but wait until we get to the
husbands, folks. It is quite different.
"Wives, [be subject] to your own husbands, as to
the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the
head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as
the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to
their husbands in everything."
You may notice in verse 22 that [be subject] is in italics (in the
NASB), meaning the verb there is not in that verse (in the original Greek
text). It is picked up from the preceding verse. In verse 21 Paul had
"and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ."
Then goes on in verse 22 to literally say,
"Wives, to your own husbands." ("be subject" is added by the
So it is picked up from verse 21. It is also reinforced in verse 24 when
he tells them,
"Just as the church submits to Christ, you also be
subject to your husbands."
So we know that it is there, but letís look at some things about it. We
will find some observations that might help us to decide what is Godís
design. The family is His idea, not ours. He is the only one who has the
design. What is it?
First of all letís look at the meaning of the phrase
The word "subject" is the word
for in depth study of
hupotasso) It is more
commonly understood to mean to submit. So when I use the term "submit" I
am saying the same thing as "subject yourself."
comes from two Greek
words, the word hupů, which means "under," and
which means "to set in place."
In other words, the word means to set something in place up under
something else. In the context it is talking about submitting to the
authority of another. So Paul is saying to the wives,
"Be willing to
place yourself in a position under your husband who is the authority of
your family. Be in that position of being submissive."
Now, letís make sure we understand what
hupotasso doesnít mean.
Sometimes when you look and see what it doesnít mean, it tells you better
what it does mean.
For instance, it does not mean that she is commanded to obey her husband
as a child would obey his parents or a slave would obey his master. A lot
of men treat their wives as if they are a door mat. They walk all over
them as if they have no sense, as if they have no ability, as if they are
inferiors. That is not what the word means at all.
As a matter of fact, there is another Greek word that is used in that kind
of relationship. It is the word hupakouo. That is entirely
Let me show you where it is used. Look in Ephesians 6:1:
"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right."
word the word "obey" is? Hupakouo. In other words, you are an
inferior to a superior and God says you must obey your parents. You have
no option, and it is only by Godís grace they ever give you a reason why
they tell you to do what they tell you to do.
is never used with a husband and wife.
Look in 6:5:
obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear
and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ."
"obedient" is the same word, hupakouo. One is of an inferior to a
superior. The other is not that at all.
Hupotasso, the word that is
used for wives to husbands, is the word that talks about two people who
are absolutely equal in Godís eyes, totally equal. There is not one level
of inferiority of one to the other. But the wife makes a choice to place
herself as an equal underneath another equal, her husband, in order that
there can be order and function in the family. The whole purpose of it is
so that it meets the design that God has already ordered.
So what is the meaning of the word
hupotasso? Does it mean that
your wife is a slave to obey your every command? Does it mean that you
treat her like a child? NO! If there is a man who thinks for one second
that they have any superiority in Godís eyes over their wife, they are
gravely mistaken from Godís Word. However, by His design to have a
functional family, concessions have to be made. So God says, "Wives, you
make it and you choose to put yourself underneath the headship of your
husband" in order that the design can be what God says it ought to be.
The meaning of it has nothing to do with inferior to superior. It takes
nothing from the dignity of a woman for her to submit, but rather it
enhances it. It takes great integrity for a person to do what God says
should be done.
letís look at the mindset of submission.
In verse 22 it says,
be submissive to your husbands."
It says nothing about their
ability. There are many families in which the wife is a whole lot more
gifted than the man.
Maybe the wife is full of personality, full of character, full of all
kinds of ability. It is the exact reverse of what you think the model
ought to be. God says, "Wives, I donít care how much intelligence you
have. I donít care how many spiritual gifts you have. I donít care how
much energy you have. I donít care how much better you look than your
husband. Wives, submit to your husbands." "But God, my husband is a bully!
God, you donít want me submitting to my husband, do you?" God said,
"Thatís right. You submit to your husband."
The mindset comes up in the verb:
"be subject to your own husbands,
as to the Lord."
The verb there is present tense and middle voice. This is
not something you do one time so you can get something. Present tense
means this is constant: every day be being under submission to your
husband at all times. But even more than that is the middle voice. The middle voice means, you yourself make your own choice. If you want to have
a properly functioning family, wives, you yourself make up your mind you
are going to live in the state of submissiveness to your husband, no
matter what he is like. God says,
"Submit to that man in your family."
The meaning is of two equals. Oh, what integrity a person who loves God
has who is willing to put themselves under an equal in order that Godís
order and function may take place in the family.
there is the motivation of being submissive.
Now what in the
world would make a woman who is equal, probably more gifted, probably more
educated than her husband, put herself under submission to him? Well, look
at the verse: "Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the
Lord." I have had people ask me, "You mean to tell me I am to treat my
husband as I treat the Lord? Is that what he is saying there?" No, he is
not saying that. A lot of husbands want to be treated that way, but that
is not what he is saying. Paul is saying, "You do this as an act of love
to the Lord."
What should motivate you to do this? The verse is saying the thing that
ought to motivate you is because the Spirit of God controls your life and
the Spirit of God has revealed to you what the Scriptures say. In order
for the Lord to make your family a functional family, you are willing to
obey what He says. Itís not because you love your husband that much, but
it is because you love Jesus that much. That is the key. As I love the
Lord Jesus, I am willing to do whatever it is he tells me to do. A wifeís
love for Christ motivates her to obey. So, she looks in Godís Word. She is
a student of Scripture. She canít be Spirit-filled if she is not because
the Scripture has to play a role in our obeying the Lord Jesus Christ. She
gets into the Word. Ephesians 5:22 says,
"Wives, be subject to your
Jesus said in John 14:21,
"If you love Me, you will
"Out of loving You, Lord, I
am going to do what You have told me to do."
That is the motivation of submission.
Fourthly, letís look at the model of submission.
Ladies, God has honored
you because He has asked you to do what He also has done. The model, of
course, is the Lord Jesus Himself. Paul says in verses 23-24,
husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church,
He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is
subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in
We will get into some more of the details of that
later. I want you to see first of all the model of submission.
Look in Philippians 2:5-8. In verses 5 and 6 it reads,
"Have this attitude
in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in
the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,
but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being
made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He
humbled Himself by becoming obedient."
The word there is not the one he is
asking wives to do. Oh, no, it is a much more severe word. It is
hupakouo. He chose to be a reflection of His Father. He says in John,
"I can do nothing of my own initiative. What I see My Father do, I do.
What I hear My Father saying, I say. I have absolutely, unconditionally
obeyed everything He says because I am a reflex of Him." Yet He doesnít
ask the wives to obey that way. He simply asks them to obey as equals who
choose to put themselves underneath them. He did that for us. As an equal
He did that and modeled it for us. But He went a step further. He could do
nothing except of His Father. That is not what He asks you to do, but He
has already modeled it before you.
You may ask,
"Well, where does the Lord
Jesus live now? How is He going to help me?"
That is why I started where I started. He lives in us. We are the Temple
of the Spirit of God. Where does Christ live? He lives in my heart. His
Spirit resides in my heart! Therefore, whatever He can do, He can still do
in and through me, for God is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond
what we ever ask or even think. God can do that in your life. That is the
model of the Lord Jesus.
Look over in I Peter 2. This is the example of the Lord Jesus Christ. I
want you to see what he says about submission over here. He takes it right
into the marriage relationship but he doesnít start there. He says in
"Submit yourselves for the Lordís sake to every human institution, whether
to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the
punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is
the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of
In other words, he is saying,
"If you are not willing to submit to authority, then you are bringing all
kinds of confusion to these people."
Verses 16-25 go on:
"Act as free men, and do not use your freedom
as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. Honor all
men; love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king. Servants, be
submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are
good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a man bears up under
sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin
and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do
what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this
finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since
Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in
His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth;
and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He
uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges
righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that
we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were
healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have
returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls."
Peter continues the thought in 3:1:
"In the same way, you wives, be
submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are
disobedient to the Lord, they may be won without a word by the behavior of
Peter talks about a beauty of a wife when she submits. It is not outward.
It is inward. God turns that light on, and even a disobedient husband can
actually be won to Christ.
So the meaning of submission is not an inferior to a superior. It is of
two equals. One chooses for the sake of the design to do what God says to
do. You are going to have to make up your own mind. It is going to have to
be a lifestyle. The motivation is the Lord Jesus living in you. You are
doing it for Him. You are loving Him. The model is Jesus Himself. He has
already modeled it out for us and showed us exactly what to do. So the
responsibility of the wife is to submit to her husband in order for the
home to have order and for it to function properly.
Now, this is not the easiest thing for a wife to do. I want to tell you
why it is so difficult. In Genesis 3:16 he is talking about the curse of
original sin and he is dealing with the woman. Ladies, do you wonder why
some things are difficult in your life, particularly bearing children?
Here we go.
"To the woman He said, ĎI will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth,
in pain you shall bring forth children; yet your desire shall be for your
husband, and he shall rule over you.í"
Now that word translated as "desire" almost makes it look like that desire
is emotional or whatever. That is not what he is talking about. The word
"desire" has a root that means to seek control over, to master your
husband. As a matter of fact, it is all the result of sin.
Look over in Genesis 4:7. The same word is used and it shows you exactly
what it means. The NIV reads:
"If you do well, will not your
countenance be lifted up?
And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is
for you, but you must master it.í" In other words, its desire is to master
you, but you must master sin.
So the word "desire" there doesnít mean what you think. It means that
because of Adam, ladies, you have built in your flesh the desire to rule
over your husband.
You see, this is why it is so important. Paul starts with wives. He says,
"Wives, from Eve on, you have had a desire within you to control and run
over a man."
I know you are more educated, smarter, more gifted, your personality puts
him to shame and you are a whole lot prettier, but you need to die to that
and be filled with the Spirit of God. Do it Godís way. Until you ladies
are filled with the Spirit of God, there is no ability within you at all
to control that urge that comes from Adam to take control and to dominate.
You canít control it. But remember, He will strengthen you with power in
the inner man to do what you never could do before when you were willing
to accommodate Him and say, "God, this is Your design. I donít like it
particularly, but I choose to do it." God says,
"Great. I will meet you at the point of your obedience and will do
something in you that will blow you away. I will fill you to the fulness
You see, only when a wife is submitting to the Lord Jesus and to her
husband can the family ever have any hope of being functional. Godís
design is Godís design.