Thursday, July 11, 2013

Ephesians 5:18-6:9 -- Submission and Bringing Heaven to Your Home

LINK: Ephesians 5:18-6:9

I love how this post turned out. Please read the REFLECTION and watch the videos embedded in the post! It is really amazing that they would come out on the same day I would write this post. PROVIDENTIAL! 


What (or who) will give us the love we need so that we can love others, especially those in our home? 

The Holy Spirit of God! It is only through His power and love that we can love others (Galatians 5:22-25)! 

Bacchus by Caravaggio, c.1595, oil on canvas
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Paul contrasts being filled with wine with being filled with the Spirit because Ephesian culture worshiped Bacchus (also known as Dionysus in Greek culture), the god of wine, drunken orgies, ritual madness, and ecstasy. It was believed that in order to "commune" with Bacchus and be led by him, you had to be drunk! In this condition, they could know his will and how best to serve and obey him. Now that you know that, reread 5:18 and the contrast will come more alive to you! Our culture has different ways we try to "fill" ourselves and make decisions based on the will of other false gods. Think about what yours might be.

"Be filled" is a present tense verb phrase which means "keep on being filled." It is also a imperative passive verb which indicates we are commanded to let the filling happen, and we can control our willingness to be filled. It also indicates that once we are willing, the Holy Spirit does the filling and not ourselves! 

When Paul commands us . . . to be filled with the Spirit he is commanding us to allow ourselves to be governed by the fullness of Christ in our lives. In Ephesians 5:18, the results of being filled with the Spirit are speaking in psalms, singing, giving thanks, and harmony in relationships between husbands and wives, parents and children, and masters and slaves. 
(Holman New Testament Commentary: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, p. 180)
When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we esteem others as "more important than ourselves" (Romans 12:10; Philippians 2:1-4). Without the Holy Spirit, we want to promote ourselves. With the Spirit, we are able to subordinate our rights to others. Note that this passage calls for ALL to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ, who submitted to His Father's will to be our example (5:21). Submission does not have to be a problem when the whole family seeks God and submits to being filled by the Spirit! WIN-WIN!  

The whole issue of the man being the head of the wife can be a big stumbling block for some. I am not a doormat, but I am not a biblical feminist either. I always fall back on the fact that the husband has the greater burden because he is to love, nourish, and cherish (like a mother hen brooding over her chicks) His wife like Christ loves, nourishes, and cherishes the church. That is a TALL order! It is interesting to note that Paul uses twice as many words telling the husbands how to love their wives than he does telling wives to submit to their husbands. So, I think there should be twice as much preaching toward husbands as there is to wives! But that is not always the case in our churches today. On top of all that, we should all get gazillion times more exhortation for ALL of us to be filled with the Holy Spirit because then it is not even an issue!    

One more thing, common sense tells us that if a husband asks his wife to do something that would cause her to disobey the Lord, then he is not loving her like Christ loves the church, and there is no obligation to submit. We do not submit to abuse either. If you have any questions in that area, please go to a trusted spiritual mentor or counselor about it!!! Abuse happens, even in the church, and sometimes it is wrapped up in the "submission" disguise. Here is an excellent forum to watch:

The Emotionally Destructive Marriage

The wife is every bit as equal to her husband (Galatians 3:28; Genesis 1:27), but there is nothing wrong with having some kind of social order, but that order is going to look different in every household, and the key to any family harmony is being filled with the Spirit and exercising the gifts He has given us! Read my musings about being a "helpmate" to my husband from Genesis 2 HERE. It will give you an idea of how things roll in my household. I should add that my husband read Ephesians 5 while we were engaged, and He fully submitted to the Holy Spirit in loving me like Christ loves the church, and I am a blessed woman! 

Here are other verses regarding how a child is to behave toward his parents and the responsibilities a father has to his child: Ephesians 6:1-4; Exodus 20:12; and Deuteronomy 5:16; 6:1-9. Honoring a father and mother does not mean honoring their sin or obeying if they ask you to disobey the Lord. If you are a kid and have a question about that, please ask a trusted adult to help you

Ephesians 6:5-9; 1 Peter 2:18-25; and James 5:1-6 are passages about servants and masters. Most of us do not have servants in our households, but these can apply to employer and employee relationships. We will discuss this more fully when we get to 1 Peter and James. 


"Submission" is a dirty word in the secular world, but how Providential that on the day I composed this post, Gabrielle Reece, professional volleyball player, would go on NBC's Today Show and announce that being a "submissive" woman shows "a sign of strength"! She has some women really mad at her, but I applaud the practical way she looks at submission even without a biblical worldview! Submission makes sense and is a WIN-WIN!

The 43-year old athlete writes in the book that "to truly be feminine means being soft, receptive, and — look out, here it comes — submissive," in a partnership. . . "I'm saying I'll lift up my side and do it happily and also the expectation would be or the hope would be that he comes with the same attitude."  

Looking at submission, as a bi-product of being filled with the Spirit, is even more powerful and WIN-WIN! 

The reason why I included Ephesians 5:18 in the area of submission and family relationships is because it is more about submission to the Holy Spirit's work in us rather than to another person! I wholeheartedly believe that being filled with the Holy Spirit is the key to bringing "heaven" to the home!  

I love this quote by C.S. Lewis that punctuates my point: 

"When I have learned to love God better than my earthly dearest, 
I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now." 

Chew on this quote for a while. I think there is too much emphasis on marriage enrichment or how to be better parents and not enough on obedience-based discipleship. If we are filled with the Spirit everything else falls into place!

We spent several hours a few weeks ago with a couple that has been married for about the same amount of time that we have, but the wife is about ready to walk out. Having never probed deeper and having lived in different cities, we had no idea that they were at this point of crisis in their marriage. One of them willingly admits to having fallen out of love with the Lord having sought to "fill" the soul with things that have not satisfied. The emptiness was heart-breaking for us. Praying for a renewed love for God that might bring love for "earthly dearest"! 

2015 Update: The couple is doing well! 


Ponder the quote above and your love for God and those you love.

Talk to God about your walk with Him. 

How can it deepen? 

How can you love God better? 

What are you filling yourself with instead of allowing the Spirit to fill you?

Other possible "I will" actions for you to consider:

  • If being "filled with the Spirit" is essentially the same as "letting the Word of Christ dwell within you richly," how could you say you are doing on a scale of one to ten? What do you think you could do to improve being filled with the Holy Spirit?
  • Take a fearless moral inventory of your life to see if there is anything you are doing that you ought to stop.
  • If you are unsuccessful in stopping something you ought to stop, contact someone whom you respect spiritually, and ask him to help you.
  • Husbands rate yourself on a scale of one to ten on how well you are submissive to the needs of your wife. Make a list of things you ought to improve. Ask your wife to forgive you for your failure in that/those area(s) and commit to her and the Lord to do better.
  • Wives, rate yourself on a scale of one to ten on how well you are submissive to the authority of your husband. Make a list of things you ought to improve. Ask your husband to forgive you for your failure in that/those area(s) and commit to him and the Lord to do better. 
(Holman New Testament Commentary: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, p. 176, 184)


Holy Spirit fill us once again. Amen. 

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